If you’ve come in search of how to get unstuck, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, we are going to make you much less sticky by following these eleven tips and tricks. Getting unstuck will become a real possibility for you.
If you’ve read my book, Now What Getting Unstuck, the following action steps will be familiar to you. If so, congrats, you are one step ahead of the curve. Go ahead and get Volcanic Momentum today for the next level of personal growth.
But first, have these thoughts ever crossed your mind?
- “Okay that speech was awesome! But now what?”
- “I loved what that guy had to say, it was so good. But will it have any lasting impact on me?”
- “I loved this book! But now what do I do?”
- “What does this moment mean for my life?”
This post will answer these questions for you. It will give you the tools you need to take what you learn every day in work, class, and life and make something out of it.
Many people (myself included) struggle with taking action. A failure to take precise and deliberate action is the reason why so many New Year’s resolutions and other goals fail. It’s the reason why people struggle to make ends meet and why we feel stuck.
Making goals and trying to reach them is HARD to do, especially with the day to day whirlwind of life. I currently work as much as I can to get my website going, but there’s a good chance you work even more than that. For some, working 50-60 hours a week is commonplace. This lifestyle is unhealthy and unsustainable, so check yourself before you wreck yourself.
It’s so easy to get stuck on the same road in the highway of life. You feel like you’re constricted to the left lane, and there are no exits. Each mile you drive makes no difference: the end isn’t in sight or even on the GPS. Continue driving 999 thousand miles and take exit never.
Let’s face it folks: this world we live in is a sticky place. It’s so easy to get stuck and find yourself spinning your wheels. Stickiness is dangerous, and learning how to get unstuck is hard. All of the heartache and disappointment that comes with this life can truly weigh us down if we let it.
Taking positive action is the secret sauce to unlocking your true potential and getting unstuck. It’s the catalyst for putting on your big kid pants and making a difference in the world. It’s the one thing that will help you achieve happiness and find contentment in your daily life. Action breeds potential; potential changes the world.
You are capable of great things. I don’t care about your background or where you came from or how much baggage you have. Every single person in this world has value to give. There is value inside of you right now, just waiting to be brought forth to make a positive and lasting impact on the world. The world can be made a better place with the value YOU have to offer.
But here’s the rub. It’s your job to take action and find out what that value is. It’s your responsibility to reach your ultimate potential. Anything less than that is a waste of your life.
I love the NFL. I love fantasy football and trying to beat my wife’s team, which is usually pretty easy (Sorry hunny! :)). Even easier, is giving myself excuses for spending eighteen hours watching football and constantly hitting the refresh button on my fantasy page.
It’s my right to do whatever I want, right? What’s wrong with a little relaxation? But then I have to step back and think: am I ever really satisfied by the hours and hours I spent staring at a screen?
The only time I feel satisfied by football is when I’m at a superbowl party with friends or watching the Patriots beat up on just about any team they play. I never feel good after a full day in front of a screen. Instead, my brain is foggy and I can’t think straight.
I’m not knocking the act of watching TV (I love the NFL and am a super Marvel nerd), but I don’t think that any fulfilled life has much time for couch potato action. There are so many worthwhile causes and endeavors we can contribute to that will leave us immensely satisfied.
Don’t believe the lies of society of what we should be reaching for, time spent doing “nothing” will never be fulfilling in the long run.
But here’s the good news: you can reach your goals. It’s indeed possible to meet and exceed your own expectations. It just takes a little bit of grit, determination, and follow through.
This post was written to give you the practical steps necessary to tackle your inaction and start taking positive action. It will be the light that shows you why you might just be your own worst enemy. It might even make you a little mad.
I don’t to chastise anyone, nor did to coddle you and tell you that you haven’t ever and won’t ever make any mistakes, because that would be nonsensical.
I write to prove that anyone can reach their goals, but you have to be willing to accept the fact that taking positive action can be difficult.
I know this first hand. I shed blood, sweat, and tears just writing this post (The blood came from a paper cut, but still, it stung.) The struggle is all too real. But the fact that you’re reading this right now proves that I accomplished my goal, and that you can too.
I know it’s cliche to say that “Well if I did it you can do! Yah guys we can all do this!” But in this case, I wrote two books last year (2016), all while working a very demanding job.
Don’t settle for less than what you are capable.
So friend, join me as we take this journey towards action. It might be a rocky ride, but reaching the end will mean that you’ve gone one step further in realizing your ultimate potential, and that is something I do not want you to miss.
Before you actually begin, go ahead and download a handy dandy guide to taking action in the form of a one page PDF. You can even print it out, how cool is that? It includes all 10 action steps and is also pleasing to look at because my wife (not I) made it.
Part 1: Taking Action Takes Work: How to Get Unstuck Now
“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” -Liberty Hyde Bailey
Clean hands don’t grow tomatoes.
Writers get carpal-tunnel.
Blisters are all too common for long distance runners.
In order to accomplish anything of substance, you need to act upon what you learn. You have to work. You have to actually go out and make waves. Dive in to how to get unstuck by doing something right now.
“You can’t make a difference if you don’t make waves. Stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone. Challenge the status quo. Some people in the boat won’t like it, but do it anyway.” -Mark Batterson
That being said, action does include learning. To a certain extent, great action can’t be achieved without a knowledge base. The danger (and what this post is going to help you avoid) is remaining in the realm of learning and succumbing to paralysis by analysis.
Even the worst published writer is more successful at writing books than a brilliant writer who never bothers to put words to page. If the words do nothing but stay in your head, what difference are you making?
The fact of the matter is, change doesn’t occur unless we put forth a consistent and practiced effort. Gardeners don’t cultivate crops by reading about how to cultivate crops. Astronauts would be fired if they didn’t complete their missions, and your spouse might not remain your spouse if you kept telling them you’d take out the trash but never actually took out the trash!
Dictionary.com defines “taking action” as follows:
“To start doing something”
Let’s add to that a little bit by defining a new term: positive action. Positive action is:
“To start doing something in order to bring about a valuable change in yourself or for others.”
When I refer to action throughout this post, I will be referring to positive action. The idea isn’t to take action and quit your job, only to cause your family to suffer the consequences. It also doesn’t mean never reading another blog nor listening to another podcast and delving into every activity you can get your hands on.
Positive action means using your existing knowledge base and aligning it with your goals to bring about change. It means getting your hands dirty in the garden, your fingers pained from typing that book, or your muscles tired from preparing for a charity 5k.
Begin to lay the brick foundation of your future, not by theorizing about how to build a brick house, but by going out there and laying brick.
Taking positive action to reach your goals is hard work. It’s so much easier to remain in the netherworld of relative safety. Even while writing this post I struggled to take action by sitting down and writing. I kept saying to myself, “Okay Jordan, just sit down and start typing. Just let the words flow, it doesn’t even matter what comes out on the screen, just do it.” Taking positive action is never easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be worth it.
But the fact of the matter is that the struggle to take positive action is real. I know firsthand how much work it takes to reach a goal. It’s not easy.
I also know that the feeling of accomplishment when you reach a long-term goal is phenomenal. When I finally published my first book (The Action Diet) the feeling was exhilarating. When my wife and I moved down south to get away from the cold it felt incredible. When I lost over 50 pounds after college I felt liberated. When we left our jobs to pursue our passions (and have time for a life) we felt truly free.
Positive action is hard, but doing it consistently will mean reaching your goals, finding bliss, and ultimately reaching your true potential. There will be difficulties along the way, but you must remain vigilant in order to take action.
Taking positive action means having the courage to act when others might not. It means having the strength of mind to see into the future and work hard today to realize your dream. To be persistent when others are not.
Finding success is not easy, but with today’s technology and the ability to self-publish books, discover new cultures, and become just about anything you put your mind to, the excuses are dwindling. There’s no one person nor one thing that stands between you and your potential for greatness.
The map has been laid out before you, but it’s your feet that will carry you up and over the mountain.
Why not start moving today?
Action Step #1 to Get Unstuck
Now that you have a firm grasp of what I mean by taking positive action (again, making choices to bring about true change in your life), brainstorm some ideas of what this might mean for your life.
For the following questions write out your answers on a whiteboard, spreadsheet, or napkin–whatever floats your boat. Probably shouldn’t choose a napkin though, because those don’t float.
- What is one major goal that you have?
- What is stopping you from working towards that goal?
- What are some very simple action steps for you to take today?
I can’t answer these questions for you. Only you can decide how to apply “action taking” to your own life.
So stop reading, reflect, and come back when you’re done. Sound good?
Part 2: Don’t Settle for Mediocrity
“No Matter what people may tell you, words and ideas can change the world” -Professor Keating, Dead Poet’s society
In his magnum opus Robin Williams portrayed a teacher that changed the lives of his students. Tears stream down my face every time I watch Todd step up on his desk and proclaim “Oh captain my captain” to his hero, Professor Keating. Todd knew that his life was profoundly changed by this man, his wonderful mentor, and he couldn’t help but to stand up and salute his captain.
Keating taught his students to suck the marrow out of life (but avoid choking on the bone) and to live their lives to their truest potential. Keating knew what many other teachers did not- that experience is the key to learning and changing the world. He showed them that they had the potential for greatness.
