There are two types of “stuckness” often dealt with on a consistent basis.
The first type is temporary and fleeting. It is the momentary blank stare that occurs when staring at an empty page, canvas, or screen. What is going to happen? Will the results match what is in my imagination? Is it going to suck? Ask too many questions and the alluring call of social media or your distraction of choice begins to erode your sense of focus.
The second type is the systematic avoidance of working on a project because of fear. Fear you aren’t good enough. Fear you will be called out for being a hack. Fear people won’t like what you do. Fear you will have wasted your time. Fear. Fear. Fear. Excuses become the glue that keeps you stuck in a constant state of inaction.
Getting unstuck in scenario one is fairly easy. You entertain your distraction, you get a cup of tea or coffee, but ultimately realize that you do need to get your work done regardless of the outcome. You are externally motivated by keeping your job or demonstrating some resemblance of progress at the end of the day.
However, getting out of scenario two is difficult because not only are you dealing with issues of self, but also grappling with the realities of internal motivation. How do you get motivated when there is no boss, budget, or brief to keep you in order? How do you avoid getting stuck on issues that are driven by unknown variables, such as the opinions of others?
So, How Do You Get Unstuck?
1) Ask For Help
During a hike with a good friend last week, I asked him how to get traction on several video projects that are just sitting on my hard drive waiting to get completed. He said, “Ask someone else to edit the videos for you.”
Ask someone else to help you.
Ask for help.
Get out of your own head and talk with other people.
2) Act In The Simplest Of Ways
Regardless of whether a project has been neglected for days, weeks, months, or years, something needs to change. Immediately. At this very moment. Because the inactive project is occupying precious space (emotional, physical, intellectual, digital).
You either need to let the project die, which is an appropriate action if you no longer care about the project.
Or you need to do something that gets the project moving again. Even in the simplest of ways, action builds momentum.
Action can be as simple as opening the project file, spending as much time in front of the monitor as you do entertaining the fear, or picking up a brush and painting a stroke on the blank canvas.
3) Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Finally, stop comparing yourself, your work, your looks, anything and everything, to others. Specifically, stop comparing your daily thought life with the finished products of others. There is no comparison. Even comparing finished product to finish product is futile and unproductive. You’re only going to get more stuck and be afraid to act.