July 13, 2024

You are stuck, and you know it. You’ve tried everything—writing out your to-do lists, putting numbers or letters next to everything to help frame what you should prioritize, mapping it to your calendar—but nothing happens. The list grows, and you open your phone and start doom-scrolling. Maybe a tiny burst of inspiration gets you moving, but then you find yourself back to where you started, stuck again.

Sometimes, no amount of self-help tricks, electronic apps, or anything gets you moving. Try this:

Next Right Thing

Those three words, as obvious as they may be, are the most important and quickest way to get unstuck. Regaining momentum sometimes feels impossible when you are stuck, but the power to break free is in your hands. Doing the next right thing could be something mundane, such as taking out the trash or returning a call; the most minor completed tasks count! The important part is that you started taking action. Action leads to movement, and the movement gets you unstuck. You don’t need to overthink the next right thing; merely ask yourself the question, and whatever comes up, do that! No need to prioritize it either. Just ask the question and do what comes up at that moment. This simple act of taking control can empower you to overcome your stagnation.

With a startup or a small business, being stuck can quickly spiral into paralysis. Feelings of mounting work build, but there is nothing you can do to get you moving. The tasks feel almost too big even to start, and that is precisely when these three words matter most. Just get to the next right thing. There is another form of being stuck that is much bigger and more concerning for entrepreneurs: the dangers of a stuck culture.

 

A Stuck Culture

Being stuck or frozen can happen to entire companies and their cultures. These moments are ones you know because you can feel it; you feel the malaise in the organization. Meetings meander, and people almost walk around like stunt doubles in The Walking Dead. The Forbes Coaches Council revealed 12 Ways To Tell If Your Business has stagnated and highlights the importance of regular check-ins. This is not only critical for you as the leader, but it’s the perfect forum for you to instill into the team and culture, the next right thing.

 

The causes of a stuck are manifold: It could be improbable goals, could be wandering meetings, a loss of faith in the CEO, or too numerous to mention. A stagnant culture can lead to decreased productivity, low morale, and even high turnover and employee loss; in other words, nothing good. Take charge, take the words, “Next Right Thing,” and insert those words into your lexicon and meetings.

Stuck cultures are around; you can see them, and you likely know people who work in them because they complain to you about how nothing gets done. You may even be in one. The focus becomes less and less about what work ahead is needed and more about what is not happening. You see this quite often when two companies are trying to merge in a very public way. Everybody knows companies merge to create synergies; the word, synergy usually translates to cost savings and fewer jobs. Fear washes over the culture and whatever creative process there was comes to a grinding halt. Internally, the conversations all hover around what will happen and how it will affect employees. The reality is that 99.9% of the employees are nowhere close to the actual information of what could happen, and frankly, there is a possibility that nothing could happen as well.

 

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A stuck culture can also happen when companies are successful. Carl Lindsey discusses and provides a clear remedy: show gratitude. As a leader, being aware of it is the first key step to addressing it. Be the first on the team to acknowledge someone who is taking the next right step.

 

Having navigated these waters before with mergers, the exact three words provide a much-needed focus. You find solace by focusing on what you can control and then on the next right thing. The clarity offers a way to pivot away from whatever may be interfering with the business right then and there. This is how you can alleviate some of the anxiety and uncertainty of a stuck or frozen culture.

 

Apply the Words

New Mindset Loading for Next Right Thing

Shift the mindset to the Next Right ThingGETTY

As the CEO, team leader, or a strong teammate, ask the simple question in the next meeting, “Okay, what’s the next right thing?” By leading with this question, you can encourage your team to focus on actionable steps and avoid feeling stuck. Much like on the personal side, start small. For someone, it could be just showing up to the meeting with an agenda or the next step on a project, whatever it is, and keep driving to ask the question.

 

You’ll feel the shift, you’ll see the work starting to flow, and people responding, but the critical element is to be consistent with querying what is the next right thing. It’s not a meeting; it’s a mindset. You’ll know it’s sinking in when you hear the staff echoing back to you about what they are doing when you ask, “What are you working on today?” They reply, “The next right thing!” Take a moment to reflect on your current situation, identify the next right thing, and take action. Remember, the key to getting unstuck is to start moving forward.

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