This is a guest post by Salma El-Shurafa.
It wasn’t too long ago when you were moving at full speed, fueled, fired up and fearless about the challenges up ahead. But somewhere along the way, something changed. The gears shifted, the wheels slowed down. Some days the wheels aren’t even moving at all.
You’ve stopped. You got stuck.
Encountering a block – whether in your career, personal relationships, or a goal you’re working – is a painful position to be in. Especially if you started full of hope and positivity. But it happens, even to the most motivated or driven people.
So what can you do about it?
There is one powerful move that I’ve witnessed and experienced, up-close and personal, to be highly effective for when dealing with roadblocks.
Check Out the Wall.
Runners sometimes experience a phenomenon they call “the wall.” It’s a moment in the middle of the run when they feel they can’t go on anymore.
Runner’s World describes it as such: “You’re in the middle of a run when things start to fall apart. Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming.”
Those who feel stuck can also experience that psychological wall. And when it hits you, it can be easy to feel so much frustration, or even panic.
And here’s something really valuable I learned from working with people from all walks of life, something I never tire of sharing: When something is blocking your way, sometimes the best solution is not to continue charging ahead. Try taking a step back instead.
What happens when you step back? Your perspective becomes clearer and bigger. You can actually see the wall instead of it being a huge blur blocking you and your vision. You’re able to have a good grasp of how tall and strong it is.
In that position, you may see where the wall ends. You realize that you can tweak your path a bit and go around the wall instead of banging your head against it, so you can once again continue on your way.
Often, you just need to take a step back to get on track once again. That’s how you get to check out the wall and understand it, which is key to discovering how to overtake it.
In practical terms, what does checking out the wall mean?
Realize that not being able to move full charge forward is not always a bad thing. At work, for instance, a pause in your career development may mean a path toward a promotion or a better position. When you’re forced to stop, it may be an opportunity to refocus, re-energize or recalibrate your moves.
Check if the psychological wall may be a manifestation of a physical condition. If health has always taken a back seat because you’re always moving and hustling, this pause can be your body’s way of telling you to take care of yourself once again.
Check your vitals. Go and finally see the doctor for that pain in your back. Take advantage of the slowdown to enjoy deep, revitalizing sleep. Take time to take long walks and nourishing meals.
Create disruption. Routines help life become more organized, efficient and predictable. But it can also create a comfort zone so cozy that there is no room for creative and critical thinking anymore. If you’re feeling de-motivated, sluggish and hopeless, maybe all you need to do is to shake things up in your routine.
Do things in a different manner or a different order. If you’re feeling courageous, you can even create entirely new habits. In many cases, disruption is genius because it forces your brain to recalibrate and become sharper at problem-solving once again.
Be kind to someone. Stop from the daily grind and do something good for others or contribute to the greater good. It will help you regain your sense of purpose and belonging. Plus, it’s a chance to give back to the community.
Be kind to yourself. For many driven, ambitious individuals, practicing self-compassion can be extremely difficult to do. If you’ve always been pushing yourself to go beyond your best, self-compassion may even feel counter-intuitive.
But here’s the thing: permitting yourself to view and treat yourself in a kinder, more forgiving manner is actually key to becoming a stronger and more resilient person.
Who knew that the dreaded event of hitting the wall can turn out to be a rewarding moment? Don’t be so surprised. That’s what you get when you dare to look at the world in new ways and open yourself to the process of self-love and self-discovery.
Salma El-Shurafa is an executive coach and founder of The Pathway Project (TPP). TPP provides tailored executive leadership and career development coaching to professionals who are navigating the dynamics of the global UAE market. Salma works with a wide variety of individuals in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, ranging from directors and managers at Fortune 500 companies as well as entrepreneurs across industries, and other professionals.
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Image: Joel Peel