Book Review - Getting Unstuck by Timothy Butler
There comes a time (or many times, actually) in everyone's life when things appear to be at a dead end. You know you don't want to be where you're at, but you're in a quandary about how to move on. That's the subject of the book Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Timothy Butler. If you're willing to work his process and exercises, you may well find that "new path" to take you to the next level.
Part 1 - Impasse: Facing Crisis; Feeling Stuck and Doubting Ourselves; Opening Up and Letting Go; Shifting to a New Understanding
Part 2 - Vision: Our Deepest Interests (The First Pattern in the Carpet); Learning to Let Our Passions Guide Us; Power, People, and Achievement (Three Interwoven Patterns); Mapping Our Insights (Patterns in the Sand)
Part 3 - Getting Unstuck: Moving from Impasse to Action; Living at the Border
Appendixes: Continuing the Journey (An Annotated Bibliography); A Note on Impasse and Depression; Scoring the One Hundred Jobs Exercise
Notes; Index; About the Author
Butler is a researcher and business psychologist who works with people who have hit a "dead end" in their life. Many of the stories in the book involve students who have gone to business school, have a number of options in front of them, but nothing seems quite right. His approach to getting unstuck is to allow the inner thoughts and passions to direct us towards what we probably already know the answer to be, but we just haven't tuned into it. Many of these exercises are covered in sidebar entries called "deep dives". These sidebars go into detail about how an exercise works and how to do it. For instance, "free attention" is the technique of allowing your focus to reside on a particular part of the body, letting the sensations and feelings wash over you without judgement. When your mind wanders, you've lost your free attention and need to refocus on the body part. This then shifts to focus on breathing, and the goal is to let emotions run their course and learn from them. Another technique is paying attention to images that form in your mind. These images can often be formed from deeper core feelings and emotions, and taking the time to reflect and analyze them can cast light on your situation and point to a new path. Probably one of the most in-depth exercises is the 100 Jobs list. You choose 12 jobs from a list of 100 that appeal to you on an emotional basis. Scoring the exercise involves categorizing the types of attributes that make up those jobs. By grouping and classifying the different underlying traits, you'll see trends such as leadership, persuasion, coaching, etc. These trends can then be used to examine your direction and make corrections...
On the whole, the ideas are solid. I can see where working through the process could lead to dramatic changes that might not be explored by a more cursory examination of your life. But while the book is designed to be used on your own, I think it'd work best if you had someone skilled in these techniques working with you. It's hard to be objective about your own mind, and an external viewpoint would help keep things focused. I also think that the material would appeal most to business professionals who are at a career crisis. Most of the material is slanted towards job-related issues, and the stories are largely about college and grad school students. While anyone could use these ideas in various areas of their lives, I think the "average" person might find it all a bit daunting...