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In my dissertation coaching groups, lately, one theme has been coming up- and that is the theme of stuckness. I always believe that whatever is showing up in my small groups is indicative of the larger whole- so I wanted to write a post about what to do when you’re stuck.

Here’s what do to when you are stuck:

1) Stop trying to analyze why you are stuck. You have a lot of brain power. Instead of wasting it on trying to figure out how you got here (especially if you’ve already tried to figure this out and haven’t been successful yet) – instead of trying to figure out how you got here, turn that brain power towards figuring how you will get out of it.

2) Do one thing differently. I believe that part of being stuck in the dissertation is related to an over-regimentation and adherence to a structure which is clearly not working. I also believe that if you loosen up in one area of your life, it will, eventually, transfer to the dissertation- and vice versa. So do one thing- anything- differently each day until something shifts. It will.

3) Work early in the day. Hands-down, my most successful (former) clients adopted a style where they worked on the dissertation first thing in the day. This is a good habit to create if you aren’t already doing this yet.

4) Work in a new environment. Sometimes, you get stuck because you’re spending a lot of time alone, and isolating. Today, take your laptop or notes and go to a local library or coffee shop. Try out working in a new environment and see if this helps at all.

5) Examine what feels heavy or burdensome. Stuckness relates to a ‘weightiness’ or ‘burden’ that we feel. Where are you feeling heavy or burdened? What can you do to lighten this load?

6) Play with this. It sounds funny, since feeling stuck doesn’t feel like fun or play, but I often see that stuckness happens because when you’ve forgotten how to be light and play. So treat this process of getting unstuck as an experiment. Play with what it takes to move you forward again.

7) Get lots of support- the right kind. Each of needs support and someone who can help us find our way when we forget. The right kind of support to get unstuck is someone who is energetic, forward moving, and wants to help you move forward. At this point, you don’t need to sit around with someone who commiserates with you or wants to spend a lot of time discussing how you got here.

Yes, it may be important- at some time- to understand how you got stuck. But, often, the perspective you need only comes after you’ve gotten unstuck and are moving ahead again.