How to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

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In a world that is constantly changing and can feel outside of your control, it can be overwhelming to lose sight of your direction. During times when you feel in a rut, unfulfilled or stuck, finding a way to focus on moving forward can seem like the hardest thing. 


This post is for those times. It’s a moment to breathe, a moment for you and a moment to move toward becoming unstuck.


Step 1: Relax


Sometimes what we need to do can be the most simple of things, but also the thing at the bottom of our to-do list. If you feel stuck, your head may be full of thoughts about how you will become unstuck. This creates pressure, leading to stress, slowing down progress and creating a detrimental impact on both your mental and physical health.


We can contradict this pressure with relaxation techniques. It means different things to different people. Whether you relax with breathing exercises, quiet solitude or by being energised, do something that relieves that pressure and takes you away from the focus of your stresses.


Step 2: Reflect


If you have never journaled, now might be a great time to try it. Whether you write, draw or video, make a note of how you feel and what has led you to this point. Allow yourself to experience (and accept) your emotions, opinions and situation. 


Here are some prompts that may help you explore some of your thoughts:


  • What am I worried or scared about?
  • What has gone well for me today / this week?
  • What has made me feel happy, loved or grateful?
  • What really matters to me?
  • Am I being true to myself? (read more about being true to yourself here)
  • The words I need to hear are…
  • The advice I give others that I could listen to is…
  • What do I really want right now?
  • What is holding me back?
  • What am I learning about myself?

The process of reflection may feel like it’s pausing time or even taking you back, but this process of identifying the root of your ‘being stuck’ is actually a significant step forward in becoming unstuck. 


If it feels as if your past is holding you back, try these steps I shared in a previous post to help you move forward with the present.


Step 3: Believe


Self-efficacy is the belief in your own capabilities to overcome overwhelming situations. To have confidence in your own performance and your ability to move forward, it is important to challenge your inner imposter and dedicate time to your own wellbeing. 


In an earlier post, I shared an holistic mind, body and soul approach to diffusing feelings of overwhelm when the world feels too much. These are based on the NEF’s “Five Ways to Wellbeing”. Here are the highlights:


Mind: accept emotions, connect with others, take notice and learn 


Body: be active, meditate and eat & drink well


Soul: give, practise gratitude and self-appreciation


Read more about how each of these steps could help your confidence and self-acceptance in the original post, ‘When the World Feels too Much’ .


Step 4: Visualise


There are many reasons why visualising can help you move forward, and many ways to do it. This is a technique used by athletes, entrepreneurs and people from all walks of life who have been able to achieve what they focus on. The messages we give ourselves define are thoughts, actions and behaviours. This is as good a reason as any to dedicate time to giving yourself positive, motivational messages.


One way to visualise is to close your eyes and imagine what moving forward would look like. If this doesn’t work for you, try drawing, vision boarding or mapping out a time in the future. Consider all of your senses as you emerge yourself in your idealised future: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.


Step 5: Take One Step


You have visualised feeling unstuck. It might feel a million steps away from where you are right now. That doesn’t mean it is impossible. The most seemingly impossible tasks have only been achieved by a series of small steps.


We can’t take all of those steps at once, but we can take one. Pick one thing that you will do that will have a positive impact on your journey toward being unstuck. However small, however simple, decide that you will do it and take ownership of that one task.


As a final note, remember that what being unstuck actually looks like is different for each of us. What happens next is up to you, so whatever you do, follow your own path, at your own pace. That, is moving forward. 

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