Have you ever felt like life was passing you by, leaving you trapped in a web of stagnation? Have you found yourself yearning for something more, something that would reignite the fire within you?
If so, you're not alone.
Many women experience this sense of being stuck in midlife, whether in a monotonous job, an unfulfilling relationship, a health or fitness plateau, or a creative rut.
In my forties, I faced a triple whammy of stuckness — work, marriage, and cigarette addiction.
Let's just say it wasn't pretty.
The term stuck covers a broad range of contexts and experiences, but to be stuck means three things:
- that you're temporarily unable to make progress in a domain that matters to you;
- that you've been fixed in place for long enough to feel psychological discomfort; and
- that your existing habits and strategies aren't solving the problem.
In his thought-provoking book, Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to Get Unstuck When It Matters Most, Adam Alter offers science-backed insights on flourishing in the face of friction.
Alter is a renowned professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, a New York Times bestselling author, and a leading expert in human behavior.
This book isn’t a mere collection of motivational quotes or empty promises. Alter combines his expertise with scientific research to create a roadmap for personal growth and transformation.
Flourishing in the Face of Friction
Here are six powerful insights to light your way from stagnation to triumph:
1. Anticipating change is the first step to getting unstuck.
Change can catch us off guard, leaving us feeling stuck and unprepared. But remember, change is inevitable and constant.
Instead of expecting things to remain the same, anticipate change and equip yourself to act when faced with new challenges.
2. Pause to move forward.
Sometimes, the key to making significant progress lies in slowing down. In the face of challenges, allow yourself a pause—a moment, a day, or even a week—before taking action. Slow down now to make progress later.
In the late 1980s, tennis great André Agassi lost his first three matches against Boris Becker, a young player with a massive serve. "His service motion was something the world had never seen before," Agassi said later.
During their fourth match, Agassi stared closely at Becker as he served, sacrificing a couple of points in pursuit of an edge. By slowing down, he discovered that Becker's tongue flicked out of his mouth in the direction he planned to serve.
Agassi went on to dominate Becker's serve and win nine of the next eleven matches they played against one another.
3. Simplify with a friction audit.
For some reason, people are more likely to complicate a situation before they even consider simplifying it.
Friction is at the heart of being stuck. The friction audit gives you a tool for weeding out unwanted friction points and inserting friction points to prevent unwanted behaviors.
The friction audit states that people get unstuck when they overcome three sources of friction: HEART (unhelpful emotions), HEAD (unhelpful patterns of thought), and HABIT (unhelpful behaviors).
Simplifying is a flexible, powerful tool, and it's a strong step toward getting unstuck. The next step, though, is figuring out the best way to combine the options that remain. This combining and configuring is far more important than most people imagine.
4. Unleash the magic of recombination.
Rather than searching for something completely groundbreaking, explore the power of recombination. Take unrelated concepts and weave them together to create something innovative.
Many successful ventures and breakthroughs have been born through this approach. Embrace the idea that evolutionary progress can be just as transformative as revolutionary leaps.
5. Different is better than comfortable.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who share your competence and perspectives is tempting. But, real growth and breakthroughs emerge from embracing diversity.
Engage with people who have different viewpoints from yours and challenge your assumptions.
Also, we can now leverage transformative AI engines like ChatGPT as catalysts for progress. These innovative technologies serve as the "black sheep," stimulating our minds with new ideas and propelling us forward.
Embrace the power of diverse voices, from humans or intelligent bots, to challenge your thinking and nudge you from being stuck.
6. Awaken your inner curiosity.
Rediscover the awe and wonder of a curious child. As adults, we often settle into routines and stop asking questions. Spend time exploring different options, approaches, and techniques. Embrace a mindset of constant learning and growth.
By fostering a childlike curiosity, you'll uncover innovative solutions and discover new horizons.
Being stuck can make us feel lonely and isolated in a world where we're bombarded by success stories. These successes lead us to believe that others face fewer barriers than we do.
The truth is, we all face roadblocks — but they're not meant to stop us in our tracks. We're meant to jump over them in pursuit of our growth and transformation.
So when you find yourself stuck, I hope your breakthroughs aren't too far behind.
Read: Anatomy of a Breakthrough | Amazon
Listen: How to Get Unstuck | Good Life Project Podcast
How to Find Your People
Deep down, we know who our people are. The unmistakable spark we feel when we connect with them. We recognize what makes them authentic, interesting, likable, and relatable.
The real question is one of our choices and directions: Do we actively seek out and consciously connect with people that embody these traits and characteristics? More importantly, do we make the difficult decision to let go of the friends who don’t?
Redefining Midlife Friendships | Sunday Paper
Is HRT Safe? Everything You Need to Know
Hylda is a U.K.-based beauty and wellness platform for midlife women. They take the brakes off midlife, with expert information, products, and stories from inspiring midlifers.
Dr. Louise Newson Has the Facts | Hylda
You Can and Should Change the Beliefs That Hold You Back
Doing so will make your life go better. First, though, you’ve got to find these beliefs. And that’s more difficult than it sounds.
Often, the beliefs that hold us back are so much a part of who we are that we don’t even realize we have them.
Little Bits of Light
Words to open your heart and refresh your spirit
Photos by: Linda Wattier