How To Keep On Keeping On When You’re Doing Everything You Can And Nothing’s Happening

snailKnow the feeling? You’re doing all the right things – being consistent, following up with prospects, knocking 72 tasks off your to-do list every day. The pedal’s to the metal, and yet you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

To add insult to injury, it seems as if everyone — everyone! — you talk to is on fire, signing big deals, making partner or being featured in Fast Company.

If you asked him, martial artist Bruce Lee would say: “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

Hmph. Clearly, he doesn’t get it. You don’t have time for a plateau right now. You have people – customers, investors, lenders, partners — breathing down your neck and threatening you with unpleasant consequences. You need to make something happen.

Unfortunately, all you’re going to get from Bruce is an impassive stare and a view of his back as he walks away.

So here’s the answer: if you can’t change your circumstances, you need to change the way you think about the circumstances. (I know, probably not the answer you wanted.)

But humor me: grab a pen and piece of paper, this three-step “Perspective Re-set” will take less than 20 minutes and is guaranteed to rekindle motivation (do it alone or as a team).

1. Make a “Things I’ve (We’ve) Done” list.

You’ve probably noticed that, as a species, humans are predisposed to notice the negative. No matter where we are in life, we tend to focus on how long it’s taking to get “over there,” where we want to go – totally discounting how far we’ve come.

So Step 1 is to acknowledge what you’ve done: the clients you do have, the development progress you have made, the sales/traffic you do have. This helps you regain your equilibrium and reaffirm that you haven’t been doing nothing.

2. Make a “Things I (We) Haven’t Tried Yet” list.

Even though it may feel like you’ve done absolutely everything possible, inevitably there are new angles you haven’t explored, people you haven’t contacted. Making a list of these can actually be encouraging because it helps you see that there are still things that you can do to impact your results.

Then, rather than trying to do them all: choose one that has the highest potential impact.

3. Expand your idea of what’s possible.

It’s easy to view other people’s success and think it was a smooth ride. Not surprisingly, comparing ourselves with others when we’re already feeling inadequate spirals down into negativity and feeling like “it’s never gonna happen.”

The way to nip this in the bud is to cultivate Possibility Thinking – to go beyond the current reality and stretch your belief of what’s possible. How? Jump on Google or Youtube and actively look for examples where people achieved success in the face of great odds or made a serendipitous out-of-nowhere connection.

Most recently, I marveled at the story (posted on Facebook) of Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old high school sophomore who created a a new diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that is 28 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic tests. With it, he won first prize and $100,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, as well as a chance to give a TED talk and meet President Obama at the White House.

This stretches the realm of possibility on multiple levels — with only 15 years of life experience, Jack persevered through 199 rejections from research labs, without a giant team or billions of dollars in resources to make a groundbreaking advancement in medicine.

Immerse your mind with stories and references like this on a regular basis and they will become the new normal.

Working through these three steps will give you a more balanced perspective and stoke your inner fire. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

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