I take care of a lot of accomplished people through Brentwood MD. Over time, I’ve noticed a pattern.
Often, people who’ve achieved high levels of success in many areas of their lives have one or more remaining areas where success eludes them. They describe it as feeling “stuck.” They may know what they need to do to move forward, yet they can’t seem to manage it in practice.
I know how this feels because I’ve been there. The good news is that there’s a way out — for me, for our members, and for anyone else who wants to achieve joy and fulfillment in all areas of life.
What Does ‘Stuckness’ Look Like?
In my world, “stuckness” tends to present during a member’s annual physical, especially when discussing their health optimization plan. We’ll be looking at the incredible strides they’ve already made and what areas they want to target next. We often end up on one of these:
These goals can camp out on people’s to-do lists for a long time. And, perhaps counterintuitively, it’s not because people don’t understand the importance of these items or what to do about them. They do. Yet these areas tend to become zones of stuckness across the board, getting kicked down the road until there’s nothing else left to optimize.
Anyone Can Get Stuck
High achievers often possess a fairly high level of self-awareness, but they’re still human. That means they still have blind spots.
It’s an interesting dynamic. You may know exactly what you need to do, but something continually interferes with the execution. Whether it’s through conscious suppression or subconscious ignoring, there’s a blind spot.
This is where coaching comes in. No matter how good you are, you can’t see your own swing. You need another set of eyes — an outside perspective — to help you see what you can’t see.
3 Paths for Getting Unstuck
In my practice, I’ve found the following three areas to be excellent starting points for beginning the process of getting unstuck.
1. Essentialism: Get Clarity on Your Value System
You only have so much time in a day for solving problems, and only so much energy. When every day is filled to the brim, everything feels important. But when everything is important, nothing is.
Prioritizing isn’t easy, especially when the media, pop culture, and other circles of influence constantly bombard you with what they think should be important. It’s here, I’ve found, where the real disconnect begins — with not having a clear picture of what’s important to YOU.
This goes deep into your personal values, and it’s where I like to start this journey with members looking to get unstuck.
First, begin by setting aside some time to explore your values. What is essential to you as an individual? These are your values. They’re not up for debate. They’re yours and yours alone.
When you gain clarity and focus on what’s most important to you, that becomes your North Star — and the busyness from those other good things in life gets much quieter.
Most people end up identifying between five and seven essential core values. The next step is to audit your life against those values and identify any areas of friction where your daily activities don’t align with what matters most.
Finally, when you do identify areas of friction, don’t judge! Just notice. The biggest mistake I see people make at this stage is judging the friction. There’s no need for judgment to make positive progress. In my experience, the simple act of noticing and acknowledging an area where you’re living out of alignment with what’s most important to you is often enough for high achievers to make practical changes.
I’ve done this audit myself. After identifying my essential values, taking time to notice areas of misalignment provided the exact motivation I needed to make a real change. It wasn’t someone else telling me what to do or pandering to a peer group; it was looking at myself in the mirror and asking, “Are we good?”
2. Identify Limiting Beliefs
The next interesting area to explore when trying to overcome stuckness is limiting beliefs. Such beliefs are deeply rooted in our psyche from much earlier in our lives, and they unconsciously shape our views on things like money, self-worth, adequacy, and love. They linger in our system, impacting our navigation through life.
Limiting beliefs can be incredibly frustrating to otherwise high achievers who’ve been unable to make progress in certain specific areas. In fact, high achievers have often conditioned themselves to over-index in areas where they excel, not realizing they’re simultaneously avoiding and distracting themselves from areas in which they struggle. The resultant void then follows them into the future, regardless of success in other areas.
For this reason, identifying and accessing limiting beliefs can be challenging. We often guard such areas and bury them deep inside. Or, when they’re accessible, they’re often highly sensitive and emotionally “hot.”
Limiting beliefs are difficult to spot and address on your own. It’s one of those areas where an outside perspective can help immensely. Therapy, for example, or professional coaching can be an excellent way to access the guidance you need to identify areas of overcompensation, heal from past trauma, or reframe unhelpful belief systems.
3. Pursue Freedom From AND Freedom To
Most people intuitively understand and desire freedom. But there are actually two layers to freedom: freedom from and freedom to. This is a concept I’ve heard best described by Dan Sullivan, a speaker, consultant, and coach to entrepreneurs.
The first phase of freedom involves escaping from the limitations of a non-ideal state, such as poverty or unhealthy relationships. For those who consistently do the right things over a long enough period of time, achieving this level of freedom is common. Interestingly, however, success at this level doesn’t bring true fulfillment, because true fulfillment goes beyond mere success. This is where the second layer comes in.
True fulfillment, joy, happiness, and deep satisfaction in your life’s work only occur if — once you escape those limiting factors — you embark on the deep spiritual journey of discovering who you’re now free to become.
Freedom from is valuable, and it’s the first stage. But freedom to become who you genuinely are is the stage at which many of the limiting factors that have kept you stuck begin to fade away.
Whether you’ve been stuck for a month, a year, or longer, you have the ability to become unstuck. I know this firsthand.
The key is getting in touch with your authentic self. Get clear on your values and identify what’s essential to you. This will be your guiding light as you work through the process.
If you find yourself struggling or getting into the weeds, remember to find your team, whether that’s a doctor, therapist, coach, or clergy. Find the people who can provide that outside perspective and who can walk with you through this journey of curiosity and discovery.
What I find fascinating is that, despite our vast differences in background, talent, skill, personality, and capability, all of us wildly individual human beings tend to become stuck in very similar ways. So, you’re not alone. And this is absolutely achievable.
My hope is that having a conversation like this helps you begin your journey to unlocking progress in whatever area has you stuck today.
Dr. Aaron Wenzel is a concierge physician specializing in the care of fast-moving entrepreneurs, executives, and public figures in the Nashville, TN area. Dr. Wenzel’s diverse life experience and extensive training in family medicine, emergency care, nutrition, and hormone replacement therapies give him the unique platform to provide unmatched care for his patients.