I love this movie. So much so, that I am going to stop writing and go watch it right now… Okay I’m back, wow that was powerful!
Channeling Professor Keating, I say to you: “Carpe Diem.” Make your life and the lives of the people around you extraordinary.
Don’t settle for mediocrity. Find your passion and fight for it with every breath and fiber of your being. Don’t rest until you right the wrongs you see.
Don’t rest until your goals are accomplished. Don’t rest until the legacy you’re leaving behind is one that you’re proud of.
Taking positive action is important for you personally, but your potential impact on other’s lives is just as enormous.
The great Martin Luther King Jr. would not have become the legend he is today by simply reading about the injustices happening around him. He believed that all men were created equal, and he knew in his heart of hearts that he had to do something.
Just like I would not be a good Christian (or a good person) if I stood idly by and watched a beating unfold, MLK Jr. was not going to stand for the oppression of African Americans.
He stepped forward, took a stand, and ultimately started a movement. It was his courage that redirected an entire nation toward a brighter future. His values and his purpose were made clear to him and he made the decision to do something.
Let’s take it back to a personal level:
What is it that you need to take a stand for?
What are the stakes?
The stakes for us are huge. If we sit back, put our feet up, and continue to just read books or listen to the news and not do anything about what we learn, then we are changing no one, not even ourselves. Our knowledge base and intellect mean nothing if they’re not used for positive action.
If we stay inside the bubble of the classroom the whole world suffers. Countless people could benefit if we would only step outside our individual bubbles and get our hands dirty.
There’s no circumstance that is insurmountable, nor is there a limitation that prevents anyone from impacting someone else’s life in a major way. Stop living with the belief that you must live your life a certain way, or that your life must follow a “normal” path. In order to make a change you will need to become a nonconformist.
When you take positive action it might turn some people away. Despite our best intentions, change can be uncomfortable. I’m sure that MLK Jr. had multiple people tell him to calm down and just let it go.
I’m sure many people thought that NASA was a joke until they landed a man on the moon.
Our own actions have the power to move mountains, sway entire countries, and generate millions of dollars. Sometimes we just need to think outside of the conventional box.
Do you remember the ice bucket challenge?
From the ALS Association website: “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started with a professional golfer named Chris Kennedy, who challenged his sister, Jeanette Senerchia in Pelham, New York. Jeanette’s husband Anthony has ALS.”
This worldwide phenomenon was started by someone trying to help in a different kind of way. It was beyond anyone’s wildest expectations that the video would go viral, and that everyone and their mother would hear about the challenge. I can’t imagine he ever believed that his one little action step could have these far reaching consequences.
From a single challenge to his sister to take action, the golfer effectively doubled the annual budget of the ALS from 20 million to 40 million, promoting an association that is doing its best to find a cure for a horrible disease. Because of the little action step that Chris took, millions of lives could be saved!
Now I know what you’re thinking.
“Well, Jordan, Chris never would have known that his actions could have exploded and gone viral.” I can’t argue that, but the fact is, they did.
Are you willing to take the risk that your inaction could result in a missed opportunity?
We cannot know what positive effect our actions will have on people and events. We cannot know what might happen.
That’s why we must choose to act.
Will you join me?
Taking action matters. It’s how wet get unstuck. Taking a step in the right direction by reaching your own personal goals, or contributing to a bigger picture, matters. No matter your religious orientation, culture, or background, all human beings have the right and the privilege to reach their own potential.
Can you imagine what life would be like if MLK Jr. didn’t take a stand?
Sure, someone else might have stood up, but can we be so sure? Can we be sure that life in the US would be anything like it’s today if he hadn’t taken a stand for justice?
My point here is quite simple and can be summed up quite nicely with this quote:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke
Making a difference starts with you. It starts with you recognizing that your thoughts, ideas, goals, and most importantly, your positive actions can indeed change the world. You have the power to make a difference.
The gauntlet has been thrown down.
Will you join the battle by taking your knowledge and utilizing your God-given talents for the good of all mankind?
Will you stand on your desk and say “Oh captain my captain?”
Getting Unstuck Step #2
Talk to a close friend or significant other and ask them to answer the following question honestly:
“What do you think my life purpose could be?”
This question will hopefully spur conversation and get both of you thinking.
Finding your own “why” is very important. It’s hard to start running the positive action race if you have no idea where the race is or what you’re even racing toward.
Positive action is best accomplished when you have some sense of direction in your life.
If you already have that, fabulous, this post is even more perfect for you. If not, you might want to spend a little time figuring out what exactly it is you want to accomplish with your life. You only have one life to live, and it would be a shame to spend it directionless and adrift.
Perhaps the best way to find your true purpose is to start somewhere. We cannot stay in the realm of learning forever. At some point we all need to take a leap of faith and dive in with everything we have.
Working with the same friend, brainstorm some ways that you can make a difference in your community or the world at large.
Here are some sample questions to percolate conversation:
- What book could you write that would make a difference in someone’s life?
- Is there a local cause that you would add value to?
- Would the world benefit from hearing you speak? Starting a blog? Or starting a video series on Youtube?
- How could you lift up someone else so they can begin to reach their full potential?
Finding your why is bigger than the scope here, but having some sort of direction is necessary for it to work.
A brick path doesn’t get laid without an end point. It wouldn’t even make sense to start construction if you didn’t know where to put the path!
Here are three books I would recommend reading to find your personal why and getting pumped up:
- “Crush it” by Gary Vaynerchuk- This book is oriented towards business and social media, but it’s an excellent resource for those that are starting out.
- “Holy Discontent” by Bill Hybels- This book is about finding deeper meaning for your life by figuring out what you ‘just can’t stands no more.”
- “In a Pit with Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson- “In a Pit” is a fantastic book (and my favorite book of all time) for stepping out into faith and learning how to make something extraordinary of your life.
Write down one positive action step before moving on to the next section. Even “reading a new book” is an acceptable choice here! Hang this step on your fridge, write it on your bathroom mirror, or text it to your email.
How to Get Unstuck Part #3: Crushing Self-Doubt
Any journey starts with self-doubt.
I know this to be true in my own life, and I’m guessing it might be true in yours too. We can be our own best critic, and our own worst encourager.
My first thoughts when trying something new are usually, “ I can’t do this. I’m not good enough for this. I will never do it as well as ____.”
This line of thinking often stops us before we even start working towards an endeavor or a goal. We quickly jump from thinking about “now what?” to thinking that we can’t do it, and then we give up before we really even try.
The truth is that this is malarkey. You are capable of much more than you ever thought possible.
Let me write that one more time.
You are capable of so much more than you EVER thought possible.
It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, short or tall, bearded or baby-faced, rich or poor, homeless or middle-class.
You have the potential to break out of whatever rut you find yourself in and do great things in this world. You can master these steps and discover how to get unstuck.
Ask yourself the all important question: “Now what?” And get to it. You can even talk out loud to yourself. Look in the mirror and say “Okay self, Now what? Now that I know this piece of information, read this blog series, or watched this Youtube video what do I need to do about it? What steps do I need to take to get out of this rut?”
Taking action and reaching your potential is possible regardless of your profession or situation. It starts with you and your state of mind. It starts with admitting you might need to make a change. It starts with you taking accountability for your circumstances, and that can hurt.
Push past that point of pain and recognize the potential inside of you that longs to break out. You will be shocked at what you can accomplish.
Here are a few examples of how self-doubt can crop up in just about any profession.
A teacher struggles with classroom management. The teacher can’t accomplish her educational goals because her students are running wild. Budget cuts, lack of help, and crazy children are all excuses she uses. But the problem doesn’t get better.
Deep down, the teacher knows what she needs to do, but she is unwilling to make an effort to do it. She needs to recognize that her own difficult situation is not out of her control. She knows that maybe she needs to get help in this area by seeking additional training or by making it her daily goal to ask other teachers for help and advice.
Instead, she blames it on anything other than the fact that she might just need more training in this one area. She doesn’t want to admit that working on her teaching style could affect the change upon her classroom she wants to see.
The teacher needs to take a step in the right direction for herself and for her students. She can’t hide behind excuses anymore.
A Married Man
A married man recognizes that his relationship needs constant work. With his wife, he fought through some tough times right off the bat and they only became stronger because of it.
The husband who doesn’t take action will struggle in his relationship. If he doesn’t learn to get flowers regularly (to make up for many guaranteed mistakes), write the occasional love note, take his wife on surprise dates, and let her know how much she means to him, the relationship will start to have problems.
I say this with every fiber of my being because I believe it to the very core of my soul. If you do not work on your relationships problems will arise.
The married man’s marriage is fantastic. The two of them laugh together, goof around, and consider the other their best friend.
It takes supporting and listening to each other, as well as having the guts to bring up tough subjects. When the marriage vows were said and promises were made they agreed to fight for their marriage throughout thick and thin. Each one must take that task to heart in order for it to be realized.
This clearly illustrates just how important action taking can be in relationships, and how important it’s for you to recognize what areas of your life can be affected by inaction.
A businessman comes to work everyday dressed in a suit and tie. He sits down at his desk and calls Suzie in. He knows what he has to do and sits patiently, ready to say what he has to say. She comes into the office. She is noticeably trembling, but smiles at her boss and takes a seat.
