Your Choice: Tolerate or Change?

by Alli Polin on October 14, 2014

We always have a choice. Why stay stuck when you can choose to move?

A few weeks ago I was talking to some friends during a dinner party at our house.  While we waited for the steak to cook on the barbecue, I was sharing my excitement for my new eCourse that was about to launch and I asked my friends:  Have you ever been stuck?  One of them quickly answered without hesitation, “Never.”

Her career has always been on track, she has a husband she loves and they’re constantly traveling and going on new adventures.

“Wow, never?  That’s awesome.”  Still, I was curious.  Was there  a time in her life that she was tolerating a less than fulfilling experience instead of instigating meaningful change?

Immediately the answer was, “Of course!”  She shared a personal experience, outside of work, of being stuck and longing for change and didn’t know if that “counted.”  It was my turn to chime in, “Of course!”

Your Choice: Tolerate or Change?

I often talk to people that want to convince me that their life is perfect.  In many ways, they are also convincing themselves.  They give me the glossy version of how things are going and skip of the bits that are more vulnerable or painful truths.

It struck me that some people don’t define tolerating as being stuck… even when it’s not their choice and they see no way out.  

Instead, I hear excuses:

“That’s why they call it work.  If it was fun, they’d call it going to fun.”

“I’m bored, but who isn’t?”

“I want more, but I’m not ready to rock the boat.”

“I want to change, but the people I love don’t.”

 I’ll ask you… how do you get unstuck?  How do you even know you’re stuck?  What are the signs?

Check out this Haiku Deck for 10 signs and 10 solutions to leave stuck and step into a life and leadership that inspires.

(If the deck doesn’t load for you, here’s the link: Haiku Deck Stuck Stinks)

Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that’s simple, beautiful and fun.

Are you feeling stuck and ready to change?  Check out my eCourse: Get Unstuck and Choose to Move.


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Cynthia Bazin October 14, 2014 at 7:56 am

Great article Alli! I agree with you that some will say they are not stuck but they are tolerating something. I appreciate all your wisdom. Well written! And love the Haiku deck!


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:41 am

Thanks so much, Cindy! Tolerating mediocrity or simply not speaking up in a bad situation indicate a much needed change.


Terri Klass October 14, 2014 at 7:57 am

I love your Haiku deck, Alli! It is so powerful and exciting and it makes me want to leap into action!

I too have been stuck at different points in both my professional and personal life. What I found to be so helpful is taking action, even if I am not sure it is the perfect step forward. Just by moving I am doing and changing things. The funny thing is that when I launched into social media years ago I thought it was taking action but not exactly what I was looking for. But the opposite happened. It was the exact change I needed to re-launch my career forward.

Thanks Alli for igniting me into action this morning!


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:44 am

Terri –

I’m with you! Action is a terrific energizer. I discovered that even then, I can get stuck in a new place. Like you, a few years ago I started engaging on social media but the fun quickly turned into work. I realized that action infused with PLAY was even more meaningful. I could not have anticipated what I really needed to do without getting started.

Thanks for sharing your experience too and making this discussion richer.


Joy Guthrie October 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

Love the deck Alli! It’s true that many people don’t realize that they are “stuck.” Have you also found it to be true that some people get stuck on a regular basis because they love the feeling of getting unstuck? I know someone that seems to fit the description & am curious what you think.


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:46 am


I’ve been thinking about your question. Are there people that get stuck because they love getting unstuck. I don’t know that I’ve come across that. I do know people who made half hearted attempts and are always jumping one to the next. Every time they feel stuck, they move on. I wonder if they ever gave it their all at any point along the way.

Still mulling this one. I think it’s a fascinating question!!

Thanks, Joy!


Tom Rhodes October 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

Great article. I think we all get stuck at some point. And even more of us are accepting of where we are even when it’s not where we want to be. I believe if you are a giving person you often stick yourself. We have to realize that when we take care of ourselves we are better able to take care of others.

Thanks for all you do.


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:48 am


I think that’s it. We’ve learned to accept to the point where we’re almost numb in some cases. Stuck yet since it feels like the norm, we hardly notice.

Also, thinking about “if you are a giving person you often stick yourself. ” If you read this reply, would love to hear more of your thoughts on this.

A wise friend of mine would often say “who’s story is it?” I do agree that when we are always giving and helping it’s easy to get sucked into other people’s stories to the point where we ignore our own… and are stuck.

Thanks for the reminder for self care too!


John Bennett October 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

For me, perfection cannot be even remotely possible if one in fact lives and operates with existing knowledge; and I really don’t think that’s possible at all. For sure, unless one seeks growth and thus assumes risks and thus failure, I don’t see how one can see perfection as an approachable but not an attainable goal.

As for your “Stuck Stinks” Haiku, probably for me at least, it can be summarized simply: Success and all that is associated with it is OUR CHOICE!!!


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:50 am

YES! It’s is our choice. We can choose to be happy, playful, grateful, engaged and so much more. Alternatively, we can focus only on our goals and find ourselves forever chasing success, happiness, and a robust life.

It’s the chasing after perfection that blocks us from having oh-so-much more.

Many thanks for your wise words.


Karin Hurt October 14, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Your deck is fantastic. I think for some folks its hard to recognize stuck, because stuck also feels familiar and safe and just fine. If it’s really fine, that’s great, but sometimes I think it’s easy to tolerate the known even if we’re not growing for fear of the unknown.


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:52 am

Karin – That’s exactly it!! It does feel safe. Why rock the boat when we can live with it? Oh the stories we tell ourselves about why a so-so existence or product is good enough.


LaRae Quy October 15, 2014 at 2:31 am

Great post, Alli!

And the Haiku deck was very enlightening…when we challenge our assumptions about our world (and life), it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate what we’ve grown comfortable with and what really does need to be changed!


