5 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Stuck in Your Business
Entrepreneurs are often considered go-getters and *cough cough* workaholics because we tend to throw ourselves into our work. This is likely because we love the freedom of working for ourselves, and the creative opportunities that arise from that freedom. We aren’t immune to challenges or self-doubt or periods of feeling uninspired and stuck, though.
In this blog post, I’ll share with you a story about when my experience of recently feeling stuck, and I’ll also outline a few questions you can work through to help you feel more inspired, creative, and productive in your work.
This summer, I was fortunate enough to host a stream of close friends and family at my home on Lummi Island, WA. Nights were spent talking and lingering over dinner, playing music, and cuddling up watching a good movie. Days were spent hiking, beachcombing, collecting wild berries on the island, and playing in the garden. Being a self-employed entrepreneur, I did what I could to prioritize my time and balance my work and play time (more on how I did that in a future blog post), and I kept up the work momentum for most of the summer. However, once the last of our visitors came and went, I found myself feeling a little empty and uninspired. I was, to be quite honest, pretty exhausted from all of the fun and excitement of hosting people I love in my new home. Work wasn’t as rewarding or interesting or appealing to me, and I started to feel a little stuck in my creativity and productivity.
I wish that I could say that, at that time, I was prepared for my feeling of stuckness and I combatted it with a thoughtful exercise or activity that I had at the ready for that very moment. Instead, I hemmed and hawed over what I “should” do to get my groove back. In hindsight, I can see how, although it didn’t look like it at the time, I was practicing some gentle unstuckness exercises, even if I wasn’t aware of it. I spent time out in nature. I walked alone and tried to just listen to what floated, flitted, or scurried past me while out among the trees and ocean. I dove into some creative writing (aka not for work!) and I reached out to creative friends and colleagues to hear about what they were up to. In short, I took some distance from my work and my list of “shoulds”. I also tried to come back to my work with new eyes and ears, and I hope that this collection of gentle questions can help you carve some time into your day, week, month, or even season so that you can feel better doing the work you do.
1. What does being creative and adventurous mean to me?
Sometimes, we need to be reminded of what moves us. When we’re feeling stuck, it’s a superb opportunity to ask ourselves a question like this one above and listen with fresh ears for the answer. Our response might surprise us.
2. What excites me? What am I drawn to?
OK, I know that these are two questions but you see what I’m getting at. When you wake up in the morning, and you think of how you want to spend your time as opposed to how you feel like you should spend your time, what comes to mind? I encourage you to think outside of your typical professional work box; are you drawn to cycling or reading? Painting or cooking? Visiting a friend or working in the garden? Think of how you wish you could spend your time and then go make time to do one of those things for even a short amount of time. Start with 30 minutes. While you’re in the middle of the activity, consider how your body and mind feel. How do you feel afterward? What kind of lessons can be gained from this activity? How can you apply this type of activity or feelings generated by it into your work?
3. Would a change of perspective or environment help me?
When we feel emotionally, mentally, and creatively stuck, it’s often an indicator that we are also physically stuck. Routines like working in the same coffee shop or at the same desk in our house or office can make us feel confined and creatively constipated. A quick and easy solution is to simply temporarily move locations of where you work and to incorporate more change of scenery into your personal time, too. It can be as simple as taking a walk in a part of your town or county or going on a mini vacation for the weekend. Consider working from a new cafe, public library, or co-working space. You could rent an Airbnb and work from a new town, state, or even country. Change of environment can even be related to a change of time and light; Try working at night if you’re typically a morning worker or vice versa.
4. Where’s the disconnect between how I want to feel and how I’m actually feeling in my work?
Oftentimes, we have an idea of who, what and where we want to be but we can feel like it’s too far-reaching to achieve. When we place most of our focus and attention on reaching the end result, we can get discouraged, doubtful, and scared. We can talk ourselves out of taking small steps to reach the end result or to even move towards it because we sense that the gap between the place we are at today and the future self we hope to become is just too vast. Instead of focusing on the end result, I encourage you to look at the place you want to be as a living collaborator. What I mean is consider the place you want to be as a multidimensional idea, sensation, and feeling that evolves, grows, stumbles, and learns. What kind of steps can you take to start moving in that direction so that end result starts to become clearer and possible?
5. Imagine someone who truly respects you is talking about you and your work to their colleague or close friend. How would they describe you? What kind of words, phrases, and feelings would they use to speak about your work? It can be helpful to think of how others around us see us. A simple exercise like this one can help you to see your strengths and unique qualities with new eyes.
I hope that these questions and exercises help you to find more ease and enjoyment in your work. Here’s to working through those sticky feelings!
PS. Let me know what you think about this post. Have you ever felt stuck?Is there anything you’d add? What helps you to feel unstuck?