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Leaders, creatives, and writers like you often get stuck. Frozen. Not sure what to do next. You’re unclear why you’re doing what you’re doing. Your head isn’t in its usual place. You can call it writers block or ‘being unproductive’—but either way—there are common reasons why we get stuck.

Being stuck sucks

When you’re stuck, you feel frozen. Rather than taking a break to get some fresh air (literally and metaphorically), I find myself trying to “trudge through the murky waters” until I’m able to make something happen.

This almost never works. I sit in my chair feeling stuck. I waste time. Have you ever been there?

Lying to ourselves

We tell ourselves that what we are doing isn’t good enough. We believe this story, this lie, that our current situation, materials, location, or whatever isn’t good enough.

Social media and the web doesn’t help. We see others’ perfect desk set up, and we want that. We see an announcement for a new laptop or phone, and we want that. We want what the companies want us to want. They’re really good doing that. They get us. But they steal our creative bandwidth.

We tell ourselves that if we had this or that we’d be able to make our BEST work. Which makes the work we’re doing right now not look so glamorous. We tell ourselves once we save up and get that THING—then, THEN we’ll start making stuff that’s awesome.

Start preaching to yourself

If you’re going to level up and start getting the work done, you’ll need to preach to yourself. In other words, you’ll need to tell yourself hard things you need to hear, even if you don’t want to hear them. This takes discipline because its easy to avoid this step.

If you’re going to level up and get work done, preach to yourself. Tell yourself hard things you need to hear, even if you don’t want to hear them.

Give yourself the WHO CARES TEST

When you use the So What, Who Cares Test, you’ll start to find what it is that’s tripping you up. Ask yourself, So what? Who cares? Your answers will be (1) no one, (2) someone that matters, (3) someone that doesn’t matter, or (4) yourself.

  1. No one cares. Get over it. This is a detail or silly thing that doesn’t matter. Move on. Literally, no one cares.
  2. Someone that matters cares.Someone that matters’ is someone who is directly related to your project moving forward and has a say. Stakeholders, investors, mentors and advisors are all people that might matter. If you are in business with your husband, he has a say. If he’s not involved with your business, he doesn’t. That doesn’t mean you don’t love or care about your spouse, it just means they do NOT get to make decisions about your business and project. If someone that matters cares about something tripping you up, TALK TO THEM. Let them know their stance is tripping you up. Renegotiate if possible. Be clear. Make the call sooner than later. Move on.
  3. Someone that DOESN’T matter cares. People that don’t matter are the haters. They’re not important to your project, don’t understand what you’re doing, and that’s OK. Move on. Austin Kelon says, ‘don’t feed the trolls.’
  4. You care. Ask yourself, am I caring too much about this aspect? Can I move on? Is this going to bring the whole project down? Figure out how much you’re willing to care as soon as possible. Make the change that’s needed. Or not. Move on.

The following list is not exhaustive—but are some WHO CARES questions you can use to trigger pressure points in your project.

Who cares about your emotions...

  • Who cares that you’re feeling sad?
  • Who cares if you’re having a bad day?
  • Who cares that you got offended?

Who cares about your project...

  • Who cares if things didn’t go as planned?
  • Who cares if you’ll need to make a tweak or change?
  • Who cares if someone else needs to take over and lead?
  • Who cares about this project anyway?

Who cares about your physical location...

  • Who cares if you do your work from home?
  • Who cares if you work in a coffee shop?
  • Who cares if you do your work in your car?
  • Who cares that you’re not in Nashville?
  • Who cares that you’re not in Hollywood?
  • Who cares you don’t have internet?

Who cares how original you are...

  • Who cares that this has been done before?
  • Who cares what people are going to say?

Who cares about your website platform...

  • Who cares if you’re using WordPress?
  • Who cares if you’re using GoDaddy?
  • Who cares if you’re using WIX or Weebly?
  • Who cares if it’s hard to edit?
  • Who cares if it’s taking too long to make changes?

Who cares about social media...

  • Who cares how many followers you have?
  • Who cares if someone says something stupid in the comments?
  • Who cares if you get offended?
  • Who cares which platform you use to share content?

Who cares about design...

  • Who cares what font you’re using?
  • Who cares what colors you’ve picked?
  • Who cares if the picture isn’t at the perfect resolution?
  • Who cares if there’s a spelling mistake?
  • Who cares if it says Powered by Squarespace at the bottom?
  • Who cares if it didn’t turn out exactly as you had hoped it would?
  • Who cares what people might say?
  • Who cares if no one likes it?
  • Who cares that someone else came up with the idea first?
  • Who cares it took you 3 months (or 5 years) to write your eBook and people still think it sucks?

Who cares about the software...

  • Who cares if you’re using 1997 Microsoft Word to write your novel?
  • Who cares if your software isn’t the latest version?
  • Who cares if there’s a new software coming out next month you’ll need?
  • Who cares if you don’t have the absolute best?

Who cares about equipment...

  • Who cares which microphone you’re using?
  • Who cares which laptop you’re using?
  • Who cares that it’s the most expensive [thing] out there?
  • Who cares where you bought it?
  • Who cares how cool it looks?

What goes through your brain when you’re stuck? What have I left out on this list?

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