“You know why I brought you in here don’t you Suzie?” Said the businessman.
Suzie shook her head no and visibly started to shake.
“Your bonus, of course! Here you go! Fantastic job these last few months.”
It’s really too bad that all encounters with our boss couldn’t go more like this, but we all know that this is quite uncommon. Most “trips to the office” involve reprimands and not positive feedback.
For leadership and management it becomes all too important to take action. Just as a lazy shepherd will lose his entire flock to a pack of wolves, so too will upper management fail if they don’t take consistent positive action.
Have you ever had a lazy or unorganized boss? Chances are that their action steps each day might have involved signing a few reports or trying to find said reports… A manager that is unwilling or unable to take positive action towards reaching their business goals each and every day is not fit to be the manager.
Positive action for the businessman can be as simple as cleaning off his desk! It doesn’t have to involve handing out bonuses, although that is a perk.
No matter how you slice it, laziness and disorganization do not jive with a successful business venture. You won’t make it in the long run as a manager if you’re unable to implement your vision for the company, as well as take action steps to see that vision to reality.
To be a successful leader you not only have to know what to do, but you have to DO it. This is where a lot of people fail, because the “doing” is the hardest part. It’s easy to sit there and talk about what to do and how to do it, but it’s quite another to lead by example.
But don’t worry, we will get there together.
It’s not a secret that where many have succeeded in taking remarkable action (MLK Jr, Ghandi, Helen Keller) many have failed as well.
Don’t become one of those people. Don’t become the excuses-laden school teacher; don’t become a spouse that ruins their marriage; don’t become a boss that no one likes, who leads their company to failure.
Don’t watch your life go by and do nothing to slow down the train of failure. Don’t keep coasting towards mediocrity.
Getting Unstuck Step #3
By now I’ve shown you what action taking really means, why it’s so important, and how it can apply to any area of your life.
This simple action step will be an experiment for you to see how simple it can be to take positive action. In this case, the positive action will be geared specifically towards relationships.
Take positive action by trying one of the following action steps to improve one of your relationships.
- Writing a letter
- Random gifts given for no reason
- Share words of affirmation
- Try a new hobby together
- Keep an open line of communication by asking for direct feedback
Even just doing one of these things could turn things around or keep your relationship healthy.
Part #4: 7 Action Taking Tips to Leave the Sticky World Behind
“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” -Sam Levenson
Maybe you already feel all the motivation in the world and want to take positive action right away. Maybe you just want some rock solid tips to start up your action bus. Maybe your bus is already on the highway and you want to keep it going.
Positive action is a skill you can learn. You can train yourself to form positive habits and take positive action. This post is where you train your mind and your actions to be in sync.
You probably wouldn’t have gotten through school without the ability to study for tests. (Unless you’re a super genius. If that’s the case then why are you reading this? Yikes… Talk about pressure.) Even the fact that you are reading this right now is a positive sign that you’re capable of taking action steps to reach a goal.
You might be thinking that there’s someone out there inherently more talented than you. Well, you would be right on this. There’s always someone better than you at whatever you’re doing. Even badass gymnast Simone Biles, who won 4 golds at the Rio Olympics in 2016, failed to win gold for the beam. There was someone better than her at that one thing.
This is a hard reality to grip: being the best is NOT the end goal. Striving for YOUR best is.
As long as you’re giving your best effort to the task at hand, there’s nothing more that you can do. You need to be satisfied with the action steps you’re taking and STOP comparing yourself to other people.
I will never be the “best” author in the world, but it won’t stop me from doing the best that I can at my part.
Even Frodo Baggins, who took more action steps than any other hobbit, ultimately failed in the end. He didn’t destroy the ring by taking positive action and throwing it into Mount Doom, but he accomplished his part in the ever-moving play of life. He brought the ring to its place of destruction and the task was ultimately completed.
(LOTR fans don’t hate me here. I love Frodo, but you can’t argue, Gollum destroyed the ring.)
Maybe it’s your task to rear the next president of the United States. Maybe it’s your job to run a grocery store in a way that gives back to the community. Maybe it’s your duty to open up a little coffee shop on the beach.
We can never know for sure how far the ripples of our positive action might travel.
Let’s make some waves shall we?
7 Action Taking Tips to Leave the Sticky World Behind
Action Tip #1: Eat the Chili
I don’t have to tell you that starting any task can be difficult. Even starting the same routine task over and over again can become challenging.
Whenever I make chili, I make a huge crock pot of it. The amount is enough to feed me for several meals. It’s super cheap and easy to make, it’s one of my favorite foods, and it’s healthy to boot. I have that first bowl of chili and I’m loving it. Add a little cornbread and I’m enjoying one of my favorite meals.
Still, a day or two later, when I see that leftover chili in the fridge, I pass it up. I let it sit there until it goes bad. Being a lover of leftovers, and a chili fanatic, you’d think that I’d never let chili go bad. But for some reason I find it difficult to eat that leftover chili.
I think we all have a little bit of leftover chili in our lives, whether it’s doing another yoga session, not eating after 8PM, or studying hard for a test on our favorite subject.
Starting a task means facing down the chili. We need to eat it (work at it) religiously until we make it through to the other side. We have to sit down at our computers to write the book, or get up at 6AM every day to learn a new musical instrument (sorry neighbors…), or spend our only free time learning a new skill to break out of the corporate hustle, and eat the dang chili!
When I lost weight after college I literally ate chili. You’ve probably never heard of chili for weight loss, but it worked. I had to struggle and eat the chili consistently, even though I usually ended up really liking it in the moment.
Starting a task, even one that you love, can be really difficult. You must commit yourself to the grind and know that in order to see results there will be hours spent working at it. The grind exists in even the most enjoyable things.
The number one secret to facing down the chili and taking positive action toward your goal?
Take small, trackable, and deliberate baby steps.
Crawl baby, crawl!
Take one small positive action to start changing your circumstances today. If you do this, you probably won’t see results tomorrow, or even in a week, but over time your life will change for the better.
Want to work for yourself? Talk to a friend that owns his/her own business and see how they did it.
Want to lose weight? Eat an apple today instead of a candy bar.
Want to have a better relationship with your children? Take them out for a nice meal and just listen in on their world. You’ll be amazed at how much you can grow a relationship by the simple act of listening.
Want to take positive action on what you read? Stop reading and start doing. As Alexander Heyne says in the post just linked to: “One of the greatest gifts I’ve been given is the reminder that success comes first and foremost from doing.” Doing is the magic potion that frees slaves, feeds hungry children, and saves lives.
These are short and easy steps to putting a dent into your goals and ultimately bettering your life.
All this action step requires is for you to set your feet in the right direction. Make the positive changes you know that you’re capable of and start revving your action train to success.
Action Tip #2: Try New Things: Don’t Turn up Your Nose
One of the easiest (and one of the most fun) ways to take action is to try new things. Trying something new is a sure way to get your brain neurons firing and your creativity flowing. Novel experiences can lend positively to all aspects of your life.
By trying new things you learn to understand and appreciate your skills and limitations. This experience-based knowledge gives you confidence. Confidence allows you to keep trying new things and gain new experiences.
Trying new things will help you to expand upon your “why” (or maybe even find your “why” in the first place). Experiencing new places, people, and events will broaden your horizons, teach you about yourself, and give you a deeper understanding of the world around you.
I’ve learned first hand that experiencing the world in a new way can be the best medicine for breaking out of your rut. Popping out of your bubble, even for just a few minutes, a few days, or a even a week can change your life.
It was a subtle yet forceful pull that we felt stirring in my wife and I as we took a walk in the early spring of 2015. We both felt it as we talked about what was next for us. We had just spent several years together enduring all that a relatively comfortable life throws at you. We started wondering what more life had to offer. Moreover, we started to ponder what our potential might be and how we would go about reaching that potential.
In November of 2015, we left our jobs, packed a bag and hopped on a train to California. The trip changed our lives. Our week-long vacation to an unexplored part of the country was to be followed by a move down south.
We admittedly felt a little “loco” as we stepped aboard the locomotive in Baltimore, but we knew that this journey was of special significance. It was a feeling that I will not soon forget.
After all of the planning that we’d done, all of the tears we’d shed, and all of the hours we’d spent discussing our future, things were finally starting. For the better part of four years we had learned and grown into our lives together, now we would be embarking on a grand adventure.
Whenever we talk about our time in PA it’s with smiles on our faces. We fondly remember that time, but don’t regret leaving. Leaving PA and moving down south was an action step that we needed to take.
This was a crucial point for us that I think many people miss along the way, due to unforeseen circumstances or just an aversion to change. This walk was our turning point. We could have kept on walking the common and familiar road of life, but we didn’t want to go this route.
Instead, we chose the road less traveled. We moved from comfort, familiarity, and relative happiness into the unknown, and we are so incredibly happy that we did.
We chose to do this because we refused to settle. We decided to be people of action. We took action steps to challenge ourselves in order to fulfil our true potential.
Whether you choose to follow suit and pack a bag, or take up a new hobby, I urge you to try something new. You will find that your life will take on new meaning, and you will be closer to discovering your greater purpose.
Action Tip #3: Action as Research: Learn Through Doing
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce
One of the best ways to start taking action is to use action as a form of research. This means to get outside and play. It means getting your hands dirty, your boots muddy, and your step count up. This means learning on the go.
