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a book review + a day of unplugging

how to get unstuck: 4 ways to stop standing still




This live-your-dream stuff is harder than I thought it would be. There are days when I feel wonderfully productive, falling asleep with a satisfied smile on my face, but there have been many, many more days when I find myself staring at my reflection in the mirror and asking myself, "What are you doing?" After almost a month of making (and then subsequently breaking) promises to myself, I find myself stuck. I know what I want to do, but for the past few days have found myself lacking the motivation needed to do what needs to be done. 

No one ever said that striking out on my own would be easy, but I wasn't expecting it to be this hard. Given my past experiences with writing -- something I've always loved to do almost any chance I could get -- I've surprised myself by feeling stuck, the words coming slowly, the ideas dripping out like water from a leaking faucet. And, no surprise here, I've felt frustrated by the slow progress I've made, wondering what in the world I can do to get unstuck. 

For awhile, I've allowed myself to dwell in this stuck place -- telling myself "tomorrow" every day until it started to seem like tomorrow was not a day away but a lifetime away. I made and broke promises to myself day after day, leaving me not only with unfinished work but also with the guilt of knowing that my present self failed my past self. 

This week I've decided something has to change. No more promises. No more repeating the same patterns day after day in hope that something will inspire me. This is week I'm going to go everything in my power to get unstuck. If you find yourself stuck -- in a job, a relationship, a habit -- hopefully these words will help you to get unstuck as well. 


My Get-Unstuck Plan

1. Switch it up. For the past few weeks, I've stayed in my apartment each day (something I swore I wouldn't do when I started this). Based on the number of episodes of Teen Mom I've watched, the number of books I've read, and the number of times I've cleaned the apartment, this stay-at-home strategy isn't working for me. I have to make a change -- and today that's exactly what I'm going to do. My laptop is packed and ready to go and I'm going to leave this apartment for most of the day. The old saying really is true: "If you do what you've always done, you're going to get what you've always gotten." Today I'm going to switch it up and hope that I don't encounter any tempting televisions or new books along the way. 

2. Find inspiration.
Before I started working for myself, I was constantly inspired. Everything sent my mind reeling; I was always desperate for a moment alone so I could write it all down. And then it stopped. I had all the time the time in the world -- hours and hours a day -- to write and I could hear no words. I needed inspiration. Oddly enough (and much as I hate to admit this and risk sounding like an adolescent fan), I've found it in the character Katniss, of The Hunger Games. Her strength, her determination, her unwavering perseverance has inspired me to be stronger, braver, more of a badass. She might be fictional, but her characteristics are real and they've made me realize that if you want to win you've got to give it everything and never, ever give up. 

3. Seek accountability. For weeks I've been alone in this apartment with no one to tell me what to do or when to do it. No one to raise an eyebrow when I switched on the TV or sunk to the couch with my book. I'd always craved that kind of autonomy -- the ability to do what I wanted whenever I wanted -- but I've discovered that it's more curse than blessing. I consider myself a very disciplined person, but I also have a rebellious side that, I'm discovering, likes to rebel against productivity. I need a watchdog. I need someone to tell me no, to at least give a disapproving look when I start to stray. Today I'm going somewhere to work where I have always been held accountable for my actions: my parents' house. Though I know they won't be able to make me work, they will certainly be able to question my decisions to visit the mall (yet again) or turn on the TV.

4. Start. Now. One of the reasons I've been stuck day after day is my ability to make promises to myself that push everything off until tomorrow. "Tomorrow," I tell myself, "I will start a new plan. I will get out of the apartment. I will do something different. Yes, definitely tomorrow." Tomorrow, I've found, is too late. I need to start now. I cannot wait until the conditions are just right, the mood I'm in is just perfect, the stars align. That's just not how people become successful. The time to start is now. And that's just what I'm going to do. My bag is packed and I'm heading out for the day -- a day hopefully filled with change, inspiration, and accountability. 


As I was writing this, The Gabe Dixon Band's song "All Will Be Well" came on. The words hit me: "All will be well. / Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself. / All will be well. / You can ask me how but only time will tell. / You gotta keep it up and don't give up, / And chase your dreams and you will find / All in time / All will be well." The lyrics have given me the motivation I needed to get up, get going, and get unstuck. I know it won't be easy -- change never is -- but I have a feeling it will end up being easier than staying right where I am. 


