Hitting a stuck moment can feel isolating. We might think “No one understands,” or “I’m the only one in this situation.” And as we sit there, stranded on our island of stuckness, it seems as if help will never arrive.
We’re here to tell you it isn’t so. Not only do we all get stuck all the time, but many of us get stuck in the same ways. It’s more than cold comfort, knowing that you’re not the only one. It’s reassurance that others have gone before you and worked on the same problem you face—so, yes, there is a way forward.
What’s got so many of us hung up? Here’s a generalized summary from Unstuck. To get past your stuck moment, download the free Unstuck app here.
Time is fleeting
Simply put, there just isn’t enough of it to do what we really want to do.
Jobs dominate lives
Many are looking for the right career, while others want more opportunities in the job they have. Lack of control in the workplace comes up often, as does feeling trapped in a job. The balance of career and personal life is a regular struggle. And a lot of people just plain hate their jobs.
Relationships aren’t on the mend
Romance (or lack of) dominates relationship issues. While many want to break it off, quite a few hesitate because they fear hurt feelings. Countering these are the hopefuls who want to start or rekindle a liaison. Friendships are just as vexing: Some find it hard to make friends; others suspect their friends don’t like them.
Money is a roadblock
Cash is tight all around. It keeps people in jobs they don’t like and stops others from starting their own business. “Underwater” is a commonly used word. Still, a number of us are looking for ways to save a few dollars.
Bored, bored, bored
Life is dull. At home. At work. Socially. In the classroom. You name it.
When we want to be, we’re masters at putting off just about everything. Procrastination seems to come largely in two forms: not starting and not finishing. Lying in the middle is loads of dread about writing, exercising, eating right, working, studying, and housework. (See our 9 tips to overcome procrastination.)
Too many demands
Those of us who care for others are left with little or no time for ourselves.
Clutter, mostly at home, is a hot button for lots of people. Some are faced with years of neglect, so they don’t know where to start. Others are frustrated by the continuing cycle of cleaning up clutter only to collect more.
Lots of areas make us feel like a deer in headlights, starting with life in general. Specifics include family needs, starting a new job, workload at the office, planning a wedding, keeping up with social media.
Life is puzzling
A good number of us don’t know what we want to do in life. Others want to do more. Similarly, many feel like their missing out on something in their lives. Which is kind of related to those who thought life would be different.
Fear stops us
Being afraid is at the heart of so many stuck moments, like fear of failing, public speaking, the unknown, making our feelings heard.
I can’t decide
Indecision comes in all sizes. Large: Whether to have another child. Who to marry. Medium: Get a PhD or MBA. Laptop or desktop. Small: What to do today. What to make for dinner.
Some stuck moments call for more action, less analysis. That’s when we skip the app’s question session and head straight to the 11 tools.
We’ve matched up a common thought during a stuck moment with the tool designed to help you move forward. But there’s no rule that you can only use one tool.
Stuck thought: What’s getting in the way?
Unstuck tool: Tell Me Why.
Figuring out what holds us back usually goes below the surface. That’s why this tool nudges you to dig deeper for the real answer.
Stuck thought: I can’t decide.
Unstuck tool: Pros vs. Pros.
Indecision often comes from overthinking a situation. This tool takes away any thinking time, so you rely on your gut instinct to decide.
Stuck thought: I’m bored. I could use a change.
Unstuck tool: Shake Up Your Routine.
Boredom occurs when we need a challenge. This tool lets us look at any routine—paying bills, commuting to work, whatever you’re doing right now—to find ways to make it more interesting or purposeful.
Stuck thought: I’m overwhelmed.
Unstuck tool: Call in the Cavalry.
Even just the thought of help can sometimes bring relief. With this tool, you can go further, naming the assistance you need and crafting a plan for getting it.
Stuck thought: If I only had a plan.
Unstuck tool: Get Your Game On.
This tool makes it easy to turn those thoughts swimming in your head into a real plan, with dates and everything.
Stuck thought: I’ll do it later.
Unstuck tool: Now or Never.
Maybe you need more information to get it done. Or a plan. Or a goal. Or help. Or maybe you need a deadline…with a consequence. This tool helps you determine what it’s going to take.
