How to Overcome Stagnation: 7 Steps I Took
So in 2016, I really pushed myself beyond what I perceived to be my limits. I started blogging in 2014, but for the first time, this year, I overcame stagnation and gained the momentum needed to do it well and to do it consistently. I also did freelance website work, and took an evening class, ALL while juggling a full-time 9-5.
When I look back, I now see that my lack of momentum was due to a lack of confidence in myself and in my abilities. I’d look at all these people via social media who seemed to be successfully running businesses via the web and I would end up feeling intimidated by their progress, like it was too far-fetched for me. Because of that, I wasted time looking for validation outside of myself via other people who I’d share my aspirations with, hoping they’d give me the boost I needed. Of course that never happened, and my conversations with others around me often left me feeling more discouraged. I ended up feeling insufficient and stagnant for a while, which is why I put in minimal effort.
Here are the 7 actions that I took in 2016 that helped me to finally overcome my stagnation and my “lukewarm” pursuit of my dreams once and for all. You can watch me talk about it in video or read it below!
1. I took an honest assessment of my skills
I faced the reality that I had to crawl before I could walk with my content creation and web design skills. My content definitely wasn’t the best when I started, but I knew I was getting better at it. However, it wasn’t until I took a real life assessment of where I stood with my web design skills that I really started to grow. I realized that even though I had taken a course in web design already, I still had certain skills that I needed to improve in order for me to do the best work possible.
2. I invested in myself
After feeling like I wasn’t learning anything new or growing by continuing to do the same day job day after day, working in sales for four years, I decided I needed to continue investing in myself by completing a Visual Design course at General Assembly. I was nervous about the cost of it for sure, as I’d recently finished my Web Design course in May of 2015, but I knew design was the area I wanted to become stronger in. So I looked at it as an investment. My design work looked vastly better than before after taking that course and it was very helpful in overcoming stagnation, so it was SO worth it.
3. I pushed myself beyond my limits
Since the Visual Design class was so pricey, I went in with a determined mindset and I literally only missed one class out of the full 8 weeks, due to being sick, and I completed every homework assignment. This meant that I was working almost every day of the week. And on top of that, I had two freelance websites to work on during that same timeframe, so life was HECTIC. I got in the habit of going to class on Monday and Wednesday nights and doing work on Tuesdays and Thursdays and weekends. This was the most work I’d ever done while maintaining a full time 9-5, but doing it successfully allowed me to see that I had been selling myself short all along by not pushing myself.
4. I changed my mindset
I do not know anyone personally who already has a very successful business via the web, so stumbling upon podcasts was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Podcasts and webinars served as the encouragement and sort of virtual mentors that I had been looking for. While I knew that there were people out there doing what I wanted to do, not seeing it around me and not having any support wasn’t encouraging.
However, being able to hear the stories, lessons, and advice from successful entrepreneurs and bloggers was so helpful! It made me realize that I wasn’t very different from those who were already successful after all. I started thinking things like, “if they can do it, I can do it” and “finally, people who think like me.” I no longer allowed that social media highlight reel to disillusionize myself from the fact that despite the pretty outcomes that people post, we’re all on a journey with ups and downs and we’re all simply getting better as we go.
5. I made a decision because being indecisive is a decision to stay stagnant
After I finally figured out that it wasn’t too far-fetched to want to achieve my goals of having a business online and entrepreneurship, I just had to decide that I would work towards it and KEEP working towards it until the results came. Once I made a decision to try, I made a decision to not give up.
6. I stopped looking for validation outside of myself
I am so happy to say that now, at the end of 2016, I am so much more confident in myself and what I’m capable of and it’s simply because I stopped looking for validation. I no longer allowed myself to make excuses as to why I couldn’t do something and this was crucial for overcoming stagnation. I have had people question me and what I’m doing and I’ve learned the art of responding gracefully (and vaguely…don’t need to explain too much to the doubters). I am now very certain that my worth and confidence comes from within and from God.
7. I just DID THE WORK
It hasn’t been pretty by any means. I have many late nights, which I don’t say to sound cute or trendy, but that’s what it takes sometimes when you’re working full time. I have had many tired days where my energy was low and coffee consumption was high because of working so much. But without the work, nothing will happen. I know no one will do it for me, so it is what it is.
After this year, I’m finally comfortable with my JOURNEY. I used to think that there was this euphoric promised land of eternal happiness waiting for me whenever I made it big as an entrepreneur/blogger. But in 2016, I learned to find the good in right now. I may not be where I want to be, ultimately, but I’m still in a very blessed place. I have a day job that isn’t very demanding, so I never have to take work home or stay at work late. I didn’t always have this. I’m at a stable company where I don’t have to worry about layoffs. I didn’t always have that either. I’m able to take trips here and there, pay all my bills and have a little left over, buy the food I want to buy. I’m healthy and I have my family. It’s not a bad place to be at all.
I even enjoy watching myself grow and progress, as I continue to improve my skills. The journey is necessary because you get to watch yourself evolve. You get to see your confidence grow and you get to have accomplishments that you are proud to look back on because you remember the hours you put into it. When things come easy for you and you skip the journey, you also miss out on all the learning and lessons that come with it.
I want my focus for 2017 to be on more fun and more stillness and inner peace. This year was intense, and while I did some fun things, I didn’t necessarily make fun or peace of mind a priority as often as I should have. It was constantly go, go go. I want to start making time for yoga again, keep my mind fed with inspirational reading and messages, and just relish more in simple things that I enjoy like cooking, trying a new restaurant, riding bikes on the beltline, etc.
What did you learn about yourself in 2016? How will it affect your growth in 2017? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!