I'd love your advice on getting un-stuck.
How do YOU get unstuck?
Share your advice in the comments section! 


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Actually, I have no extraordinary advice to give. But when I'm passing through hard times, I keep thinking to myself one phrase: "Be strong. Have faith. Go on, you can do it". It's quite simple, but it usually helps me a lot.
The main reason I'm commenting here is because I'm kind of stuck in life and just realized I had no inspirations until now. So I wanna say I WAS stuck, because after reading your post and listening to Gabe Dixon's All Will Be Well, I found motivation. Books, movies, songs, all these things inspire me, but mostly, I got caught by people who are living similar moments as I am as well. This is what really gives me inspiration, I mean, the fact that I'm not alone and we are all moving on. So thank you very much.
And again... Be strong. Have faith. Go on, you can do it.

I've been working for myself from home for over a year now, and I can totally relate to everything you've said.

My biggest problem, I've realised recently, is that I overestimate how many things I can get done in one day, so when the day's over and I haven't ticked everything off my list I feel guilty. So I've tried to cut back a bit, start small, and most importantly, go easier on myself.

As with everything, it's a process, a journey. It needs to be maintained. Another realisation I've had recently is this; do what works for you. Sometimes, sitting on the couch with my laptop in front of the TV all day helps me work better, and other days I sit in silence in my home office. It all depends on what feels right for me :)

I hope that helps! All will be well :)

Fantastic. EXACTLY what I needed to read today.
No advice to give. Just enormous gratitude for advice received.

Sometimes, I say that I can do something for an hour and that's all it takes to get me going. Inertia is based on my fears. I want to do things perfectly and have to realize that I cannot.

Samantha - That's great advice! Having positive affirmations and repeating them during tough times is a great way to get unstuck. I'm glad this post helped you too!

SH - Excellent advice! I, too, overestimate how much I can do every day and often feel let down when I don't complete every task. Thanks for sharing your advice!

Pauline - Awesome! I'm so glad this was what you needed to read. Just so you know -- the first day of putting my own advice to work went really well for me. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me!

Syd - That's a great idea. If I told myself I was going to work on something for just an hour, I bet I would get really into it and keep going for much longer. And it's also really important not to hold on to the notion of "perfect." That's something I need to keep in mind. Thanks for the advice!

When I am stuck, I try not to beat myself up about it...easier said than done, I know. But I believe we are stuck for a reason - maybe we just need that time to recoop, gather up our energy and get ready to take on the task at hand. And I always find, without fail, that when it is time to get unstuck, the universe will provide me with some sort of sign that kicks my butt into gear. Such as this post in my inbox this morning. Perfect timing. Great post, thank you so much for sharing. Great song too!

Kristine - That's a great way of looking at it: maybe we're stuck for a reason. I feel like now that I've gotten unstuck things are really looking up and maybe I wouldn't have felt so optimistic if I hadn't been stuck in the first place! Glad you enjoyed this post and thanks so much for your advice!

I just try to do what feels good in the moment. That may sound cheesy or unproductive, but it can be applied to various situations — and it means trusting your gut, not necessarily falling into a trap of "I should" do this or "I should" be more like that. If I want to clean up and then read a book and then go to sleep, great. But if what I really want to do is just sleep, maybe that's what my body needs. Maybe that's what I need. If I don't feel like writing, I'll do something else creative or inspiring instead, and without fail something WILL inspire me to create and write.

I just wish I could make other people do the same thing...watching people who are stuck (more stuck than I am, because of course we all get stuck from time to time, whether it's a daily occurrence or a major life situation) makes me paranoid that maybe I am actually more stuck than I think at times. Sometimes it's hard to stand your ground and not feel sucked into the misery of your company.

I really appricate the way you write .Hats off to you . ..i read some posts by you nd must say your each post is beautifully written .I am not a perfect writer like you but some
times i just try to write what comes in my heart.
keep writing like this ...All the best!!

MPOF - Doing what feels good in the moment is important. Often our bodies (and minds) tell us what we really need. What's critical is to really listen to them and not be distracted by other, less important thoughts. I also completely agree with how you feel about getting sucked into others stuck-ness. It's so important to stay focused on people who inspire you to get unstuck!

Anu - Thanks so much for your sweet comment! I'm so glad you enjoy the posts. Writing is what I love to do so it means a lot to read your words of appreciation. Thanks for reading!

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