The Groan Zone. We’ve all been there, some of us more than once. It all comes from how you deal with conflict, both within yourself and with others. Are you quick to avoid compromise or do you face the problem and work through the discomfort?

So many times in team and group settings, solving a simple problem can cause impatience and misunderstanding. A group may be actively looking for a resolution but because of the many divergent opinions, they hit a roadblock. Some of them may not be listening to understand, but rather to advocate their own opinion. If the group isn’t able to come to a resolution, they might have hit what author Sam Kaner calls the Groan Zone. In The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, Kaner defines this as a sticky, unpleasant space that can create tension among the group. They end up moving forward without truly making a collective decision, which can cause dissent down the road. However, if they work through the difficult problems and start thinking bigger, the group will become stronger and more efficient—and much more successful.

You can hit the Groan Zone all by yourself, too. Have you ever asked yourself a question, but then not been able to pick an answer? For example, if you could have anything in the world, what would it be? A quick brainstorming session could lead to so many answers that you may feel overwhelmed and just abandon the question altogether. Maybe the question feels too vast and the answers so numerous, making a decision seems impossible. We can get that way when we are overwhelmed with work or we hit a roadblock on the way to our goals. We become stuck, unable to make a decision. Congratulations. You’ve hit the Groan Zone.

Don’t turn away from it—embrace it. Why? Because making your way through the Groan Zone teaches you how to get around the paradigms that keep you mired in old ways of thinking. We’re surrounded by distractions, like social media and the news, that are designed to keep us in the same old habitual way of thinking. When we are stuck in our thinking, we can get stuck on the path toward our goals. That’s when you feel like you’re caught in the rat race and every day is the same old grind.

If your thoughts don’t change, if you don’t aspire to something or have a goal, then you’re not going to change your paradigm (and you’re not going to get unstuck). If you want to get out of the Groan Zone, you have to be willing to change your mindset. To think bigger than you are right now. To use the power inside yourself, rather than looking outside yourself, to reach those goals and dreams. Here are a few tips to escape the Groan Zone:

1.Take an Outside View: When you are unsure which direction to go, think about how someone you admire and respect would handle it. What would they say about your situation? How would they become unstuck if they were in your position? Write down whatever comes to mind. Sometimes just having a little bit of a remove can make a big difference in your viewpoint.

2.Find the Whys: Keep asking yourself Why to find the root of your problem. Questions like “Why do I keep having this issue?” “Why do I want to achieve this?” “Why am I hesitating?” can help you drill down to the core of whatever is going on. You may discover that you want a bigger house so that you can have more family gatherings. Well, you can have family gatherings anywhere you would like right now. The purchase of a house doesn’t have to stand in the way.

3.Find a Coach or Mentor: I remember being in a small group with some peers, one of whom was a great listener. I said something careless and he corrected my thinking on the spot. He reminded me that my thoughts have the power to move me away from my goals and away from what I truly want to accomplish in life. A mentor can mirror back to you and let you know when you need to adjust or realign your thinking.

4.Write it Down: Take a sheet of paper and write your opinions about the issue you are having on one side and the facts of the situation on the other. Our opinions (beliefs) are part of our paradigms, which have been with us since infancy. They often feel real, even if they are not true. Once you distinguish between the two, your beliefs will not impede your decision-making. Focus on the facts.         

Take another sheet of paper and write out the best thing that could happen right now. Imagining the best-case scenario can shift our focus and help us find our drive again. We are often trained to imagine the worst-case scenario, which eventually begins to guide our decision-making and leaves us panicked to take chances.

5.Be Aware of the Ripple E : What impact is your thinking having on the people around you? Is the space you are co-creating filled with positive energy? Or are you perpetuating negative energy?

6.Visualize with Power: Bring your goal to mind. Feel it, see it, taste it, smell it. Make it real in your head. What is it you truly want in life? Even if it is a feeling, think about it. The accomplishment and freedom that comes with reaching your goals can give you incredible joy. What does that joy feel like? Do you want to feel more of that? Then you have to take that first step, an inspired action, to reach a goal that’s worthy of your greatness.

If you’d like some support with discovering your goals or if you’re facing too many options and don’t know which way to go, please reach out to me. I’ll help you grow through the Groan Zone. In the meantime, you can visit my website,, and download any of the handouts there or sign up for my podcast and start changing your mindset—and your future. Remember, everything is created twice, first in your mind and second in physical form.