What To Do When You're Stuck

Getting started is harder than to keep going.

Sometimes it feels like we're just stuck.

​Stuck about how to approach a problem. Stuck about how to be helpful to someone. Stuck about what to write in today's newsletter.

Everyone feels stuck at some point. What do you do then? How to get unstuck?

The science-backed answer is simple: Start small.

I have written a series of posts on the importance of psychological momentum and how it works (here, here, and here). And answered some of the readers' questions here.

Here are the biggest takeaways from those:

  1. Psychological momentum exists:​ Initial success creates, reinforces, and lengthens momentum. And the longer the psychological momentum can be sustained, the more likely is the success.
  2. It doesn't last forever: PM doesn't last for long - it's a temporary phenomenon. If you want to fully leverage it, you need to generate a series of consecutive positive momentums.
  3. We have more control over it than we think: You can use the frequency and intensity effects to design your work in such a way that maximizes psychological momentum.

If you're feeling stuck, the best way to get out of a rut is to leverage the frequency effect. Pick the tiniest possible task to make progress, and then cut it in half. Here are some examples:

  • Don't know how to nurture a relationship? Start by listing the things you know they like and are interested in.
  • Don't know how to reach out to a dream client? Start by listing who are the people inside the company that you want to meet and talk to.
  • Don't know how to market your consulting firm? Start by listing what your desired outcomes are, before identifying the right activities to generate them.

​Keeping the next step ridiculously small not only increases the chances I'll find time to actually perform them, but also reduces the psychological pressure of doing so.

Pick something that's a priority for you, but seems stalled. Ask what's the tiniest task you can do to move forward with it. What part of it can you complete in less than 5 minutes? Do it now.

When you feel like you're making progress, you're more likely to make concrete progress.

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