At Some Point, You Will Get Stuck.
Said Jim Rohn in The Art of Exceptional Living, there are springs and winters in life.
A joyful and successful life lies in discovering how to maintain enthusiasm during the hard winters and take advantage of the abundance and opportunity in the spring.
Most people seek clarity and focus during the springtime. Most people set HUGE goals in an excited and enthusiastic state. Most people assume that their goal is so exciting they will never lose motivation.
The level of work wasn’t what you expected.
The next steps become uncertain and unclear for you.
Confusion becomes the enemy to your dreams.
Suddenly, you realize that you have no idea how to move forward. You set a goal, worked on it for some time, and then…you inevitably become stuck.
You’re frustrated, annoyed, and hopeless because things aren’t turning out the way you thought.
You want to know what to do next.
You want to know how to overcome whatever obstacle is in your way.
The antidote to this problem is CLARITY.
If you don’t take time to eliminate confusion and establish a clear course of action, you’ll undoubtedly get stuck and find it impossible to move towards your dreams.
When the winters of your life come, and you don’t know what to do or how to move forward, you need to take some time to reflect.
What you do during the winters determines if you’ll stay in the dark or be able to move forward.
How you recover from setbacks is an intentional art.
It requires you to slow down. It requires work. Work of a different nature than most people are used to.
Most people aren’t willing to put in the time to become UNSTUCK when things get rough. Yet, becoming unstuck is a skill, one which can and MUST be learned.
We all walk in the dark and each of us must learn to turn on his or her own light. — Earl Nightingale
Finishing is difficult. Yet, it’s possible, and I want to show you how.
This article contains the exact strategies I use to bounce back from my winters. This is personal experience, not a theory. If applied, these principles can help you unlock extraordinary power.
Ready to get unstuck??
1. NEVER STOP.
“I suddenly realized that if we are sitting around waiting — maybe even begging and pleading — for our circumstances to change so that we can finally live life the way we really want to live, chances are very good that we will stay stuck waiting forever.” — Richie Norton
Today is the only day you’re truly guaranteed. Your time on this earth is limited.
This means you can never stop living life to the fullest. There is literally no extra time that you have to waste.
(The reason that sounds cliché is because almost nobody follows that advice.)
You may examine your situation and determine that you need to switch paths completely.
But you never stop.
You never just throw in the towel and exclaim you can’t try things anymore because life is too hard.
Your goals and dreams are not just self-serving.
There are people you need to reach.
Lives you need to change.
A message that must be heard.
And if you give up easily, those people will never feel your positive impact.
Do not be fooled by a ‘clear path to a lesser goal.’
You are not designed for lesser goals.
Begin with the end in mind. And don’t stop until you reach that end.
Feel free to take some time off to think about the problems you’re facing. Feel free to reach out to others. Feel free to grieve, to process what’s happening.
But…the story never ends there. You bounce back quickly.
Soon, you’re ready to dust off and get back to work. You can’t become unstuck by avoidance. Your life is too important to stay stuck for too long. That’s why you made the intentional decision to read this.
2. Go Back To Key Questions.
“NOW…Go Think! You will thank me later.” –Keith J Cunningham
Whenever I get stuck, I revisit a few key questions in my journal like the ones I’ll share below. I write everything related to my goal that I’m struggling with, and then the next steps suddenly become much clearer.
These will get you started:
Why am I really doing this?
What are the next potential options for me?
Where could I invest my time and money?
Now, out of all those options, which looks like the best to move forward?
What is the ONE Thing that would make everything else less important or easier?
What is going well?
What can I do to leverage this positive momentum into the next day/week/month?
What things do I need to accomplish to become unstoppable and confident?
What things do I need to prime my subconscious mind with so I can more easily solve this problem?
What EXACT books do I need to read right now?
Which people do I need to reach out to?
Is this really the right goal?
Do I LOVE this goal?
Whenever you are stuck, I encourage a deep pondering of one or more of these questions. Take time. Explore implications. Your mind is a powerful tool.
Most people shy away from answering these questions. It feels like homework and takes a lot of time.
But I promise you that if you’re honest enough to go deep with these, you’ll discover some very important things.
