Most entrepreneurs feel stuck in some area of their business. What’s worse, once we see we are stuck, we start repeating, “I am stuck,” (or some variation) over and over. We build an entire story around our being stuck. We talk about how it feels, how frustrating it is, how we cannot figure out why we got stuck here, what we are doing to deal with it, and how great it will be if we can move forward some day.
It doesn’t really matter if we are stuck pre-launch, or when delegating, building an effective process, branding, hiring, networking, or growing and closing new business. Whatever the sticking point, if we start talking about our experience in terms of being stuck, it’s just like getting a car’s tires stuck in the mud, then spinning the wheels. We are only going to get more stuck.
So here are the five best – and sometimes counter-intuitive ways – to get unstuck before you get trapped in your own mess.
Stop Overthinking. Entrepreneurs are smart people. We know how to Google for answers to almost any question. We often have numerous degrees, affiliations, and designations after our names. We like to collect info, study and analyze in order to take the most effective action. And much of the time this intelligence serves us very well – until we get stuck. Then we just cannot understand why we cannot simply think our way out of whatever is blocking us.
The thing is, when we get stuck on some component of our business, it isn’t a problem of intellect. It is emotional. It involves a belief about our self. At the core, there is some place where we have a nagging fear – a fear of failure, of not being good enough, of not getting enough – and we come to a screeching halt (or maybe a squishy, underwhelming flop.)
So, if thinking didn’t get us stuck in the first place, then it isn’t going to help us unstuck. The only way to move through our quagmire then is to roll up our sleeves and go in search of the belief that is holding us back. One way to do this is actually to take action as if we weren’t stuck at all.
We can ask ourselves, what would an unstuck business owner do here? Then do it, and feel terribly uncomfortable in the process. You will live, I promise you, when the place of discomfort becomes obvious. We can tend to the belief, once we can see it clearly, choosing a better, truer one in its place, even at the same time as we are moving forward, acting as if we weren’t stuck at all.
Shift Your Focus. Where we focus our attention flourishes. So if we stare at our stuckness too long, we are going to get a lot of stuckness. Instead of dwelling on the area that isn’t working well for your business, try temporarily pouring your attention into every area that actually is working well.
When you do this, the strong areas become even stronger, which can compensate for any deficiency. Additionally, it allows your subconscious mind (another area where emotion is predominant instead of intellect) to work on the problem without the interference of your critical thinking, self-judgment, anxiety, or outright fear.
It is vitally important that when you apply the shift in focus to your stuckness, that you do so without setting a time limit on a successful solution. Planting a seed and then digging it up at regular intervals to see if it is growing is plainly counter-productive to the growth process. Set your stuckness aside for the time being and let your mind work on it uninterrupted for as long as it takes.
Develop a 120-Day Plan. Lots of people talk about 90-day plans in business. Interestingly, we are learning that 90 days is enough time to create a new habit, but it is not enough time for it to become truly ingrained. 120 days is really the magic number of days to generate the transformation of a new habit.
If you are stuck in an area that is truly limiting your business, such as not enough income to carry you through the next few months, or lack of clarity on what steps to take next, then this solution is the best one. A 120-day plan requires you to have goals, strategies, tactics, accountability, timeframe, and measurable results. It allows for you to change direction if one strategy or tactic is proving ill-advised.
The most beneficial feature of a 120-day plan is that it spurs action in a positive direction. If lack of confidence, clarity or focus are issues for your business, it is far more beneficial to nurture these traits through clear action steps, even if what you ultimately learn is that different actions will be needed.
Get a Mentor. Even business coaches need a coach. Why? Because we all need the valuable insight of perspective that none of us can provide to ourselves alone. A mentor can be a coach, a consultant, another entrepreneur, a successful up line if you are in MLM, or anyone who has similar experience.
A great mentor will listen attentively, call you on any bad assumptions or rationalizations, suggest alternative approaches, give you homework and hold you accountable in a nurturing, collaborative relationship.
A mentor doesn’t solve your problems. You do. But a mentor can hold space for you while you are trying to sort it all out, and provide a solid sounding board when you are wondering what the right next step ought to be. Most importantly, a mentor is the highest reminder that never, ever do we have to get unstuck alone.
Take a Risk. Entrepreneurs are typically some of the least risk-adverse individuals there are. However, when we are staring down at our last penny, or when our spouse is demanding we carry “our share of the load,” then we tend to retrench to safer ground.
Safer ground can mean a lot of things. It can be a full-time job “until we have enough income to go it alone,” or it can be “just working harder and longer hours for a little while until I turn the corner.”
We tend to think of risk in terms of financial risk. But the kind of risk I’m proposing is another risk altogether. I am talking about the risk of asking someone for a referral – or four – or twenty. Or what about going to 3 networking events a week just to practice your pitch and find out what people are struggling with that you might be able to help with. Or perhaps starting a blog, just to explore ideas. Or maybe take a day off and go spend some quiet time alone in a cabin on a mountain (or the beach) to reconnect with yourself and your vision.
I am talking about the risk of connecting with others and reconnecting with yourself.
Great things happen when we get stuck – because without getting stuck, we could never be truly able to grow in new and inspiring ways.