Stuck moment: Your motivation has gone missing. It was here just the other day, helping you dig in, think bigger, and high-five with everyone. But now, well, you’re feeling kind of flat about things. Take it or leave it. What does it matter, anyway?
These are the telltale signs of a Deflated Doer — the once-and-future go-getter who needs to get re-stoked. Like most things human, there is more than one path to this point. And how you got there determines how you get unstuck.
To zero in on your deflated moments, take our mini-quiz below to find out what kind of Deflated Doer you tend to be, plus the approach that will best help kick you into gear again. We’ll follow up next week with exercises tailored for each type of Doer.
Think of a time when you lost your motivation for something that you usually enjoy. It helps to have a specific instance in mind. What did you Feel, Think, and Do? Pick one answer from each group. This works best when you answer quickly, following your gut instinct.
What did you Feel when you were unmotivated?
C. Lack of control
What did you Think when you were unmotivated?
A. I’ve done the best I can…
B. Why do people only listen to themselves?
C. I’m not sure any good can come out of this.
D. I don’t know how I can handle all of it.
What did you Do when you were unmotivated?
A. Rewind the situation again and again in your head, looking for fault.
B. Wait for someone to ask your advice on the matter.
C. Quietly go about your business so no one asks how you’re feeling.
D. Start to question if it’s worth the effort.
If you chose mostly A answers, read about Discouraged Doers, below. Mostly B’s, you’re likely a Detached Doer. C’s are Defensive Doers, and D’s are Deluged Doers. If you had a mix of letters, you’re a hybrid, which means you’ll find parts of yourself in all four types.
A. Discouraged Doer. We brim with enthusiasm — it’s one of our most attractive qualities. People want to be near us, know us, and follow our forward drive. But somewhere on the road of progress, there was a wrong turn, and now we’re feeling sidelined and a little confused. We’re not sure what stopped our hopes in their tracks.
You need to see things for what they are so you can turn it around. Goals are great; they getting us moving. But sometimes, if ours aren’t working in concert with the world around us, we get derailed for what seems like no fault of our own. That’s when we need to zoom out and look at the whole picture so we can see our role in it. This helps us adjust our expectations and actions.
B. Detached Doer. We definitely have smarts on our side, with an uncanny ability to see straight through to the solution. Everyone who knows us says so. But what they may not say to our face is that a hint of no-one’s-listening or a smarty-pants attitude can block the camaraderie that is necessary to fully enjoy success. What might have been a ticker tape parade becomes a party for one, dining on pride.
You need to believe that you fit into something bigger than yourself. Sometimes our means of expression (whether our voices are big or small) can unintentionally back us into a corner, isolating us from the meaty stuff everyone else is doing. We may have better ideas, but few are asking. And that’s a shame. If only we were more inviting of others’ ideas, we might learn something and build our fan base.
C. Defensive Doer. We’ve got it under control. Been there, done that, no one has to worry. Too bad our steady-Eddy reliability wears an invisible cloak that deflects the growth that comes from change. Okay, we may never scale new heights, but at least we won’t get hurt trying. So why are we feeling let down?
You need to think in a new way so you can take the good along with the bad. Despite all of our efficiency and know-how, deep down we’re feeling pretty powerless about our situation. Things haven’t exactly panned out — and we’re not all that surprised. But we didn’t expect the sting of disappoint to get through our armor. This is a good time to widen our lens to let in positive possibilities.
D. Deluged Doer. We had a very good plan, maybe even a perfect one. The payoff exceeded the tradeoffs, and we started off with a gung-ho approach. Then it all became too much. Instead of pulling our weight, we’re cowering under the load. Somebody, make it stop, please!
You need to see differently so anticipation doesn’t stop you in your tracks. Being able to see things coming down the road is a talent that keeps us ahead of the game. But when we have too many balls in the air, our vision get muddled, and we tend to shut down. That’s when we’re better off chunking our ambitions into bite-size pieces.
