Feeling STUCK? A 5-Step Framework for Overcoming Obstacles and Moving Forward

If you're feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or unsure about how to move forward, the STUCK framework can help you identify and overcome the obstacles holding you back.

By examining your State, Thought patterns, Urgency, Clarity, and Know-how, you can regain traction and start making progress.

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Your physical and mental state greatly influences your thought patterns and behaviors. Suboptimal states often lead to suboptimal decisions, so it's crucial to understand and address your current state first.

Ask yourself:

  • How am I feeling physically and emotionally?
  • Am I tired, hungry, stressed, or overwhelmed?
  • What can I do to improve my state, such as getting more sleep, drinking some water or having a snack, spending time outside, or connecting with others?

Taking care of your fundamental needs sets you up for clearer thinking and decision-making.

Thought patterns

Our beliefs and thought patterns shape our view of the situation we’re in, but they aren't always rooted in reality.

Challenge assumptions and conclusions you jump to without evidence. Approach your circumstances with curiosity.

Notice the story you're telling yourself? What underlying beliefs might be coloring your perspective?

Look for alternative, positive explanations that are equally plausible while still acknowledging your reality.

Shift your focus to what is working rather than what isn't.


Both highly urgent tasks and faraway deadlines can leave us feeling stuck.

Examine the true urgency and importance of the situation. Is your paralysis stemming from an impending due date or one that is months away? Are your assumptions about the urgency correct?

The discomfort or complexity of the initial steps may also overshadow the ultimate reward. Build in small rewards for starting or making progress.

Does the task align with your goals and values—can you connect it to a larger purpose? Tackle the task using your strengths.


Lack of clarity is often the biggest hurdle.

Clarify exactly what needs to be done, the scope, and the definition of "done.” Breaking it down into specifics makes a project less daunting.

You're not expected to have all the answers—seek out needed information and ask questions. Identify who can provide missing details.


In our rapidly changing world, it's common to face a task you’ve never tackled before. While this presents a challenge, it’s also an opportunity to up-level yourself.

Determine if you have the necessary skills and knowledge for the task at hand. If not, figure out the smallest next step to make progress.

Reach out to your network to find someone with relevant experience, and don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Look for existing processes, examples, or templates to follow.

In conclusion, the STUCK framework provides a step-by-step approach to getting unstuck by methodically examining your state, thoughts, urgency, clarity, and know-how. Give it a try the next time you feel stuck, and see how it helps you overcome obstacles and move forward with confidence.