THE BLOG
11/06/2013 11:17 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Need to Get 'Unstuck'? Do This Simple Thing -- Now

No doubt about it. Getting stuck is a drag. Literally (a word I never use unless I mean it).

Getting stuck weighs us down, slows things up. It makes us feel less productive, frustrated...sometimes we berate ourselves for being lazy. Yet it's so natural.

Just take a recent example...

About three months ago I figured out the topic of my next book. I loved the idea, the snappy title. My book would be the next big thing!

I couldn't wait to get started.

But I didn't. For the next two and a half months, every time I thought about beginning, I thought of some other really important thing I needed to do first.

And so it sat on my to-do list. It tried everything -- nagging me, glaring at me, coddling me with thoughts of greatness. I was excited, but just couldn't get moving.

Until one day I turned to a friend and said: "So, exciting news...I'm starting my next book. Hope to have it done within the year!"

My friend excitedly asked me about it...and I excitedly responded.

The next day I began the outline.

Here's the deal.

We are ambitious people, creating all kinds of goals in life...
  • We want to find a new job
  • We want to change the way we eat
  • We want to finish a huge home-improvement project

We believe in these goals, know they'll bring us greater success, greater satisfaction in the end.

Yet we hold ourselves back. We don't take the next step...or even the first one. Then we get irritated with ourselves.

What, we ask, is our problem?

The problem is that we've gotten nervous or overwhelmed. We've told ourselves that now is not the right time. We've told ourselves that it's not worth the risk. We've told ourselves we'll never get it done anyway.

The problem is we've told ourselves -- and only ourselves -- all about it.

The quickest way to get unstuck?

Tell other people.

When we tell other people about our plan, when we tell them we're excited about it -- or, at least, excited to get it done -- they get excited, too. They get bought-in.

Sometimes telling someone else is really just about saying it out loud so that it's not just in our head anymore. We've declared our intention to the person...and the world. Which means we then need to fall in line.

Sometimes telling someone else is about accountability. It's about knowing they'll ask us about it again and that we'll need a better update than the one we've been feeding our own brains.

Whatever the case, telling someone gets us motivated. Then it's just a question of keeping it going...by telling them about our progress...by telling more people along the way.

Now.

There are, of course, a few caveats to this simple little plan:
  1. Make sure the people you tell are your supportive champions. No Negative Nellies or Debbie Downers...or those who are stuck themselves and from the "misery loves company" camp.
  2. If it's a sensitive goal, like leaving your job, don't tell the guy in the cubicle next to you. Let's face it, the world is small...and many people stink at completely keeping secrets.
  3. If you're telling people because you want them to ask you about it or hold you accountable later, tell them explicitly. Everyone gets busy and forgets...plus, they'll probably be flattered you asked.

Tell other people what you want to get done -- big or small -- and use it to get unstuck.

And I'll be sure to tell you all about it when I come up with my next big thing.

This week...

Think about what goal -- big or small -- has got you stuck.

Tell someone you trust about it. Tell them it's important to you. Ask them to ask you about it later.

Then use it immediately to unstick yourself.

And just imagine what you'll take on next.