If you keep reading books or listening to podcasts about how to make money online, but don’t try to apply what you’ve read, you will never make money online. If you keep “trying to lose weight” by only going to the gym once or twice per month, the results will not come in.
This is a truth that I learned first hand.
When I first started listening to Pat Flynn’s podcast on Smart Passive Income I was hooked. I listened, read, and learned. Eventually I took a step of action and bought my first website domain.
The learning curve was huge. I had to figure out how to buy a domain, host it, incorporate WordPress (and deal with so many WordPress-induced headaches), and ultimately figure out every little detail that came with running a website.
I had to figure things out through Youtube videos and blog posts, but most of all through trial and error. I tried things to see what would work. I started learning once I took a step. When I took that step, I figured out what I needed to take another step, and then took the next step after that.
After a while, I was able to land a post on the first page of google for a good search term. That one page brings in consistent passive income. Pretty cool right? But it was only the beginning for me.
Everyone knows how to ride a bike, but not many people skipped the training wheels.
Here are three reasons that prove that doing is the best way to learn something:
- For many, hands-on learning is the best way to learn. There’s something about actually putting together a shelf in home-ec class that beats having one built for you. Putting your hands to work on the shelf is the only way to learn how the process works in real time and how the parts fit together. You can put together a chair a thousand times in your head but no one will be able to sit on that chair unless you build it in real life.
- It’s impossible to know everything you need to know about a topic by merely studying. When I setup my first website, I didn’t know there was a multi-step process to display Youtube videos from within a plugin. I didn’t research that until I wanted to add a video to a blog post.
- Practice doesn’t make perfect, but you can get pretty damn good. Doctors don’t become doctors just because they go to school for years. They become doctors because they practice medicine. The only way to get really good at any task is to practice: to DO the thing you want to get good at.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a hammer and build a birdhouse. It’s going to suck, and birds may shun your shoddy workmanship, but your next birdhouse is going to be better. You may even get one bird to come for a visit. Your 3rd or 4th? Those birds will flock to it like a Fifth Avenue penthouse.
And that right there is the Jordo guarantee.
Action Tip #4: Setting Small Attainable Goals: Think SAG
You may have heard of the anagram “BHAG” which stands for big hairy audacious goal, conceptualized in the book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James Collins and Jerry Porras.
This step is not about setting outlandish New Year’s resolutions that you know you’re never going to meet. At some point in your journey you’ll probably want to set big overarching life goals, but not at first. At first you need to start small and get some wins under your belt. Once you start winning and growing you can expand from there.
When you first start out, it’s better to think SAG: Small Attainable Goal. Sagging, if you will, is about moving in a positive direction slowly. Tell all your friends you’re sagging and you’re sure to get a few hairy eyeballs.
Setting small and attainable goals will put your locomotive on the right track. By accomplishing SAGs, you’ll gain momentum until you become an unstoppable force.
If you SAG you can eventually reach your BHAG.
A SAG needs to have the following 4 traits:
- Doable. The goal needs to be to lose 5 pounds in 2 weeks before you can lose 50 pounds in 1 year.
- Actionable. You need to be able to link together specific action steps to reaching that goal. Write 10 pages, write 20 pages, edit, finish book, etc.
- Achievable. The goal needs to be achievable over a short time frame. Think one month or a few weeks at first.
- Trackable. You must find a way to track the goal consistently. Make a chart on a whiteboard, journal, or excel spreadsheet (props to you if you’re as much of an excel nerd as I am!).
Here are a few small goals to consider adding to your goal list that fit the above requirements:
- I will lose five pounds in one month.
- I will apply to ten colleges in two weeks.
- I will spend time each day meditating.
- I will call my mom at least one time per week.
- I will put 100 dollars per paycheck into my savings.
I can’t stress enough the importance of taking this action step. In order to reach your potential you need to feel like you’re winning. Each time you achieve a SAG you will be propelled towards confidence and the BHAG.
Set small, reachable goals in order to move from feeling stuck to being free.
Action Tip #5: Make every single day a success
““I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -Gandalf and Frodo Baggins, Lord of The Rings
You’re going to have some pretty crappy days ahead of you. Life can be tough. Life is probably throwing rocks at you right now.
How we choose to face life’s difficulties is what defines our potential and what ultimately defines us as human beings.
We can choose to hide from our problems in bed, or we can get up and face life’s challenges with a smile on our faces. No one truly knows what you’re going through at any given time, but just like Frodo Baggins in his quest to destroy the One Ring, it’s up to you to decide what to do with the time that is given to you.
This step involves making each and every day a success in some fashion. Even if you wake up to a screaming baby, step in dog poop on your way to work, and get yelled at by your boss, your perspective and your actions on that day are totally within your control.
Make each and every day a win by making progress on your SAGs. Make sure that by the time your head hits the pillow you have made a little bit of progress. Over the period of a week, little bits of progress daily add up to a lot over time.
This can be so hard because you may not feel like you’re getting anywhere. Declining one brownie is a fantastic step towards losing weight, but that one action alone will not make or break it for you. In the end, you need to maintain consistent progress and build upon your positive action with more positive action.
Find a way to make each day a success and you will soon blow away your SAGs and be ever closing to reaching your BHAG.
SAG it up baby.
Action Tip #6: Don’t Wait for Help from Others
There will almost always be people in your life that support you. But support will only get you so far.
My wife supports me in all that I do, and for that I’m forever grateful, but she isn’t going to type the words out on my computer to finish my book. She’ll stand by me as I try to hit my goal of 10 straight pull-ups, but she isn’t going to do any pull-ups for me.
Taking action means stopping yourself from making excuses. Waiting for help from your parents, significant other, or a friend is not an excuse to stop working towards your goal.
Again, this is NOT to say that people in your life can’t uplift you and encourage you to keep going. Even Helen Keller needed a helping hand from her teacher Anne Sullivan in order to overcome the struggles of her disabilities. The action step here is to become the author of your own story. You can’t wait for someone else to begin your journey for you. You can’t sit back and wait for help that might not come.
Only you have the power to take positive action. Stop waiting for a miracle. Make your own dreams come true.
Action Tip #7: Prioritize and Focus
Honestly, this is one of the hardest action steps for me to follow. I have a hard time putting focus on one goal at a time. In this day and age it’s extremely difficult to focus. We are constantly pressed for time and we always feel behind.
If you want to build a business, lose weight, and grow closer to your spouse, the time in the day never seems like enough. Furthermore, different goals can sometimes work against each other.
If I take my wife out to dinner, then it might become easy for me to eat poorly. If I dedicate my time to working out every evening, how am I supposed to spend time with my spouse, much less build a side business?
Reality is tough to deal sometimes huh?
These questions are all too common for anyone looking to reach multiple goals, only to find themselves falling short in all of them.
It’s possible to grow in multiple areas at the same time. It just takes a little bit of focus and the willpower to continue to take positive action. It also means accepting the fact that you’ll have to make sacrifices in other areas. You need to prioritize.
Here are some tips that will help you prioritize your life and decide where and how to take positive action:
- Relationships: Incorporate quality time with your spouse or friends into your business or workout routines. Join a gym together, play tennis together, or brainstorm ideas with them by your side. The more you can do things together, the more effective your time will become.
- Business: Learn business tactics while you walk or work out. Listen to audio books while walking. This takes the learning factor of your business and incorporates it into the action steps of losing weight.
- Health: Make a healthy dinner at home with your significant other. It can be a great way to enjoy each other’s company while making a good choice for your wallet and your belly.
- The Greater Good: Volunteer to build a website or manage the social media platform for a local charity.
These ideas just scratch the surface on how you can shift your focus, but at the same time still accomplish all of your goals. There will be times that you can’t finish everything and one area will fall short. At this time, you’ll need to either accept greater sacrifices, change your priorities, or modify your SAGs to be more achievable in your busy life.
There’s always enough time in the day to focus on your priorities. If you don’t have time for something, then it isn’t a priority.
Shift your focus to priorities, work your hardest to incorporate them together, and recognize that sacrifices might need to be made. We are not perfect beings, and there are times when we are going to fall short, despite our best intentions.
The previous 7 tips are all ways to start taking positive action in your life. Utilize some or all of them to find yourself on your journey towards fulfilling your ultimate potential.
Getting Unstuck Step #4
In review, here are the 7 action tips that I recommend:
- Eat the chili.
- Try new things.
- Research through action.
- SAG it up baby!
- Make everyday a success.
- Don’t wait for help to arrive.
- Prioritize and focus.
Pick one of these 7 tips and make it your top priority to do it each and every day. If you choose to make every day a success, make sure that every single day is a win in some way. If you need to create some goals for yourself, get to sagging. If you are tentative when it comes to new things, go whitewater rafting or climb a mountain.
You can either stay the same exact you or take a small step in a new direction. The choice is yours.
Part #5: The #1 Trick to Gaining Momentum
“One thing we have to remember is consistency… You can’t make up for three years of eating poorly in just one workout.” Apolo Ohno
Getting up off the couch is one thing, but staying off is quite another. Having the grit and determination to accomplish a goal through consistent positive action is not a skill easily acquired. It takes a strong desire to finish any long-term goal, along with the ability to consistently work at it.
