Feeling Stuck in a No-Win Situation? These 4 Steps Will Lead You to What’s Next
We’ve all felt backed into a corner at some point in our lives. Here is the roadmap for moving forward, even when options seem limited.
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"If you don't like where you are, move. You are not a tree." This Jim Rohn quote seemingly oversimplifies the idea of upending your life when things aren't going well. However, he has a point. If you're unhappy in your situation, don't just sit there. Do something.
I bump up against a lot of discontent in my work with executives. They often feel trapped and void of options to move out of their current situation. I share with them that in all aspects of our lives, we hit "tipping points" - when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change. This is the moment when we finally decide that it may be worth the pain of extricating ourselves from a difficult situation to explore alternatives.
There are many things that cause us to hit our tipping points. In one of my client organizations, unethical leadership and a clash of personal values has compelled my client to finally explore moving on.
In another client organization, a client has chosen to stay where she is, even though she is often marginalized and diminished, because she makes good money and needs the work flexibility that her position offers.
Decisions to move from an unhappy current state to a desired state are always difficult. They require consideration of both the personal and professional impact on ourselves and others in our life. They involve us letting go of the known to venture into the unknown. They usually call for short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term gains.
In the case of my client, he required a very direct conversation to realize that his current situation was not "normal." He's been immersed for so long in a toxic environment and has been marginalized so much that he's lost perspective on how enjoyable a work environment can be, and what his personal value is. He was the boiling frog.
Fortunately, he's open to hearing my observations and affirmations regarding his options and his worth.
In so many aspects of our lives, we are all vulnerable to being a boiling frog. We lose sight of the fact that life doesn't have to suck. When you find yourself in a place where it's time to pivot - when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change - here are the steps you can take to move on:
1: Create a vision for your life. Where do you see yourself in 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months from now? By thinking ahead, you start to see life's possibilities without what is holding you back, dragging you down, or minimizing your worth.
2: Closely evaluate the people around you, including those who influence your mindset or sense of self-worth. When we embark on dramatic (and potentially traumatic) change, few things matter as much as the people around us. This includes those in our daily circles who we may or may not have intentionally chosen. If people try to minimize you, you have the choice and power to disregard them. Their opinions are only as relevant as you allow them to be.
3: Educate yourself. Knowledge is power, especially in times of change and uncertainty. Complex, difficult decisions require knowledge, data, and logic, which will offset tendencies to make emotionally charged decisions. Emotionally charged decisions (such as impulsively quitting without another job) may feel good in the moment but often backfire for long-term planning.
4: Create a game plan. Once you've educated yourself and created a strong support system, map out a plan to move from current state to desired state. It may be lengthy. Remember that you didn't get to where you are overnight. Your situation gradually deteriorated over time, so it will take time to move on.
Remember that everything is impermanent, including those stretches of time in our lives that seem unending. Further, all of our experiences prepare us for what's next. Great things await you once you realize that the fishbowl in which you are swimming is not your final destination, and that you have the power to step into your greatest potential, success, and happiness.