How to Move from Stuck to Started (& Free Video Class!)
You have a big hairy audacious goal: something you’re yearning to get your teeth into, something you’ve wanted to achieve since you can remember.
But you haven’t started. Your goal is still just an idea and you’re not seeing any progress. Chances are you feel frustrated, restless, dissatisfied, even helpless.
If that’s you right now, then I understand how you’re feeling. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a toolbox of questions, exercises, and techniques that have helped me work through my own procrastination, doubt, fear, and obstacles and go on to achieve my Big Hairy Audacious Goals, including starting my own business, writing four books, and designing my life so I can combine family, work, travel, and other elements that are important to me. In this post, I want to share five big ideas that will help you get from stuck to start with your own goals.
The five ideas below are taken from a video class I recorded a few years ago for the En*theos Academy, in which I shared ideas, suggestions, and practices you can use to shift from stagnation and procrastination to making progress with your most meaningful goals and intentions. The academy is no longer running, but if you’re a member of the Becoming Who You Are community, you can watch the whole video class, plus download the written notes to go with it from the video class section of the Library :)
1. Remember: action beats perfection
Perfectionism is one of the most common forms of self-sabotage and almost guaranteed to keep us stuck. It’s a mindset that keeps our big dreams and goals as just that—dreams and goals—and prevents us from taking action. Perfectionism is an ego defence; we don’t want to be a beginner, we don’t want to have to come to terms with the gap between what our project looks like in our heads and what it might end up looking like in reality. In short: we don’t want to have to deal with the vulnerability that comes with creating something.
When we subscribe to the ideal of perfectionism, we end up feeling stuck and frustrated. When we live by the mantras “Done is better than perfect,” and “Action beats perfection,” however, we can iterate, improve, seek feedback, and expand our sense of what’s possible.
2. Ask: “Am I in love with the idea of this goal, or with the reality?”
With any new project or goals, it’s important to ask ourselves the question: “Am I in love with the idea or the reality?”
For instance, we might really love the idea of writing a novel. It might feel aligned with our values, and you might be thinking of how incredible it’s going to feel to be able to show people the finished product and have the satisfaction of saying to yourself and others “I wrote a novel.” But if the reality of writing a novel—spending long periods of time alone, working out the details of the plot, doing character development, submitting manuscripts for feedback, creating a book proposal, doing edits, and so on—leaves you feeling lukewarm, it might be that you’re getting stuck because you love the idea of writing, but not the reality,
While we can feel stuck when we come up against internal upper limits or have the opportunity to expand our comfort zone, sometimes feeling stuck is an important sign that we’re not on a path that aligns with our values, priorities or strengths. If you recognise that you’re in love with the idea or a particular goal, but not with the reality, start considering alternative goals or projects.
3. Find your big “Why”
Re-affirming why we’re working towards this particular goal in the first place is a great way of stoking our internal passion and getting from stuck to started. Questions to ask yourself include:
How does this project help me express my core values?
What desired feelings will this project evoke for me?
Which of my core needs will it meet?
How does it enable me to share my gifts with the world?
How will it impact my life for the better? And other people’s?
Use these questions as a starting point to write down your “big why” in as much detail as possible. The clearer you are about why you want to do what you want to do, the more that “big why” will take precedence over what’s keeping your stuck right now.
4. Make friends with your fears
The idea of doing something is often far scarier than actually doing it. Fear is an uncomfortable feeling, but getting familiar with your fears and making friends with them might be exactly what you need to move forward with your project or goal.
All our feelings have something valuable to communicate to us if we’re willing to listen. To make friends with our fears, we start by allowing ourselves to feel and experience them. No fear is too small or too silly (and feeling fear isn’t a sign that you shouldn’t do the thing you feel afraid of doing—sometimes it’s the opposite!)
Once you can accept and experience your fear, it’s time to get curious: what is this fear about? What is the belief behind the fear? Is there any element of truth in this fear? Is this really your fear, or is it a fear you’ve internalised from someone else at some point? What would you do differently if you didn’t have this fear?
5. Get accountable
Multiple studies and research projects have shown that two actions in particular help us achieve our goals: writing them down and making ourselves accountable to other people.
If you’re feeling stuck on a particular project, tell one or more people about the next milestone you want to reach and when you want to reach it by. Ideally, you want to enlist the help of people who are going to be supportive of what you’re doing and understand the process you’re going through, however the act of telling people in itself is often enough to give us the stimulus we need to break through a plateau and start making progress again.
Want more ideas and inspiration for moving from stuck to started? Check out the full video class and the accompanying written notes in the Becoming Who You Are Library. You’ll also get access to free workbooks, audios, and video classes on personal growth, self-awareness and living a meaningful life.