Consistency is one of the hardest parts of accomplishing long-term goals. You can’t hike the Appalachian Trail with no experience, lose 10 pounds in one day, or change your work culture in just a few short weeks.
For long-term goals, it takes a consistent, long-term effort.
Consistency is defined on Dictionary.com as: “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.”
With a steadfast will and a consistent effort you too can reach your goals. You might not be able to save the world in one day, but in a few years you could be one step closer to solving world hunger. With positive action you can make a bigger difference than you ever thought possible.
Here’s my number one trick to staying consistent with positive action and picking yourself up when you slip.
Reevaluate and Reassess
Take a step back and ask yourself honestly: how am I doing? Am I close to reaching my goal? Am I (gulp) losing progress? Don’t be afraid to tell yourself the truth.
At one point on my weight-loss journey, I found my weight creeping back up slowly. I realized I had to make a change and head in the right direction.
That night after going to the gym, I went to the grocery store and got a few new healthy foods. I knew that if I changed my diet slowly and redirected in the right direction, I would begin to see positive change.
All of us will veer in the wrong direction. It’s human nature. Recognizing when we are veering and DOING something about it is the single most important key to victory.
Stop, pivot, and charge down a new path.
If you find yourself stuck at a job you don’t like, apply for anything and everything you can (that you might like). Take a step of action and DO something about your situation. Don’t just sit there and complain.
If you have a strained relationship with your children, take action by making a home-cooked dinner or taking them out to a local minor league ballgame. Your attempts probably won’t make everything perfect, but that’s okay.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, reassess your lifestyle and start a budget. Things won’t get easy right away, but give it time.
You’ve undoubtedly heard before that Thomas Edison tried and failed over 1000 times before be created the first incandescent light bulb. He didn’t view failure as a bad thing, instead, he viewed failure as a stepping stone to success. He saw that every time he failed he was one step closer achieving his lightbulb moment.
Can you even imagine having to work by candlelight? It’s no wonder this project took so long! (Btw, this was a joke, I know the sun still worked back then. Wait, did it!?)
You must view every step back as a building block to your eventual success.
When my first book launched, I didn’t have nearly as many sales as I was hoping for.
The truth is, I put a LOT of time, effort, and money into promoting it. I expected everyone and their mother to purchase my book. Even though I wouldn’t admit it early on, I expected to make Amazon’s bestseller list and have consistent sales for years.
Obviously, this wasn’t the case. I was forced to take a step back and try again. But now I can use the experience of my first book to learn how to better launch and continually market myself. The research says to keep on writing, and thus, I intend to.
Evaluating your own successes and failures will probably frighten you, and it will definitely be uncomfortable. But it’s imperative that you do.
Do I realistically think that my next books will become a New York Times Bestsellers? No, I do not. I may not ever be a bestselling author, but after writing 30 books I’ll probably be one hell of a writer by anyone’s standards!
Reassessing is vital to your success in taking any kind of action. It keeps you on your toes and allows you to build the building blocks towards your success. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and neither was your Grandmother’s recipe box.
Getting Unstuck Step #5
Taking a step back and reassessing your progress is actually a piece of cake.
All it takes is a white board, a dry erase marker, and maybe a cup of coffee. If you don’t have a whiteboard you can do this with pen and paper too. That reminds me, I need to buy another white board.. Oh how I love them so haha.
In blue, write one of your SAGs in big letters in the center and circle it. In green, write actionable steps that you can take to reach that goal. In red, write all of the things you’re currently doing that are hindering your progress. Be honest with yourself.
Start doing more of the green items and less of the red. Start doing the things that will help you to reach your goal, and stop doing the things that you know aren’t helping.
I hope you find this exercise helpful in taking that next step to reassessing progress.
Part #6: Cue the Anecdotal Evidence: My Story
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” -Maya Angelou
I’d like to share my personal story about reaching one of the most difficult goals many people set: losing weight. I want to share that taking positive action can have a lasting impact on your life.
Losing weight (and actually keeping it off) was, and has been, the most difficult quest that I’ve ever accepted.
It’s a battle that starts each day, and one that never truly ends. Fighting a battle you can never win is extremely frustrating. Each day I need to make the right decisions about what I choose to eat and how much I exercise.
Each and every day I’m either making progress or taking a step back. There’s no middle ground. If I fight to just maintain my weight, I’ll start to lose. I have to be 100% vigilant in making progress or I will start to slip.
I don’t have to tell you that taking action to lose weight is hard. It takes an awful lot of willpower to make good decisions in the moment and determination to win the battles more days than not.
But I did, and I am.
I did in fact lose over 50 pounds and am continuing to keep it off.
The following are the action steps that I took (and am taking) to continually make progress.
Set a Big Goal
One of the keys in my journey was making a weight-loss goal. If you don’t have a goal, you can’t measure progress.
One of the action-taking tips I outlined in the previous blog posts was about making small achievable goals. This action step is different in that it gives you a long-term goal to shoot for. It’s very important to make small winnable goals along the way, but it’s also crucial to know where you’re going.
Eventually, you will need a BHAG for your SAGs.
It was my goal to lose about 40-50 pounds and then keep the weight off. It was very important to me that I be able to keep the weight off because I had read about so many failures of people gaining back even more weight than they lost in the first place. I didn’t want to become one of those failures.
The goal was set: lose 40 to 50 pounds in a period of 6 months.
Okay, Goal Set. Now What?
I had my goal in mind, but how was I supposed to lose all that weight?
I decided I would:
- Stop drinking so much soda. Two to three cans per day was just not acceptable. I replaced soda with water most days of the week. Friday was my cheat day, and of course the occasional Saturday and Sunday as well.
- Lift weights. My exercise at the time was mostly biking in the gym, and I wasn’t seeing results.
- Eat more high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans. Check out my free Ebook for more on this subject.
These three tasks were my main focus. I prioritized each of them and did the best I could to focus on each of them as often as I could. I was never perfect, but results started to pour in when I began lifting 2-3 times per week, limited soda intake to the weekends, and ate a lot more apples, bananas, beans, and broccoli.
I took positive action and incorporated SAGs into my life, and was pleased by the results.
Keep Track to Succeed
Keeping measureable track of my progress was and is the key to victory.
I measured my weight loss progress on a fitness app. It showed me a graph that displayed my progress over time. Whenever the bar graph trended upwards, I knew it was time to reassess and get my butt back in gear. I knew it was time to take a positive action step towards boosting my weight loss.
Keeping track made sure that if I was trending in the wrong direction I would know about it immediately and would correct it. Just like a plane needs course adjustments every once in awhile, so too did I need to make adjustments to my overall plan of action.
If I hadn’t been keeping track, I wouldn’t have known when to adjust. I also wouldn’t even know how close I was to reaching my ultimate goal!
Phone a Friend: Stay Accountable
I had to rely on my accountability partner, my wife, in order to stay on track and keep losing weight. I had someone by my side that supported me when I was down and kicked my butt when I needed it. She was the main reason I was able to stay consistent and make progress each and every day.
Whenever I wanted to drink an extra soda or skip a day at the gym I knew I would have to explain myself to her. Most times it didn’t even get that far, but it did add an extra layer which made it all the more difficult to quit. She made my progress possible because she helped me to stay accountable to my goal of losing weight.
Wrapping it All up
To lose weight I:
- Made a big goal.
- Made SAGs to reach in order to ultimately reach my BHAG.
- Kept track of my progress.
- Had an accountability partner to keep me on the straight and narrow.
These four steps are the keys to reaching any goal, but they each take a lot of action. I was able to find success because I took action in each realm and eventually made my goal of losing weight a reality.
I simply chose a big goal, made positive action steps, consistently kept track, and stayed accountable.
Getting Unstuck Step #6
It’s all well and good to read about someone else’s success. You might be thinking that just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. This is quite true. My success story in no way guarantees that you’ll find similar success.
I worked my rear off (literally) to lose 50 pounds. Are you willing to work crazy hard for your goal? Hard work is the differentiating factor between failure and success. If you’re willing to work at it and you’re determined to succeed, then nothing can stand in your way.
For this positive action step, sit down and write a letter to yourself from the future. Pretend that you’ve accomplished a major life goal. Tell your current self that despite all of the craziness involved, you made it. You made it to your goal, you reached your goal, and you are reaching even higher for the next.
Writing this letter will allow you to visualize success and is a good exercise in getting creative juices flowing. If you don’t want to write, you can do a video or an audio recording instead.
Here is mine:
Dear past Jordan,
This is your future self. No, time travel isn’t possible, this is merely an exercise. Guess what? I am (which means you will be!) a full time author. It took a lot of time, money, and grit, but you have succeeded. In fact, you are making more money now than you ever have. Most importantly, you get to wake up when you want and go anywhere you want as long as you bring a laptop to work.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy, but if you keep working at it, you will make it. Believe me, I know, because I did it!
I leave you with one final note: Savor the journey. Find enjoyment along the way and do the best that you can and you will be just fine.
Part #7: Defeating the Inevitable “Wall”
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” -Michael Jordan
There will eventually be a wall you’ll have to face down on your journey to your goal, and you need to be ready for it. The wall is a guarantee. No matter what goal you have, you WILL face some sort of wall.
