“New Year’s Eve is a great time to think about making a resolution to change a behavior, improve upon a practice, or to start something new. Most people don’t keep their resolutions very far into the year, but there’s no reason to wait until Dec 31st to reboot” ~ Dana Perino
No matter what sort of job you have – or even if you don’t have a ‘job’ – there will be times in your life where you wake up one day and realise you feel stuck. When you call your ISP or your corporate IT helpdesk – the first thing they tell you to do is to “turn it off and then turn it back on again”.
A reboot, at least metaphorically.
Even the most successful people I know get stuck sometimes. The difference between them and us mere mortals? They know how to spot the warning signs, identify the causes, and take immediate action.
But the good news is that there’s nothing to stop you learning how to do this too!
Today we’ll explore three common signs that you might be ‘stuck’, along with some common causes of ‘stickiness’. Finally, we’ll identify three ‘reboot’ actions to get you back up and running again.
Signs you might need a reboot
“For me, the opposite of happiness isn’t sadness but boredom” ~ Sushant Singh Rajput
We can remember as kids, I’m sure, that interminable sense that something went on and on and on. The school day, or the rainy Sunday, or the never-ending car trip, or the documentary that dad wanted to watch before you were allowed to watch your own show on television.
Adult life isn’t usually neatly divided into semesters, terms, holidays and school-periods. In some cases it can be many months or even years between holidays, and many years between different jobs. Fortunately, our perception of time also speeds up, so we usually don’t notice too much.
But if you start feeling like a listless teenager with nothing to do (or plenty to do, but all of it dull) chances are good you may need a reboot.
“When trying to start a company, your enemy isn’t criticism, anger or insults. Your enemy is apathy” ~ Gil Penchin
Even worse than boredom is a pervading sense that you just don’t care, and none of it matters. That there’s no point even trying because it won’t make any difference.
All your options seem bland and drab. Here are some common apathy signals to be alert for:
- “I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work”
- “I’ll do it next week”
- “Why bother?”
- “Nobody will care anyway”
- “What’s the point?”
- Any variation on these…
You might start to find yourself procrastinating… putting off things that you know you should do, in favour of a multitude of things that don’t really matter.
All of these signs suggest that you are low in motivation… you’re going through the motions, rather than living life to its fullest. Time for a reboot.
“Frustration is not a work plan” ~ Ami Ayalon
Little things start to annoy you – things you know you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at six months ago. You get snappy with a colleague, you hang up on a client, you find yourself venting to a mate over a beer, your significant other starts asking if you’re ok…
It just seems like everything’s a little bit harder, and nothing is falling into place the way it should. Your fuse is short and your patience is low.
Frustration, can be a source of motivation – when harnessed in the right way, but often it’s a signal to you that you’re lost, and consequently you’re having trouble getting out of your own way.
Common causes of ‘stickiness’
Lack of goals
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” ~ Lewis Carroll
You either don’t have goals – or your goals feel “meh” – either way the result is the same: lack of momentum and motivation.
Goals are really important – not only at work, but in your personal life as well. It is not lost on me that another word for ‘goal’ is ‘aim’. And ‘aimless‘ is another word for ‘pointless’.
No wonder you’re feeling stuck!
Lack of measurable progress
“If you want to have ongoing joy and fulfillment in your life, the secret is just one word – progress. Progress equals happiness… you have to remember: While change is automatic – progress is not” ~ Tony Robbins
Have you ever noticed that in cartoons and movies, when the characters become lost, they literally walk round in circles – eventually realising they’ve been this way before, or stumbling upon the signs they left behind to find their way back? Life can be like this too.
If you wander off in some random direction, without a clear sense of where you’re headed, or how you’ll tell when you get there, it’s pretty hard to feel like you’re making progress.
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it” ~ Salvador Dali
Your reptilian brain likes things to stay the same – that’s safe. That’s known.
But nothing good happens inside your comfort zone: there boredom and apathy lie…
If you think this might be a big deal for you, watch Tim Ferris’ TED talk on “Fear-Setting”.
Reboot actions – getting unstuck
Find your why – asking great questions
What’s your mission in life? What are you passionate about? What can you do that nobody else can do like you can? What lights a fire in your belly? How do you want to be remembered? How are you making the world a better place?
Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Funnily enough, the same is true for you. You aren’t motivated by what you do, you’re motivated by why you do it: the mission, the purpose, the higher calling.
If you don’t know what this is (and don’t worry – it can, and will, change over time, so don’t expect to get it right straight out of the gate) then you need to spend some time thinking about it, and getting clearer about what drives you.
“Why” = New Energy + Reboot
Create a plan and take action
When you have a ‘why’ excites you, you need to create some goals, along with a solid plan.
That plan needs to be broken down into measurable actions. You need to be able to tell whether you are making progress.
Some of your goals are long term (say 5-10 years) some are medium term (12 months) and some are short term (this month, next month).
Write them down, and break each goal into bite size pieces.
Then take immediate action on each one. I mean immediate. Not later. Not tomorrow. Right now.
Plan + Immediate Action = Immediate Reboot.
Create new habits to replace old ones
Chances are pretty good you’ve got some bad habits. There’s the obvious ones (smoking, drinking too much) and the less obvious (watching too much television, forgetting to say thank-you to those around you).
Find one or two that you really want to change – and commit to doing it for thirty days.
It’s also likely that you have some things you wish were habits: working out, calling your mother, eating more fruit and vegetables, getting a good night’s sleep.
I’ve found the most effective way for me to kick a bad habit and create a good habit is to substitute…
I love a good political drama series – I’d happily watch House of Cards for hours on Netflix. And while I’m watching said programme, I feel guilty that I should be working out. But guess what! Netflix is an online platform, and I have an iPad! Watch House of Cards while on the treadmill… Win-win!
Make it easy to do the things you want to do more of, and harder to do the things you want to stop.
New Good Habits – Bad Old Habits = Reboot!
I want to help you to lead. Not from a position of power, but from exactly where you are now.
So I’m going to write a book specifically for you. It’ll be out early next year (28 February 2018 to be precise).
If you’d like to know more, please sign up for my newsletter (I don’t spam, just a weekly newsletter) where I’ll keep you up to date on progress, test some ideas, and even share a preview or two as we get closer to launch-day.
Let’s do this!