You’ll discover the capability to weed out things that don’t matter.
You’ll know at least the next few steps to take. Like a foggy day, you can continually see just enough to move in the right direction, until you get there.
Don’t shy away from this work. It’s worth it. If your goals are really that important, then it’s worth it to invest the time to get these basic questions answered right.
An additional resource for this exercise is the POWERFUL book The Road Less Stupid. Although written primarily for business owners, the questions contained therein can be applied to any goal or one’s personal life. The author has compiled hundreds of specific questions designed to help you establish clarity on your goals and discover exactly what to do next. Once you know the answer to that, execution is relatively effortless.
3. Journal Deeply — Take a walk
In the last section, I explored some highly specific questions to get you thinking and writing about what exactly you need to do next. This is an invaluable exercise.
Arguably just as valuable, is to take space away from what you’re doing and go on a walk. Bring your notebook if you so desire, but don’t be drilling down on any specific questions. If your brain must be working on something, pick questions with far-reaching and creative implications.
“What do I want during the course of my life?”
“What does success look like to me?”
This is also known as stream of consciousness or creativity journaling. You let your mind wander and create connections.
Combined with your free-flow journaling should be frequent walks. Walks in nature are scientifically proven to accelerate creativity and relaxation, according to UC Berkeley.
Time spent away from a task is when the connections in your brain form.
You’re able to make insights you wouldn’t otherwise have had.
You’re able to think about your whole life, not just one specific objective, and weigh which things are more important.
You give yourself a chance to breathe. Your consciousness and your awareness are raised.
4. What Type Of Dip Are You In?
We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”― Robert Brault
The Dip by Seth Godin is one of the most powerful books ever written for getting unstuck.
According to Godin, when you hit roadblocks on the way to success, it causes a “Dip.” This is when motivation and results stagnate. The path becomes unclear. Many false peaks lie ahead and you’re unsure where to go. The work stops bringing the results you want, and it’s time to re-assess.
There are two types of Dips:
A) You look forward, establish clarity on what needs done, and execute a new plan. Re-Ignition.
B) You conclude that your present goal/objective is no longer serving you, and you should drop it. You aren’t quitting because life got hard, you’re simply quitting because you realize other things are more important. This opposes the common phrase “Winners never quit.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Winners succeed at very specific things and INTENTIONALLY quit almost everything else.
When you approach the goals by thinking about the Dip, you may find there are things you need to drop. Some goals really aren’t that important.
The rest deserve your full attention.
Don’t be afraid to let go of some things to make room for those which are better.
5. Revisit Why.
“Here’s a solid question you could ask yourself to understand your WHY.
What about ______________ is important to you?…
Then you take your answer, and put it in the same question: What about ______________ is important to you?…
Once you get to layers 5, 6, and 7, you’re going to have to be really honest with yourself.” — Benjamin Hardy
In any goal that’s really important to me, I take myself through the exercise above.
I crystallize what’s most important. I remind myself of my WHY when things get hard.
If you haven’t yet, I recommend you apply the WHY exercise to each of your goals. If you don’t understand WHY, you won’t be doing it for very long.
If you have already applied the WHY exercise, I recommend revisiting and perhaps re-doing your WHY when you get stuck.
You may find you weren’t honest enough with yourself.
You may find that your reasons have changed for achieving the goal.
Your WHY is everything.
It must be so powerful that you do things you would otherwise not attempt. Your WHY serves as the anvil upon which you hammer out your goals. It must be firm and unwavering, ready to support you at all times. It must compel you to push through all obstacles and do anything it takes.
WHY do you do what you do?
Remind yourself of that thing, daily.
6. Work As Hard As The Beginning.
“Self-Discipline means that you always do what you must do, when you must do it, even if you don’t feel like it.” — Brian Tracy
When you first set your goal, how hard did you work at it?
How exciting was it?
How early did you wake up?
What did you imagine would happen on the journey and at the destination?
What results did you expect to receive?
On a scale of 1–10, was it a 10 at the time?
The most important thing now is to act from that state of excitement today, even when it gets rough.
You crave novelty and you may be tempted to give up to pursue the ‘next big thing.’
