What to Do When You Hit the Wall

Have you ever noticed that sometimes in life you just seem to hit a wall (ouch!)? It might be associated with your work, a creative project or maybe just an everyday task like what to make for dinner. (Why is that last one so tough sometimes?)

You know the feeling. You’ve run out of steam. You have no new ideas. You just want to give up and hide under the covers.

What can you do on those days – or weeks – when you feel like you’ve lost your mojo?

I had one of these “hit the wall” moments recently in regard to my business. We offered a free online workshop where we had three dozen people signed up in advance – yet only one person showed up. We’d had some technical difficulties, so we decided to offer the workshop again the following week using a different service. We apologized, we spread the word about the re-do and we even had a few additional sign-ups.

When it was time to do the workshop live – we had two people.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very thankful for the three people who participated and they did seem to enjoy and learn from the workshops.

But we were trying to build a clientele for an upcoming paid course by giving them a sampling of our work. Without an engaged audience, the course just didn’t get off the ground.

My business coach was very helpful and told me that we’d learned valuable information about what our community does – and doesn’t – want from us. She helped me with some excellent suggestions for moving forward.

Still, I was bummed. I didn’t start putting the ideas into action right away because I still felt disappointed and overwhelmed by the notion of having to start again. I’d hit a wall.

How did I move past that feeling of failure and stuck-ness?

Here are some of the tools I used. I offer them in hope that they’ll help you when you feel like you’ve hit the proverbial wall – whether in your work, in a relationship, a project or any other area of life.

Feel it fully and let it go. Often we try to move on too quickly. We want to be done with the “hide under the covers” phase and get back on track. We put on a false smile and get back to it. Your emotions are there for a reason, though. They provide guidance about your direction. When you allow yourself to really feel what’s moving through you, often you’ll receive more clues that will help you move on. In my case, I discovered that I felt out of balance. I felt like through the free offerings we’d been doing over the past few months, I’d been giving and giving without receiving anything in return.

Take a break. Depending on your situation you might be able to give yourself some time off from that stuck place. You can put down your creative project for a while, or work on a different one. You could order takeout instead of trying to figure out a meal that everyone in the household will enjoy. Even if you can’t really take a full rest, such as when you’re working under a deadline, you can probably at least take a few minutes to go wash your face or step outside for some fresh air.

Talk with a friend. Find someone you trust who will let you vent about what’s going on. Make it clear that you’re not really looking for solutions at this point. You just want a listener who will provide some tea and sympathy. Surround yourself with friends who “get it.” You know who they are. If you’re too shy to share your dilemma with anyone, write about it in your journal. Just getting it out onto the paper will help you feel better.

Embrace healthy distractions. Get some perspective on your stuck place by distracting yourself from it for a while, on your time off. Read a juicy novel, go for a walk by the water or take a long bubble bath by candlelight. Avoid self-medicating with things like alcohol or overeating, but do give yourself something that you consider a treat. Getting a massage is always a good option! I dove into a 600-page fantasy novel – I’m a bookworm, what can I say?

Get some support. When things don’t work we often try to figure out our next steps alone. Or we ask a friend who might not know quite what we’re facing. Get yourself some support that’s tailored to your situation. In my case, I had my business coach and a tribe of fellow entrepreneurs to give me feedback (and empathize because they’d been there, too). If you’re working on a challenging relationship issue, reach out to a counselor. If it’s a matter of getting burnt out on household tasks while working and parenting, hire a cleaning service to come in once a week. If it’s a health issue, get a second opinion or add some alternative therapies to your regular health care regime. If you’re confused about your life’s purpose, reach out to a life coach or get a Tarot reading. You get the idea.

It’s key to know that once in a while you’re going to run into that wall. It happens to all of us.

Even though it might feel like it at the times, you won’t lie there crumpled on the ground forever. Things always change. When you can shift your energies, gently and slowly, while being kind to yourself you’ll make your recovery easier.

Next time you might even see the wall coming and slow yourself down before you collide.

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