Blog & Insight

How to get out of the creek when you're up it without a paddle

As I shared in my poem 'from not knowing to knowing what to do':

"It is our conventional eyes that are seeing the lack of options
Unconventional looking gives permission to act ‘as if’ there’s other ways to view the situation
To believe there’s a solution, or even multiple solutions, out there"

In this respect when you're feeling like you're up a creek without a paddle unconventional looking means exploring the metaphor within the words you're using to provide alternate and new perspectives.

Which means answering what you would do it you were up a real creek without a paddle.

Here's one 7 step process to help:


Think about it.

If you’re drifting aimlessly, or even going around in circles, then until you stop you can’t really plot a route out or even understand what’s happening. You're at the mercy of external forces.

If you’re in the boat there’s going to be a number of different ways to stop. You may have anchor but if not you may have to ground yourself. On the other hand you may be able to moor or tether the boat.

STOP is about a breathing space to assess the situation. It’s about grounding yourself so you can act from a place of calm and peace not from a place of fear.

Life Jacket

Once you’ve stopped further action will be easier if you had a life jacket on.

That is, if on the way out of the creek the going gets rough, without a life jacket confidence can become dented and you may soon end up back up the creek. You won’t have the confidence to stay out there in the rapids. You will come back to the safety of the creek rather than hang on for open water. 

That’s where a life jacket would come in handy because it gives you confidence that even if you end up in the water you’ll be ok. That is you can cope with anything.

The life jacket is about getting into a resourceful and confident state where you know you can cope with anything that life throws at you. (My prescription for positivity may help here.)


Once you're ready to start thinking about leaving the creek you need to understand what your mission is.

It’s only once you know your mission that you can look at a map and understand the routes that will best enable you to meet it.

It’s no use just grabbing the paddle and getting the hell out of the creek.

Without a mission how will you know what direction to take at the first fork? How will you know it’s not another creek?

All heroes on our TV’s seem to have a mission to save the world from the bad guys. We therefore know when they meet a bad guy that they’re going to take action. There’s no doubt in your mind because that’s their mission.

That’s what your mission is about – knowing what you stand for and what you will take action to move towards. It’s only once you know this can you move onto looking at who else might want to journey with you.

Guides & Travelers

Once you understand your mission it’s important you find people who are going to be able to help you.

You might be able to get out of the creek on your own but you stand a better chance if you find people to guide you, and others you can travel with.

This step in the process is as much about your relationship with your network as it is building the network.

You can have 1000’s of people in your network but if they don’t like or trust you what’s the point!

The Guides and Travelers step is about identifying your potential network. It’s also about developing relationships with those who boost your energy, and minimising your time spent with those who drain your energy.


When you’re up the creek it’s not always easy to understand the routes out of the creek especially when the tall creek walls are surrounding you.

It’s easy to think there are no routes out and believe yourself to be stuck.

Plotting a map with all the possible routes out helps expands your thinking and understand all the possibilities that exist.

In the long term you’d like to understand the routes that will help you achieve your mission. In the short term you may have other missions to accomplish.


When walking even if you’ve got a map you use a compass to help plot the course and help you understand where you are in relation to the map and your intended destination.

Remember you have your own inner compass, inner wisdom some would say intuition. It's certainly something all the tools in the LANDSCAPE coaching and problem solving toolkit help you to access.

Once you’ve got all the possible routes out of the creek it’s your inner compass & intuition, therefore, that will determine which direction you take.

This step is also about being authentic and true to yourself – following your own true north.


Once you’ve undertaken the other steps there is only one way out of the creek and that’s to find your paddle and use it.

That is, to take personal responsibility to take the necessary action to take the first and subsequent steps.

Which part of the above 7 steps do you need to spend some time on in order to get out of a creek in your life?

I share more about it getting out the creek in a recent episode of my podcast

If you're interested in finding out about 1:1 coaching to get you out of the hole, rut or creek do get in touch +44(0)7770 538159 - a short sharp session of up to 3 hours or even a 1 day retreat are ideal for this type of intervention - allowing you to then continue your journey with other guides and fellow travelers.

Additionally you can sign up for my newsletter here or follow my Landscaping Your Life podcast on AppleSpotify or other podcast apps. They both provide hints, tips, tools and ideas for how to see situations from a different perspective to open up options and opportunities available to you.


© Alison Smith
VAT Registration: 224 5001 58
Registered in Scotland, Registration Number: SC457105
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram