When you are feeling stuck, it is sooooo easy to get caught up in a "problem focused" thinking pattern. The
problem feels so overwhelming that it takes over your whole mental space, leaving precious little room for maneuver.
Some say that in order to solve a problem, you really need to understand it thoroughly (where it came from, what caused it, what it means etc.)
Personally, I don't believe that is necessary, because I have seen so many instances where dwelling on the problem only makes it worse. It is truly surprising how effective it can be to STOP thinking about the problem and START thinking about options and potential solutions.
And, there is where the magic word "instead" comes into play.
What if the next time you are facing a big hairy problem that stretches from horizon to horizon, and feels like it is blocking out all the light, you were to ask yourself the following questions:
What do I want instead of this?
What do I want to be doing instead?
What do I want to be thinking instead?
How do I want to be feeling instead?
What do I want to be saying instead?
Where do I want to be going instead?
And when you get some specific, concrete answers my suggestion it to....... start doing and thinking and feeling those things right now. I'm assuming you may be surprised at the results.
I truly feel that "Thinking is overrated"! Yes, I do know that there is a time and place for it, and what I have noticed is it is one of the classic ways human beings get themselves stuck.
You can think and think and think about a problem or situation, until you think you know what you think, and then you think some more, and you are not so sure. (can you relate??)
When it comes to the really important things in life, I feel mere thinking doesn't cut it. You will never create anything truly original by sitting around thinking about it. Real achievements require unstoppable action-and unstoppable action requires passion.
Many times, when I've seen a client thinking themselves round in circles, I ask them to ignore their brain and focus on the sensations in their body and try the following process:
- Stand in a balanced posture. Now imagine you have no head. (Yes,I'm serious). Your body stops at your shoulders, there's just fresh air where your head used to be. So there are no thoughts to distract you. Which makes it easy to be aware of the feelings in your body, right this instant.
- Imagine your options are spread out in front of you, occupying 'magic circles' on the floor - one circle for each option.
- Step into the first circle, representing the first option - as if you were taking the first step to making it happen. Don't think. Notice how your body feels - Heavy? Light? Tense? Relaxed? Energized?
- If you get a 'Heck Yes!' response, that's your path - no matter how scary your head might think it is. And if you get a sinking feeling, you must not do it - no matter how sensible your head might tell you it is.
Next time you are faced with a decision and you feel you have "though yourself round in circles" I suggest you give the process a try. And would love to hear how it works for you!
We all have heroes and people we truly admire.....great artists, creatives, entrepreneurs, sports players, explorers. Or fictional heroes from novels or the movies. Or perhaps a friend, mentor or a family member. Someone we look up to. Someone who embodies everything we admire.
And do you know what? That someone is you.
You may project it onto someone else, and what you are really doing when you admire a hero is tapping into your own unrealized potential. You actually possess the strength, daring, imagination and other qualities you admire in them, even if you have never used them.
Why else do you feel their example resonates so strongly with you/
So the next time you are faced with a challenge and you are wondering whether you are up to it, I challenge you to ask yourself:
What would my hero make of this?
What would he/she have to say about it?
What would he/she do about it?
Why don't I try doing a little of that?
If thinking is overrated, then fear is underrated.
Some kinds of fear - especially anxiety - are paralyzing, overwhelming, unproductive. And right now, I am not talking about those kinds of fear.
I'm talking about the kind of fear you experience when you contemplate following your dream and making it happen "for real".
I'm sure you are familiar with the following scenario - at first you're full of excitement, thrilled at the thought of finally going for it, and all the wonderful things you will do and see and feel and achieve and experience.
Then you feel your stomach tighten and your heart start pounding, and you realize you have stopped breathing.
At this point - if you're not careful - your Internal Saboteur starts playing you disaster movies of all the things that could go wrong, and reciting a long list of sensible reasons why you "should" reconsider, abandon your plans altogether - or at least put them off for a little while, just so you can think things through properly ...
Of course, this is the voice of resistance, using fear as a lever to pry you away from your dream. Don't let this happen.
Fear is uncomfortable, and that doesn't mean it is bad. The fear is there to keep you safe - to let you know you
are entering uncharted territory, and you will need to keep you will need to stay conscious with what you are doing.
It is there to give you a shot of adrenaline, to wake you up and get you to take action NOW to avoid disaster later.
As I've said to clients over and over again, "the bigger the dream, the bigger the fear". This kind of fear is a sign that you're on the right track, that you're challenging yourself to stretch yourself in pursuit of something amazing.
So trust the fear. Don't fight it, feel it - and in your body, not your head.
And use the fear as a cue to action - ask yourself:
What do I need to DO in order to neutralize the dangers and achieve my goal?
Make a list. Now go and do it.
And notice what happens when you take meaningful action - I'm assuming the fear will subside, and leave you with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.
It is so very easy to procrastinate when you're only answerable to yourself. If no one else knows your dream, it's easy to kid yourself and say it is only just a dream.
And when you share with the world - or even just one other person - about your goal or dream, it suddenly becomes real. The cat's out of the bag, and it's your responsibility to take care of it.
Because when you announce your intention, you become accountable for your actions. You feel a subtle pressure to give an account of yourself, whether you succeed or fail. You feel like you will lose face if you do not follow through on what you have said you will do.
No, I'm not saying you shouldn't rely on other people to tell you what to do, or to get you fired up. The initial spark can only come from you. And when it comes to finishing, and doing what it takes to make your dream come true, this kind of peer pressure can be extremely effective. So why not make the most of it?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Tell a trusted friend about your goal, and arrange to meet with them on a certain date to report back on your progress.
- Join a class where you will be expected to produce work for assessment.
- Enter a competition, even if you don't (yet) have anything to enter with.
- Assemble a mastermind group of 3-4 peers, and commit to regular meet ups where you share your goals and hold each other accountable.
- Tell your blog readers, Twitter followers etc and promise to report back to them by a certain date.
I'm curious??? Which of these techniques can you see yourself using?
And.....How do you get yourself unstuck when you're facing a big challenge?