Stepping Out: How To Get Unstuck

Creativity requires action and effort to actually make something. We can mull over our ideas all we want, but to make a difference, at some point we need to get busy.

I love planning. I enjoy strategizing, figuring out tactics, setting goals and making schedules. It is part of what I enjoy as a designer. I am great at this for my clients but I am less assured when I do it for myself. The lack of competitince is in and actually pulling the trigger on my plans and goals. I generally have a lot of ideas and I’m constantly inspired I see around me what others are doing and eager to put my take on things and offer them as a service point to a community of clients, students and supporters.

Where I come up short is not in competence but in confidence. When I’m in new territory, it is not obvious how to get from the plan to the actual action. So I feel bogged down, delayed, and even disappointed in myself. I get stuck.

The question is how do we get from the plan to the action? How do we get from figuring out the tactic to actually the putting the tactic into service ? When we have so many ideas and so many projects on the table, which do we tackle first? We can make plans and set goals but we can only accomplish them one step at a time. And that’s the key.

Just take the next step.

What you tackle first should be the thing that is most pressing based on what taking that step will lead to. Sometimes those first steps are really easy to take and it’s just a matter of picking one and getting it done. Other times, the next step is the one that affects everything else that follows and it’s HUGE. For example, developing an email list can be daunting. But setting up an email account is easy. Do that first, because you need to have the list before you can add people to it.

The thing to avoid it all costs is just sitting there and feeling defeated before you’ve even begun. If you can do one step, you can do another. Get that one done, and the next will present itself. Step-by-step you keep moving forward. If you keep moving forward you will maintain momentum. After a time you look back at everything you’ve accomplished and be amazed that you’ve achieved your goal.

Do not over think.

We add complexity where it is not needed. We start thinking what if I did this and what if I do that. All that’s necessary in taking steps is to do what is plainly there, nothing more and nothing less. Overthinking bogs us down and derails us.

Talk it over.

With every new project we set goals. We have to believe that we can accomplish them, finish the project and serve the client. When new challenges arise, and we don’t have immediate answers, bring in friends and colleagues to advise or help you brainstorm. Community breeds confidence and success because there are more ideas with two or three than there are with only you. Friends and colleagues can also keep you accountable and encourage you to finish well.

Remember why you are in business.

It’s important to connect with your motivations. Why are you in this business? Why are you freelancing? Why did you take on this project? You have to be motivated. That motivation is what I call the Why factor. Your motivation is the impetus for everything that you do.

For me it’s initially a matter of livelihood, but the greater part of it is for freedom. Freedom is one thing I value highly, and it’s the reason why I am a solo designer rather than working for someone else. Freedom, livelihood and the ability to sustain my life and work style are a few of my motivations. I remind myself of them as often as I need to.

Another motivation is that design is a service. In working the way I do, I am able to help my clients. My Why involves making money enough to take care of myself and my family, and fulfilling the needs of others.

Write it down.

When you write something down it’s easier to act on. If you have an idea but are stuck on what to do next, or how to do something, write it down. Get it out of your head and onto paper. Let the paper remember it so your brain doesn’t have to. Create a vision board. Draw out a map with a start point and a destination, and the steps to get you from start to finish. Making an idea or process visual is the first step in getting it done. Write it down. Draw it out. Get those ideas out there on paper and make them tangible. When ideas are tangible they are actionable.

Keep it in front of you.

In the Old Testament, there’s a small book named for a man called Habakkuk. In the book he talks about writing the vision down. This is something every creative business owner can relate to. And goes something like this: Write the vision down and make it plain [on paper] so that he who reads it can run with it. The vision is for the future but it will happen at the right time. And even if it seems to take forever, stay with it because it will happen if you stay with it.

How do you keep from getting stuck? Share your advice in the comments section.

©2015 Alvalyn Lundgren

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