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!