How to Get Unstuck

When you feel like you're stuck in mud, how do you get out?

Posted Jun 16, 2015

Do you ever get stumped solving a problem, generating an idea or writing something new? It feels like a wall stands just in front of you and you can’t find a way around, over or through. So how can you get past feeling like you’re not making progress? 

Here are five tips. Add your own five to the list and that alone will help you break through the wall.

Take a nap, almost. Try taking an “almost nap:” lie down, start the drift and then, just before you’re completely gone, jolt awake. If you need to, set your alarm, for about 11 minutes. This state of being in between sleep and being awake sometimes helps. Your brain is working below your consciousness, you’ll have some ideas and then can immediately capture them, and you get a bit of rest as well.

Patrycja Tomaszczyk,
Source: Patrycja Tomaszczyk,

 Take a hike, almost. Some people find that moving helps them joggle the brain and generate ideas. So take a hike, but not too far and not too hard so you don’t need to concentrate too much on what you’re doing. My dog and I used to take 30 minute walks, more like strolls--to the same location, on the same sidewalks and streets. We got a bit of exercise, but I didn’t have to watch out too much for snakes, holes, or rocks as I would if I’d done a hike near by. Instead, I could muse, the dog could sniff and we both enjoyed being outside.

 Talk about the problem or idea, almost. Some creative moments happen when you come at a problem indirectly. For instance, if I’ve got a problem in the office, I might talk to a friend who coaches about how he handles challenges on the field. It could be similar but it’s not directly my setting. His approach could give me ideas that may (or may not) work for me but at least I’ve jolted myself.

Write a postcard, almost. Can you write your problem or the seed of your idea onto a postcard?  Think post card “sound bite.” In it, perhaps “ask” a friend what he would most like to read about.

“Dear Sam, I want to write about a night I spent shadowing a nurse who works in jail. What questions would you have about that?”

Roman Drits,
Source: Roman Drits,

 Just do it, or at least start it. Nike’s famous ad works in many settings. For most problems or obstacles, it sometimes helps just to do something or to begin to take action. Often, if the decision or direction is wrong, you can change your mind later… So try something, see what happens, and if you need to, change it.

Now what are you five ways to break through the wall holding you back?