Curiosity: The Great Un-sticker (Part 2)

19 December 2023 | General

This is a sequel about getting unstuck. In the previous edition, Curiosity helped us understand the problem (read it here). This is an incredibly important part of the process, so don’t skip it. You need to enter this second phase with a firm grasp on the problem. If you have that, it’s time to reengage your friend Curiosity, and team them up with Hope. This duo are excellent problem solvers. Unfortunately, when you are stuck, you have made Hope redundant. You need Curiosity to put Hope back to work. Hope has excellent abilities setting goals, mapping pathways and providing a sense of agency. Meanwhile, Curiosity is the quality controller questioning each step and decision to ensure Hope is on the right track.

The first job of Curiosity and Hope is to paint a picture of what life looks like without the problem. The simplest way to do this is to ask the question what would a future without the problem look like? When answering this question, note what you do see, not what don’t see. It can be useful to make this a motion picture and work your way through a day, a week or a year. What would be the first thing you would notice in this new world? Don’t be afraid to go into detail, the clearer you can see your future world the better. That’s Curiosity’s job at this stage, to keep asking Hope what else do you see? and what does that look like? until a clear, hopeful vision of the future is created.

Before moving to the next step, Curiosity needs to do a quick quality control check. Does the hopeful future address the actual problem or the superficial one? Does this vision reflect your ideal future or someone else’s? Does this future vision make you feel lighter or heavier? If you answer the later for any of these questions, it’s back to the drawing board. If you answer the former, you are on the right track. It’s time to refine the image into a clear actionable goal. What exactly do you want to achieve? Write it down! One study suggests you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals, when you write them down. Just don’t put it in the top drawer and wait for the goal genie to get it done. Only you can achieve this goal, so keep it in your sights.

I bet I know what is on the tip of your tongue and it starts with “yes, but”. That’s why you are stuck, there are barriers in your way. If so, let’s see your list. Write every perceived obstacle down. Now promptly cross off the ones that you know are ridiculous (there will be a few). For the rest, ask the question, what is one small step I can take to minimise or eliminate the barrier? This might be improving efficiency; reducing unnecessary expenses; learning a new skill; or setting a boundary. Have you identified a few small changes you can make? If yes, consider your can-do attitude activated. You are ready to strap on your backpack and start plotting your way out of here. If you are still saying “no, I can’t” replace it with “I won’t”. Own the decision that you don’t want it enough and try again with a different goal.

Now for the final step, you need a plan (or two or three). Curiosity’s role at this stage is to encourage experimentation followed by exploitation. The experimental phase is all about trial and error. What if I do this? What worked, what didn’t? Why didn’t that work? Can I do it differently? Experimenting doesn’t need to be costly or time consuming. It could be as simple as experimenting with your daily schedule or attending a few come and try days. The exploitation phase is when you narrow down the field and focus on what worked and how to build on this. So how do you get started? Ask, what is the first step I could take to move towards my goal? You might want to stay here, taking one step at a time or brainstorm all the steps and place them in a timeline. Just get started on something. If it doesn’t work, experiment with something else, if it does work move to the next step. It’s a good idea to keep each step small, this will ensure they are achievable. The more you achieve the more motivated you will be to keep going.

So just like that, taking one step at a time you will become unstuck as long as you remember to keep Hope and Curiosity nearby. It is also a good idea to take some actual friends with you as well. Employing a sense of agency is not about needing to do it alone. It’s about grabbing the wheel and steering the ship, with a support crew behind you. Remember to select your support crew based on their strengths. This could include enlisting the help of a therapist or coach to keep you on track and motivated (book an appointment below). And finally, keep reading, I recommend Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo as a perfect companion for the journey. Bon Voyage!

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