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KerryOn: Stuck

Sometimes we're just stuck. The reason can be obvious; perhaps our vehicle slid off an icy road into a ditch or a snowbank. Other times, we’re not quite sure why we’re struggling to get out of the rut we seem to be in. It happens to all of us at some point. Even if we're prepared – we know the weather patterns, the 4-wheel drive is engaged, and we have all the safety equipment in the trunk – we can still slide off track. The hardest part is, you never know when you’re going to get stuck, or how long it’s going to last before you can dig yourself out.

Immediately upon realizing we’re stuck, most of us have a predictable set of responses: we try reversing, or rocking forward and backward to get out of the rut, or adding sand and salt, and there is almost always a lot of digging. Those first few minutes are filled with a mix of hope and anxiety. “It’s not too bad. I’ll be able to get out of this easily.” Eventually, after spinning our wheels for way too long, we surrender, and realize we’re not going anywhere. Being stuck becomes a prelude to frustration, self-doubt, and a measure of hopelessness.

People can get stuck in life the same way their vehicle can get stuck. No matter how prepared we are – we workout, eat healthy meals, contribute to our retirement accounts, stay socially vibrant, etc. – it can feel like our wheels are spinning physically, mentally, emotionally and we aren’t going anywhere.

Throughout my life, I have experienced feeling stuck. When this happens to me, I face a range of emotions and thoughts. For instance, early in my career I was unsure of my trajectory. I was finishing my master’s degree and advancing in roles to receive more responsibility, yet I felt frustrated and unsatisfied with my direction.

What we do when we're stuck? The answer is different for everyone.

When I was stuck, I began to journal, talk with trusted colleagues, and remain open to opportunities. Eventually my path crossed with a doctoral program that was a perfect fit. Of course, it was no small feat achieving my doctorate, but the affects it had on my career were lifechanging. I’m not saying this option is for everyone nor am I saying it was easy. I continued to work full-time and I gave birth to three children throughout each phase of the endeavor – coursework, comprehensive exam, dissertation. What I do know now, is that had I not started to dig when I felt stuck, I’d definitely be in so deep I wouldn’t know how to get out. I now use my thoughts and emotions as warning signals to continually explore opportunities, keeping me from getting stuck.

In order to get unstuck we may have to try multiple methods. We may have to take time to reflect on our life and experiences. We may have to make some uncomfortable changes. We may have to reach out to obtain resources. We may have to ask for support and guidance from others. It truly depends on who we are and how stuck we have become.

Remember, no matter how stuck we may feel at times there is always potential to become unstuck. There may be times we may not even notice the shifts that happen to get us stuck, however if we continually keep exploring our best options - mentally, physically, emotionally – we can find solutions that keep us on our path. Keeping us from getting stuck once again.

KerryOn Questions

- Have you experienced a time in your life when you felt stuck?

- What did you do to get yourself unstuck?

- How can you prepare yourself for when you feel stuck again?

The Kerry behind KerryOn

My name is Kerry K. Fierke, Ed.D. (pron. Fear-Key) I have a unique combination of skills and experience – decades of fast-paced corporate experience in Fortune 100 companies and large health care organizations, combined with the academic rigor of a highly ranked research university. My focus is supporting others to create their own path to leadership development, lifelong learning, and a unique leadership legacy. Take a moment to focus on leadership, then KerryOn!

To see all KerryOn's and other leadership stuff, visit

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