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Unstick Yourself.

Are you feeling stuck, overwhelmed or even hopeless?  With our new world of working remote, do you find yourself juggling competing priorities of your customers, your team, your spouse, your children, the laundry?  Maybe you started out escaping reading a few web articles to find inspiration, but it turned into endless hours of sedentary mindless scrolling. If any of this is familiar, you’re not alone, and more importantly, you can get unstuck.

What’s the secret to getting unstuck? Momentum.

You remember the definition of momentum from science class, right?  It’s the energy gained by a moving object.  But how do you capture that energy if you are stuck?

First, consider what led you here? What caused you to lose energy? To lose traction?  If you get to the cause, you can connect with what thoughts or actions to take to start moving forward again.

Common causes for losing momentum and getting stuck:

  • Indecision
  • Grief
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Disempowerment

Second, when you figure out the cause, you will know what it will take to embrace momentum and propel yourself and your business toward success.

The Irony of Indecision

With today’s challenging environment, you may be facing a big decision or a situation in where you don’t have a clear answer.  After-all, there’s not a playbook for running a business during a global pandemic. That lack of clarity can lead to indecision, which can spiral into doing nothing. When you’re paralyzed by indecision, it is most likely caused by a fear of acting before you have all the facts – all the information to move forward. It is the worry, and worrying is nothing more than wishing for what you don’t want!

Here’s the irony of the situation. Indecision is rooted in fear of failure. And by not acting, you inadvertently fall prey to your fear. This kind of stagnancy is emotionally connected to an imagined imperfect future that hasn’t even happened yet. It is perfectionism bullying you into failure. It is also a lack of trust in yourself. 

Turn to a simple framework to combat indecision.

Let’s throw it back old school.  Set down the phone and grab a piece of paper. List your options in the situation. Assign them to a six-sided dice or the two-sides of a coin. Roll the dice or flip the coin. Before checking the results, look at your list again. Is there one answer in particular that you’re hoping for? It’s your ruby slippers moment of realizing you already had the answer and making this connection can propel you into momentum.

Suggestions for believing in yourself:

  • Book: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  • Book: I Hope I Screw This Up by Kyle Cease
  • Movie: Rudy (1993)
  • Theme song: Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey – one of my all-time favorites!
  • Physical activity: Jumping Jacks, jumping rope, or how about a set of burpees.

Good Grief

Now is a time of constant curveballs.  And it can be a struggle to adapt to it. The most extreme version is when we lose someone we love dearly. After this kind of significant loss, there are several stages of grief to process including shock and denial, anger, bargaining, resignation, and acceptance. This is an obvious expectation when we’ve attended a funeral or signed divorce papers, but sometimes grief can sneak up on us in other situations.

Big Changes Can Cause Grief (Even the Good Changes)

  • Being under quarantine
  • Getting a scary diagnosis
  • Graduation – or not having a graduation after your kids worked so hard
  • Stepping into the role of teacher for your kids
  • Getting engaged
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Having a baby
  • Having a miscarriage
  • Losing a job
  • Getting a new job
  • Moving to a new city

The truth is, grief happens anytime our expectations don’t line up with an outcome we desire or plan. Grief is focusing on an imperfect past or the present that you can’t change. You expected someone or something to be a certain way, and it didn’t happen. But, the good part of grief is you eventually realize that you’re not broken at all. You’re more in alignment with your heart afterward.

Processing Grief

If you’re stuck in the numbness of grief, you can find your way out again by reconnecting to your feelings. Take a walk in your yard, around the block, or just up the stairs in your house. As you walk, ask yourself if you can get angry. You might have to listen to angry music or stomp your feet while you’re walking around, but if you can move from numb sadness to anger, you’re moving — inside and out! Many of us are taught to suppress our emotions – especially those of angry, but anger expressed in a healthy way like screaming into a pillow or stomping your feet can actually start your momentum forward. After letting yourself feel angry, see if you can move toward frustration. Once you’re frustrated at the powerlessness of the situation, then see if you can shift to the possibility of things being different. Can things change? If you can move your emotional state to possibility without getting attached to a specific outcome, you’ll likely feel motivation building to take steps toward the change.

