3 Simple Actions To Stop Procrastinating & Feeling 'Stuck' In Life

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Whether it's deciding on the kind of car you want to buy, taking the next step in your relationship, or even starting that dreaded project, you've experienced that inexplicable "stuck" feeling at some point.

And you just want to stop procrastinating!

But, why do you feel stuck? Have you ever wondered what's actually going on inside your head that's causing the breakdowns? Is it your self-talk? Your inner narrative?

Maybe all you need to do is think more positively, and sooner or later, you'll manifest your answers to the problems that stop you in your tracks.

Maybe. But, it actually goes deeper.

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Perhaps instead of defining feeling "stuck" as failing, consider a perspective shift.

What if feeling stuck is the result of your brain trying to problem-solve on your behalf? What if the truth behind feeling stuck had roots in ancient survival brain neurochemistry?

It's true. Being stuck boils down to brain neurochemistry. And stress makes everything worse.

Let's unpack that.

Feeling stuck is a matter of survival.

Fact: The brain's main job is survival. Nearly everything your brain does is designed to keep you safe and alive. So, in order for you to do anything, your brain needs to "allow" you.

And, when you find it hard to move, your brain is likely missing some key data that would allow you to feel safe.

The human brain has developed over approximately 300,000 years. Its main goal was always survival and specializes in self-preserving behavior. So, it will always solve for your safety and survival.

When you're stuck, your brain is actually solving for safety.

In other words, it's doing its job to keep you safe by delaying decisions and actions.

In essence, your brain craves more certainty before it will do something that could be life-threatening, dangerous, or challenging.

Therefore, feeling stuck is rooted in the evolution of our species and is often the result of feeling fear or uncertainty.

According to neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, your brain is always trying to solve for three things: duration, path, and outcome.

In order to stop procrastinating, avoiding, and distracting yourself in life, you need to get unstuck. Here are 3 simple actions to move forward.

1. Solve for the duration. (a.k.a., how long you need to do the task for).

Being your brain is a tough job. It needs to do many things to keep you alive: Pump your heart, digest your food, oxygenate your blood. It's busy working on your behalf all the time.

Your brain is the most expensive organ to run, and because it's efficient, it wants to conserve its fuel. In order to work efficiently and spend its energy wisely, it's constantly sending out signals to know how long it needs to pay attention. ​

And to take action, your brain is constantly sizing things up and is constantly looking for time off.

When you're unsure of how long a task will take or how long something will last (duration), you tend to delay a decision or action due to uncertainty.

After all, it's hard to start a task when you don't know how long it will take. As a result, when your brain can't solve for the duration, it struggles to decide and delays decisions.

Conversely, when your brain has a duration in mind, it can estimate when it will have time to rest and refuel. So, deciding to focus on a task for 15 minutes and setting a timer can actually trick your brain to start.

The simple act of limiting your time magically helps your prefrontal cortex engage, focus, and pay attention. When you solve for the duration (how long you'll do something), it's often easier to get started.

When was the last time you felt stuck? Think back. Did a set time limit help you get started?

The next time you're faced with feeling stuck, solve first for the duration of how long you'll stick to a task. Then, when you reach that time, take a break. This will help your brain stay focused enough on something small.

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2. Chart your path and decide your first step. 

Decide on the path you need to take. When you don't understand the way forward, or what steps to take to get there, you'll inevitably feel lost.

That's why it's important to clarify the steps you need to take (your path) before you get started.

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Remember Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? Although she didn't know how long it would take her to get to Oz, she was able to "follow the yellow brick road" because it was a clear path to follow.

That was what she needed to overcome her fear of the unknown and start moving forward.

In real life, too many choices flood your cognitive field, making you feel overwhelmed. This almost always blurs your path. When you feel foggy, you will delay taking steps forward.

So, in order to get unstuck and find your path, zoom out. Shift your perspective and articulate a few broad milestones on your path.

Milestones may bring some certainty and allow your yellow brick road to appear. When it does, your brain may more easily let you take steps forward.

3. Solve for the outcome you seek.

Many people have made a habit of "ready, fire, aim" living. Meaning, they impulsively act before they think things through. They may not know where they're going or even what they want to accomplish but they leap anyway.

Although impulsivity delivers adrenaline, your brain really wants clarity before you start. To solve for an outcome, it's best to down-regulate, get present, and try to picture what you want to accomplish.

A trusted friend can help you verbally process a clear desired outcome — and that may be all you need to get started.

Feeling stuck is highly correlated to your survival instincts.

So, to get unstuck, you need to solve for one of three things: duration, path, and outcome.

To take action, your brain needs to feel "safe enough" to handle the uncertainty of what's ahead. Ideally, you'll find ease when you solve for all three elements but, sometimes, solving for one or two can also work.

Try it! Zero in on how long you'll work, high-level steps to follow, and your desired outcome. See if it provides enough data to get unstuck.

RELATED: Your Brain Is Tricking You Into Procrastinating — Here's How To Stop It (& Change Your Life For The Better!)

Cena Block is a Certified ADHD Life and Business Productivity Coach who helps high-performers and entrepreneurs with ADHD discover their unique flow formula to focus, frame, and finish what they start on time. Connect with her at Sane Spaces.com to set up a complimentary Discovery Call to explore how coaching may help you.

This article was originally published at Sane Spaces. Reprinted with permission from the author.