We have all been there. Regardless of your professional success, personal demeanor or optimistic personality; some days we get stuck. Stuck in a bad habit, a professional rut, a meaningless relationship, or just an emotional funk. The reasons for these symbolic canals of mud come in all shapes and sizes as do their life consequences. How long, distracting or even devastating we allow these ruts to be is in our control but often we need to equip ourselves in advance.
Recently I fell into my own abyss of malaise during a perfect storm of personal upheaval, professional immovable obstacles and general life chaos. It quickly dawned on me that due to my usual good fortune, and perhaps my gypsy nature, I was ill equipped to combat the forces keeping me stagnant. And so the quest to get unstuck began. Below is the main lesson I learned along the way and some examples of how to use it. I hope you can file them in your tool chest for the inevitable.
The Power of 1 – For Yourself
Dr. Ian K. Smith, fitness guru and author, works with clients on their individual journeys toward better nutrition. One of his primary pieces of advice is to change out one less healthy item for one more healthy item everyday. Doesn’t that seem simple? Trade that double macchiato for a black coffee, that bag of chips for an apple. He does not suggest a major overhaul of your entire eating in one day as that often leads to feelings of overwhelm and potentially failure. One small change.
In previous weekly revelations we have touched on the compound effect and its ability to multiply small decisions into larger outcomes. Just as Dr. Smith’s recommendation has the power to quietly change your physical health, replacing one stale habit with one inspiration has the same compound effect on your emotional and mental health. Perhaps you replace the late night email checking with a new book. Perhaps you replace a scan of the morning newspaper with more targeted positive articles about your industry. Perhaps you replace your typical Thursday happy hour with a running for brews club. (Yes you are correct I didn’t suggest giving up a few drinks with friends but feel free to give that up if you prefer.) Find one small change that is both pleasurable and routine altering and begin to immediately implement it. Don’t over analyze or spend time planning just the right substitution, just pick one and go. You can always make a new choice later.
The Power of 1 – For Your Community
When we are deep in our own self made trenches, we can often forget about the power of the collective. One of the easiest ways to shake the dust off our own lives is to interact with others, particularly others in need. If you are feeling stuck, schedule a day or even an hour to spend time helping others. There are thousands of philanthropic organizations needing willing volunteers for a few hours or on a regular basis. Schools need volunteer tutors, sports programs need coaches, churches need mission driven volunteers, zoos need landscapers. Maybe all you need to do is take a struggling co-worker to lunch or stop by the local nursing home and talk to residents. Regardless of your interests or time restraints, there are ways to give back. The most meaningful experiences tend to happen when you connect directly to those you are serving and with those serving along with you. Look for ways to make those type of human connections and reflect on it when you return home. Keeping a journal of reflections or silently listing the day’s gratitudes before bed are simple ways to stay connected to the humanity you experienced during the course of the day and can be a powerful nudge toward becoming unstuck.
The Power of 1 – Your Business
Perhaps you are concerned not about a personal level of stuck but rather whether your business has hit an immovable plateau. If this is where you are, perhaps it is time to reexamine your “Why”. Salesforce recently added to their collection of awards the Fortune 2017 Best Companies To Work For. The primary reason for this award is their dedication to helping others not only with their products, but with their collective human capital. Their 1-1-1 philosophy, illustrated in the video below, is at the core of their business. Keeping the larger society at the forefront of your business mission can serve as just the motivation you and your employees need to remain unstuck.
When you are next feeling stuck, keep in mind it will pass and pull out these tools for help.
And as always, keep asking…
What are you InPursuit of?