This wall could take many forms:
- Your new book doesn’t sell a single copy, and even your grandma hesitates to purchase one.
- Your website traffic tanks because of a google update.
- You get one month into strength training and pull your shoulder.
- Your goal of getting out of debt gets derails when you’re forced to take a loan out to pay for medical bills.
- Your relationship goals take a dive when a friend betrays your trust.
- The dream house you’ve been saving for gets purchased by someone else.
The chances of a wall coming up when you’re trying to reach your goal is 100%.
Taking action when results are coming in is pretty easy. If you lost 10 pounds in 1-month because of changes you made it will be easier to continue making those changes. You saw positive results, you’re feeling confident, and you can keep reaching for your goal.
In two months, when your weight loss slows down and you struggle to lose those last 10 pounds to reach your goal, it gets harder. Whenever we reach towards a goal there will inevitably be a wall that we have to face down. There’s no going around the wall. There are only two options:
- We take a step back and the wall crushes us.
- We put the axe to the grindstone and fling ourselves over the wall or through it. We want “it” so bad that we work with reckless abandon.
Bill Gates didn’t succumb to the wall when his product “Traf-O-Data” failed to take off. He didn’t sit back and let his failure get him down. He wanted it super bad and continued to strive for success. He met the wall head on and jumped over it. The result? Microsoft.
Jim Carrey used to be homeless. Now he’s a famous, one-of-a-kind comedian. He didn’t let his experience deter his dream; he jumped over a seemingly insurmountable wall.
He even has this incredibly powerful motivational video that you should definitely check out.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve doubted myself about my ability to lose weight. I have to fight the battle each and every day in order to keep the weight off. In spite of this, I’ve succeeded in keeping off all of the weight I lost because I desperately want to be healthy.
Ask yourself: how badly do you want it? How badly do you want to realize your dream and reach your full potential?
If you’re writing a book, then you need to keep on writing that book. If your goal is to have a long-lasting marriage, then you need to spend each day working at it.
You have to want it so badly that you give yourself to the task. No dream worth reaching was ever achieved with just a few short bouts of effort. Anything worth its weight in sand took multiple attempts and lots of vested time.
Never Give Up
Remember that your breakthrough can come at any time. You never know when your life could change for the better. There’s so much that we don’t have control over. All we can do is our best, and the rest will work itself out in the end.
We never know what the ripple effects our positive action can be on the world at large. Always remember that there are people out there learning from you regardless of whether or not you ever find out.
Never give up, keep on fighting, and get ready to break through the inevitable wall. You will come over the other side a stronger person, even closer to your goal.
Getting Unstuck Step #7
Preparing for an inevitable wall is extremely difficult because it seems like the wall comes when you least expect it.
The best way to respond is to increase your resilience. A strong resiliency will allow you to stand strong as the wall looms over you.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of resilience is as follows: “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
Increasing your resilience means that the next time a wall comes up, you will react better than you did last time.
One way to do this is to try this simple action step:
Meditate for 5 minutes on a major life obstacle that you have already conquered. Think about how it felt to finally overcome that wall. Now think about what you did to achieve victory over this one area. Now believe that it is something you can do again when the need arises.
Practice this step often in order to increase resilience which will help you to get through the inevitable wall.
Part #8: The Wall has Been Conquered: Here Come the Road Blocks
“Once I decide to do something, I can’t have people telling me I can’t. If there’s a roadblock, you jump over it, walk around it, crawl under it.” -Kitty Kelley
Somewhere along your life journey you will face things that will get you down. These walls might prohibit you from taking action and meeting your goals. These walls are bound to come up and you have to be ready to face them.
In stark contrast, roadblocks are more often than not caused by something we can directly control. If you will, roadblocks are the “feelings” aspect of obstacles, but they are equally important.
These roadblocks can come in several different forms and in ways that you might not expect.
The aim of this 9th article is to arm you with practical steps you can use to identify common roadblocks, and to conquer them when they do occur.
The chances are good you will deal with two, three, or even every one of these roadblocks at some point on your journey.
Roadblock #1: Seeking Perfection:
“I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.” -Queen Latifah
You will never be perfect.
Sorry if that burst your bubble, but it’s true. You will never be absolutely perfect at anything. Even the best gymnasts in the world at the Rio Olympics in 2016 still had deductions off their scores every single time. Out of the thousands of gymnasts at the Olympics and world championships only 2 have ever achieved the perfect score.
What this means for you is that seeking perfection can be a dangerous thing if you become singularly focused. What if you became the best gymnast in the world and became one of the few to achieve a perfect score? You could say that you were perfect at that one task and crushed it. Good for you! But are you perfect? No. No one is perfect and we all fall short in most areas of our life.
This is not said to be negative. Quite the opposite! Our lack of perfection can be a blessing in disguise, because that means our best is actually good enough. As long as we are doing our best, that is all anyone can ask of us.
Don’t get tripped up thinking you need to be perfect in your business, or that your marriage needs to be free of any blemishes, for your accomplishments to count. Don’t believe that your projects need to be perfect to be a success.
We can become far too focused on the details and perfection when we should just let go and be proud of the work we’ve done. We’re proud enough to let go and get it out there for the world to see.
You will never be perfect, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying your best. Taking one step more than you took yesterday will help you to forge ahead and strike gold, even if that gold is is wrought with imperfections. Even impure gold is still worth a lot of money.
Remember that you yourself are like gold and are inherently valuable. Value yourself and don’t get down when your first painting, first book, or first guitar lesson doesn’t go perfectly. Just keep working at it and strive for excellence, not perfection.
Roadblock #2: The Blame Game
You are where you are today because of the choices you’ve made. Just like you, I find myself in my current situation because of the choices I’ve made. Whether good or bad, my choices have directed my life to its current point.
One major choice in my life was to attend Messiah College. Meeting my wonderful wife, acquiring several good friends, and getting out of my introverted bubble made my choice of college a fantastic decision. On the other hand, accumulating a ton of college debt and a degree that I don’t use at work could make my college choice seem like a bad decision.
Regardless of whether it was a good or bad decision, going to Messiah College was a decision that made a major impact of my life, both positively and negatively.
I made that choice and have to live with that choice. I can’t go back in time and change it. I don’t know any Doc Browns with a time machine. (If you do, then this whole post might not be relevant haha.)
Several people across history have made decisions that have impacted them both positively and negatively.
When Martin Luther King Jr decided to take a stand and fight for freedom for African Americans, he set himself up to be assassinated. I doubt he would go back and change a thing, and no one out there would want him to, but it was his choices that led his life down that path.
Amelia Earhart decided to be a pilot and venture off on an unprecedented journey. She didn’t know that she would never return, but her choice to become a pilot was a symbol of empowerment for women and had a far-reaching impact on our current culture.
We never know how far the impact of our choices might reach. That’s why blaming our current situation on anything other than our own decisions is foolhardy and a major roadblock to success.
You might be thinking, but Jordan, I have three kids, three jobs, and can barely put food on the table!
I feel for you, I really do, but I still believe the words I am speaking here. Blaming your circumstances on anything but your own action or inaction is a fast way to get nowhere. You can’t dig yourself out of whatever rut you might be in if you don’t first accept responsibility for your own destiny.
Life might deal you the most impossible hand, but your choices will make or break it for you. Things will certainly happen to you that you might never have envisioned, but it’s up to you to decide how you proceed.
If you have ever heard of Nick Vujicic you know what true determination and willpower can accomplish. Watch this video for one of the most inspirational stories you will ever encounter. I cry every time I watch it, it’s just that good.
Nick didn’t let his extreme limitations stop him from becoming an author and world-renowned motivational speaker. He played the hand he was dealt and is changing thousands of lives.
Don’t let your circumstances determine your future action. Step away from your excuses, accept responsibility for your current situation, and head in a positive direction.
Roadblock #3: Not Knowing Where to Start
You found your why, put on your big kid action pants, and stepped on out the door. You are more than ready to take on the world. Your boots are laced, you’re sporting a brand new outfit, and you just drank a cup of extra strong coffee!
Congratulations, you’re ahead of most other people in this area.
But now what?
Where do you start?
Well… It depends. I know, that is a sucky answer. But it really does. It depends on the depth and scope of your quest. If you’re aiming big and wanting to help end world hunger, then why not start with your very own neighborhood homeless? If you just want to ace your next algebra test then you probably just need to study.
If you’re aiming big then you need to start small and work your way up. The more you help serve homeless people, the more expertise you will gain in that realm. Starting somewhere small is key because you are more likely to stick with it and then continue to make progress.
Amazingly, I find that I usually know where to start and what to do. For example, my personal goal is to become a full time authorpreneur.
How do I achieve my goal? By writing more and building an audience. This is not simplistic: it’s just plain hard work.
How do my wife and I get better at going on hikes? By going on hikes and pushing our limits. in 2016 we went on a 17.5 mile hike and finished in one day. It was wrought with difficulty but we finished.
The answer to this roadblock isn’t rocket science. The answers lie within you.
You know exactly how to get unstuck, you just need to make yourself less sticky by acting upon your instincts. Utilize your pre-existing knowledge and take action. Don’t get stuck in the same place as millions of other people. Start moving toward your dream with positive action.
