December 6, 2009

Taking Massive, Useful Action

Remember the last time you were stuck? Trapped by inaction… telling yourself you didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help.

What’s being stuck like for you?

When I get stuck I’m usually in deer-in-the-headlights mode. For me it has always been a combination of fear, inaction, and body chemistry that work in concert to lock me into place.

Being Stuck is a Big Fat Lie

I’ve learned a few things about stuckness over the years. Stuckness goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and my deepest personal fears. One of the biggest fears for me was the fear of people laughing at me and making fun of what I said or did. Heck, I can feel my body reacting to the memory of what life was like for me 30 years ago. I refuse to go back there again.

Here’s the thing about the sort of anxiety you and I face: It’s not only complex, but we also have powerful built-in stories around it. As Steve Chandler says in The Story of You, we make up these stories about ourselves to make it okay for us to behave in certain ways.

Your story about yourself is made up. It’s a fiction. You live according to the script you’ve written for your life. I live according to mine.

But if we create the stories that we live, then any story would do, wouldn’t it? Especially one that represents the very best of who we are. It therefore stands to reason that we can write any story we like for our lives. Why not write a story that involves being excited about your life, and about expressing that excitement through massive useful action?

Get Excited About Taking Massive Useful Action

I like the idea of taking massive useful action with excitement rather than out of fear. I don’t know about you, but every time I try to do something because I’m afraid of what I’m not getting or might get, the results are definitely not exciting.

So the next time you get deer-in-the-headlights stuck, here’s what I suggest you do:

  1. Pause. Recognize that you’re stuck, then become aware that the part of you that ISN’T stuck is observing the part of you that is. Aha.
  2. Eat something that has a low glycemic index. Give yourself some good fuel. Even a bowl of Cheerios or an apple with hard cheese will prime your body for the next step. You might even find that your stuckness goes away as soon as you’ve eaten. Funny how that works.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine that you’re a script writer. You’re creating a story for a new character who looks and acts an awful lot like you. Your character is stuck, and has to take massive useful action to become un-stuck. Write the script that has the character completely overwhelm the problem he or she is facing with a burst of exciting, massive action.
  4. Get your notebook out and write the following question at the top of a page: What massive useful action could I take to completely overwhelm <insert your problem here>?
  5. Write 25 answers to that question as fast as you can. Be outrageous. Make up things that no sane person would do to solve the problem. Go after it with excitement. Get edgy. Rip it up.
  6. Take a deep belly breath. Look at your list. Commit to doing the actions on that list as though you could not fail, as though your life depended on it — as though you were a one-person wrecking crew of massive useful action.

I promise you that if you’ll take these steps, you will get unstuck.

Works every time.

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