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7 Ways to Get Unstuck

Hannah Howard

“Oh, help!” said Pooh. “I’d better go back.” “Oh, bother!” said Pooh. “I shall have to go on.” “I can’t do either!” said Pooh. “Oh, help and bother!” ―Winnie the Pooh

We’ve all been there—a professional slump, a relationship rut, a lingering sense of frustration. Our wild, wonderful dreams beckon, but inertia, or fear, or who-knows-what holds us back. It’s easy watch our grooves become ruts, and to feel like these ruts are perpetual cycles we’ll never be able to escape. Feeling stuck can be a gift: it’s a sign that it’s time for change. Bigger and better things are about to unfold, if you let them. Here’s some ways to leave ‘stuck’ in the dust:

Get Curious + Be Honest

Take the temperature of what’s going on. So many of us have drill sergeant voices in our heads barking orders to do more, do better, go go go. Trade in the militaristic lens for a look at your situation with the kind, compassionate curiosity you’d extend to a loved one. Tell the truth about where you are, including the parts that feel scary and vulnerable. Speak with a great friend, therapist, or with your journal. You may surprise yourself. Honesty is a powerful stagnation-fighter.

Start Over A fresh start is a glorious thing. Give yourself permission to make a new, shiny beginning. Just because you floundered your way through the last four interviews, doesn’t mean you’re destined for interview misery. Today is a whole new day.

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Build a Great Team Asking for help can be hard, but we all need support. There’s no shame in leaning on others—in fact, it takes a lot of courage to reach out. Support is always there for us, from some source. If we find ourselves barking up the wrong tree, just keep looking—the world is so rich with tools, strategies, wisdom, and love, often from places we do not expect. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and help you grow.

Live in Today “One day at a time” is a much-used recovery slogan for good reason. It’s tempting to fast-forward to a year down the road, when we’ll be a super-successful, marathon-running, zen, cupcake-baking goddess living her dream. The road from here to there seems impossible, and we psyche ourselves out. Dream big, but keep your focus on this day, this moment. That’s where the promise lies.

Switch It Up Walk to work, or take a different route. Cook yourself something extraordinary. Spend time with a friend you love but don’t get to see too often. Rearrange your furniture. Put a fragrant, gorgeous bunch of fresh flowers on your desk. Small changes in the way you show up and move through life can be the catalyst for bigger transformation.

Move Our brains are our bodies are extraordinarily connected. Being immersed in movement gets energy flowing in your body and your life. Try a way of moving that feels like play: dancing, tai chi, hiking (beautiful views are bonus). Just get up from your desk and go for a small walk. Stretch. See you if you feel any different.

Think Love Do something kind for someone else, or exuberantly loving for yourself. Ask yourself, “What would the loving action be?” The best decisions are motivated by love, rather than fear. Bringing love into the situation opens up infinite possibilities. Feeling stuck? Ancient history.

Hannah Howard, journalist, copywriter, marketing strategist and food expert, has written for The New York Times, AMEX OPEN forum, Serious Eats, Grubstreet, Refinery29, and