Mindset + Motivation

How to start taking action when you feel stuck

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Nothing feels like it's working? Are you procrastinating like it's your job? Here are 8 things you can do when your feel stuck in business and life. The Dare to Grow Show, XOSarah.com

This week we’re talking about what to do when you feel stuck. When you feel like nothing you’re doing is working. When nothing you’re doing feels that great. Maybe you’re procrastinating, or putting things off. Maybe you’re looking through Instagram trying to find ideas or inspiration or motivation. Maybe what you’re creating isn’t coming out right.

For me, this tends to feel like either I’m doing everything and nothing is going anywhere – like I’m pedaling and pedaling and pedaling, but my tires aren’t actually on the ground – or, I’m just avoiding everything. Avoiding starting, avoiding finishing things, avoiding planning or avoiding the plan that I made, and continuously pushing my deadlines back.

Today I want to share a few tips and things that I do to get myself going again.

Too long, didn’t listen…

Check the basics

The first thing I always do is check the basics. Am I eating enough, sleeping enough, taking enough time off? Am I doing some sort of movement in my day? Am I interacting with people? Am I scrolling too much? For me, sometimes I just need a walk and a shower and a cheeseburger and then I can get back on track.

Before you dive into problem-solving mode or feeling like something in your business is wrong, make sure you’re keeping up with those basic human needs.

Track your time

How have you spent the last week – on little tasks or on the needle-moving, money-making tasks? Write down every single thing you’re doing and how long it’s taking – from walking the dog to hosting coaching calls to deleting spam from your inbox. Then go through that list and evaluate how you’re spending your time. If your days are getting eaten up by small admin tasks, that is probably contributing to feeling stuck because you aren’t spending enough time on things that are going to generate income or benefit your clients or customers. You aren’t working in your zone of genius and when that isn’t happening enough it’s easy to feel stuck.

Make a list – or several

If you’re working on a project or a specific problem or goal –  write a list of all the things you could do to fix that problem or get unstuck. (start with a blank page instead of digging back through notes and plans) 

If you’re stuck because there’s some sort of roadblock or maybe you have a big scary goal or there’s some sort of challenge that you’re trying to get through, sit down with a notebook (I like to get away from my laptop and away from all of my planning stuff and all of the plans I’ve already made and all of the notes I’ve already taken). Sit down with a fresh sheet of paper and off the top of your head come up with all the ways you can fix the problem or all the things you can do to hit that goal. 

Sometimes we get a little bit too realistic with this and so it helps for me to get away from work in order to come up with some out-of-the-box ideas. Often making a list like this, even if I don’t do everything on the list, helps me to feel better, see more possibilities and options, and it helps to get me going again. 

Write all the scary things that could happen. Tim Ferriss calls this “fear setting.” You essentially write down all of your fears and then walk through them in your mind to figure out how you could avoid that issue or get through it. 

Most of our fears will never come true but we spend a lot of time thinking about them or they’re in the back of our mind and that wastes tons of energy so sometimes the best option is to go through the worst-case scenario and usually there’s a way to get through it, or around it, or realize that it’s unlikely to happen all together, or that if it does happen it’s not going to be that big of a deal. 

I like to remind myself that at almost 38 years old nothing has knocked me out for the count yet. Which means I can handle quite a bit of bullshit and messiness and failures and still come out not just OK but totally fine and maybe in a better place than I was to start.

Now, there’s also the kind of stuck that is a general sense of something being off. Maybe it’s not even about choosing a direction or making decisions because you’re not sure what you want. In this case, I make two lists – obviously, I love to make lists and journal to process and figure things out. 

I make one list of everything that feels good right now so that I can focus on doing more of those things. Then I make a second list of all the things that don’t feel good. Sometimes it’s small or random things that could make the difference.

One of the things that I keep doing right now that doesn’t feel good is staying up until 1 o’clock in the morning. It kind of feels good in the moment because it’s a quiet space without any obligations but there’s a little guilt in the back of my head reminding me that I should go to sleep earlier. Knowing that I can make an adjustment either around my attitude about staying up until 1 AM (maybe I’m just a night owl) or I can figure out what it takes to get me in bed earlier or why I am avoiding it.

Just the act of getting the stuff out of your brain onto paper, listing out every little thing, at least for me feels really relieving. 

