How to Get Unstuck and Move Toward Success

Dr. John TownsendBy Dr. John Townsend (exclusive to

All of us want to be a success in life. We want a career that is fulfilling and that creates a sustainable lifestyle. We want relationships and family connections that are warm and intimate. We want to give back in service to the world in some way. Yet so often we find ourselves stuck in getting from where we are to where we want to be.

If you have found yourself stuck instead of successful in some area of life, it is likely that there is some sort of a problem in your being free to make the choices you need to make. That is, you may not be executing the right boundaries to help you move forward. When you set healthy boundaries in the right way, really good things can happen. What follows are three tips to help you move from stuck to successful.

Determine What You Want Versus What Others Want from You

This is a critical boundary to set. Often, we think of what others expect before we know what we really want in life. Yet the Bible tells us to make choices all the time, for example who we worship: "É choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (see Joshua 24:15). So get a piece of paper and write what you want to happen: a career goal, a relationship problem solved, a financial dream or a health goal. It does matter what people think, and we do impact others. Take those into consideration. But start with your own goal and desire and work from there.

Say No to the Good and Yes to the Right

Most of us don't have major issues saying no to really toxic influences like drugs or crime. We aren't supposed to do those things in the first place! But it is trickier to say yes to those things that aren't inherently bad, but take time and energy from what you want. We can't do everything, so we have to say no to good things to get to the right things. For example, you may need to decline your involvement on a committee because you can't get to your own goals. Or you may need to tell a friend you can't talk on the phone as frequently as you would like, because you don't have the time. These aren't fun decisions. But they free you up to work on that goal or relationship.

Have Conversations with People Who Are Operating Against You

There are, unfortunately, people who can be controlling, negative, judgmental or hurtful with you. This is such a power drain, how can you move from stuckness to success when you have their influence deflating your passion? Good boundaries mean having a loving but direct talk with some key people, in which you say, in effect, "I care about you and us, but your behavior makes it difficult for me to be around you. I would like to see some changes in our relationship, otherwise I will need to make some distance, which I don't want." The book How to Have That Difficult Conversation will help you with this issue.

Jesus taught us to let our yes be yes, and our no be no (see Matthew 5:37). Growth research, high performance research, and our own experience show that His words are true and that they work. Here's to your own movement from stuckness to success!


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  • Annamae Sterling on

    Thank-you for the article on being stuck ? I have been shocked to find that even superiors at work will help in remaining stuck! I have had to learn to recognize what I can do to contribute to the right things and it seems to be an ongoing process!

  • Mitch on

    A very timely article. I am sitting here in the sanctuary of my little church calling out to God for help in finding my renewed purpose (at 53 and single). I feel dead inside. My failures and addictions have taken so much. I am in good programs and full recovery. I am just trying to see Christ face-to-face again (so to speak). There has got to be more power and miracles and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The end seems near and time it’s shortened. Yet the church in America plods along – business as usual. Where is the urgency to spread the Gospel. I want to ride that train. Lord open my eyes & heart so I can make choices that put me in a position to be used by you.

  • Vicki on

    These are some great points. LOVED the testimony in the comments of In His Grip!! Another great evidence that He never leaves you nor forsakes You and only let’s you go as far as He wants. Excellent!

  • patrick on

    I have just read ur article and got intrested and feel that it will really help me begin well come 2014. We keep learning, growing, maturing until we come to the full stature of the One who has called us to Himself. Praise God. May His grace continue to multiply in ur life. Amen.

  • Charles Howington on

    I’m 72 years young, and one thing’s for sure. God didn’t give me complete instructions on how to live my life. At age 10 do this, etc. If He did I must have lost it when I was born. At 14 I accepted Christ, but early in my adult life I turned and walked away from God. Even though we abide not faithful, He abides faithful for He cannot deny Himself. With a love that would not let me go, He brought me back. Thanks for sharing, stuckness-to-success. When Jesus called the desciples, He said “follow me”. Sometimes the instructions were not complete. Since I have come back two things and probably more I have learned. Don’t expect Tuesday’s Grace on Monday, and under distress, “Be stll and Know that I am God”. I just got through
    with your devotion today. How’s that for timing.
    Thanks again

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