PRINTABLE TIP CARD #20: What kind of Deflated Doer are you?
We all rely on our hip flexor muscles to walk, bend over, climb stairs, and assist with good posture. Problem is, most Americans lead lifestyles that limit hip movements to sitting or standing, so as we grow older, our mobility, flexibility, and balance can be affected. Bottom line: Risk of injury goes up and ability to be active goes down. But you can avoid that with some easy stretching to increase hip flexibility:
1. Lunge forward on left foot.
2. Bend left knee 90 degrees, lowering right knee to the floor.
3. Tilt pelvis forward until you feel mild tension in the right hip. Return to standing position.
4. Repeat on opposite side.
Thanks to REFIT® for this tip. REFIT is a community-centered fitness program that engages the heart as a muscle and a soul. Learn more about this revolutionary fitness community at www.REFITREV.com
A study by two German universities found that Facebook brings out the green-eyed monster in many of us. One in three felt worse after using the social network. Those who browsed but didn’t post anything were most affected. The primary culprit: Other people’s vacation photos. Many also felt bad about themselves when they saw the number of Likes or birthday greetings they got in comparison with others. (You can read the study’s abstract here.)
If you check your Facebook account automatically or often, you may want to start considering your frame of mind before logging in.
Learn more about the dangers of comparison.
You’ve got an idea that you’re all fired up about. This is it! you think. The answer I’ve been looking for. But you’re stalling for some reason. And that’s not like you. Until you discover what’s at the core of your hesitation, you may get caught in a start-stop cycle.
Unstuck’s “Tell Me Why” tool can help you get to the bottom of it by deliberately drilling past the first excuse, er, reason. If you’re on your iPad, click to go directly to the tool. Or download the free Unstuck iPad app here.
Stuck moment: It’s Valentine’s Day again, and it seems like everyone’s off on a rendezvous for two — except moi. Is there something wrong with me?
When Valentine’s Day comes around, it’s all too easy to shift our focus from what we have to what we don’t. That’s when it helps to remember that a romantic relationship is only one of many important connections in our lives. Our friends, our family — people who’ve been there, understand us, and respect us — are just as vital. Maybe even more so: research shows that social isolation is as bad for your health as obesity, alcoholism or a chain-smoking habit.
Besides cutting in half our mortality risk, our pals are also there to comfort us, inspire us, support us, engage us. They nurture our goals and our sense of self. And when we nurture them in return, when we put the emphasis on being truly giving by sharing the best of ourselves in a steady supply, our lives feel richer and more meaningful.
So when you really think about it, friends are basically a magic elixir with the potential to make everything in life better. Consider these year-round life-enhancing benefits:
• Great relationships supply confidence, moral support, and drive. They help bring dreams into bloom — just ask anyone who’s made an Academy Award acceptance speech.
• Friends also challenge you, which sharpens your mind, sparks creativity, and expands horizons.
• And your dear ones can improve your health. A strong social circle helps you fight cancer, beat depression and anxiety, maintain good habits, and lengthen your life. Neuroscience proves it, and so does psychology.
We don’t need a lot of friends — just a quality few who really get us. Here’s how to keep them even closer and show we care:
Flex your friendship muscles
It all comes down to everyday habits that make the people you care about feel valued. Here are some examples of big and small actions that reinforce bonds.
• Be the friend you’d want someone to be to you. Yes, it’s the golden rule we learned in childhood, but as busy adults, it’s easy to overlook. In short, be someone to count on. Be on time. Keep your promises. Keep secrets. Don’t gossip. Be loyal.
• Great relationships are built on listening. Focus your body language to show that you’re paying attention (make eye contact, nod occasionally, put your phone down, turn toward your friend and lean forward a bit). Listen actively by asking questions, or repeating key phrases or ideas back. And, if someone’s venting, ask, “Do you want advice or do you want support?”
• Be a cheerleader, but not a Pollyanna who simply agrees. Being supportive means keeping your friends grounded as well as offering encouraging words.
