Get Past Your Block
Get Past Your Block
Written by Nathan Redelfs
Nothing brings productivity to a halt like a mental block. Hitting a rut while on the job is frustrating, and can lead to issues in both your professional and personal life. Don’t fret, it’s normal to hit mental blocks, especially when working on larger projects. Understanding how the mind creates mental blocks and finding ways to overcome it will help productivity stay on track.
Getting Over Yourself
Everybody has an ego. It’s often used in a negative context to refer to someone who is full of themselves. In reality, the ego is the part of the brain that uses logic and reasoning, but is also responsible for keeping you safe and happy. The ego is a fickle ally. It plays a huge role in personal confidence, and can be a mental ally when dealing with the stress of business ownership. It can also be your greatest obstacle. The need for self preservation extends beyond the physical. Your ego will attempt to protect you from socially embarrassing or detrimental situations, going so far as to lie to you to protect your pride.
Mental blocks can accentuate problems, making small issues monumental. Your ego erodes self confidence, creating bigger problems in your professional world, leading to mistakes, poor quality, or inefficient work.
Problems in your professional life often extend into your personal life. It’s not a surprise that family and friends suffer collateral damage as a result of professional hardship.
The key to dealing with mental blocks is two-fold. First is a matter of perspective. Second is finding ways to work around the block.
Step One: Find the Big Picture
Problems tend to feel much bigger when dealing with them, like a head-height brick wall blocking a path. The closer you are to it, the bigger it seems.
Step out of yourself, and imagine you’re talking to another business owner with the same problem and obstacle. What advice would you give him or her? What insight could you impart based on your experience, knowledge, and wisdom? Sometimes this is enough to get you past the issue.
Keep Reading Below
Ask for help
If you’re working as part of a team, ask for a second opinion. Call an industry mentor or reach out for help on the forums. Clearly outline the issue and see if a fresh perspective can help you get past the block. Firas Kittaneh, guest writer at Entrepreneur suggests,
“If you have thought backwards, forwards and all around your mental block to no avail, take to the Internet and research how other people have approached the issues you are trying to solve. Break down what makes their ideas work, gain inspiration from their theories, then slowly create your own ways of doing things or understanding different concepts.”
The exterior cleaning industry has a plethora of support groups, and your problem has likely been encountered before. No need to reinvent the wheel - take advantage of someone else’s experiences and tackle your problem head on.
Step Two: To the Present Be True
Have you heard the saying, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called ‘present.’?” I first heard this quote in Kung Fu Panda, but it’s been around for awhile. The important part to understand is the truth of the words. It’s very easy to get down about yourself by focusing on either the past - history - or the future - mystery - more than the present.
We’ve all had jobs that just don’t go as planned. Any number of issues arise and a project that should’ve taken a half day ends up being a huge ordeal. When dealing with the job, it’s easy to focus on the negatives.
Hitting a rut while working on a big project creates two common pitfalls.
- Focusing too much on the past. This pitfall exploits your “why did I ever…” feelings by praying on your insecurities. The ego acts as a guardian, so to speak. It attempts to control you id to prevent physical or social pain. When uncontrolled, the result tends to be negative. “Why did I think I could do this job? I was never good enough to do this job. The customers shouldn’t have trusted me.” This pitfall also reminds you of any cost associated with the current situation. “If this job doesn’t work out, I’ve invested x amount of money and time. What a huge loss.” Both of these lines of thought don’t help to complete the task at hand. The past can’t be changed. The ego reminds you of perceived failures in an attempt to prevent future pain. You can either allow it to affect your present or you can learn from it.
- Focusing too much on the future. The pitfall of focusing on the future leads to an incredibly negative outlook. It’s easy to become distracted by the “what ifs.” “What if this fix doesn’t work? What if I can’t get this sealer up? What if I can’t finish the job?” The “what ifs” are infinite. Focusing on all the possible negative outcomes does nothing to fix the current problem. It only causes you to worry about future problems. The future could have any number of positive outcomes, but it can be difficult to see while dealing with issues on a job.
Rather than living in the past or future, focus on the task at hand. The old adage of “cross that bridge when you come to it” rings true. A difficult task is made harder by worrying about the past and the present.
Tackle the small stuff
If you’re on a large project with multiple tasks, try tackling some of the smaller work first. It helps break the mentality of feeling stuck. Focus on accomplishing one or two smaller tasks, then return to the problem and keep working.
Focus on the now
If you’re working on a project and can’t work on anything else until it’s done, focus on the individual steps you have to take. If you’re troubleshooting, don’t worry about the “what ifs.” Focus on the process at hand, then move on to the next if it doesn’t work.
Change your environment
Sometimes simply getting away from the problem for a little bit helps clear your mind. If you can, go on to another project, or head back to your shop and work on some organization. Sometimes leaving the job isn’t an option, but if it is, a change of environment can help you focus and find a solution to your problem.
Whatever your block is, try not to become disheartened. Mental blocks are a nightmare for many professionals, but taking a step back and finding ways to refocus will help you tackle problems large and small.