How To Get Unstuck

Kyle Smith

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I recently sat down with an artist friend of mine to see how she was doing. We’ll call her Diane (not her real name). She is a talented leader, writer, and event planner.

Diane was feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. She had said “yes” to too many commitments and didn’t feel she could get out of any of them. She longed to have more time to do creative work that refreshed her soul and would help her move forward.

In a word, Diane felt stuck. She was on a hamster wheel and didn’t know how to get off.

There are two things I said to her:

1. I understand how you feel, and I can see why you feel frustrated and stuck. (It was important for me to validate her feelings because I’ve been there, and am still there sometimes.)

2. You always have a choice in how to spend your time. Your choices might be limited depending on your life situation, but you always have options.

This second statement is the key to getting unstuck. For many years I felt imprisoned by my circumstances, as if someone was holding a knife to my throat and preventing me from creating. I blamed my busy schedule, my list of commitments, others’ expectations, and just about anything else I could get my hands on.

But when I came to understand the power of choice, that was the day I became a free man. I realized that I could choose my outlook, my attitude, and my perspective.

If you’re feeling stuck, you’ll recognize the struggle contained in each of these choices. As you think about them, I hope it will empower and motivate you to get unstuck and start creating again.

Choice #1: Being a creator vs. being a consumer

A few days ago, a friend of mine was telling me about a great show he was binge-watching on Netflix. I would love to watch it, but I know it would require an investment of several dozen hours.

I don’t have anything against Netflix. After all, I’m the guy who has watched House of Cards more than a couple times. But at the end of the day, we all have a choice in how we spend our time.

If you’re struggling to find time to create, consider cutting back on your consumption. Better yet, track your time to see exactly where it is going.

Choice #2: Connecting with others vs. going it alone

One of the best ways to get unstuck is connecting with other success-oriented people. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

I believe that’s true. If you feel stuck, connect with people on a Facebook group, start or join a mastermind, or attend a local meetup.

If you try to forge through the creative journey by yourself, it will be a very lonely road. There’s no need to do that. Start linking up with other people who are positive and encouraging. They will help you be more successful much faster than you can by yourself.

Choice #3: Focusing on your priorities vs. making everyone else happy

The great thing about having clarity in your creative life is that you know what your priorities are. When you know yourself, your gifts, and your purpose, it’s easier to understand where you should invest time and energy.

Even though I am pretty clear about my priorities, I still don’t like disappointing people. But sometimes it’s necessary. Remember: You can’t make everyone happy. If you’re going to make any progress in your creative life, you have to be OK with that.

Choice #4: Saying “yes” to everything vs. saying “no” to most things

My friend Diane struggles with a problem many of us face: she feels obligated to say “yes” to every opportunity. This can especially be a problem in ministry settings, where it feels like we are letting God down if we say “no.”

But not every opportunity is an opportunity from God. So how do you choose?

The answer is to switch your default answer from “yes” to “no.” When possible, only focus on the things that are most important, and that are producing the results you want. Remember that with every “yes,” you are saying “no” to something else.

Do you feel stuck? If so, consider these four choices and realize that you have the power to take control of your life. Don’t sit on the sidelines and be content with watching others enjoy the creative success you deserve.

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I write about writing, productivity, creativity, and much more.

St. Louis, MO
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