Most of my clients come to me because they are “stuck.” The majority are stuck in either their academic pursuits (i.e., writing a dissertation) or in life (e.g., what to do after leaving academia). Getting “Stuck”, I have noticed seems to happen most when you have a lot of options or seemingly too few. For me, when I get stuck, I ask myself seven questions.

#1 Why and where exactly am I feeling stuck? If I can pinpoint the “why’ and ‘where’, it becomes easier to get unstuck.

#2 What is it I want in this situation? Identifying what I want tends to give me a direction in which to move.  To answer this, I often write down my top ten values and compare the top three with what I want in the situation.

#3 What have I done so far to move forward in this situation? If my answer is “nothing.” Then I know I must do something. Whether that something is big or small, I know I must do something. I then ask myself the secondary question of why I have done nothing. If other priorities took over, I go through an exercise that helps me identify what my priorities must be in that situation.

#4 What is one thing I can do today to move forward in this situation? This is about perspective. In every situation, there is a multitude of actions one can take to get moving. Choosing one always moves you forward because even if you choose the wrong action, you have eliminated one choice.

#5 Are there any other options I have not considered?  One of my mentors, Dan Miller, impressed upon me the value of changing your mindset and looking at all possibilities. Even the “impossible” options become viable when other options close down.

#6 Who has already done what I want to do? That same mentor, Dan Miller, shared this golden nugget with me. When there is something you feel you cannot do, ask who has done it and speak with them about it. Dan suggests taking a millionaire to lunch. It is amazing how many millionaires, influencers, authors, entertainment personalities, etc., will sit and talk about challenges and opportunities.

#7 What decisions have I been avoiding? I have found when you avoid deciding on what to do or taking action, you end up doggy-paddling in the middle of the pool. Avoiding decisions and actions effectively removes your options leaving you stuck.

These seven questions, once honestly asked and answered, always get me unstuck and moving forward.  Maybe they will work for you, too.