By the time people talk to me about how stuck they are, they’ve usually tried a LOT of things to get unstuck. And usually, the first step most people try to get unstuck is by looking for answers “out there.” If they’re stuck in their business, they’ve tried learning new strategies and tactics (helloooo signing up for every free training, buying 30 courses that promise to give you exactly what you need, and asking everyone for their opinion about what you should do next). If they’re stuck with their diet and exercise, they join a gym and click on every article about “what’s slowing down your metabolism” (their age, genes, or any other thing they have no control over, of course).
In other words, they get stuck in a spot and start looking for experts to solve their problems. It’s not that I’m knocking that entirely. Heck, that’s probably what’s making you read this article. But there’s an issue with looking for answers everywhere else.
Everywhere else can’t get you unstuck, at least not entirely.
Getting unstuck is a process. It’s a series of steps, and once you know the steps, you repeat them over and over. But a lot of people never even get adequately through the first step, which makes any results they do manage to achieve not be completely ideal (which ultimately leads to things like burnout, resentment, regret, and a lot of other things no one wants to go through).
So what is this first step?
Determining your life’s vision
When I start talking about visions (of the non-hallucinogenic variety, because those are the only ones I have experience with), I immediately hear the skepticism.
“Ooooooook Lady, you want me to sit around and think about my vision when I’m STUCK?! I need action! Movement! Not more sitting around and thinking! What on earth does this have to do with my business?!”
I agree that you’ll eventually need action, but having your vision figured out first is the difference between busy-ness and PROGRESS (The car that’s stuck in the mud? It’s very busy while spinning it’s wheels… doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere though, right?).
The process for figuring out your life’s vision
I’ll break down how I’d ideally suggest you figure out your life’s vision first, and then, because I know sometimes we need a quick(er) and dirty(er) solution, I’ll give you that too.
If you know you’re going to be diving into your life’s vision, I want to set the stage for how you think about doing this.
- This isn’t a task. You’re not going to sit down, answer a couple questions, and voila! Done! Mark it off the to-do list and move on. Noooo, no, my friend. This is going to take a few iterations. Some tweaking here and there. Be ok with that.
- Start noticing things you enjoy, moments that make you happy, feelings you miss and then really notice when you have them again, or things that motivate and inspire you. Become more aware of unforced, unplanned good things.
- Conversely, notice when you’re doing things that you feel like you “have to” or “should.” What’s making this feel like an obligation? Who are you doing these things for and why? Don’t psychoanalyze – just mull it over a bit.
- Start practicing thinking really, really big to stretch your imagination. If someone asks you where you’d like to go to dinner, fine, give a practical answer, but then imagine the funnest answer you can think of if it didn’t have to be in your city, under $20/plate, or kid-friendly. When you get a receipt out of the ATM, think about what balance would make you do a happy dance? Don’t overthink this. Keep it quick and easy and exciting and a little bit “yeah, right – that’s crazy!” Think BIIIIIIIG.
If you’ve become a junkie of other’s opinions, the help of experts, the incessant texting of friends and family, the reading of one book, listening of one podcast, taking of one quiz, or saving of one “helpful article” after another, STOP.
JUST STOP. COMPLETELY.
Ditch your FOMO for at least a week and consciously take in as little information as possible (seriously, turn off your TV, trash all the newsletters as they come in (or unsubscribe!), delete the Facebook, Instagram, and every other app that you get sucked into, etc.). If you’re wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do with your new-found time, come to my house – I have a laundry basket full of tiny socks you can fold for me.
(Or you could go for a walk. Or do other things you haven’t enjoyed in eons. Your call.)
The point is, I want you to have as little buzz from other people floating around in your head as possible. You have to stop cramming stuff INTO your head, so you can make sense of the stuff already there.
You have to stop cramming stuff INTO your head, so you can make sense of the stuff already there.Click to tweet
Carve out a bit o’ solo time with a pen and paper
There is probably nothing I believe in more than seeing the stuff floating around in your head, written down on paper. When you write, you slow down your thoughts, and it gives you the opportunity to SEE what’s going on in your head. So find an hour or more where you won’t be interrupted and write out your answers (DO NOT JUST SIT AND THINK ABOUT THESE!).
The most important thing to remember is this: Be open to this being totally different and unconventional if that’s what sounds good to you. Also, resist the urge to wonder what “everyone else” would think if they saw your answers (they never have to!). DON’T SPEND A SINGLE SECOND WONDERING “HOW” TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!!
- Where would you be, what would you be doing, and who would you be with in a given week that would make you feel happy, fulfilled, and like your life mattered? Be as specific as you can, but really focus on the types of feelings, experiences, and activities you’d be engaged in and what reasons you have for doing those things. Also, I’m saying to consider a week of your ideal life because not every day is necessarily the same.Make sure you’re accounting for ALL facets of your life (to whatever degree these are important to you): your romantic, familial, and friendship relationships, your “career” (however it is you share your talents with the world), your finances, environment, health, fun and recreation, and your personal, spiritual, and emotional growth.
- What little, everyday things make your life better and why? (These things don’t have to cost money, by the way)
- What big things (“bucket list” worthy) have you done and why were those experiences meaningful?
- What causes do you contribute to? Who do you serve, teach, or help and how?
- What are you most proud of being or doing?
Reread this in one week
After you’ve answered those questions, I want you to set a reminder and stash these answers in a drawer for a week (and preferably continue with your “consuming of opinions” hiatus).
Because staring at something over and over does not bring clarity. Because a week is long enough that you’ll forget some of the things you wrote down, and when you go back to read it, you’ll either think, “Holy crap! This sounds amazing!” or “Eh, this part needs some tweaking.” Realistically speaking, you’ll probably think both of those things and just need to make modifications to certain parts.
How do you know if you’re getting close?
Your life’s vision should excite you, seem almost too good to be true, and scare you just a tad. If it doesn’t feel like a stretch, you’re likely minimizing all your potential. Keep encouraging yourself to expand what you think you’re capable of and what you deserve to achieve and have out of life.
Bonus points (of the non-optional variety)
When you feel relatively comfortable that you’ve nailed your life’s vision, type it up, or make a Pinterest board, or go all old-school and pull out that glue stick and stack of magazines you have left from 5th grade, or hire a calligrapher. I don’t really care how you do it, but make it somehow significant. And then (here’s the important part), look at, read, and take a couple minutes to think about where you’re headed EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!
USE your vision to drive you forward, to make your decisions, to set your boundaries, and to commit to yourself. And then go have a freakin’ awesome life.