Martin P Wilson


Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Insight, IT

Facilitation and Mentoring for Success.

How to Use Uncertainty to Make Positive Changes in Career and Life

Getting Unstuck, CoverHow Dead Ends Become New Paths sums up this self-help guide to overcoming crisis and self-doubt by making it an opportunity for change based on one's deepest interests.

From time to time almost everyone becomes dissatisfied or uncomfortable with their life or career and it is often very unsettling; Timothy Butler suggests that this time of discomfort can be a precursor or opportunity for making a fresh start. In Getting Unstuck he sets out a way of actively using that Impasse to create Vision which will then allow the reader to Get Unstuck confident that he has a way forward with his life or career that reflects his personality, interests and beliefs.

The book is broken into three sections to take the reader through the stages from uncertainty to a new purpose in life that is true to the real person.

Impasse – “Feeling Stuck and Doubting Ourselves”

The first section is all about recognising the problem and facing the crisis which may vary from a nagging self-doubt to a feelings that might be construed as depression but as an appendix notes this is not usually the case. Most people feel stuck, in a rut, and have doubts. Butler makes it clear that this is an important phases to opening up and letting go so as to be able to move to a new understanding.

Vision – “Learning to Let Our Passions Guide Us”

Vision is not about the plan for the future but more of a view of one's self; the plan comes later. Here the author is encouraging the reader to appreciate his deeper interests and those long term passions and using them to map the insights that they generate.

Getting Unstuck – Finding New Career and Life Direction

Finally the book seeks to take the reader from the discomfort of Impasse to action which is where any necessary life changes should become clear. Indeed the whole process may confirm that the existing choices are right for the reader but for many it will help shape a new direction.

Case Studies – How Others Have Used the Getting Unstuck Approach.

The approach is comprehensively illustrated with case studies from Timothy Butler's work as a career counsellor. Reading these it makes clear why this process is hard work there is much to be said for this exercise being facilitated by a skilled counsellor or at least a sympathetic friend.

Closing Chapters and Appendices

The book finishes with notes, citations for references in the text and two main appendices:

Continuing the Journey – Sources of Further Guidance

For the the reader who wants to carry on the process of self-discovery there is a bibliography with supporting notes to guide and assist the reader who wants to understand more and take the process further.

A Note on Impasse and Depression

To allay concerns this appendix explains how the low feelings and lack of motivation associated with Impasse may have some characteristics similar to depression but that they are usually more intermittent and do not have the intensity or duration of clinical depression. Butler explains how accepting these dark moods are part of the journey from Impasse to Getting Unstuck.


Butler’s Getting Unstuck is not the usual glib self-help book. The reader will have to work to benefit from this guide to use life’s occasional uncertainty and dissatisfaction to create change and provide new purpose in life

This book is based on the author’s thirty years experience as a psychotherapist and career counsellor most recently as a Senior Fellow and Director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School. Getting Unstuck therefore has some serious credentials but it is not written as an academic text and as a result is accessible to any reader prepared to put in the effort.

It is a book that will reward that effort. It could be a life changing book.

Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths (ISBN: 978-1-4221-0225-1) by Timothy Butler is published in hard back by Harvard Business School Press at $24.95.


First seen on Suite101

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