Roadblock #4: The Timing Isn’t Right
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people use this roadblock as an excuse. The person I hear it from most is myself.
Here’s what I believe, said wonderfully by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson-
“God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ. God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go. But here’s the catch: The right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time.” -Mark Batterson, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day.
The right time often seems like the wrong time. Let that sink in.
It’s almost impossible for us to get the timing exactly right through our own means. Most of the time we have to dive in, regardless of circumstances, and get to work. The timing may NEVER be right. It may never be just the right time to do something.
Batterson believes, and so do I, that we will never be more than 80% sure that ANY major decision we are making is the right one. The fact is that we can’t know until we try.
We just have to pray and then get our feet wet.
I pray for wet feet.
Roadblock #5 Feeling Overwhelmed
We’ve all gotten the feeling of being overwhelmed from time to time. Being overwhelmed is like wearing a heavy coat that’s always weighing you down.
Whether your overwhelm is a constant feeling or if you only have to endure it once in awhile, it can truly get you down.
You might even be thinking, “How can I possibly think about reaching goals!? I can’t even get unstuck in my daily life!”
I hear you on this, but trust me, setting SAGs and then acting upon them is your ticket out. No matter what your position or what you struggle with from day to day, you MUST believe that you can escape the overwhelm.
This is HARD to do, especially when you’re right in the thick of it. Sometimes, it can feel impossible to get any real work done when life is weighing you down, as all you want to do is get through the day and hit your head on the pillow.
You hear it all the time on the news that a single mom of three has lost weight, started a business, or written a best-selling novel. JK Rowling wrote parts of the first Harry Potter book on a napkin for Pete’s sake!
There are success stories everywhere of people from all different walks of life. Did some of them get lucky? Of course! But these people did not let their feelings stop them from making small gains towards their goals. You mustn’t allow the feeling of overwhelm to keep you down either.
The best and most practical way to combat these feelings is to work towards your personal goals. Nothing at work can truly bother you if you have a side hustle you’re working on, nor can struggles in your personal life bring you down if you’re working toward a greater purpose.
Your passion for your goals will eventually supercede any negative influence that being overwhelmed has on you.
Roadblock #6: No Measureable Progress
This is a big one so pay attention. Or if you want to, skip this section. On second thought, make sure you read this one.
Sometimes when I write, paragraphs form like the one above. A circling of thoughts that just go around and around.
Action taking can be just like this many times. We take action, but only end up circling back, or not really going anywhere at all. At least it seems this way.
Not having any measurable progress towards your goals is a huge roadblock that can become a dead stop wall if left unchecked.
There are times when reaching your goal might seem impossible because it seems like you’re circling. I think this is the natural flow of things, but it can make or break you depending on the circumstances surrounding your goal.
Your goal is to save 20,000 dollars by the time you turn 30. Next thing you know you are just 2000 away from your goal when you have to shell out a ton of money for a car repair, leaky ceiling, or maybe a major medical emergency.
In reality, you have made major progress. If you did it once you most certainly can do it again. You can’t let the results of your positive action deter you from taking further positive action. Sometimes you’ll swing and miss and have to try again. Sometimes life will happen and all you can do is shake your head and forge onwards. Your continued attempts will naturally become stronger. Eventually, you will save that 20,000 dollars.
Here’s a diagram to explain my view on progress:
This is what progress might look like for you. It won’t be exactly like this, as each person and each situation might be different, but this will give you something to think about when it comes to this subject.
- Start- You’re going to be excited to start your goal. You take positive action and may even see some results right away.
- Yay!- You just lost 10 pounds!
- Ugh- Oh crap you’re starting to slide back.
- Forward momentum starts again and you are further along than you were when you started. Sometimes this section can crawl forward because you are fighting just to maintain progress. Then suddenly you loop upwards again repeating this entire process.
The good news is that when you start to circle back, you usually won’t be as far back as where you started. You’ll have more wisdom, more courage, and a deliciously dangerous taste for success.
This continuum can be applied to most types of goals. As humans we’re always making mistakes. The key is to learn from those mistakes and surge forward.
Check out this page from The Modern Man for a funny interpretation of our plan vs. reality.
Don’t let the roadblock of not seeing any measureable progress right away- or even in a few weeks- get you down. The road to success is a winding back and forth journey. Stay on track and keep working towards your dream.
Roadblock #7: Analysis Paralysis
It can be difficult to take action in general. It can be even more difficult when we FEEL like we’re taking action, but all we’re really doing is research that floods our minds with too many avenues. We could do A, B, C, Or D, but oh wait E looks enticing as well…
As I’ve said before, spending time in the learning realm is necessary, especially at first, but eventually you need to pick one avenue and go for it.
This type of decision making is made even harder because many of our goals aren’t forced or timed. When you’re trying to write a book or lose weight, the goal isn’t being forced by anything but your willpower.
The longer you wait to take positive action on your goals, the more you risk analysis by paralysis. The more information that floods in, the more you have to wade through when you make a move.
Learn enough so you can find a good direction and then take action. Don’t get stuck in a place where you keep telling yourself you’ll eventually write a book, start a business, or take a week-long camping trip.
Knowledge will only make you a better person to a point. You need to actually step out into the world and get some experience under your belt to reach your full potential.
Roadblock #8: Dealing With Criticism
Benedict Cumberbatch was originally considered not “sexy” enough for the role of Sherlock Holmes. This is Kahn himself, and Dr. Strange in the Marvel movie! This guy is now a famous actor and he didn’t let someone’s opinion stop him.
When it comes to your own life, you need to have confidence. Criticism is something you will eventually have to face and you need to have a game plan in order to deal with it.
Having confidence in yourself is all about having an air of humility. This might not be the generally accepted view of confidence, but it’s one I have tried to adopt. Being humble allows me to be coachable throughout life. It allows me to listen to feedback from others and apply it to my own life.
I had a resident at my old retirement community tell me once “Sit up when you eat, it looks terrible when you don’t. Also slow down so you can savor your food.” I was thinking to myself, “okay lady, you’re the grumpiest person here.” However, I listened to her words and thought about my eating habits.
I know that I should definitely slow down, so I’ve been purposely trying to do better by firstly looking at her to see if she is looking at me, and secondly trying to sit up straight and slow down when I eat.
The key is twofold:
First, I had to put her advice through my own personal filter. I ask myself a very direct question, while at the same time trying to push aside the hurt and the pain from being criticized.
No matter how confident a person you are, criticism hurts, but it is up to you what you want to do with that hurt.
I ask myself if the criticism has any merit. In this case, was her advice worth its weight in gold? Was I really eating that disgustingly? The answer was yes and no. She’s a proper lady and I’ll probably never live up to her expectations, but I knew that I was leaning over my plate, which might not look good.
You have to ask yourself these questions because not everyone will give you advice with the right intentions.
In my old job my boss sat me down and told me he had some feedback for me. Nothing good ever starts with a preface like that, but I had no choice but to hear him out.
He told me, “You think you are doing better than you actually are.”
The bomb was dropped. I was crushed. But because I always take criticism and put it through my filter, it meant taking it in to examine it. The feedback doesn’t get redirected around my heart, it goes in full force.
I could have just passed the feedback off and told myself that he was a jerk and didn’t know what he was talking about. Instead, I accepted the feedback and examined its merit. I had never felt as low as I did while pondering what he said.
I had to let the feedback in before I could judge its truth, and that hurt.
Sometimes criticism is painful and all you can do it sit in anguish while it does its work inside of you. No amount of practical thinking can prevent this feeling. Embrace it and then resolve to get past it.
In this particular case I ran the feedback through my own personal filter and discovered that there was absolutely no merit to what he told me. I knew exactly how I was doing in my job. I wasn’t the best program director in the world, but my staff loved me, and I count that as a great success.
If I had honestly found that what he said had merit, I would have taken steps to improve and better myself.
This is why having a personal filter is important: you can’t be a confident and coachable person if you take to heart every piece of negative criticism that is thrown your way. You have to learn to accept some of it, and let the rest slide. It will still really sting at times, like my boss’ feedback, but you have to get past it and not let it stick.
Once I put advice through my filter, I then have to choose whether or not to act on what comes out the other side. I ask myself, is this feedback something I want to change? Sometimes the answer is no, and that’s okay! We don’t have to change just because someone else wants us to.
This is the second part of the equation. If I don’t really care about looking disgusting when I eat then I can just keep eating that way. If I do care (which of course I do!), then I need to actually try to eat more politely. In the case of my boss, I took it in, examined it, then let it pass as something I need not worry about. I decided that he was wrong and that was that.
Examining criticism with a personal filter breeds confidence.
This process works for me, and it’s been how I’ve gotten to the point where I am in my confidence level. I know what I think of myself, but I’m also willing to let others give me feedback.
I even encourage the process by asking for feedback from my wife and from those that I work with. I constantly push myself to learn more about how I’m doing, even if what comes back to me might hurt. I’m willing to take the chance that my feelings might be hurt in order to improve.
We all need to get over the fear of being offended and learn to grow.
I do this because the more I accept the little stings of criticism, the more open people will be with me. I’ll become more resistant to these stings over time. In terms of my work performance, I will also likely avoid any major issues as I do my best to know where I stand at all times. I ask the tough questions such as:
- How can I do better?
