One of our Finding Time Tips elicited a great question from a subscriber the other day. She asked for some examples to illustrate ways that the following tip and action step might play out in real life. I was intrigued by the question, and then realized that this would make a perfect blog post, too – so thank you on two counts, Bonnie!
Need inspiration? Think big. And mix & match.
If your goal is jammed at the planning stage, step outside the box. Loosen up by combining 2 divergent ideas to create a new option. It’s a great way to enrich the outcome of your goal.
Imagine that you have a long term goal and are just starting to plan the steps for accomplishing it. Your tendency is probably to approach this in a logical, linear fashion, going from A to B to C and so on. If you get stymied at “A” you’ll be stuck and will never get to B or C … let alone Q or R! That first step looms like a wall. How do you get past it? (And it doesn’t have to be only at the first step – ANY place where you become mired can begin to feel like a hurdle or a wall … or a box!)
Often, when people are stuck, they keep trying to modify or reformulate “A” in order to get moving. But sometimes this turns into an exercise in futility. Our ability to be creative problem-solvers is generally diminished in direct proportion to our level of frustration and discouragement. Here are 5 ideas that can help you get yourself unstuck! They all involve some version of “stepping outside of the box,” as you’ll see:
- One suggestion, if you find yourself in this situation, would be to back away from “A”! Put your planning down and move to another, brief and unrelated task. Or, better yet, go for a quick walk, or make a cup of tea. When you return to your planning 5 or 10 minutes later, you may well find that an idea pops up and gets you unstuck.
- Or you might try starting with your goal and working backward. This is a linear process, too – but in reverse.
- A more free flowing process would involve listing out the planning steps that you already have in mind (forgetting about Step “A” for the moment). Play with their order and see what ideas come up for you. Something entirely unexpected may emerge. (I suggest doing this on the computer to save time.)
- Try brainstorming all of the words or ideas that come to mind when you think of “A.” Take two of the most divergent words and combine them into an idea. Use this synthesis to create a new starting place.
- Finally, a suggestion that some of my clients have found very helpful is to really stand things on their head. Set about planning how NOT to get to your goal! This can feel a little bit silly at the start, but often people find that it quickly gets them unstuck – and often gives them helpful information about whatever had them blocked to begin with.
© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.