Calling all of my fellow millennial, hard-working professionals; those of you who have worked so hard to get to where you are today, and overcome great obstacles in the process. Those of you who are dreamers, doers, and have a million and one different ideas in the works. Do you ever find yourself stuck?
The high-achieving professionals “stuck” is one of the most frustrating “stuck’s” there is. Here’s how it usually goes. You have an idea in the works, and you have a pretty good notion of what you need to do to put it into action. You are excited, passionate, and then – two weeks go by and you notice you still haven’t done it. You feel frustrated with yourself for not acting on that new resume, professional Instagram account, or business idea. You take a break from the frustration by scrolling through Instagram, checking your Facebook, or watching one too many episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race on Netflix. After a few hours you notice you spent more time than you wanted to “taking a break”, and get frustrated with yourself that you could have spent the time writing a blog post, finishing an assignment, polishing up your resume, or researching your idea. Now you’re pissed at yourself. The more pissed you get, the more you scroll, and the more you scroll, the more pissed you get as you see “how much more successful” than you everyone on Instagram is. You ponder to yourself how they “have it together” and you feel left behind, on your couch with a half-eaten bag of Lay’s. Sound familiar?
It does to me – been there, done that. Sometimes still there, and still do that! So what can we do about it?
The following are some simple strategies to help you move from Netflix & Chips to productivity master.
Accountability is huge for getting unstuck. It can come in many forms, ranging from telling someone you know about your plans, setting reminders in your phone, or using a planner to schedule activities.
One of my favourite ways to stay accountable is using a good ole-fashioned paper planner and gel pens so I can colour-coordinate events, appointments, and to-do’s. There is evidence that writing things down can help with memory retention, and increase commitment to that activity.
Doing it in a way that’s colour-coordinated helps to keep things on track, organized, and has the added bonus of being visually appealing to look at. When choosing a planner, it can be helpful to consider things like page layout, size, and dividers. Find something that makes you feel excited, as the more you like it, the more likely you are to use it.
FOCUS ON VALUES
When creating a plan, it’s essential that you focus on your values. Is this thing you’re planning actually important to you, or is it a “should” that you heard from someone else?
To notice if it’s actually important to you, make a list of your goals and beside each one answer the question: Why is this important to me?
Does it connect to a value of bringing you closer to the career you’d like? Is it fuelled by a desire to have closer relationships? Can you notice if it’s connected to your love of arts, or nature?
If the answer is “because _______ told me I should”, this is probably not a value and you may want to reconsider this goal.
Staying present (in other words, mindful awareness) can help us to stay on-task and to notice when we are doing things that are not part of our values system.
This may include a formal mindfulness practice (check out our page on mindfulness apps to get you started), or informal mindfulness of stopping to take count of whether we felt like we acted on our vales or not.
When we are stuck in a cycle, we may not notice right away that we are in the cycle. It’s helpful to check in with yourself by noticing how you are feeling and whether that is driving your behaviour versus the things that are important to you. In other words, “Am I scrolling through social media because it’s helping me get closer to my goal of x, or am I doing it because I feel crappy?”. When we notice and label a behaviour as feelings-based, it gives us the opportunity to change it and try something new.
Be kind to yourself. Although Netflix & chips may not be a part of your values system, there may be days where that is a part of self-care. Netflix & chips isn’t always a negative thing, but if we find it’s become part of a routine we may want to use these strategies to work on it.
It’s important that we treat ourselves with kindness and respect, no matter where we are in this process.
In other words, if we beat ourselves up for our Netflix & Chips moments, it feels belittling instead of motivating. It is more helpful to use compassion and understanding, in the same way we would if a friend was telling us about their struggle. Saying to yourself “I am allowed to have an ‘off’ day” or “I am worthy even if I’m frustrated today” or “I have faith in you – you’ve got this!” can help boost our self-esteem and normalize the fact that we all have our moments and that’s okay.