It seems that everybody gets stuck somewhere, at sometime in their lives. They get stuck with their homework or stuck with their situation or stuck in a dead-end job or stuck in a rut.
It is not the same as encountering an obstacle because, when you have an obstacle, you at least know what you should be focusing on. But getting stuck is not knowing; not knowing where to turn, not knowing where to find help, not knowing the way forward, not knowing how to break through.
Getting stuck is a part of the journey for anyone who is attempting to achieve anything significant. It is the recognition of the truth of something that Einstein once said, “you can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it.” You know you need to find a different perspective, a new way of looking at things, but you don’t know how to do it.
We may have a limited understanding of exactly what we are capable of achieving. Deep down we just don’t believe the success we really desire is actually achievable for us. We may have become conditioned to think of our worth in terms that restrict our aspirations to what we believe is possible. Even within personal development coaching, we find people teaching that we must set ‘realistic’ and ‘achievable’ goals.
Of course our goals do need to be realistic and achievable, but when we have a deeply embedded, self-limiting belief about our potential and our capabilities, the goals we set are very likely to be too dull and uninspiring for us to subsequently put forth the necessary effort. In such cases, we are not really setting realistic goals at all. We are selling ourselves short, settling for what we know we are capable of achieving; not challenging ourselves to stretch and find within ourselves that untapped wealth of resources that remain undiscovered.
There was an occasion when I heard Jack Black tell the following story:
There was a man who married a woman who was not only beautiful, she was also a great cook. The first Sunday after they were married, she prepared her speciality, the Sunday Roast. The preparation was elaborate with herbs and spices and a special way of cutting the meat, removing one inch from both ends of the joint.
The meal was absolutely delicious; the best her husband had ever tasted, but he was puzzled about her throwing away what looked to him like two perfectly good cuts of meat, so he asked her why she did this. She told him that it was the way her mother had taught her and it was the family secret of the perfect Sunday roast.
A week later, the couple went to his mother-in-law’s house for Sunday dinner and he watched very carefully whilst the older lady went through the same elaborate preparation using exactly the same herbs and spices, taking the same amount of care, but he noticed that his mother-in-law did not cut the ends from the joint before placing it into the oven as his wife had done.
He was naturally puzzled and pointed out to his wife that her mother had not cut the joint in the same way she had. Equally puzzled, his wife turned to her mother and asked why she appeared to be no longer following the method she had used all her life. Her mother replied that she had stopped cutting the ends off the meat when she got a bigger pan.
Jack tells the story to highlight the fact that sometimes we follow patterns blindly, simply because we have always done things in a particular way. But, just like the young woman in the story, you too may be unnecessarily cutting things out of your life in the process.
Are you stuck? Perhaps is is time to take a long, hard look at what you are actually doing with your time; which activities have become habits, things that you do without really thinking too much about them. Sometimes, it is the illusion created by this kind of activity that convinces us we must be moving closer to our goals when the truth is that we have become blinded to its ineffectiveness.
Perhaps it is time for you to start enjoying a lot more of what life has to offer. Perhaps it’s time you got yourself a bigger pan – the non-stick kind of course.