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:54 am

Change can really start when we’re ready to feel some discomfort. It’s easy to look around at the familiar and shrug off dreams, hopes, and fears about what it would be like to have more… love, challenge, connection, passion… on and on.

Thanks so much, LaRae!


Jon Mertz October 15, 2014 at 7:30 am

Agree, Alli. Tolerating mediocrity doesn’t help anyone. We need to be thoughtful in our changes but prevent over-thinking. We need to take calculated, educated risks but we cannot predict everything. We need to move beyond “tolerate” and move to “accelerate” in what is possible. Thanks! Jon


Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 7:56 am

Move from tolerate to accelerate. Brilliant! Now my wheels are turning. What would that take. How can acceleration call people forth to move from the comfortable place of what’s tolerable, onto a whole new road to travel.

Thanks for that, Jon!!


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ October 15, 2014 at 8:20 am

I love the focus here on choice Alli. Before I started my own business, I was spending another weekend feeling unfulfilled and disappointed in my career and life.

But one thing was different. I woke that Saturday morning, looked in the mirror, and said “Who are you kidding? You aren’t stuck. You’re choosing to be stuck. Change something!”

I then decided to go to a career counselor and the work that she and I did changed everything — my life!



Alli Polin October 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Thanks a fantastic story, Kate and I’m grateful that you shared it here!

When that lightbulb goes off… that we’re choosing to tolerate being unfulfilled, it’s a powerful catalyst for change.

Thanks so much!


Harish Kumar October 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm

That was a fantastic post, Alli!
The deck is pretty awesome too and I enjoyed going through it! The reference you made to people believing that tolerating as not being stuck is a very important one. In my recent post, I described three types of excuses. One is the habitual excuse makers who do not get very far in their goals. The second kind is the people who make excuses selectively. They are fine in some parts of their life but actively avoid some parts.

The third and the most difficult to uncover excuses are the people who have achieved a good amount of success but are stuck in their comfort zone. They have not taken what Gay Hendricks calls “The Big Leap” and gone into a new level of awesomeness. I call these “ninja excuses” because the rationalizations are subtle and the excuses difficult to detect, almost like in stealth mode. Hendricks also describes a success thermostat that people have built in that when exceeded results in behaviors that facilitate self-destruction. The example that I gave in my post was that of new lottery winners. Even if they are well off to begin with, willing millions of dollars catapults them out of their zone of comfort and beyond that mental and belief based thermostat. They frequently end up being bankrupt by making one poor financial decision after another. Ironically, Hendricks says that many highly successful people have the “The big Leap” issue and engage in active self sabotage
I appreciate that you called out on the presumed perfectionistic life of some people in your post. I agree 100%. In fact, social media sometimes promotes that behavior with people posting all their perfect lives and their perfect everything. But the truth is a lot more messy because perfectionism is a myth. I never fall for the “the other person’s life is perfect” play. Because I have experientially understood that the grass is indeed greener on the other side. I go by the quote: “Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.”― Rebecca Wells

Thanks for a great post.
Looks like I am going to be a regular on your blog because of the great content here!!
🙂 Harish


Alli Polin October 22, 2014 at 11:31 pm


What a fantastic addition to the conversation! Thank you!

Ninja excuses… that’s spot on. People don’t even realize that they’re putting excuses out there instead of getting to the heart of what’s really happening.

Also, stories of perfection now make me curious about what else is happening in their lives. What’s going on behind the curtain. I don’t need to see people’s mess, just need to see the human instead of polished perfection.

Many thanks to you!


Jackie Yun October 21, 2014 at 4:58 am

Hi Alli,

I was thinking about Joy Guthrie’s (Hello Joy!) question whether you’ve encountered people who get stuck regularly because they like getting unstuck. Not sure I’ve seen that, but I have seen people who knowingly or unknowingly are drawn to drama and chaos and they regularly stay stuck in that environment despite the unhealthiness for them.

On another note, just read that feng shui practitioners will “move 27 things” to get the chi energy moving and unstuck!

Echoing others in regard to your haiku deck — great content, of course, and cool format.



Alli Polin October 22, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Thanks, Jackie!

I can totally relate. I had a colleague who used to complain about all of the “drama” at work and eventually she left to get a new job. When we got back in touch almost a year later, she let me know she was leaving… not enough drama.

Interesting on feng shui practitioners too. Funny, for the first time in a long time I was googling feng shui this week. Clearly need to look into it some more.

Many thanks!


Lisa Ma October 24, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Hi Alli,
Great post! We’ve all been stuck before, but the important thing is that we find a way to get unstuck. I especially enjoyed your Haiku Deck of ways on how to get unstuck; hai-5!

We’re also featuring your Haiku Deck in our Gallery, and if you haven’t seen it there yet, you can find it here:

Thanks again for using Haiku Deck!

Lisa Ma
Haiku Deck Customer Evangelist


Alli Polin October 25, 2014 at 3:14 am

Thanks so much, Lisa! It’s all about realizing that we don’t have to be stuck any more and truly can make another choice!

I’m an enormous Haiku Deck fan and am very appreciative that my deck is in your gallery.

Many thanks!



Peter McKelvie October 31, 2014 at 11:05 pm

It’s Deja Vu all, over again. I love it. Did I already say that? I enjoyed this post Alli. About to subscribe and enjoy your posts in the future. and I understand exactly what you mean when you talk about tolerating. We tolerate too much and find too many reasons for not investing energy in change that will make such an immediate difference,


Alli Polin November 3, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Welcome, Peter! Thanks so much! We’re all pretty much world class when it comes to listing all of the reasons to stay put. Unfortunately, change requires some discomfort along the way.

PS. Appreciate your work too!




Cancel reply

Leave a Comment