Discipline yourself never to become complacent. Never take for granted what got you here today. Remember where you came from. Be grateful for what got you here, and make plans to move forward to the next big thing.
Be willing to put in the same amount of work NOW as you did back then.
The journey is not over yet.
7. Do Joy.
What genuinely brings you joy?
Do more of that thing.
Doing fun activities releases the right chemicals in your brain so you can approach your problems with a different mindset and see new opportunities.
“Try something new. Get confused. Seek novelty. Connect that to the familiar and you will think smarter. Explore the range of possibilities to see what work[s]. Push thought-limits” — Richie Norton
Listen to inspiring, creative, and fulfilling music.
Exercise in a way that energizes and motivates you.
For the second time, go on a walk.
Take pictures of the sunset.
Hang out with family and friends.
Combine this with the other activities and you’ll find you learn exactly what needs to be done.
8. Translate…Ideas → Plans
After going through some or all of these previously activities and discovering what needs to be done, you may feel excited and go right to work on getting the next thing done.
Wait for a minute.
Your journal and your head are filled with countless exciting and creative ideas. Don’t waste them. The times I write down a great idea in my notebook and fail to execute it do not help me. Neither do they help you.
Outsource the execution of your new ideas and new directions for your goals in these 4 places:
- Accountability Partner
Let’s dive deeper:
This is the birds-eye tool you have at your disposal. During your thinking and creative sessions to get unstuck, you had new ideas. Your calendar is where you place all of these ideas in sequential order, and lay out milestones over the next 3–6 months.
Get specific with how you schedule your goals. Planning everything out ahead of time eliminates much of the mental energy it requires to ‘carve out time’ for something. In the book Willpower Doesn’t Work, Benjamin Hardy tells the story of an extremely creative and productive musician. His secret is to plan everything so that shipping his product to the world is inevitable on launch day.
He decides what day the album will come out.
He blocks out huge amounts of creative time on his schedule set apart only for writing music.
He pays the various people on his team in advance so that they’re all forced to produce the album.
This is much more powerful than simply relying on your own gut-instincts or your willpower to work on your goal today.
Self-discipline requires consistency.
Your calendar cuts away all the fatigue deciding what to do next. You already decided during the earlier exercises in this article. Don’t waste more energy.
“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.” — Michael Jordan
Google Calendar is an invaluable tool. Use it wisely and frequently.
You should be planning your general schedule daily. If you don’t have something planned, you fall prey to decision fatigue. Despite all recent technological advancements, I still like to use paper schedules like this one. Other people have a favorite app.
Whatever system you use, the point is to get daily scheduling down cold.
It’s a clear reminder every 15–30 minutes what you should be truly focused on.
It slays excuses and forces you to be accountable with your time.
When you schedule your goals DAILY, you unleash very powerful momentum.
“Having an accountability partner who will hold you to your commitments is a key ingredient to making sustainable progress and for success. Someone who will tell you the truth; someone who will not buy into your cheap excuses for why you fell off the wagon or didn’t get the job done; someone to tell you “no.” — Keith J. Cunningham
Share your new plans with someone who will hold you accountable. You won’t easily forget your plans this way.
You won’t tolerate excuses from yourself, and neither will your partner.
You aren’t playing a private game anymore. You’ve made sure other people know and care about your success.
People who truly hold you accountable will change your life. It’s worth the effort to find those people.
The moment you start tracking something daily, you start becoming VERY AWARE of your own behavior. You start to see how inconsistent and lackluster your typical performance and standards often are.
Tracking something means you’re serious about it.
It means you are ready for TRUE RESULTS. — Benjamin Hardy
Take out a sheet of paper.
Write the current month and year at the top.
Write your goal or commitment at the top.
Draw 30 labelled squares on the paper. These represent the next 30 days of your life.
Now make a big red X on each day that you make progress towards your goal or keep your commitment.
This is simple yet most people refuse to do this.
They are very scared to be honest with themselves.
They are scared to see themselves succeed.
You have the ability to set and achieve large goals.
You now have the tools you need to revisit the drawing board and get unstuck.
You have no more excuses.
You have a decision to make.
Will you continue moving forward?