Whether you’re a writer, soccer coach, job seeker, or self-employed, there will be points in your life where you’ll find yourself at a crossroads and just feel STUCK.
When this happens, many rely on time-honored strategies such as drafting a pro/con list, free-association journaling techniques, or creating complex decision trees — processes that keep us in our heads.
While there are benefits to these methods, if you’re really stuck or the problem requires a creative solution, simply reorganizing the information will likely not be enough to ‘unstick’ you. It may feel productive, but the trap is you’ll just keep circling back around the same few ideas, confusing yourself more.
Regardless of the situation, one of the best ways to get unstuck is to take action – ANY action – even (or especially!) a completely unrelated one. In fact, don’t spend time thinking about what action would be most useful, rather just DO something.
- Can’t think of a topic for your blog? Help your neighbor move to his new apartment.
- Over-committed and unsure how to fix things? Hit the gym and try a new group fitness class.
- Get into hot water at work and struggling to find a way out? Drive a different route home or try public transit instead.
- Can’t figure out what your next career path is? Download that interactive language app you’ve wanted to try.
- Torn between two job offers? Take your kids to the park on the other side of town.
Novel experiences inspire new neural connections in the brain, which lead to creativity and original ideas. To get extra benefit from this strategy, choose activities that get you moving! Recent research in Frontiers in Psychology shows that creativity is unleashed when physical activity is added to the mix.
So next time you’re stuck, stop torturing yourself and do something – anything – new. While the answer you’re seeking may not be found in your neighbor’s U-haul boxes or in the ads on the side of the public bus, these activities can dislodge what’s blocking you by enabling you to:
- see new possibilities that hadn’t occurred to you previously
- connect information you already have in unique ways
- find the ‘missing nugget’ by accessing memories you’d long forgotten
If you’re still not convinced, remember this: novelty releases dopamine in the brain, which is a natural mood-enhancer. The link between happiness and creativity has been well-documented, so in addition to getting potentially ‘unstuck,’ doing something new will also elicit a boost in mood!