Today we’re talking about what do when it feels like it will never happen. This one is specifically for my entrepreneur readers and listeners, but it’s also applicable to dream-builders of all types, because it’s something we all deal with at one point or another. What do you do when you’ve spent months, maybe even years working towards a dream and it still feels like you’ve got nothing to show for it?
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As I’ve said before, sometimes, on the way to a dream, you get stuck. You’re so excited when you start. Things are happening; you’re starting to see results and thinking that maybe this could really happen for you after all.
You Feel Like You’re Floundering
But then something happens. You hit a plateau and stop seeing those ongoing results. What worked for you initially is no longer yielding the kind of returns it used to. So you frantically scramble around, trying to come up with ways to rekindle your spark and build your momentum back up again.
But nothing seems to work. You feel like you’re floundering. You feel like you’re stagnating. You feel frustrated and angry with yourself and wonder why it’s taking so long. You feel like, if you could just figure out that secret magic key – that one thing you could do that would catapult you forward into the success you so desperately want, everything would be OK. And it drives you batty that you CAN’T figure it out.
A Colossal Failure?
And that’s when all the “should”s come tumbling through your mind:
- You should have more to show for the length of time you’ve been doing this
- You should be making (more) money by now
- You should be more successful by now, or at least have SOMETHING to show for all your efforts
In short, you feel like a colossal failure and you begin to question everything — your convictions, your abilities, and even your sanity…
Your creativity seem to have dried up like yesterday’s mud puddle and you’re having a horrible time just trying to motivate yourself enough to continue what you’ve already got going.
You begin to think that maybe everyone else was right after all. Maybe you really were crazy and irresponsible to think that you could do this.
The Green-Eyed Monster
You see other people posting about their amazing success stories – and so many of them started off in far worse situations than you, and they did it in timeframes that you can barely wrap your head around. In a matter of months, it seems, they became major players in their fields and made more money than you’ve seen in your entire life.
Jealousy, that green-eyed monster, starts to rear its ugly head, bringing with it resentment, despair, and hopelessness. You don’t know what you’re doing wrong and you don’t know how to make it right.
Hitting the Plateau
What started out as the vision that fueled your dreams and spurred you into inspired action at the beginning now feels like a curse, and you may even start to resent your dream for ever showing up in your life in the first place.
So. What the hell is going on?
As I said at the beginning, you’ve hit a plateau. It’s a common phenomenon amongst bodybuilders and die-hard workout types, but it also happens with dream-builders of all kinds, especially those who are trying to build businesses.
3 Strategies for Getting Over a Plateau
The temptation at this point, when you reach this kind of plateau, is often to throw in the towel – to give up the dream altogether and go find yourself a “real” job.
It may come to that. But even if it does, that doesn’t have to be your last chapter. As Oprah once put it “do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do”. Don’t view a temporary setback as a final ending.
Instead, take a deep breath, and use these strategies to help you move past this obstacle and get back on track to building your dreams.
Strategy #1: Get out of your head.
In other words, stop thinking about it. Your obsession with how little you’ve managed to accomplish isn’t helping you to accomplish anything else. Remember that energy flows where attention goes – by continuing to focus yourself on how awful you feel right now, you’re keeping yourself stuck there. It’s hard to get back into the saddle when you’re convinced you’re always going to fall off the horse.Let it go! Obsessing about what you haven't done isn't going to help you do more. Click To Tweet
The best thing that you can do for yourself right now is to take a break. You’re starting to feel burned out and you need to give yourself some time off to recharge your batteries and refocus your efforts. Go do something fun that has nothing to do with what you’re trying to build. Do something that keeps you focused on the present moment and allows all those unpleasant, unhelpful thoughts to flow away. A change in your routine right now will help to put you back into a better frame of mind.
Strategy #2: Reconnect with your why.
Get back to basics and think about all the reasons why you started down this path in the first place. What are you trying to build for yourself and WHY are you trying to build it. One of the things I talk about in my upcoming book is how important your “why” is. It’s the thing that keeps you grounded and focused, and it points you in the right direction, guiding what you do at every step of the way.Knowing your WHY gives you a critical buffer against the tough times. #successtips Click To Tweet
I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to know your why. Because if you don’t understand what’s at the heart of your efforts – the feelings that you’re trying to create for yourself (remember that it’s never about the things or experiences that we want, it’s really about how we think those things or experiences will make us feel) then you will not have the buffer that you need to protect you from the inevitable ups and downs that come along the path of any dreamer. So, please, take some time to really think about why you wanted this business or dream in the first place and really connect with those feelings.
Strategy #3: Stop comparing yourself to others.
Your situation is unique. You are unique. And you have no idea what the real situation is with all of those rock star entrepreneurs that you’re comparing yourself to and feeling bad about. Because what I’ve noticed with a lot of these “I made over half a million dollars in my first year of business, starting from scratch” stories is that most of those people had years of experience in sales and marketing in previous jobs before they started their “from scratch” entrepreneurships. Or they ran previous businesses that never reached the level of success that their current business has. And if you don’t have the benefit of that kind of background, you can’t possibly expect yourself to turn that kind of profit in that kind of time frame.Never compare yourself to others; you're only seeing their highlights, not their bloopers. Click To Tweet
Also, a lot of these people had backup, even when they were at their rock bottom. They were living with family, for instance with built-in, on-demand babysitters who could watch their kids while they were building their empires. Or they had other support in place. Not everyone has that. And let me tell you – trying to run any kind of business with little kids around and no child care is a tough gig. So go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. That’s all you can ask of yourself. And in the long run that’s all you’re going to need — your very best. Just keep doing that, and stay focused on your goals, and things will work out.
Summing it up
Rome, as they say, was not built in a day. And whenever you’ve got a big, long-term dream that you’re working towards, there are going to be bumps in the road. There will be obstacles and there will be setbacks and there will be ups and downs of all kinds. The key to success lies in being able to weather the storms and keep working at it. Perseverance, consistent action, and the belief that YOU CAN.
When you’re in that awful place, when you feel like it will never happen for you, use these three strategies: get out of your head and stop thinking about it, reconnect with your why, and stop comparing yourself to others. Shifting yourself out of a negative focus and back into your usual optimistic and energetic mindset will help you get over the plateau and re-fuel your determination to succeed.
photo credit: pixabay.com cc (modified by me)
Dream. Believe. Achieve.
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This was absolutely golden! I look forward to reading more in the book!
Getting off track like that leads to a downward spiral. You notice the bad neighbors you have, the street you live on is actually not that great with bad people, dogs barking and people leaving stuff on the ledge that belongs to your house, not theirs. you see, when focused on the goal and everything running smoothly, these things are not noticeable. You are oblivious to them. I even asked the previous occupants of the house and though they admitted it was not the ideal area to live, they never noticed it because they were too busy getting successful and moved out when they were financially able. You also start having nightmares about your situation and such. Well you know the deal. I use this as an example as to what happens when you get out of that vibe you were in before. it is good to know that you can get out of it, and there is nothing really wrong, contrary to popular belief.
Thanks, A. — the book will be out later this year. 🙂
And yes, when you start going off track with your thinking it can be the first stage of one of those nasty negativity spirals. I’ve talked about that snowball effect before, where focusing on one negative thought starts making you think of more and more negative things, until that’s all you’re able to think about. The key is learning to recognize when you’re on the edge of one of those spirals and back away before you get sucked in.