- What areas can I improve upon?
I then take the criticisms, run them through my own filter, and apply what I need to in order to make myself a better person. This is practical but also challenging.
With this approach to criticism you can continually improve upon yourself. Over time you will become an all-around better person.
While you’re accepting criticism, you can’t let negative thinking take a hold of your mind and cause you to give up, or worse, never start. You need to have confidence in yourself that the work you’re doing is worth it!
The best way to counteract negative thinking is get caught up in your work. There’s little room for self-doubt in the midst of hard work. Build your first treehouse… but for the love of all that is good and pure don’t let any kids use it. Go a week without desserts. Make it your mission to tell your partner that you love them each and every day for the next month.
When you learn to act and get caught up in your work you will start to believe in yourself and you will feel more than good enough to tackle any project you put your mind to.
Roadblock #9: The Fear of Failure
The final stop in roadblocks is the fear of failure. This one’s at the end because it’s oftentimes the greatest roadblock to overcome before reaching our goal.
Fear is one of the main reasons that more isn’t accomplished in the world. Fear has prevented too many people from realizing their dreams and changing the world for good. Fear creates self-doubt, which prevents us from accomplishing goals.
Don’t be afraid to fail, because you are going to fail. Failure forms the building blocks of our learning experience. Being afraid to fail is like the elementary student that doesn’t try to read because she’s afraid she might get a word wrong.
If you’re not willing to make mistakes and build upon your failures, you won’t get anywhere.
Remember that failure isn’t bad in and of itself. What’s ultimately wrong with failure is letting it stop you from reaching your goals.
Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, even if the chance of failure is ninety nine percent. Step out on a limb. Even if that limb breaks, you will be one step closer to success. Unless of course the tree is super high up, then the story changes a little bit… (This is why you have to be careful with analogies I guess, since analogies are also prone to failure.)
Positive actions are your building blocks to success, even if the action comes with failures. You’ll learn more and make it so much farther if you don’t let the fear of failing stop you.
Getting Unstuck Step #8
In review, the top 9 most common roadblocks to progress are as follows:
- Seeking perfection
- The blame game
- Not knowing where to start
- It isn’t the right time
- Feeling overwhelmed
- No measurable progress
- Analysis paralysis
- Dealing with criticism
- Fear of Failure
On a piece of paper or whiteboard list the roadblocks that you’ve faced on your journey to reach your ultimate potential.
Now add some other roadblocks you think you might face. Be specific.
This will allow you to see where you’ve been and where you are going. Being prepared is half the battle.
Now ask yourself how you are going to handle the roadblock when it inevitably shows up.
The answers will be different for every person that reads this book, and you will need to find your own unique answers. You know yourself a lot better than you think, and certainly better than I know you!
Once you’ve identified the roadblocks you’re likely to face, develop a plan of attack that will help you as you reach your goal. This could be adding a motivating quote to your mirror, or asking someone you trust to give you real and invaluable feedback even if it smarts a bit.
Having a plan of attack is critical to getting through roadblocks and reaching your ultimate potential.
Now that you have a better understanding of yourself and what roadblocks you’ve faced, the roadblocks you’re currently facing, and the ones that you have the potential to face, it will feel much more doable to hurdle over any obstacles that present themselves.
Part #9: An Important Question; Does it Get Easier?
The answer to this question is not what you want to hear, but here goes. It does NOT get easy, but it does get easier.
Believe me, I know firsthand. Writing books and working on websites was extremely difficult at first. It took a long time for it to feel any easier. But it never has gotten easy. There are always issues that come up that are either technical or emotional. (Seriously WordPress, give it a rest with all the issues mmkay?)
Working towards your goals will definitely get easier over time, but it will never be easy.
The good and bad news is that if things become too easy, they will not be as gratifying to complete. Things that are really difficult bring along a completion satisfaction that makes it all worth it.
Hard work might feel difficult in the moment, but think about this for a second:
If you spend an entire day at your full time job, it might be extremely tiring and difficult. However, when your head hits the pillow at night, you have a sense of completion, and feel that you truly gave it your all that day.
This is in stark contrast to what you might feel like if you spent the entire day watching Netflix or playing video games. You know in your heart that you just wasted a day and didn’t make any real contribution to the world.
I’m not saying that we all don’t need a recovery day from time to time. But no matter how hard your day job is, and no matter how much of a jerk your boss can be, time spent doing nothing will never be anywhere near as satisfying as a hard day’s work.
Relaxation isn’t an evil concept, but if too much of your time is spent lying around, you won’t find fulfillment and you’ll remain stuck.
Even on days when I’m exhausted and don’t want to spend any time writing, I realize that even if I just work for an hour, I will feel immeasurably better about how the day went.
That being said, there are a few action-taking tips that will make your quests a little easier.
- Don’t spend too much time focused on your current progress. Staring at the scale is not going to change the number on the screen. Stats have their place, because you will need to measure your progress in order to reevaluate and get back on track, but don’t spend too much time there. Spend more time taking the positive action that will help you to reach your goal instead of examining how you’re doing on a regular basis. Check stats every once in awhile, adjust course if needed, and then continue making progress.
- Pick one path and go for it. Don’t add too much too soon onto your plate. Chances are you have a full time job, a family, a car that needs work, or any combination of things. Picking one area will allow you to focus any extra time that you have on that one task, and will help you to reach your ultimate potential.
- Rid yourself of any distractions that aren’t worth your time. Time is worth more to you than gold. Convince yourself of this and it will become much harder to waste time on non-essential hobbies. (Okay fine, I too would give up one days worth of time for a nice big golden nugget).
- Believe in yourself. This is the single most important key to taking the world’s weight off your shoulders. Believe that you have something valuable to give and do your absolute best to give the world that one thing.
I stated this earlier in this series, but it’s worth mentioning again. Remember that you can only do the best that you can at any given time. You cannot give more than your best at any one thing. As long as you’re giving your best, your best will get better over time. You just have to continue working at it.
Getting Unstuck Step #9
Make it easier for yourself.
Once you have an idea of what might be holding you back take an action step and make a positive change in your life.
Limit TV time, cancel your NFL Redzone subscription, or pour the rest of your soda pop down the sink. (I actually did this last one and it was both painful and liberating at the same time. As the liquid gold of my Code Red Mountain Dew flowed down the sink, a little tear might have been spotted in my eyes.)
The point is: do what YOU need to do in order to find success. Take the step that will make things easier.
You hold the key to unlocking your own success, and you are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. Accomplishing your goal just takes a little grit, determination, and tinkering to do so.
Part #10: It’s Your Choice Compadre
Phew! We made it!
You’re almost to the end, which means you can email me to let me know that reading this post on how to get unstuck kept you from actually taking any action.
Don’t worry, the irony here’s not lost on me. I know that reading about action might just be considered another way to prevent someone from actually taking any action.
But now what? How do you stay unstuck and avoid the stickiness that this world provides for us free of charge? How do you reach your ultimate potential?
What do you do now that this book is coming to a close?
You have several good options. and I will leave it up to you to decide the best route to take here.
Option #1: Pick a Specific Task and Accomplish it
Immediately after reading this mammoth of a post take a step of action. Do it today. Do it now. Delaying means you’re just as far away from accomplishing your goals as you were when you began the book.
The task you choose is up to you. Just remember that even a small change will make a huge difference in the long run. Just like compound interest can mean the difference between retiring in luxury, or having nothing to leave behind for your family, so too can you compound interest towards your destiny by making one small gain today.
Pick just one task, and accomplish it today. It might be as simple as buying a domain for your website on pet bullfrogs. It really doesn’t matter what that step is, just take it and start to build your foundation of positive action. Go ahead and make some mistakes. You won’t be alone.
Option #2: Find Your Purpose
You might not be quite ready to take a step of action. You might be afraid to tread too quickly down the wrong path.
That’s okay, and very natural! Hopefully this book has at least stirred the desire within you to eventually reach your dreams.
If you find yourself aiming for this option, I would suggest reading one or all of the following books. These books made a huge difference in my life, and I think you will enjoy them. (Note: these are not affiliate links.)
- Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story– Steve Kamb
- If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities– Mark Batterson
- A Trip around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime– Mark Batterson and Richard Foth
- Directed by Purpose: How to Focus on Work That Matters, Ignore Distractions and Manage Your Attention over the Long Haul (Six Simple Steps to Success Book 5)– By Michal Stawicki
It might take several books before you start to find your purpose. It might only take one. For me, after I read In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day I immediately switched my focus. I knew that I needed to put my best foot forward and start conquering lions.
This motivated my to start to realize my dream of becoming an author and online entrepreneur.
Option #3: Don’t do Anything
As a reasoning human being you have the right and the privilege to ignore every piece of advice in here.
You have the choice not to take action.
It is up to your if you want to remain your same old unhappy self. It is your choice to remain in the exact state you are in right now.
I won’t even be mad at you. I applaud your right to exercise your freedom to do nothing. My only question is how and why did you make it to the end of this post? Do you really want nothing to change?
It has been a joy to go on this adventure with you. I hope that you have found this post enlightening, or at the very least amusing.
Go Forth and conquer the world. Do so with the thought that with enough action, the world can be a better place.