Are you stuck and wonder how to get unstuck?
Maybe you’ve advanced as far as you can at your place of work. Maybe you feel the call of a long-forgotten hobby or interest. Or maybe you’re just bored.

It can feel frustrating. And you might wonder how to get unstuck in your career and life in general.

To that end, I’d like to share with you a quick tool I learned a few years ago when I helped to coach a senior executive at a Swiss Bank.

This woman was stuck.

She had a position she liked…at least on paper. Yet demands crept up on her even as she felt like nothing else in her position was moving in a positive direction.
She felt like most of her day was spent in putting out fires rather than actually accomplishing anything meaningful.

And she needed what many of us need in that situation.

We need a tool to quickly uncover roadblocks in the important areas of our work.

For example, a few years ago, I was asking the question: “Why am I not getting any clients?”

At the same time, my MBA students were wondering: “Why don’t I see any progress in my applications?”

Read on the learn how to use the Work-Life Unblocker. It is a step-by-step framework for getting unstuck by finding roadblocks in your career or work-life.

How to Get Unstuck at Work: Use A proven Step-By Step Tool To uncover Road-Blocks

How to Use the Work-Life Unblocker to get Unstuck

I got the idea for this tool from a self-coaching book that I love called Do More Great Work.

I took the tool presented by the author and then tweaked it by adding a few questions which, based on the science of psychology, may play an important role when someone feels stuck.

The result is a step-by-step framework to get unstuck in your career or daily life. The framework presents several levels, like a pyramid. Each of these levels include questions you can ask yourself to provide insight as to where these feelings are coming from.

Get Unstuck in 15min. with a Buddy

Best if you have a friend or coworker to complete the questions with you. It’s not necessarily a requirement, but the process will work much better if you complete it with the buddy system.

  • Then, go through each question separately on your own. 
  • This process should take about 15 minutes.
  • When you ask a question, remember that this is not a time to comment.
  • Simply listen to the question, answer it, and move on.

The Work-Life Unblocker: 10 Easy Steps to Get Unstuck

Get The Basics Right First

To find out how to get unstuck often we need to start with the mind first

The foundation of the pyramid are 3 basic needs: sleep, food and physical activity.

These needs are essential. Without them, you cannot function or even remain alive.

Surprisingly, one of the biggest reasons for feeling stuck is that you are experiencing an imbalance in one of these three basic needs.

When these needs are unmet, you don’t have the ability or even the mental capacity to move on to higher levels of the pyramid.

Of course, going without adequate sleep, food or exercise may be a habit. You may imagine that you don’t need it and that you’re doing just fine.

But going without these essentials will impair your decision-making ability.

  • So it’s important to ask yourself honestly if your basic needs are being met. 
  • And then commit to just one week of improved sleep, plenty of healthy food, and daily exercise.

You’ll be amazed at how the quick and dramatic effects of this simple change. You might feel so much better that you don’t even need to move on to the other levels of the pyramid once you’ve resolved this one.

CAREFUL: Is your job really the problem?

Use this Mini Mental Checker

The grind of daily life throws many challenges at us. It can be hard to tell what exactly the cause of a “stuck” feeling can be.
Before moving on to evaluate your career or work goals, take a brief mental health check.
This survey from the World Health Organization is a great tool to evaluate this.

“Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems?”

(0- Not at all, 1- Several Days, 2-More than half of the Days, 3- (Nearly) every day).

1) Wellbeing

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless

2) Anxiety

  • Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge
  • Not being able to stop or control worrying

If you have more than 3 points in either 1) or 2), the best course of action is to make an appointment with a mental health professional before moving on to the next steps.

They will guide you to a better place with your mental health, allowing you to work more effectively on the subsequent exercises here.

Consider trying sinews.es. This organization specializes in online therapy for professionals living abroad (I have no financial connection to them).

Your Mind

This level is easy to overlook because, instead of a concrete set of data that you can see, your mind is abstract and it’s within you.

But unless your mind is in the right place, it’s very difficult to move on to higher levels.

Here are three qualities of your mind which give you the real mental fuel both to start and to continue.

Your mental state

  • Energy level: – Do I need or really want to change/ grow?
  • Motivation – Does it matter to me, why? (You can learn more about your own motivation style here.)

Your-self beliefs

  • Self: – Do I truly believe that I can do what it takes to move ahead?
  • Tools: – Can I access the tools/ resources to do it?

Your resilience

  • When I face difficulties, how quickly can I pick myself up?
  • Do I have a plan to keep moving if I hear no, fail, or get rejected?

Your Skills

Most of us tend to fixate on our professional skills (or the lack of them) at moments when we are feeling stuck.

If this is you, you may be laser-focused on that one skill which you think you need in order to enjoy your job happily ever after.

But this perspective isn’t accurate or helpful. While that one skill may be important, there is normally a range of skills needed for success, rather than just THE thing.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your skills.

Your education

  • Do I have the necessary (formal) qualification or degree?

Your technical skills

  • Do I have or did I learn the skills needed to perform this job, or to perform in my future career?

Your social skills

  • Can I interact professionally with others required for that job/ career through presentations, selling, negotiating, influencing, standing my ground, etc.?

