As a coach and leading a coaching business and training people from all walks of life for over 13 years, feeling ‘stuck’ is a common experience in both personal and professional life. Often, it’s a signal that we have lost sight of our future outlook or that it’s fuzzy. We may not have a strong vision or mission that we are chasing. Another side is where we are at currently, and we have a feeling that we’re not experiencing the growth we so desire. As coaches, it’s our role to help individuals navigate this terrain, rediscover their potential, and move forward with renewed enthusiasm.
The Power of Vision
In life, we are either driven by a compelling future or held back by an anchoring past. When it comes to looking to the future, our narratives on the past dictate roughly 50% of how we perceive the future. This can mean that positive past experiences align for a positive future outlook or vice versa, the past was so good we have a negative outlook that things will never be better. On the flip side, we can have struggles in the past, and our future outlook is equally as negative, this is the “why bother” mentality that can be challenging to navigate through. However, where massive strength and perspective is gained is when struggles of the past become your superpower to navigate a more positive outlook/vision for the future.
When individuals feel stuck, it’s often a sign they have lost sight of their ‘bigger picture’. They can no longer envision the future they want to create. As a coach, our first step is to help them reconnect with their aspirations.
Exercise: Getting Worse
This may seem counterintuitive and MOST coaches would encourage you to outline and visualize your perfect and most ideal future in vivid detail. While this exercise is certainly helpful, when feeling stuck you may already feel like you’re not good enough or your current struggles have you at “rock bottom”. The idea here is to narrate over the next 6 months if you got even WORSE. What does it look, feel, and sound like? Who are they in this future? What are they doing? How are they feeling? What’s the impact on them? This is an exercise I’ve learned through my coaching and leadership work with Next Jump and have personally taken hundreds of people through. Many people struggle to articulate it in detail, but those that are able to can start to see a picture that they’re currently not at yet, which helps them get grounded where they really are.
The Human Need for Growth
There’s a quote that encapsulates our innate desire for progress: “Human beings are wired to grow and protect.” We are designed to evolve, to learn, and to expand our capabilities. When this growth stalls, it can lead to feelings of stagnation or frustration, often manifesting as a ‘why bother’ attitude. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, brought this to light and made popular the notion of Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset.
A fixed mindset is the belief that our intelligence, talents, and abilities are static and unchangeable traits. People with a fixed mindset often believe that they’re either naturally good at something or they’re not, and they tend to avoid challenges and give up easily when they encounter obstacles. They often view effort as fruitless or even negative, and they may feel threatened by the success of others. The result is a restriction of personal growth and a tendency to plateau early, not achieving their full potential.
On the other hand, a growth mindset is the belief that our abilities can be developed through dedication, effort, and hard work. People with a growth mindset understand that intelligence and talent are just the starting point and that they can always learn more and get better. They embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the pathway to mastery, and learn from criticism. They also find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result, they reach ever-higher levels of achievement and have a greater sense of free will.
As coaches, we have the power to reignite this growth mindset. We can help our clients see the opportunities for development that exist around them, even in the most challenging circumstances.
Exercise: Avoidance Tracker
Something I have personally found helpful in the pursuit of the areas in life or work where I wanted to grow, I mapped out all the areas or things that I was avoiding. This could be a new skill, a mindset shift, or a personal goal but more often than not, they are smaller things that are creating a roadmap for what you need to do/get comfortable with to move the needle to the other side. The hard part is how much to do which is tricky. This is the next part I discuss, but even the awareness of mapping out all the things you avoid or want to avoid doing can be helpful if you’re fuzzy on what the upgraded version of yourself truly looks like.
The 2% change in overcoming the Stuck Mindset
Often, feeling stuck is more about perception than reality. It’s a result of getting ‘stuck’ in our own heads. As coaches, our goal is to help our clients shift their perspectives and see the possibilities, not just the limitations. With that said, change in anything is hard. Sometimes it can feel like trying to climb Mount Everest where the top just seems so high up and not reachable. What I’ve personally done and made the mistake is trying to change too much though. It’s like when you have strong bouts of motivation or feel like you’ve figured something out… you overdo it and/or try to change too much at once. This never works because it’s unsustainable. Building habits we talk about a lot in coaching at Prototype, this is the same. We refer to it as the 2% rule of change, which equates to roughly an hour a week of deliberate action on moving the needle forward. If done consistently, over the next 3, 6, 12 months an upgrade is imminent.
Finding a Training Partner
Lastly, as coaches, we need to foster a sense of accountability in our clients. This is the fuel that will keep them moving forward, even when the going gets tough. However, what I’ve found to 10x the accountability is when someone is training with another (peer or near-peer) which is another accountability lever. The best training partners I have found are the ones that push you and vice versa. This doesn’t mean you have to have the same goals, but when at least 1 other person is in the arena working on themselves, it can feel more in practice vs. in theory. Meaning, your training partner is facing similar challenges and struggles which you can both relate to on your journey.
Feeling stuck is not a dead end; it’s a detour guiding us toward introspection, self-discovery, and growth. As coaches, our role is to illuminate this path, helping our clients reconnect with their vision, reignite their growth, and ultimately, become unstuck. The journey might be challenging, but the destination – a life lived with purpose, passion, and fulfillment – is absolutely worth it.