We’ve all been there: You are working and working at something––a business idea, a project, a fitness goal, adopting a child, whatever––and you hit a brick wall in your progress. Maybe someone shoots down your business idea. Perhaps you get writer’s block. Maybe you stop seeing progress in your weight loss goals.
Right then and there, you consider giving up.
If it was important enough for you to start going after it, then it’s important enough for you to keep going after it.
But, how do you keep on keepin’ on when progress halts or you hit a major bump? Here’s what works for me:
1. Take a short break.
If you’ve been working away at something for a long time and you’ve ridden out more bumps in the road than I-16 in Georgia (they call it a road, but it’s really a 157 mile long rumble strip from Savannah to Macon), then there IS a point when walking away from it for a little bit is a good idea.
How long? At least a day, and sometimes more. Trust yourself on this one.
If you are as driven as I am, I know it’s hard to let off the gas and take a break, but I am here to tell you that it’s the ONLY thing that has helped me keep my sanity and be refreshed enough for the next push to success.
What kind of break should you take? I highly recommend doing something that you LOVE to do but haven’t had time to do lately because of all that launching-a-project stuff you’ve been up to. Take a spa day, go for a hike, head out to a movie, go for a long drive, have a fabulous dinner out, or whatever floats your boat. Just make sure that it has nothing to do with whatever you’ve been working on.
The amazing thing is that every time I’ve done this, the perfect solution comes into my head effortlessly, leading me to the next steps I need to take in order to see the project to completion.
2. Ask for help.
I am the worst at asking for help. THE WORST.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had a pattern of asking the wrong people for help, or because I kind of like doing everything myself (a la Wonder Woman), or because I’ve had people help and then use it as emotional blackmail, but it takes just about an act of God to force me to ask for help.
Well, I should day, it did.
Lately, I’ve been practicing asking for help - and believing that I will get the right help at the right time.
You know what? It’s worked. I’m finally getting help that is moving my businesses in the right direction and giving me time to be me (instead of “business-owner-worrier-Tara” all the time).
The truth is that when you get stuck on any kind of project, sometimes you just need someone outside yourself to take a look at what you are doing and either give you advice or assistance.
The key is to ask help of someone who truly wants for your best.
Whoever you ask for help, they must meet at least one of these criteria (all 5 would be great!):
- They’ve been helpful in the past. This seems obvious, but don’t ask help of people that you’ve never been able to count on. Reach out to those that love you and have offered their assistance before.
- They have expertise in whatever area you are working on. For instance, don’t ask your unhealthy Aunt Jane for help with achieving your fitness goals; instead, seek out your kind, marathon-running friend.
- They don’t have ulterior motives. Often, close friends and family feel threatened by your desire for success. Be honest about the true nature of those around you, and only ask for help from those you truly want you to succeed. This is easier said than done, but one simple test is to ask yourself if you’ve ever walked away from a particular person and felt bad about yourself or your dreams. If so, that person is a “no.” Seek those that make you feel good about yourself and the possibilities in your life.
- Other people recommend them. Sometimes you need professional help. For instance, if you really need help prioritizing your life or seeing a troubled relationship from a third-party’s view, you might want to ask a few friends if they know of a great coach or therapist. If you are looking for a book editor, ask your author friends. You get the idea.
- Your gut instinct tells you that this person will be helpful to you. The right person to help will always FEEL right. If you feel like anything is off with this individual or their motives for helping you, walk away. Your gut instinct is usually right on. (Mine has never failed me!)
3. Find stories of others who have succeeded.
This is where Google is exceptionally helpful. Start looking around online for others that have succeeded in your given area.
If you are an entrepreneur, I love inc.com - it’s filled with stories of others like you that will keep you moving (and maybe even inspire solutions).
If you are looking for fitness goals, there’s bodybuilder.com, which is filled with people’s stories of success.
Whatever you are seeking to achieve, someone out there has walked a similar path and has gotten through the proverbial valley of darkness to get to the light. Find their stories and let them help energize you to get through your own dark night.
4. Take any inspiration you’ve gleaned from all of this and put it into an action plan.
What solutions came to you on your short break? What inspirations? What lessons?
Write them all down. I personally like to put them all down on post-it notes, then arrange the post-its on a poster board until a logical action plan is laid out.
However, you do it, put together an action plan for the next steps you can take within the next day, week, and month to move you forward again.
While you are at it, print out and post some of the inspiring stories you’ve found on your board as well! Looking at them will help keep you moving.
It’s amazing how inspiring taking well-thought-out next steps can be!
How do you keep yourself moving past a stuck place?