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From Stuck to Unstuck - The Value of Working with a Coach

by Elizabeth Azeizat & Kendall Abbey


It’s just like any other day. You have somewhere you need to be, so you get in your car. As you drive, your windshield slowly compiles dirt, dust, and who knows what else, forming a haze that obstructs your view. You instinctively turn on your windshield wipers, but nothing happens. Instead of pulling over to fix the situation, you decide that you can see enough of the road to keep driving. So, even though you don’t have a clear view and no resources at your disposal, you cope with the limited visibility and continue driving to your destination.


As coaches, we have many clients who go through life with limited visibility. They cannot clearly see the road in front of them, nor do they have the resources to rectify the situation.

They are so focused on getting from point a to point b that they accept a nearly insufferable ride.

They haven’t asked, "do I want to get to point b?", let alone figure out how to enjoy the ride. Our role as coaches is to be a resource to our clients and help them navigate these questions. We do this by clarifying their goals and creating a path while providing guidance, support, and empathy. We call this process moving from stuck to unstuck. Once you know you’re stuck, this self-awareness will help you take the necessary steps to thrive instead of survive.


What does moving from stuck to unstuck look like? We had a conversation about what this looks like on a personal level. Below we’ve shared our key takeaways from the conversation. We hope our experience will inspire self-reflection and enhanced self-awareness.


Being Stuck:


1. The feeling of being stuck personally or professionally is all-encompassing. You have the desire to move forward but don’t know where to start.

Kendall: When I was stuck, I was just going through the motions. I would wake up, get ready, go to work, come home, eat, watch TV or a movie, and go to bed. While this routine was easy, it wasn’t engaging, and it involved little effort. I wasn’t motivated to reflect on my current situation or think about my personal or professional aspirations. I said no to anything that would stretch or challenge me because I had just enough energy to get through each day’s activities.


2. You find yourself in familiar, draining cycles.

Liz: I would go through a cycle where I would have days or weeks of feeling stressed, bitter, resentful, then something would happen (usually external validation of some sort) to put me back on that peak, but it wasn’t sustainable because I hadn’t explored the roots of the feelings - the WHY, and WHAT behind my attachment to external validation. I only felt like I was succeeding when others told me I was. I did not define my concept of success; others defined it for me.


3. Your boundaries aren’t defined or managed.

Kendall:

I said yes to every work project that came my way regardless of my current workload or responsibilities. I realize now that it was a way to distract myself from looking at the bigger picture and seeing that the core part of my job wasn’t bringing me joy.


4. You begin to fizzle - aka, you’re burnt out.

Liz: I wondered, “what the heck is wrong with me?” because I was having trouble sleeping, waking up with a rapid heart rate, low energy, difficulty concentrating, lower patience, and I attribute some other physical ailments I experienced to being burned out. I was out of alignment.


5. You may maintain relationships/friendships that no longer align with you or who you want to be.

Kendall: A few years ago, I was surrounded by people like me. My friends weren’t setting goals, thinking about their future, or designing a life/career that excited them. I gravitated towards these people because they didn’t challenge me and validated my life decisions.


6. You make decisions based on what you believe others want or what you think they want from you.

Liz: People-pleasing is sticky because choosing ourselves can feel like we are hurting others. Before doing a lot of introspection, my father’s face would pop up in my head whenever I wanted to take a risk or try something different or unconventional. That external approval was essential to me. The feelings, thoughts, opinions of others held more weight than my own.


7. You feel mentally stuck.

Kendall: My fear of failure held me back from visualizing my future and actualizing it. While I knew in my heart that thinking about the future would be a good exercise and help motivate me to make positive changes to my life, I continued to procrastinate on this important work and stayed in my comfortable holding pattern.


Liz: In that fixed mindset, doubt, fear, insecurity, and little confidence clouded how I viewed my ability to succeed. Even when I did succeed, imposter syndrome kicked in, and I’d ask myself, “Do I deserve this? Can I maintain this?” It’s such a mind game where you think you’ve gotten to the other side of it, you get what you want in life, yet there are still these lingering weights that make you feel anchored when you’re ready to sail.


Getting Unstuck:

1. Your decisions, behavior, and relationships are an authentic reflection of your needs and values.

Liz: I realized that even if it's not about you, it is a reflection of you, and surprise, you can’t get away from yourself. There is no fixing in a traditional sense. What there is, is a building of a strong, compassionate, trusting relationship with yourself. It encourages you to carve out the time for things that fill your cup and feel GOOD about it, creating a ripple effect into your other relationships, goals, impacts, etc.


2. You don’t need anyone else to be proud of you because you are already proud of yourself.

Kendall: It took me time to be proud of myself. I started by identifying my values, accepting my feelings, prioritizing my needs, understanding my strengths and weaknesses, and being compassionate with myself. I did this by being more self-aware, mindful of my thoughts and actions, and self-talk. While I will always work on these things, I’ve found that my efforts have improved my confidence and self-trust.


3. You are creating new, healthy habits and sticking to them.

Liz: It is important to define the potential benefit that a new habit has for you. It should also be something that aligns with your values. For example, I started to journal after years of floating around the idea because I tied it to the benefit of writing out my thoughts, and that aligned with my valuing creativity and self-reflection, two things I would not have considered as values before I started my self-work


4. You are saying NO to things that don’t serve you and YES to things that excite you.

Liz: It doesn’t serve you to continually water the gardens of others while you live in weeds. If catching up with a large group of people feels overwhelming, don’t go. Instead, maybe take the time to set up meet-ups that are a little more intimate and easier for you to manage.


5. Your perspective and mindset are growing.

Liz and Kendall:

Seeing yourself as an observer rather than being the center of your problems can help you focus on your strengths and move forward. You can transform your relationship with hardships, so you no longer let them define you. Instead, you see challenges as learning opportunities.

Coaching Helps You Get From Stuck to Unstuck:

Coaches partner with you to make meaningful change by helping you identify obstacles, underlying issues, and opportunities to thrive.

Liz: I tried to work through a lot of my feelings, situations, and narratives on my own because I knew a lot of this already, but knowing is not the same as understanding. Working with a coach helped me realize that I didn’t understand that despite how broken I may feel sometimes, all of those pieces are, in fact, me and that I am a WHOLE person. That acceptance of self was the catalyst for change for me.


Kendall: Unlike Liz, I didn’t have a coach, but I did have an anxiety attack. This anxiety attack was a wake-up call for me. Even though I didn’t know exactly what to do, I committed to working on myself. I read books, received good and bad advice, got a therapist, identified mentors, ended some friendships, made some new ones, took a mindfulness course, and went to graduate school. Most of these things helped me become unstuck, but it was a long, convoluted, and bumpy journey. A coach would have helped me find clarity and peace quicker than my DIY process.


How do I know if working with a coach is right for me?

Kendall:

If you value personal development, are open to new perspectives, want to make changes in your life, want a sounding board, need help to create balance in your life, and are willing to be challenged and want to feel more fulfilled in your life, then coaching could be a good fit.

What if I am not ready?

Liz: As with any other investment, you absolutely should take some time to consider the costs associated (not just financially, but also time and energy), as well as the benefits. Despite the massive rewards, investment in our relationship with ourselves and what we want from our lives is not one we usually make. If you’re not ready, we’re here to post content that we hope helps you better understand yourself and others.


Visit our YouTube Channel for a more extensive conversation about going from stuck to unstuck, and check out our other series on Self-Limiting Beliefs.


Click here to get to know more about my wonderful friend and fellow coach, Kendall, and her coaching practice.


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