Now You’re Getting Somewhere!

In my roles as corporate consultant, executive coach and college professor, and as a friend to many, I often see people struggling to move out of painful patterns and reach a more satisfying place in their lives. It could be relationship issues, career issues, health issues or the general “blah” of life, but oftentimes there is something that someone wants to change – but they just can’t seem to get out of the rut.

I often talk in my relationship work about the “dance” we get into with others – you say what you have always said, I respond in the way I always have and then you respond, etc. It’s so predictable that it could be funny if we were not so pained by the interaction!

Life situations are somewhat like this “dance” – it’s why we choose the term “in a rut” to describe how we are stuck. We just can’t seem to go up one side or the other, and we stay stuck where we don’t want to be. How can it be that we get to a place where we just feel we have no alternative but to take whatever is meted out to us and live with it?

I trademarked the S.H.I.F.T. Model™ to deal with this exact problem. Many times it is a matter of one – or more – of the five stages of this process that are holding us back. If you are stuck in a rut, ask yourself these five questions to see if you can find a way to surface from that rut, and move on to something more satisfying and more fulfilling in your life.

  1. Do you know exactly where you want to go and what success looks like once you get there? Many of us haven’t really identified that desired state clearly enough that our mind knows what it is aiming for. What does it look like when you get there? What changes will have to happen in your life?
  2. What prevents you from getting to where you want to go? We love to talk about why we can’t do something, so here is your chance! What stands in the way? What do you have to remove in order to make the shift you so desire?
  3. What internal self-talk, or other personal attributes, help you or hurt you on your way to making a change? Do you tend to procrastinate? Do you have skills you haven’t explored yet? Do you have a capability that remains untapped in your change efforts? What about yourself can help you, and or deter you from your goals?
  4. What choices do you have to get where you want to go? I was recently doing a radio show on a big station in NYC – 1010 WINS. The interviewer, Walter, told me he always wanted to do the Moon Walk but he hasn’t been able to master it. I asked him why this was important to him? He said, “Well, I love Michael Jackson and girls think it is cool.” Okay – great answer. But what other alternatives besides learning the Moon Walk might help him These more specific goals? Often there is an objective underneath our goals – find it, and figure out what options you have.
  5. Do you have a clear plan for taking the steps – can you clearly outline what exactly you need to do to get from where you are, to where you want to be? If it is learning the Moon Walk – who will teach you? When will you practice? What shoes do you need to buy? How much can you afford to spend on lessons?

If you are feeling stuck and would like to improve somehow, take the time this week to think about all of the questions on this list. Figure out which of these areas might be the sticking point for you, keeping you in that rut, and think about what you might be able to do to move