Feeling stuck is an unpleasant experience for most of us. All too often we confuse FEELING stuck with BEING stuck – if we FEEL stuck it must be true! And the longer we stay stuck the more we believe it – denting our self-esteem and any belief in ourselves that we can solve this problem and get free. A truly vicious circle!
Well, there are many, many ways to help your clients get unstuck – and moving. Here are 5 essential strategies to share when your clients are stuck:
1) REVIEW THE GOAL: When you have a stuck client – this is the first place to start. Do the goalposts need shifting? Do they need to be taller, wider, in a different place? Should they be shooting for a hoop, not a goal? We’re talking here about Goal ‘Ecology’ – ensuring the goal is aligned with our client’s values AND that there are no unexpected negative side-effects of achieving their goal. Our subconscious often realizes a goal is inappropriate long before we do and this can hamper our progress. So, it’s essential to ask first, “Why do they want the goal?” and “What are the outcomes they are looking for?” Then check that the goal fits the client’s lifestyle, relationships and deeper values. Look for unexpected outcomes – now and in the future. If it’s an old goal, make sure it’s still valid for who they are now. And last but not least, check that it’s their goal and not someone else’s…
REFRAME: Is the goal really RIGHT for them?
2) GIVE THEM NEW PERSPECTIVES: How could they achieve the same thing a different way? What is the bigger picture? What options haven’t they thought of yet? New perspectives means getting the client out of fixed or black and white thinking about the problem, and involves good questioning and brainstorming skills leading to the identification of new possibilities. Ask them to get crazy, outrageous and think of downright impossible options alongside the ‘normal’ brainstorming fare! Get them making huge lists of ideas and get their creative right brain activated.
REFRAME: Think Possibility not Probability.
3) JUST TAKE ACTION, ANY ACTION: Doing something, anything, always gives our clients more information than they had before – even if it clarifies what NOT to do! This may even mean taking action in a completely unrelated area in their life. A change in their life ‘situation’ can give them a new outlook and therefore new light on their problem. Also useful is the “Build a Bridge” coaching exercise – they don’t need to be able to see the other side of the bridge; they just need to take the first 3 steps. Once they’ve taken those they’ll be able to see the next 3 steps and so on – until they’ve crossed their bridge!
REFRAME: Do something, anything!
4) STRENGTHEN THEIR INNER RESOURCES: Really support and encourage your client. Actively demonstrate an absolute, unquestioning belief that they can find their own answers. And as in therapy, it’s incredibly important that your client feels truly witnessed in their current situation – that someone sees them, accepts them as they are and is willing to move forward with them from their current perspective.
REFRAME: Who do you need to BE to achieve your goal/get unstuck?
5) UNLIMITING BELIEFS: Often what keeps people stuck is a limiting belief around what’s possible or what they deserve and are capable of. Of course, one definition of a belief is, “Something we hold to be true – without any proof…” And limiting beliefs can range from the specific like, “I don’t have enough money” to more general and insidious beliefs like, “I’m worthless” or “I’m undeserving.” As a coach, this is one of our prime roles – to listen closely and observe so that we can help our clients identify and move through their limiting beliefs. Ask, “Where are you getting in your own way?” and for fun, “What would you do if you DIDN’T want to achieve this goal/wanted to remain stuck?”
REFRAME: If there IS no proof that this belief is true, why not pick a positive or expansive belief rather than a limiting one?
Of course there are many more strategies and variations available to you, but no matter what, give your client endless supplies of patience and encouragement and gently remind them, often, that there are very few impossible goals – just impossible timescales… They’ll get there.