Stuck thought: I don’t know what I want.
Unstuck tool: Mirror, Mirror.
You’ll know it when you see it. This tool helps you try out several ideas and rate them for what feels right, letting your instincts be your guide.
Stuck thought: I just don’t get it.
Unstuck tool: Map It Out.
When you don’t know what you don’t know, you may need fresh perspective. This tool takes what you do know and configures it in four different ways.
Stuck thought: I can almost see it!
Unstuck tool: Visualize It.
This tool helps you move your big idea from your head onto paper in a fun, visual way so you can see it, organize it, and share it.
Stuck thought: That’s not how it’s suppose to work.
Unstuck tool: Obstacle Course.
If only life went according to plan. When it doesn’t, this tool helps you devise ways to overcome the obstacles that stand between you and success.
Stuck thought: I don’t think this turn of events is good for me.
Unstuck tool: Spread the News.
Change happens, and how we react to it makes a difference. This tool lets you role play a variety of alternatives to find out which feels right for you.
Tip: You can always find the tools by tapping the house icon in the lower left of the app.
An early adopter of Unstuck asked us, “How did you get inside my head?” Actually, we didn’t. The three main questions in the opening segment of the Unstuck app are designed to help you figure out what you don’t know by asking what you do know.
How are you feeling? People don’t often inquire about this unless you’ve been under the weather. It’s the first question in Unstuck because your emotions can reveal more about a situation than any written or spoken explanation. Feelings don’t censor themselves, making it a very honest assessment.
What are you thinking? Based on your feelings, there are a number of possible thoughts you might be having around your stuck moment. Again, thoughts, as opposed to what you might say out loud, reveal perspectives that could be standing in our way.
What are you doing? Actions speak louder than words, right? When people bounce their leg up and down like a jackhammer, it signals stress. Similarly, there are certain common things we do when we’re stuck, like hedging our bets or regularly contradicting ourselves.
While there are countless combinations of answers to these questions, our behavior as human beings isn’t all that unpredictable. We tend to feel, think, and act in the same ways in certain kinds of situations.
In our consulting work at SYPartners, we’ve come to recognize these behavior patterns, so in Unstuck, we characterized them in 11 different ways — Ad Libber, Waffler, Tunnel Visionary, Deflated Doer, Drifter, Reluctant Adapter, Idle Achiever, Fuzzy Forecaster, Lone Leader, and Avoider.
We tend to relate to one or two of these personas most often, but we’re all capable of acting in all of these ways at one stuck moment or another. So taking a couple of minutes to answer the questions about feeling, thinking, and doing is an easy way to get a reality check on your situation.
And once you know how you’re stuck, it’s time to take action. Unstuck has tools for that!
By designing our app for anyone who wants to make a situation better, Unstuck casts a wide net. Our approach is topic-agnostic, so it works for any kind of stuck moment. Now that it’s been available for three weeks, it’s a pleasure to see how the app is being used and promoted in fresh and surprising ways.
• The New Yorker’s Goings On blog finds it a tempting alternative to New Year’s resolutions.
• MediaBistro’s GalleyCat recommends Unstuck for overcoming writer’s block.
• Similarly, Creative Blizzard calls it a brainstorming tool for advertising professionals.
• Customer service expert Mike Wittenstein predicts our approach will be used for product selectors on retail shelves.
• On Oprah.com, the blogger used it to get to the root of a family problem, and says it works for all big decisions, like jobs, relationships, outfits for holiday parties.
• Lifehacker jokes that Unstuck can help overcome lunchtime monotony.
• Tech Cocktail recommends Unstuck for entrepreneurs, who are plagued by questions such as: Should I quit my full-time job? Should we expand the team? Should I be spending more time with my wife?
We think these applications are just the beginning of the Unstuck movement. What do you think? Tell us how you’re using the app.
Apple very quickly pushed through our Unstuck app update, which should help people using iOS 4. The updates fixed:
• occasional lag during login process
• a rare crash during the diagnostic process
• small copy updates
You can check for the update now in the Apple App Store.