• Create special rituals. Could be a monthly poker game, a fantasy football club, a weekly phone call, or a standing date to check out the newest restaurant.
• Introduce people in your life to each other, but be thoughtful about how you mix and match. Just because two people are close to you, doesn’t mean they’ll be crazy about each other.
• Stay in touch just because. We’re all prone to forgetting to reach out except in times of crisis or to arrange plans. But there’s nothing so lovely as an email or phone call just to say hello and ask what’s up.
• Be generous — with your time, bar tabs, a sympathetic ear — but in a way that’s reasonable and sensitive. No one likes to feel like a charity case.
• Say you’re sorry when you really mean it. If you don’t feel sorry about something that happened, talk it out.
• Admit mixed feelings. For example, if your best friend’s engagement is triggering insecurities about the state of your own love life, share that. Someone who truly cares about you will be sympathetic and sensitive, and you’ll prevent invisible barriers you might otherwise build to self-protect.
• Be mindful of triggers, blind spots, and potential minefields. When we know people well, we know what works their nerves — and how to avoid it.
• Sometimes we forget to tell people how much they mean to us. Use a birthday or a trip together as an excuse to put into words the feelings in your heart.
• Remember that people don’t express themselves in the same ways. Your sister may show she cares by loading you with advice. An old friend might do it best by always being available when you get an itch for an adventure. Take the people who matter to you for who they are, and don’t ask them to be someone they’re not.
Sometimes, it’s complicated
We all have relationships that are difficult but still meaningful. You may have grown apart from a person you were once super close to, but still care for dearly. Then, there are friends or family who are wonderful in so many ways, but your totally different takes on religion or politics can be tinder to a fire. Positivity is the trick to keeping these relationships healthy.
• Reserve judgment, even in your head. When you give someone a negative label — “he’s a snob,” “she’s a drama queen” — it colors your conversations, your body language, and your sense of empathy. Focus on the good stuff that made you friends in the first place.
• Steer your interactions to common ground and values you both share.
• Know when not to take it personally. As human beings with minds of our own, we’re bound to come at cross-purposes sometimes. So unless someone’s words and actions were aimed to wound, it helps to shrug off the small stuff.
• On the flip side, know and respect each others’ boundaries. If a boundary gets crossed, step up and have a conversation. Otherwise, your hurt will fester.
• Sometimes a great relationship becomes difficult when someone’s going through a rough patch — but it’s worth it to try to stick it through. Accentuate the good times, and try to recapture them. Rekindle old rituals. Offer mood and confidence boosters like compliments or a funny story. And, if you can, offer resources to help get past it.
The online/offline balancing act
So much of our social interaction these days happens online. Think of it as a way to reinforce, not replace, human interactions and you’ll be golden.
• When as much as 93% of communication is non-verbal (body language, vocal tone, gestures), a lot can be lost in cold hard text. Add an emoticon or exclamation point to make sure your words are taken in the right spirit.
• Tailor your Facebook feed by following the friends whose updates are most important to you. And if you’re sick of political rants or endless vacation photos from someone, you don’t have to unfriend. Just unfollow.
• Don’t assume that someone sees your posts or tweets about events in your life. If it’s important, reach out the old-fashioned way.
• Sending a thoughtful or funny e-card tells friends that they’re a priority in your life. Try these Unstuck Gratitude Cards. Some E-Cards or Koco E-Cards also have wonderful options, or you can make your own at Card Karma.
• Don’t let replies linger. You know those emails that you’ve been meaning to respond to when you have the time to write a proper update. Often enough, that turns out to be, um, never. So send a quick, immediate response, and then your friends won’t be left wondering if you’ve forgotten them.
• Remember that you can respond offline. A good friend you don’t often see posted news she had a baby? Your old college roommate sounds depressed in his tweets? Or a cousin just quit her day job to found a start-up? Pick up the phone to share your excitement, your moral support, or advice. The conversation will keep your connection strong and give both of you a positive buzz.
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