Often because we are in the midst of living life and getting shit done we don’t take the time to pay attention to what feels good and what doesn’t. We kind of notice the good/bad feeling as it’s happening but we don’t go back and think through why we’re doing something, what we could do differently, or why that situation or task feels bad.

It might also not be just about your business. We also need to comb through our personal lives and see if there is a time suck and energy drain that may be eating up time and attention that would feel better focused elsewhere.

Once you have all of these lists, stop doing everything that isn’t going to help that goal or isn’t working.

If you’re feeling stalled and stuck around accomplishing something or going after a goal sometimes hyperfocus actually helps. Look at your calendar and take out everything that is not helping you work toward that goal. A lot of times for us online business owners this is things like re-designing a PDF or creating something new instead of showing up and selling that thing that we already have.

For example, my Instagram caption guide is a few years old. It’s in my old colors, old photos and I really want to redesign it. But I know that updating the colors isn’t going to help more people download it, help people get better results, or help turn more people into Essentials members. If I were to spend the time redesigning it I know I would feel stalled because it isn’t going to create any different results.

Right now you may only be spending an hour a day or an hour/week on tasks that move you toward your goal, but if you took out all the random tasks or the time spent procrastinating you could be spending three or five hours every day. Imagine if you spent 20 hours a week working towards your goal instead of five. You’re going to move further faster and you will stop feeling stuck because you’ll start seeing more engagement, interest, and results from your efforts. 

Ask for help

Again this doesn’t just have to be business stuff. If you have a lot on your plate you might be feeling stuck because you just don’t have the time or the energy to focus on the stuff that is going to make you feel like you’re moving forward.

If you want your business to grow but you’re spending hours doing housework or in your inbox or scheduling social media posts then maybe you need to hire or ask a friend or family member for help. 

As women, we are told that we’re supposed to balance everything and be happy and look good while we’re doing it. Which is total bullshit and often leads to us not asking for help until we’re fully drowning in it or burned out. A great place to start is looking at things that you are doing every day or every week that you just hate doing or that take a ton of time and finding someone else to take over that task.

Example: recently my virtual assistant has been making a whole bunch of databases and spreadsheets and calendars inside of Airtable for me. Things like tracking guests for the podcast panels – so now in one space we can see who was asked to participate, who said yes, who submitted their audio, who’s already had their episode published. 

My assistant did all of that work for me. That task would have sat in the back of my brain for months because I’m focused on the needle-moving stuff and I didn’t know how to set it up in Airtable. Instead, I just mentioned it to her and she finished it in one day. Remember – just because you aren’t working on a task right now doesn’t mean your brain isn’t keeping track of it. That uses energy so the more you can take off your plate, the better.

Something else that’s beneficial in hiring help, whether that’s personal help in the home or help for your business, is that once you hire someone and you find someone who is great at what they do, they will come to you and say, “Hey this would work better if we did it this way.” 

That is an expectation you have to set – I always tell people I hire if I’m doing something that is not the best option or you think it would work better in a different way you can always tell me. That’s a conversation we have at the start so that that communication is open and they know that I am looking to them and their expertise to help make that portion of my business or my life better. When people know that you trust them, you trust their expertise, and give them autonomy to come up with new ideas and make decisions, they will go the extra mile just because they know they can.

Get away from work! 

Get out of your routine, get out of your house, and immerse yourself in something else because your brain will still be brainstorming and problem-solving in the background.

You need to completely take your focus off whatever is making you feel stuck so that your brain can work through things in your subconscious while you enjoy doing something else. Go to the movies, pick up a new book, get a massage, go for a walk, bake a cake. Because sitting in it, sitting in the stuck feeling, looking at your computer, flipping through tabs, scrolling through Instagram is not gonna help and will probably make you feel worse because you’re not gonna get anywhere from those things.

We need to get comfortable with doing nothing or doing fun things in order to give our brains a break, give our bodies a break so that when we come back to it feeling rested and focused we are able to take on that challenge.

Don’t be afraid to completely change your plan, your goal, how you’re working, what you’re working on, or who you’re working with.

It’s a reminder that something needs to change. Maybe a little change like you need to be in bed by 11 PM or maybe you need to scrap your whole offer and start from scratch. Don’t be afraid to change things that don’t feel good because whatever you change to will probably feel better and if it feels better it’ll work better.

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