Making stuff — songs, stories, magazines...pies — has been my through line for most of my life. Creating is for me one of the coolest things about being alive. How amazing it is that humans can make things out of 'nothing?' How much one can find out about themselves through doing. Now I chart my fluidity, or my stuckness, by how my projects are proceeding. Usually there's a match up to what I'm feeling. I'm likely stuck if I'm feeling frustrated, cranky, oppressed somehow or over-tired (in a way that sees sleep as a way out rather than as a restorative). I'm usually stuck if I'm feeling fear of some kind, or that my circumstance is compromised. Over the years I've been fortunate to find several practices that have worked for keeping me, or getting me, back on track when I'm stalling out. As I've been working on getting my arms around a big project that has eluded me for some years — years in which I've actually completed lots of projects (albeit other projects) — I've been turning to my favorite ways — that don't involve plane tickets or other large purchases — to get unstuck a lot!
10 Ways to Get Unstuck & Finish What You Started
- Do some yoga. Even five minutes of breath and movement can change your perspective. If you've never done yoga, try a beginner class or commit to learning sun salutations. I have a regular yoga practice so this has become built in. Now, if I'm resistant to my yoga practice, I do what I consider my 'minimum RDA:' 20 minutes of my regular practice, including sun salutations, a few standing and some seated poses.
- Vocalize. Another built-in for me as I regularly chant and I sing. When I was going through a low period, I found these were things that made me feel better. Sound vibration and music affect us physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. Make a sound=shift in consciousness.
- Go for a walk outside, preferably up a hill. For most of my life (until recently), I've lived near some geographic feature I could ascend. Going for a walk + changing the view +breathing the air = gear change. But you don't need a hill. A walk around the block can do wonders. My new15 minute loop near my house gets my blood moving and... doesn't take me too far from what I'm working on.
- Make/bake something easy. Often my stuckness is a result of being daunted by a project. Making something edible reminds me I can complete a project and also make something useful. When I was young, I liked to bake. Now I've been more into raw, vegan snack type things, that don't take all day and are truly nourishing.
- Set a timer. Sometimes thinking/worrying about the thing I'm resisting — making that call, writing the next paragraph, paying the bills, learning the new song that hasn't been getting in— than actually doing it. Setting a timer for a amount of time that's not overwhelming — 10 minutes to half hour — helps gets me started, which is key, and usually leads to completion.
- Dance. Blast a favorite tune and go to town...even if town is in your living room. Dance is play and counters the over-seriousness business.
- Mix up your usual routine so your usual sequencing is different. Perhaps it won't offer up any resistance when approached at a new angle.
- Take part in a challenge. I'm a big proponent of 'write a [novel, album] in-a-month' type challenges or Instagram # sharing challenges. They're manageable, they're contained and it helps to know you're not alone.
- Reach out. Connect to another maker, or someone who is doing what you aspire to, or simply an old friend. Up the ante by writing a real old-fashion letter. Write as a fan or to say thank you. Or write your friend to tell them the things you love about your life right now. Make it equal parts gratitude list and reconnection. Put your letter in an envelope with a real stamp. Walk it to the real mailbox.
- Take time from social media. See what the vacuum left by Twitter and Facebook yields.
- Make a list. 10 projects you admire. 5 next steps to take. 15 things you've already completed. All the things you do well. Wow, look at that!