When I was a kid, learning to drive on our farm, we had a truck that only good for driving down the road. It was great for hauling feed home from town or brush from place to another, but it was useless in mud. Trust me, I know.
On more than one occasion I would attempt to haul brush or manure to a spot in our woods and find myself stuck with no way out. It always angered my dad to have to get a tractor just to pull me out. Not wanting to have to bother him, always made me try harder which always resulted in spinning my wheels faster, getting stuck deeper. If only I had learned to notice in the beginning that I was stuck, I could probably have worked by way out slowly. Not noticing always ended up with the truck buried to the axel and an angry father attaching a chain to the tractor.
I’ve found that the same principle holds true in life as well. If I can recognize that I’m stuck, early, I can work my own way out. If I don’t notice, pretty quickly, I’m going to find myself just spinning my wheels.
Luckily there are some warning signs. Look for these and notice when you’re stuck.
1. The Joy is Gone
This is the biggest sign. If the parts of your job that you once loved aren’t fun anymore, you’re probably stuck. It doesn’t mean that we have to quit, but we had better notice quickly so that we can work ourselves out. Otherwise, we’re going find ourselves burned out, stressed out and out of control.
2. No Focus
Every month or so, I have a day when I can’t seem to focus on what’s most important to me. Because I can’t focus, I can’t get anything accomplished and I find myself getting stuck deeper. Noticing that my focus isn’t where it needs to be is for me a warning sign that I’m starting to get stuck. If I’m not careful that one day can turn into a week and then I’ve squandered my month. When I lose focus, I know I need to being working my way out.
Procrastination goes hand in hand with no focus, but if I know what I need to do and still can’t make myself do it, I’m stuck. It’s time to stop before I spin my way to the axels. Anytime I want to read Facebook more than make a call or write, I’m in trouble. Noticing early can save a lot of work later.
4. Looking Forward To Friday
Monday is my favorite day of the week. People think I’m deranged, but I love the fresh start, I love getting back at it and I love the feeling I get walking into my office Monday morning. If it’s Tuesday and I’m looking forward to Friday already, I had better take some action to get myself unstuck. Enjoying the process is a big key to being happy. When that stops, we’re in trouble.
5. Feeling Resentful
This is a subtle feeling that can sometimes be hard to notice, but its an indication of being stuck. If we resent our bosses or leaders, resent our situations or resent the job before us, it’s time to change direction and find a way to move again. Resentment is dangerous and can be hard to move on from. That’s why we need to notice early and change strategy.
Being stuck kills creativity, and keeps us form being our best. Noticing early that we’re beginning to get stuck is our best defense for getting going again. Wednesday, I will cover the tricks I use to get myself unstuck, but in the meantime, I’d like to read what you use for warning signs.