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Getting Unstuck - How Do You Motivate Yourself?

Getting Unstuck - How Do You Motivate Yourself?

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 09/23/2009
Last Updated: 11/23/2009

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Yesterday was "one of those days." I spent a super restless night tossing and turning, alternately entertained and frightened by some pretty weird dreams. I mean, these were the kinds of dreams that really make me question my sanity. And the rest of the day was strange, too, because I just couldn't do anything right. I felt absolutely stuck.

It made me think of what was one of my children's favorite books when they were little, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst. I always felt happy after reading that book even if I happened to be having a bad day myself.

I felt stuck all day yesterday, and I no longer had a copy of the book, so what to do? I was so stuck that I couldn't write - save for this blog post - to save my life. And I had a deadline for an article due in 2 days. A deadline! That always forces me to you-know-what or get off the pot. But not yesterday. Nothing was working...nothing.

So I wrote all morning - unsuccessfully churning out my umpteenth draft - and then gave myself a break. You know what I did? I...

  • Cleaned out my closet (except it only got messier)

  • Googled "how to get unstuck" (and got 233,000 results). I found some of to be helpful - it's about self-defeating steps to getting unstuck.

  • Went for a bike ride

  • Decided to force myself - once again - to sit down and write. And no whining allowed. Just. Do. It. Only this time, I was approaching it with a fresh (and better) attitude.
A lot of us feel stuck at various points of our lives, and so many of those times occur around midlife. People feel stuck in their marriages, so get divorced or go for counseling. They feel stuck with their physical appearance, and might lose a lot of weight or have cosmetic surgery. They need a change, so go from brunette to blond, cut their long hair short, downsize to a condo.

While I'm not doing anything that drastic (yet) I decided the best thing to do is distract myself for a while (hence the closet-cleaning), try to solve the problem with well-worn advice (hence the googling), get physical (I worked off some pent-up energy) and then face the challenge again with a new attitude and different approach. (I'll let you know how that went after I turn in the article!)

What do you do when you feel stuck? How do you get motivated to get going, keep moving, forge ahead?


How about exercise, sex and then cookies? No time to get stuck with that combo :)

Like many of your other commenters, I find that exercise really helps. So does sex. I highly recommend it as a way to get your (creative) juices flowing again!

I felt a bit "stuck" today. I walked the dog, made chocolate chip cookies (whole wheat), vacuumed the entire house, still a bit restless. My thought is it's okay to have those kind of days. We shouldn't feel perfectly happy all the time--in fact, I think having a range of emotions, stuck, unstuck, happy, bummed, all make life interesting. Moderation in all things, right? Even emotions. That said, I'm still looking forward to eating my cookies...

I love all these comments - mainly because I see I'm hardly alone! Thanks, everyone.


I'll usually cook. And then eat. My resultant muffin top is proof that this might not be the best idea.

Any kind of purposeful movement helps me - a nice walk, a slow swim. Also, reading something I love.

Usually going for a walk helps me get unstuck - and I get exercise, too!

Like Ruth, sometimes I just roll with a stuck day. I always feel guilty that I didn't find a way to unstick myself, but sometimes it's easier to to accept that today I'm stuck. And often the next day, momentum builds. I loved "Alexander's...Day". I think I'll go look and see if we still have it.

I usually go for a walk. Or bake something I shouldn't be eating.

I shop or cook. If I have an urgent deadline I don't allow myself to make excuses. I just get it done. The best advice ever is from Anne Lamott, which I have translated to mean "write it and fix it later."

I'm with Ruth. Sometimes you just have to accept being stuck for a while. I do, however, subscribe to the closet-cleaning method ... where you do some task that gives you a sense of control, even in situations where you have none (or at least it feels that way).

I also go for walks with the dogs or play with the dogs as a ploy.

I tend to be pretty good on deadline, though. The right play list on the iPod and some discipline to SIT IN THE CHAIR usually yields results.

I think it depends on how long you're stuck. Sometimes, when you're just having a bad day, surrender to it -- and eat a few cupcakes and read trashy magazines. Usually, the next day will be better. If not, time to get moving with some of this advice.

Fortunate to live near the ocean, I go for a walk at the beach. There's something about being close to nature and breathing in the salt air that is the perfect way to become "unstuck."


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