Get Out of Your Own Way
When we feel stuck in a project, it’s easy and tempting to look at the outside forces that are holding us back. But sometimes — more often than not, if we are being honest — the bottleneck is us. The good news about this is that if we are the source of the problem, we are also the source of the solution.
I’ve often found myself getting in my own way. But my commitment to daily rituals like fitness, meditation, and blogging has forced me to clear the path.
Here are five tips I’ve used that might help you to get out of your own way and get momentum in your next project.
(1) Keep Moving
In trampoline and trapeze practice, when I am struggling with a skill I take a break from it and work on something else. Then I return to it later. The time away from it keeps me from locking up in frustration.
Don’t let yourself get stuck in any one place.
When you hit a sticking point move to something else and then come back to it.
(2) Focus on Process Over Outcome
We can often get stuck in what we think we need to do. Blog posts should have a clear point, with a call to action. You expect to see improved strength from your workouts. Forget about what it should look like or what you expect.
Focus on the process over the outcome. Let go of the desired results.
Just say something. Write something. Broadcast something. The more you can do the easier it will get and the more likelihood that something will hit. You can’t change what you don’t implement.
(3) Make it Smaller
One of my favorite ways to self-sabotage is to make everything feel so much bigger. My ideas grow ideas. It’s often hard for me to extract them.
When this happens, I remind myself to think small. Chunk it down. Keep it brief. Say one thing about the topic. Focus on the minimum viable way to do it.
(4) Work With Your Natural Energy Flow
A hidden source of sabotage is that we work against our natural energy flow.
As a starting point, it helps to know when you are at your peak creative times. What are the conditions for your best work? What gets you in flow?
Once you know this, block out that time in your schedule and protect it like you’d protect your kids or your most cherished asset. Because that’s what it is.
I know my workouts and meditation tend to unleash a flood of ideas and insights, so I build in space for that. I also build space after meetings and calls to allow myself the time to capture my notes and ideas. Don’t rely on your brain to remember it later.
(5) Embrace Incompleteness
I know a thing or two about perfectionism, and I have learned that there is never enough time to make it exactly as you see it.
Allow your work to be incomplete.
I almost never leave the gym feeling that I’ve done everything I wanted to do. I can always stretch more. I’d love a few more minutes to meditate.
When I struggle with a blog post, I look for a place to cut it off. I save the rest for another time.
To be clear: this is not easy. There’s a lot of work in leaving things feeling incomplete.
The more we can embrace the reality that nothing ever feels done, the easier it is to accept that reality. Then it doesn’t grab hold of you so tightly.