“I just can’t. I’m just stuck.”
I have felt this way more times than I can count.
This week, a writer friend of mine had an assignment. A big assignment. A career-changing assignment that she’s been working toward for years. When she got the assignment, she celebrated– and certainly, she deserved to celebrate. It was a milestone.
But then she had to write it. And that was a different story.
She built it up so much in her head that she felt completely paralyzed when it came to writing the damn thing.
I am sure this has happened to you. Planning a trip, writing a thesis, booking a huge job. It’s all very exciting when you find out you’re going to do it. You think about how great you are, and how great the outcome will be. You think about what it means in the context of your success.
And then you realize that you actually have to do it. You look at the other things on your to-do list. How are you supposed to prioritize? What will happen if you fail? What will happen if you don’t? What does success mean? And what is its place in your life?
I find that the people who really don’t want to be stuck tend to fall into Overwhelm for one of two reasons.
1. WE DON’T KNOW THE “RIGHT” WAY TO GO
You have some idea of your endgame– some idea of where you want to end up. But you have no clue how to get there. If you only knew the right way to go, the right path to take, the right
I hear this one as it relates to travel. People don’t know how much money they need to save, so they don’t save anything at all. Options are overwhelming, so they don’t plan.
We seem to think that successful people are successful because they had a plan. Like they had a magical ability to always make the right decision.
I promise, they didn’t. Everyone is just doing their best.
Most decisions don’t become “right” until after they’re made. There aren’t right decisions– there are creative and intuitive people.
2. WE ARE AFRAID TO FAIL, SO WE AVOID RISKS AT ALL COSTS
Dreaming about booking a huge gig? Awesome. Fantasizing about your dream career? Easy.
Dreaming is easy because it requires no follow-through. It doesn’t require action or risk. But when you actually try something out, you also actually risk failure in a major and often public way. You materialize and admit to your intention, and that’s scary.
Usually, we really care about our dreams. Obviously– they’re our dreams. So, we also really care if they don’t work out like we hoped and planned.
Our big dreams are also tied intimately to our sense of ourselves. Our big dreams are woven delicately with our identities. So it’s totally understandable that fear of failure is a real thing– a real, paralyzing thing at times.
WHAT IS THE SIMPLEST WAY TO GET UNSTUCK FROM OVERWHELM?
Today I’m giving you some tough love.
Do something. Do anything. Momentum is real. Eventually, you’ll find something that works. And when you do, you’ll do more of that thing.
When you are in the process, when you’re distracted by it, you don’t have time to look up and see how far you have to go. You celebrate your accomplishments amongst the failures, because that’s what you have to do in order to keep moving.
Overwhelm happens. It should be celebrated. It means you have big dreams. But in order to change a direction or find one that feels good, you have to be moving. So get moving.
Feature photo by Elisabeth Brentano.