Man Stuck Deciding and Not Moving Forward

Many times we get ourselves into a mental trap where not moving forward seems safe. It isn’t.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.” ~ Buddha

We often get in our own way when pursuing success.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people starting businesses because they have lost their job or fear they will lose it in the future. Some people are just tired of doing the same work for 20 plus years and want a change.

They have announced to the world, or at least a few close people, that they are launching a business, “I am an entrepreneur.”

A lot of these people, who happen to be mostly men in their mid-careers, get stuck in starting.

There are enough reasons that are out of our control for businesses to fail.  We don’t need to be adding ourselves to the list of reasons.

We are all human, and so we do it anyway.

What does getting stuck in starting look like?

Stuck In Starting

These are just three of the many ways you may be getting stuck in starting.

Looking For Guarantees

“I will start when I am certain I will succeed.”

So you spend a lot of time researching. Then you spend more time organizing the research and trying to make some sense of it. If the decision is not obvious, you either do more research or abandon the idea and pursue another. Or you wait for the perfect timing.

Since there are no guarantees in life or business, this cycle can go on forever.

Chasing The Perfect Idea

This is related to looking for guarantees, but instead of continuing to research and plan out the first idea you have a whole bunch of business ideas to pursue.

Deep down, you know you need to pick something but first you need to gather enough information to make a decision.

Now the research project is enormous. In fact, sometimes you can become so overwhelmed you don’t even have the energy to do the research. So motivation and overwhelm become the repeating cycle.

I Need To Be Better

This manifests in two ways. You will start when:

  1. You learn all the different aspects of running a business,
  2. Add more skills, products and services that you could be selling to your clients.

Of course, the problem is that until you start, you truly don’t know what skills you are missing or what your market wants.

Your Sticking, Stuck Mindset

In Calgary, the professions I see this with are engineers, software developers, information technologists, and accountants. I am sure there are others just as affected.

Most of the people I’ve seen in this trap tend to be analytical and process-driven. Some of this is how you are wired and see the world, and some of it is personality.

It starts with research and trying to make sense of the information. Then many of you need to organize the information to make further sense of it. A subset will then take all of that and devise systems to remove further risk.

These are all really good traits and extremely important.

The problem is that you are not getting past being stuck.

Getting Unstuck

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” ~ Mark Twain

Business owners need to make decisions and move forward. You can’t create or innovate without it.

Most importantly you need to find paying clients and get to the point where you prove your business is viable before you run out of money.

If you never start, you will never prove it in the real world, and you will eventually run out of money.

You aren’t avoiding failure by not starting. Not starting means you won’t succeed either. This is an insidious route to failing through abandoning your dreams.

The good news is there are five tools you can use to become unstuck.

Time-Boxing Your Research

Well thought-out decisions are important. Do your research. Put a firm limit or deadline when it will be done. Then you need to stick to it.


Sticking to deadlines may not be your thing. Find or hire someone you trust to hold you accountable for your commitments.

Mentors and Advisors

If you gather information and just can’t seem to make that decision, find or hire a person or group of people to help you decide. Once the decision is made, you need to stick with it and move forward.

Motivation, Passion, and Purpose

One reason you may be stuck is that the prize of being an entrepreneur or what you sell doesn’t light a fire in you. The intersection of passion, purpose, talent and market need is powerful. You will need that motivation to get through the rough spots, like starting.


If you have the passion, you can partner with someone who complements your skills and talent. Don’t make the mistake of partnering with your clone. You will still have gaps and double the problems.  If you don’t want to partner, hire out the work you don’t like or struggle with.


What are you doing to get unstuck in your start-up, job, or existing business?

 This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

Photo Credits (Modified) – Top Flickr/Marcin Wichary