I admit… It hasn’t been easy lately. In fact these past couple years have been incredibly tough. So difficult that I’ve contemplated more than once to just quit. Throw it all away. Stop trying to be a good, decent human being making a difference. Do something other than run businesses and develop brands. Go work for “the man” for a while where the worst perceived issues I could imagine were gossip around the water cooler.
Then I stop. No, literally… I stop. I’m paralyzed. I can’t think of one single “job” I could do. Either I’m way over qualified or I’d die of boredom in the first week… or maybe even day. Let’s face it, I’ve known since I was a kid that working a “real” job isn’t for me. And I’ve worked extra hard the past 15 years to ensure that I’m absolutely unemployable.
By the way, in case you haven’t figured it out, I like to use adverbs. And I don’t care that I spent most of my career in publishing. Adverbs exist for a reason and therefore I will use them.
Now back to the subject at hand…
I’ve been in limbo for many months as I’ve seen the coming demise of my toy store (my “ultimate” childhood dream), transitions in my online business, and struggled with what the hell I’m supposed to be when I grow up.
I can’t be the only one, right?
So I turned to my Facebook family for advice. Today I put out a simple question with no backstory. I knew all sorts of comments would come through and I was just as interested in the answers my friends gave me as I was in the angle they’d observe my question.
Because you see, we always perceive others’ questions through our own filters of our own life experiences. Which tells me that their answers would be just as much about my question from my point of view as it would their opinions through their own points of view. This got interesting as some had a different point of view than my initial intent.
So here was my vague-not-so-vague question:
“It’s time to rethink the dream… How do you handle being “stuck” and not sure which direction you should go? Please share one of your experiences…”
And here are some of my friend’s answers… There’s great advice and nuggets in here, so let me know in the comments if one of these words of wisdom resonates with you!
“This happened to me at the end of last year. I took 3 months off basically. Thought I was going to get a job. Found out that’s not so easy with my specific set of skills and income requirements. Started fresh. Life is SO MUCH BETTER now.” ~Felicia
“I get really quiet, meditate and write. What is working; what is not working? What would I like more of? What would I like less of? Then I forge a new path.” ~Ellen
“I reflect and ask myself, am I looking at a small issue that I may be blowing out of proportion? Am I keeping focused on the big picture? Does this align with my why? Sometimes coming back to my why helps.
I also ask myself if I may be emotionally tied because emotion clouds logic. Then I simply meditate. Allow my mind to be free of all that clutter, embrace where I am and who I am. While the answer I’m looking for may not come to me, a sense of peace does and from that, I find logic and reasoning return.” ~Stephanie
“Tough spot… Try things on… no one can tell what will work. It might be a passion project you’ve been delaying for a while that will get you passionate again or might be something unexpected completely that comes from a failed experiment. Live completely selfishly for a while too.” ~Adrijus
“Where am I now, where do I want to be, eliminate things not core to getting me there, map the path. Get a little traction then baseline, control, test, scale. If you don’t truly know where you want to be it makes it tougher… but I think you generally already know, you just have some challenges in the way.” ~Lee
“I recently had a spurt where I had so much to do but couldn’t physically or mentally do anything. When I felt better I just did one thing at a time. I always think of the line from a Rush song, ‘If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.’” Kenn
“I get out in nature, meditate, and then write down my thoughts.” Crystal
“I sit in a quiet room and listen to my gut. If I start questioning it then I know I’ve got doubts. If the doubts aren’t something I feel I can get past then it’s a no.” Kathryn
“Shift the way you are describing the situation to yourself first. Stuck? In a period of unexpected transition. We’ve all been there, some of us VERY recently lol.
If it’s a project or direction I’m not willing to give up on and something caused it to turn out unexpectedly (which typically happens because we don’t REALLY know what to expect when venturing in a new direction)…
…I look at the past points of success in the venture and ask myself, ‘What’s right about that and how can I do more of it?’
Then, I look at the moments where things just didn’t work out, moments of weakness and where things just went horribly wrong and say, ‘What was right in those situations and how can I do the right while avoiding so much of the wrong?’
Then it’s planning time.
Stuck? Alright, then what can you use as a winch to get you unstuck?
Typically, it’s a matter of leveraging specialized tools, getting people who are good to help you all while choosing an alternate direction of travel.
Stuck is only a state of mind until you know how to pull yourself out…unexpected transition is simply a new direction leveraging some of the old plan while making a course correction.” Bob
“Been there several times. This last time, I picked one big picture focus (let go of my biz and work in nonprofit) and didn’t plan out what it would look like. I just tried things that made sense and that I thought would be good for me and/or fun. Following the present wherever it took me.
Along the way I did a lot of recognizing the grief of stepping away from the old dream. I allowed time to be with the grief and clear whatever needed clearing. Letting go of my biz to go into the nonprofit world wasn’t easy, but doing it this way was worth it (and easier than forcing something on myself).
I never dreamed I’d be where I am now. I have no idea if I’m done transitioning or not as I thought I was done last year. With each bit of transition that falls into place it’s felt more and more right. It’s gotten easier, too. I’m a planner so just following my nose is something that I had to practice every day. I’m thrilled that I did. I am in love with my new direction.” Kristen (not me… lol)
What I do…
I admit I’ve been stuck. A lot. Sometimes it seems that I keep getting stuck on the same things over and over and over and… well you get the idea. I’ve been asked by my students what I do when I get stuck and my answer?
I look to the wisdom of others. It may be in the form of a book, an article, a Google search, a post on Facebook… or usually a call to one of my smartest friends. I look to sources that won’t just hug me and tell me it’s all going to be OK (though we need that too, right??)… rather I also look to people who love me enough to point out the shit I need to deal with. The blocks in my way. The barriers I myself have built around me.
I look to smart people I know are willing to give me the hard truth, because they know I’m willing to hear the hard truth.
So first off if you’re stuck, ask yourself if you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get UNstuck. Are you willing to hear the hard truth? The truth that may come from those you trust, an outside source, or within yourself?
Then try one of the suggestions my smart friends above made.
This doesn’t mean you (or I) will remain unstuck. It just means one more layer on the onion of self-development is peeled back… which makes you ready for the next adventure life has for you.
Let me know what kinds of “adventures” you’re looking forward to once you get past your blocks… and if any of the wisdom here helped/will help you get there!