We’ve all been there—feeling stuck in our circumstances, with few choices within our control.

Whether at work or in a personal relationship with a friend or family member, it can be so discouraging to feel like there are no options available that work.

I know I have felt stuck during little career lulls, or when dealing with pop-up family crises and at other times too.  In those moments, options can feel few and far between.  Non-existent, even.  

During those moments, I wish that I had had these five choices laid out for me.  I learned them during my education with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and many of my clients have found that they are useful to find options and what is within their control—all very helpful in getting unstuck more quickly.  

The beauty of these choices is that you have them, no matter how helpful or unhelpful others around you may be, or how confined you feel by an unexpected event.  

Your Five Choices When You Feel Stuck

  1. Remain a victim to it. Well, that probably doesn’t sound appealing, but if you’re feeling stuck, there’s a good chance that is what is currently happening.  It’s ok.  We’ve all been there.  And the good news is, there are four other choices!
  2. Change it.  You can’t change other people surrounding your stuckness.  And maybe you can’t change your company’s leadership.  But you can find other things around them to change.  For example, could you ask to get more or less of a certain kind of work?  Could you limit the time you spend with a negative family member?  
  3. Change your perspective of it.  Ah, interesting choice!  Here is where you can start to play around with how you are looking at things.  What are you learning?  What past difficult experiences have you had and how did those turn out?  What would have happened if you had changed your perspective sooner?  Hmmm….
  4. Accept it.  Don’t confuse this with Choice #1, “remain a victim to it”.  Accepting it means releasing what is out of your control and just accepting that it is.  Have a sibling or parent who drives you crazy?  What if you just accepted that, and didn’t let it eat you up inside for days after the holidays?  (Sometimes, Choice #4-accepting it -does lead to Choice #5, but not always.)
  5. Leave it.  You have the option to exit anytime.  You may decide that there are reasons it is not practical to leave at the moment.  But if you really wanted to, you could.  I do recommend trying #4 before pushing the “Eject” button.   I have seen with my clients that leaving feels much better when you have accepted the someone or something that has felt confining to you before.  

So how about that?  You thought you had no choices but it turns out you have five!  And really, way more than five when you take into account the number of ways you could change a relationship or change your perspective of it.

Wendy Hultmark, CPC, ACC, is a coach who helps women in leadership own their stories and write the next chapter. Learn more at www.wendyhultmark.com.