Sometimes you hit a roadblock in your progress and it can be really hard to get through. I know I have hit periods in my life where I feel that no matter how hard I try, I just don’t get any better. It can feel hopeless and feeling like you have no control over your own progress can bring a serious lack of motivation into your life.
BUT, I HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS FOR YOU.
You are getting better, you just can’t see it.
What I have found is that the roadblock isn’t actually a roadblock at all. It is my own impatience to succeed.
"I WANT TO BE BETTER AND I WANT TO BE BETTER NOW."
But it doesn’t work like that. Greatness is something that takes time and more importantly FOCUSED time. It doesn’t matter if you have been doing something for 10 years if it hasn’t been focused or specialized towards a specific goal. If you’re a musician and have been “Playing since I was 5”, you haven’t specialized what you are doing. Even someone who has cut down countless trees is not the best at building houses.
So if you’re upset that you’re not where you should be after all this work you have put in remember that the timeline of greatness is often measured in YEARS, not months, weeks, or days.
And if you are constantly checking to see if your goal has been reached every day, you’re going to be disappointed. This is like the kids in the back seat asking “ARE WE THERE YET?” on a 14 hour drive. The answer is always NO until it is YES. So stop asking if you’re “THERE YET” and start asking what did I do today to make progress and ENJOY it.
“BUT HOW CAN I SHAKE THIS FEELING THAT I’M NOT GETTING BETTER? IT’S JUST REALLY HARD TO PUT IN ALL THIS WORK AND NOT SEE RESULTS.”
To get through this you have to:
GET RID OF THE NEED FOR INSTANT GRATIFICATION.
Understand that it takes time for things to blossom. Don’t get discouraged if you hit a “plateau”, because it’s probably less of a plateau and more of a REALLY long incline. Many of us try to create FINAL RESULTS right away without doing the proper amount of practice, following the right process, or having habits that align with our goals. We complain that the goal is not being reached, but neglect that our process doesn’t match our proposed outcome.
And even if you are doing the right process, you feel like it should be getting you faster results. Something that can really get in the way is when you have a big sense of urgency, without a big sense of perspective and patience. A sense of urgency is great to get the blood pumping and the body moving, but it can also give you unrealistic expectations.
You have to have a sense of urgency to stay motivated, but couple that with a huge amount of patience and gratitude for the opportunity to even get better. Otherwise you will be crippled by your own expectations. That is why you should have High Standards and Low Expectations. This will allow you to work towards the biggest dreams you can imagine, but not get upset when you don’t reach those dreams quickly.
Here is one of my favorite articles I have written on this mindset:
“BUT I KEEP SEEING OTHER PEOPLE DOING BETTER THAN ME AND MOVING FASTER THAN I AM. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”
If you think all people of the world have the same experiences, the same resources, the same advantages/disadvantages, the same perspective, the same work ethic, and the same talent level, you’re in for a lot of disappointment.
You are the only person in the world with your unique experience, so you can’t compare yourself to others, because nobody is living the exact same life as you. Instead, if you feel that other people are doing better than you, see that as motivation that you can achieve something great as well. But don’t expect your journey to match theirs, because you’re not working with the same tools to solve the same problems.
“OK I GET THAT I SHOULDN’T COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHERS, BUT EVEN JUST COMPARING MYSELF TO MYSELF, I KEEP FAILING AND IT’S FRUSTRATING.”
That is why you have to be able to:
GO FROM FAILURE TO FAILURE WITHOUT LOSS OF ENTHUSIASM.
If you get upset every time you fail you are going to be upset ALL OF THE TIME. Failure is a big part of the process.
The people you idolize have failed more times than you have even tried. But they kept going where others have quit and THAT is why you even know about them. The fact that you even have the opportunity to idolize those people is because they didn’t quit when things got hard.
And if you keep going, eventually you will become the person other people idolize and they will say they wish they had the talent you had. And they will have no idea the amount of work you put in, the roadblocks you hit, and the adversity you had to overcome to get where you are. They will only see the end result and think “WHY NOT ME?”.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
Now that we have established the mindset, how do we take action to make sure you’re not in the same rut a week from now? Here are a few actionable, process driven things you can do to get out of your funk:
1. Keep Going - You don’t stop running the race when you get tired. You don’t stop running the race when you feel the finish line isn’t getting any closer. You don’t stop. You keep going until you reach the finish line. And know that in the race towards your goals there are MANY finish lines. And some races you won’t do as well as you wanted to, and others you will do better than expected. But the number one way to ensure you won’t make any progress is to stop running. So don’t quit, keep going.
2. Find Fun In The Process - If you can’t find ways to have fun while you’re working hard, you’re in for a miserable life. Because doing work is a part of life. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in, YOU HAVE TO WORK. You could literally quit what you’re doing right now and start something new with new goals and on a long enough timeline YOU WILL RUN INTO THIS PROBLEM AGAIN. Nobody is safe from feeling like they are not getting better anymore. (Even for people who love what they do.)
Work is work and hitting roadblocks on your timeline is inevitable. That is why your perspective in the moment is so important. Your ability to make the hard work fun is what will make the difference between a bad experience, a good experience, or a great experience. The more fun you can make the process (while still staying on track) the easier it will be to do the work.
3. Hibernate (Take A Break) - Sometimes you need to just get away for a bit. The mind is such an important part of your productivity, so when it’s filled to the max with so many moving parts you can’t function, it’s time to slow down, decompress, reorganize, and start again with a strong, clear idea of what you’re doing.
This could take days, weeks, or even months to do. Just know that when you hibernate, you stop moving, and this will slow down your production time. But sometimes that clear headspace allows you to be more productive in the future than pushing through with a bad mindset with low productivity levels.
4. Know When To Quit / Switch Up Your Process - WAIT?! Didn’t you say don’t quit?? Yes. If you want to accomplish a specific goal, don’t quit, because the only way you will achieve that goal is if you keep working towards it. But evaluating whether that goal is even what you want anymore is an important part of the process as well.
What is your WHY? Why are you working so hard towards this goal?
If you are still passionate about working towards your goal, keep going. But if you find yourself no longer in love with what you’re doing, it might be time to find something else. For some, this is impossible, as the goal is far more valuable than the work it takes to accomplish it. For others, quitting and moving energy to something else is liberating and the right thing to do. And for some, quitting and moving to something else is the WRONG thing to do and you regret the time you lost moving on to something else. But, sometimes leaving and coming back gives you a new sense of resect and gratitude for the process of achieving that goal. And that might be just what you needed to get yourself back on track.
“WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHICH ROUTE TO CHOOSE?”
If you don’t have a clear vision of what you want or what is best for you, I say:
LITERALLY DO ANYTHING.
Pick something and go all in. Then, if it doesn’t work, pick something else and go all in on that. And in the act of doing you will be able to dial in your process and find your groove.
Have self awareness and know that being great at ANYTHING takes time. (WAY MORE TIME THAN YOU EXPECT) Also realize that you’re not going to always make the right decisions, you’re not going to be great at something right away, you are going to make mistakes, you’re not going to be 100% in love with what you’re doing ALL THE TIME, and getting in roadblocks is just part of being on the road. How you are feeling right now is SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.
So get rid of the need for instant gratification. Keep Testing. Keep Learning. And Keep Going.
You got this.
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- Mark Perrett