Suggestions for embracing the new normal:

  • Book: On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
  • Book: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • Movie: Rocky (1976) or Billy Elliott (2000)
  • Theme song: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
  • Physical activity: cry it out, take a nap, then try kickboxing or dancing.  Beachbody.com, Peloton, CorePower Yoga – and many others are offering many free and low cost, online options.

Dissatisfaction Leads to Disconnection

In today’s social media driven world, sometimes we get stuck because we feel disheartened after comparing ourselves to others. The world holds limitless opportunities for comparison of other people’s vacations, relationships, careers, wealth, health, body image, success, and anything else. When we focus on what we don’t have, or how what we have isn’t exactly what we want, it can lead to an endless search for more evidence of what we’re lacking. Focusing on what we don’t have can cause us to want to escape or even spiral into addictive patterns.

The truth is we DO have control over two things: our attention and our intention. The way out of being stuck from dissatisfaction is to put your attention on connection and your intention on appreciation.

Exercises for connection and appreciation:

Try kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of improvement one step at a time. If your house is a mess, just start by cleaning the kitchen sink. Keep the sink shining for three days and admire how beautiful it is. Then add the silverware drawer or a closet. The important thing is one thing at a time, with appreciation for the present moment.

Suggestions for taking small steps:

  • Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  • Book: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer
  • Movie: Yes Man (2008)
  • Theme song: Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
  • Physical activity: try yoga or building your mediation practice

Mission: Disempowerment

Disempowerment can be negative self-talk, failure thoughts, or self-sabotage. Feeling stuck in disempowerment manifests itself in your belief that you can’t win. Maybe you learned these thought patterns as a child, modeled by an adult who felt disempowered. Perhaps you’ve had a string of bad situations which have let you to give up trying. If you’re up to your nose in feelings of disempowerment, you have probably attracted friends or situations that reinforce those negative thoughts and perpetuate your mission to fail.

If you’re stuck in disempowerment, things can seem impossible. The truth is the word impossible can be separated into two empowering words: I’M POSSIBLE. This might seem trite, but empowerment starts with the decision that change is possible.

It is a true statement, that you are the sum of your closest friends. If your circle has evolved into friends that focus on your past mistakes, it’s time to add some new people who will remind you of the art of the possible and that it is okay to give yourself a little grace. Since many of our normal in-person events are not possible, it’s time to harness the power of good that the internet can be to find positive ways to connect with new people – an online classes, non-profit or faith organizations, and professional support groups.

Many inspirational authors and motivational speakers promote gratitude journaling, which can get us moving again. More so, focusing on appreciation can be more motivating because it feels closer to a state of thriving, rather than surviving.

Exercises for Empowerment:

Don’t overwhelm yourself with a big to-do list or big plans to journal every day. Literally just use the fingers on your head to spark choosing five things that you appreciate in your life in this moment. What or who do you love and appreciate? Being in a state of appreciation of your life will lead to a new perspective and start your momentum forward.

Suggestions for Self-empowerment:

  • Book: Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand
  • Book: Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
  • Movie: Hello, My Name is Doris (2015)
  • Theme song: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
  • Physical activity: dancing

Everyone gets stuck from time to time. When you can give yourself a little grace and connect with what led you to feel stuck in indecision, grief, dissatisfaction, or disempowerment, you can find a way to get back your momentum forward.

Momentum starts with a choice. Make the decision that you’re open to things changing. If you need help, decide it is okay to receive help. Connect with a friend, call a nurse hotline, talk to a therapist or clergy person, or spend time in nature. Let yourself off the hook from the never-ending to-do list and decide to just do one new thing today. Remember you’re not alone, and you won’t be stuck permanently. You can and will get your energy back to move forward again!

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