Your Desk

Surprisingly, we often overlook how important our workspace is. And yet, your desk can quickly become either an energy boost or an energy drain.

You can tell if it’s a drain if you suddenly find all kinds of solutions to work problems while you are away on vacation.

Fortunately,  this is a problem which is easy to fix.

Here are the questions to ask.

The place you work

  • Do I like the location where I work (desk, light, surroundings, etc.)?

Other tasks

  • Do I even have time to work on my career goals or are there too many other (non-work) errands and tasks to do?
If you suddenly find all kinds of solutions to work problems while you are away on vacation, then probably WHERE you work is the problem.

Your Work

Here again, this is an area where we often fixate when we are feeling stuck.

We focus on all the things we dislike about our job. Usually, the problem goes much deeper than just a general feeling of dislike.

Here’s what you need to consider.

The type of work

  • Do I (normally) like what I do or at the very least not hate it?

The work-load

  • Am I able to accomplish everything that I am supposed to do or am I always feeling behind?

Your compensation

It’s true; money does matter.  It is not about having the highest salary but feeling valued for what you do.

  • Is the salary I get fair? Is it adequate to afford the lifestyle I want?

PRO TIP: Should I Quit? 

Use the Monday Question!

One of the easiest ways to find out if you like your job or not is to ask yourself:

“When it is Sunday evening and I think about starting work again on Monday, how does it make me feel? ''

If you say, “I can’t wait until it's the weekend again,” that’s a clear sign that it’s time for a big change.

Watch what happens when you ask that question to people you know.

Those who feel fulfilled in their job will probably say, “It’s okay. Let’s see how this week goes.”

But those who can’t stand their jobs will freely admit that they are counting the hours until Friday rolls around again.

Your coworkers

The people you work with have tremendous power to either make or break your day.

Science tells us that if you have a “difficult” colleague or boss, there is no chance you will not enjoy your job. 

These facts are not easy to admit. Our instinct is to take the high road, to be as calm and rational as we can and continue to do our best.

But to underestimate the power of good relationships with coworkers and supervisors is a huge mistake. Of all levels this is the one you can change the least: people! Sometimes the best is to walk away"

Your connections

  • Do my colleagues have my back? Or are they more likely to stab me in it?

Their positivity

  • When I interact with my colleagues, do I feel drained? Or do I feel energized?

Your manager

  • Does my boss generally respect me? Can they put aside their own needs and agenda to help me achieve my work goals?
Personally, this was a big eye opener in one of my jobs. It was sooo difficult to admit how bad the situation was and yes my boss was CRAZY and I could not stay. But  once I left realized that I was not flawed but was just unlucky to work with a bad person. 

Your company

Your company plays a huge role in your feelings about your career.  But many misguided job-hunters (and success gurus) place far too much importance on that element.

A good company to work for falls under the category of “nice to have.” In some cases, this can make the difference between just doing ok at your job as opposed to thriving at it. 

However, it’s best to address the levels before first, as they are far more important when you feel stuck.

The business

  • Does this particular business or industry interest me?

The values

  • Do the company values match up to my own?

The career opportunities

  • Are their opportunities within the company where I can grow?

Your community

At this point, we move on from looking at your work situation. It’s now time to examine whether or not you can access the resources to stick to your goals and make the ride more joyful.

As I am not a clinical psychologist, I won’t go into too much detail here.

However, there are times when we struggle with our work goals because people in our circle keep us down.

Your friends, partner & family

  • Do they believe in me, try to push me forward and sometimes challenge me to grow beyond? OR
  • Do they tell me that I am a dreamer, push me down and want me to stay small?

Your country

The next elements are somewhat large and general, and they are probably the least important when you’re stuck at work, except in extreme cases.

Fortunately, these days it’s easy to work wherever and whenever you want.

Yet these levels of the pyramid can make your daily life and work more pleasant. See it as the icing on the cake.

The economy

  • Are we in a crisis or a boom?

The job market

  • Are there jobs available in my market, region or industry?

The culture, location & climate

Although this level is probably the hardest to change, don’t ignore it. It can make a big difference in your happiness.

For example, I suffer from the “winter blues,” so moving from grey Switzerland to sunny Spain was a necessary boost for my overall happiness.

Conclusion: Getting Unstuck In Your Career Starts By Knowing Where your Roadblocks Are

At the end of the day, we all have a purpose and no one deserves to feel stuck.

I hope you see that the main reason why are stuck is because we don't know what holds us back. Use my Work-Life Unblocker as a step-by-step map to identify roadblocks in your career or work-life. When you systematically go through the levels of your work-life, you will figure out what's holding you back and what to do next.

So get ready to enjoy a brighter future. There’s no telling what may be in store. You have everything within you that you need for success.

Let me know in the comments: Where do you feel stuck most and I will answer you with proven tips!

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About the Author

Work Psychologist & Advisor, with the sole purpose to find and offer you the most competent advise so you grow professionally and live a fulfilling work-life on your terms. 

Find out more: How I went from being an anxious, always pleasing and stuck in the rat-race professional to creating a well-paying career and fulfilling life on my terms.


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