What do you do when the ideas stop coming? When the groove you are in hits a dead end? When you are derailed and cannot seem to get moving again? A dry spell can happen to anyone at anytime. It is frustrating and it can stall your business. The good news is that there are some things you can do to get the engines going again.
I was cruising along. I was on the right road and it was all good. And then there was this thing that happened and everything stopped. And it doesn’t matter what the thing was because it could have been anything and it varies from person to person and case to case. But this thing happened and everything changed. BAM! I couldn’t even remember where I was going or why I thought it was a good idea but I knew that I was feeling good about all of it. And now? Now I am sitting here idling, wasting gas and time and going nowhere.
So here I am on the side of the road with no ideas, no map, and no sense of navigation or know-how. Not a good place to be. I have climbed back in the car a couple of times and headed down the road but it never feels right. There is no sense of direction, no plan on where I want to go or how I will get there. Worse yet, there is no ambition, no passion, no excitement about the trip. I still want to go somewhere and I still want to feel that sense of anticipation about what my new plans will bring. But there is just nothing there.
I appreciate that it can be beneficial to take a step back, reassess and start again. But this is different. This isn’t a step back so much as it is hitting a brick wall and coming to a dead stop. Quite a different thing than reassessing. If you find yourself in a similar situation there are some things you can do to revive yourself, your creativity, and your desire to begin again. The Dalai Lama said, “Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” This might be one of those times. Take advantage of it.
Be Aware of Where You Are
First, do what is necessary to gain clarity. You have to know where you currently are because that is where it all starts. You were on a path prior to the standstill but now you are at a different starting point. So where are you? What has brought you to this point? What has changed during the interim between “then” and “now?”
It is always okay to change your goals. You are free to decide [or realize] that you no longer want what you wanted “then.” Let go of trying to regain what you had and know that, for better or worse, then is gone and now is what matters. Get solid on where now is.
Take a look around. What do you see? How do you feel? If you are uncomfortable, what is the source of your discomfort? If you are discouraged, where is that coming from? What looks or seems better than where you are now, and what makes it more appealing? We are sometimes taught to ignore the very things that will bring us the answers we seek. This is one of those times. Turn to the discomfort, the discouragement, and the frustration and listen to what they have to say. Perhaps that is where your answers lie. As Tony Robbins said, “Only in the midst of challenging moments do you find your inner strength.”
Make a choice
You are faced with a choice. Do you want to stay where you are or do you want to move on? There are times when life shifts and you decide that it is best to not do anything to rock the boat. It is often difficult enough to just keep your socks pulled up let alone making a decision about what to do next. If that is the case, put things on hold and settle in.
If you do not want to stay where you are you need to think about where you do want to be. Keep in mind that whatever happened that changed your course might have also changed your attitudes and beliefs about what matters most in your life. Be open to the possibility that you have shifted and are now a different person than you were before. And that’s okay, but be aware of it. The following joke is a reminder to be smart about how you review what needs to change:
The mother of three notoriously unruly youngsters was asked whether or not she’d have children if she had it to do over again. “Sure,” she replied, “but not the same ones.”
Okay then, if you want to move forward from where you are start by re-charting your goals. Yes, that means it is time to take inventory and write some things down. A new vision is necessary to fire the engines. What do you want, how will you get there, and are you ready to do what it takes to make it happen? As you answer these questions you might find that things have not changed as much as you first thought. It is possible that your approach has changed, or you have changed, but maybe what you want has not changed.
Part of this process is surveying your options. The possibilities are always endless and choosing a path without reason is not the goal. Which path is calling to you? What is appealing about one particular path over another? What are your instincts telling you? That voice that encourages you [or discourages you] in the decisions you make is there for a reason. (Click here for more on that little voice: http://spark307.org/quiet-narrative/ ) It is always guiding you, showing you the way. Your job is to hear it and trust it.
One cautionary note: Before giving credibility to your inner voice consider the integrity and rationality with which it speaks. Your instincts will not demand thoughtless snap-decisions. Be wary of times when your voice makes you feel rushed or pressured. A random thought that pops into your head is likely not the voice of reason. The age-old advice to “sleep on it” is always a good idea and definitely applies when following your gut (i.e. your inner voice).
You have set new goals and created new priorities – it’s time to get back in the ring and start swinging. Even if you are not the same person that you were, you still have your previous skill sets to fall back on. Trust what you know and realize that you can still depend on you. Embrace the qualities that reinforce your dream. Summon the courage to go beyond what you’ve done previously and then begin. The first step is often difficult but it is also necessary. Without a first step, there cannot be a second.
If you start and things do not go well, at least you will have new information about what might work and where you are with your situation. The key is action. Take a step. Do something! Word of caution: This does not mean to throw effort after foolishness. Even an impulsive step forward should be prefaced with some solid think time.
Hamilton Wright Mabel put it this way, “The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had the time, means, influence, and educational advantage, but what he will do with what he has.” Sure, things aren’t going as you’d like and you have presently lost your way, but the question to be answered is, “What are you going to do about it?”
The road to the next level is uphill. That is the way it always works. So challenge your own thinking and create momentum that brings fuel to the vision.
There are times when the ideas will stop but this article was written to give you some ways to get things flowing again. If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please share it with others who might find it useful. I am always eager to hear your thoughts – take a moment to leave a comment about whether and in what ways this article was helpful.