1. Pay Attention to Your Choices.
Maybe it's not always your fault when you get stuck, but be honest, haven't some of your choices led you there?
One morning, last year, I knew the AC people were coming at 8:30 a.m. and I would have to be gone before that if I wanted to get my car out of the driveway. Then a call came in from my granddaughter. You guessed it… I chose to take her call. I ended up stuck and it was worth it! The choices we make that cause us to be stuck are not always worth it though. When I did finally get out of the driveway, I got this great idea to head to the local Starbucks drive through on the way to the office. Now, when I arrived and there was a big SUV backing its way out of the line, I had a choice to make. Pay attention to what's going on here, or move forward with my plan. You know what I did, don't you? I drove right into that queue. Once I realized how long a wait it was going to be, I began to think, "There is only one way in and one way out of this line." This leads to the next point.
2. Don't Get Boxed In. (Always Look for More than One Way In and One Way Out)
Maybe it was just a Starbucks drive through, but come on folks, give me a way of escape. “Once you're in you're in” doesn't work for me. In every situation, relationship, or job, there is a potential to feel stuck or trapped. The key is to look for the alternate routes before you go in.
Let me preface this by saying I still believe in going into marriage with only one way in and no way out. Love is for a lifetime and beyond. However, if a friend comes to me and tells me abuse, neglect, etc. is present in that marriage, I am going to say get out until the spouse gets help. If there is no improvement, stay out.
In other relationships, friends, partners, etc., I still believe we should go in with the intent of staying in. Fight for connection, even in conflict. Don’t be the kind of person that runs from one thing to the next looking for greener grass. Stay planted! However, if you are in a relationship in which someone is controlling, manipulative, or toxic, be sure you've left yourself some room to step away or step out. Don't get your finances or possessions tied up with another person until you are absolutely sure of their character.
How about in the job realm? A lot of people feel stuck in jobs. If you take a position that has no room for promotion, growth or change, start looking for options immediately. What certification or training can you take to increase your opportunities? If you're a barista or in retail sales, there might not much room for upward movement. Make room. Be the best at your craft with the best attitude. If your job doesn't make room for more, your attitude of excellence may open doors you never thought of, or at least get you the best referrals when you do choose to get unstuck. If you are physically stuck, you don't have to be mentally stuck. Think higher. Dream for more.
If there really is no way to get unstuck from that job yet, then volunteer for things you love in your free time; food pantries, homeless ministries, church, Special Olympics. That will turn your job into a tool to pay the bills so you can do the work you love.
3. Exercise Patience in the Wait. Use it to Your Advantage.
Back to the Starbucks line... When I realized the wait was going to be long, I started to feel super generous. Who else might like a latte? I texted my daughter, whose office was around the corner, and asked if she or any of her co-workers would like me to bring them a treat from Starbucks. Now I was no longer just waiting on a latte for myself, but was on a mission to bless others. If you find yourself stuck in the waiting phase, find purpose as you patiently wait. Don’t run from the wait. Embrace it! Call others who need encouragement. Maybe just smile at everyone you pass and see how many people respond with a smile. If being stuck means you can’t get around other people, maybe you are fighting an illness or in a foreign country, then do some research on yourself. Smile for a minute or two and see how you feel. Meditate on your favorite scripture verse or beautiful quote. Pray for everyone that comes to mind. Read or write some poetry or songs. It doesn’t matter if you get to share them with others or not. You are exercising your ability to release whatever creative juices are in you. Do something intentional. Even a nap can help if you need a little rest. The one thing you can’t do is just sit still and twiddle your thumbs. It never solves the issue of impatience and really gets on the nerves of everyone around you.
The whole point of these three keys is that in most cases you are really not stuck unless you believe you are. Pay attention to your choices to avoid getting stuck in the first place. Inevitably though, it happens. Don’t let circumstances box you in. There is a way of escape. If you are in a waiting season, you don’t have to waste that season. Invest it in something, someone, or even rest. You will get unstuck sooner than you think!