Spending too much time focusing on one small step or on a specific part of a larger project can make you feel stuck in business. I see this in what my clients are experiencing, what happens in my own business, and in other business owners sharing on Stories and Instagram. This laser focus on one detail can go one of two ways. You can either avoid the detail, making it the last hurdle in completing something or you can fixate and obsess over it and spend all of our time focusing on that, so much so that you’re avoiding everything else. If this is something that is affecting you, you might see it come up as a dilemma around making a choice.
Often choosing a platform or a service is when this issue really comes to the forefront in entrepreneurship…
Example: a hypnotherapist who is stuck on which booking app to use
This person is going back and forth. They're investigating Jane App, they're looking at Acuity, they're thinking about maybe Calendly or Mindbody. And what they're doing is they're spending all of their time comparing costs, comparing pros and cons, looking at reviews and checking out other business owners who are using these services and taking demos and watching YouTube videos. They are focused so much on this one little detail of which booking app to use, that they're not looking at any other aspects of their business.
Example: a Facebook ads manager who is wanting to launch a VIP Day but has a lack of focus
They've completed every detail for the new service, except two things, they haven't set a price for it and they haven't told anybody that it actually exists! So that means that it's not actually launched. They might wait for months on account of this focus the stuck-ness on the idea of price. So, by not tackling it, by avoiding it, they're not able to move forward.
What can happen in both of these scenarios is that you lose some of your positive energy or inspiration around an idea as a whole. In the case of our examples, the ads manager might no longer be as excited about their VIP Day, or the hypnotherapist may no longer be as excited about growing their practice.
When you get bogged down in the details, feeling stuck becomes a big obstacle.
And this results in your clients and your audience losing interest in whatever this idea is too.
When too much focus is making you feel stuck, you want to be able to help yourself get past it. In order to process what makes you stuck in business so that you don't hold yourself back for a long time, it’s helpful to examine what you’re feeling and thinking.
You can gradually shorten the amount of time that being stuck in your business is having a hold on you with these strategies.
1. Increase Your Awareness to Solve Feeling Stuck in Business
When you spend too much time and focus on a single task, the idea is to notice when that’s happening and stop it from holding you back. The more practice you get with this kind of introspection, the less this focus will hold you back over time.
Increasing your awareness on learning how to recognize your own personal signs is the start of your journey in solving feelings of being stuck in business.
If you are constantly reaching out to other people for opinions, this may be a sign for you that you have a lack of focus issue.
If you notice which same thing is constantly at the end of your to do list, the one that you put on to the next days to do list again and again and again, that can also be a sign of feeling stuck.
Your personal signs might come in the form of repeated thoughts or phrases, a pattern of emotional reactions, external actions that you take. Maybe you find yourself journalling too much and getting nothing done, avoiding your business, or thinking you need to learn more before moving forward. All of these can be personal signs that alert you to the fact that you’ve gotten stuck or focus has been lost.
It’s going to be so helpful to know your tells, because it’s only when you have awareness that you can begin to make changes.
For me, it's a feeling of guilt of knowing that I could be doing more. Feeling stuck in business shows up the most for me in the area of blogging - which is ironic because you’re reading this in a blog!
I'm a web designer and I have a Wix website that I'm very happy with. I've used it for myself and for my clients. I really like the platform because I have so much flexibility. The one thing that I am not a huge fan of is the blogging aspect.
The blog part of the site designer is very limited in my opinion. I've experimented with different versions of how to create the look of the blog for myself on my site. But it's been about two years now since I've launched the blog and I think I have maybe 12 posts at this point, which is not a lot.
And what has happened there for me over time is that I am so fixated on, “oh well the blog page looks terrible anyways”, that I avoid posting to it even when, in some cases, I have blog post written. I bet if I look through my notes, I'd find 10 blog posts that I never published.
Of course, this isn't serving me (feeling stuck doesn’t always serve our best interests) because the blog post that I've written is doing me a much better service on the actual site than it is sitting in my Notes app.
In my case, I've done all the other things. I've built the whole rest of the website. I have a marketing strategy, I have the blog post written, I have access to photography. There's no obstacle - except I'm not thrilled with how the blog page looks.
Even though I could just be publishing these blog posts regardless of what the page looks like, I've allowed it to hold me back and make me feel stuck. Now, I’m learning to recognize my own personal signs by paying attention to what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling around this. Now that I have more of this awareness, I'm listening to my self-talk so I can reduce the amount of time I stay stuck in this and get moving forward.
2. Overcome Your Lack of Focus in Business by Engaging in Self-Talk
Listen to yourself and identify where the excuses pop up.
Pay attention to the words that you use.
Understand what it is that you’re really saying.
That's the second step here, is noticing yourself talk. Where are the ‘should’s popping up? Where are the excuses coming up? What words do you notice yourself using? And from what you're hearing, when you really listen to what it is that you're saying, you have to ask yourself: “why am I stuck here?” Hearing what your inner voice is telling you is going to help you gather clues that will help you move past the lack of focus and feeling stuck.
The reason that noticing your self-talk is helpful is that it will alert you to which of these two situations you’re experiencing:
1 - You are devoting too much time to one aspect, and it’s keeping you from completing it or moving on.
2 - You are completely avoiding tackling one aspect, and it’s keeping you from taking any action.
Scenario #1: Are You Spending Too Much Time on a Task? Reduce The Space in Your Schedule to Feel Less Stuck
Devoting too much time to one task can keep you stuck. You find yourself circling around the same decision or the same task.
One way this can play out is spending your whole eight hour day focused on this one task. I've heard this from clients in terms of creating landing pages or writing their first Instagram caption. Know that you're not alone with this and give yourself grace. But also start to reduce that time gradually that you're investing. I would encourage you to take breaks. In some cases, try to drastically reduce the amount of time that you're investing on this task.
Start by scheduling it for only half a day if you've been spending all day working on the same task. Put other tasks in that block that you just freed up. Reducing your time spent by even 10% can give you a slight push to get beyond what's feeling stuck and to move over to the other side.
Scenario #2: Are You Avoiding a Task? Make Space in Your Schedule To Help You Focus
On the flip side of that if you aren't devoting any time to it at all. Avoiding spending time on a task can keep you stuck as well. When you find yourself not making progress because you’re putting off doing one part of a task, you may be doing busywork or distracting yourself in some other way. But, you can only work around a decision or a task for so long before it begins to impede your progress.
If you've left this task to last and you've been procrastinating, start including 10 minute blocks in every work day in your schedule to tackle it. Starting small will help you get into the task without getting overwhelmed. I promise, it will gradually start to feel more comfortable. Once you pick up momentum, you'll start to have little quick wins, and that will motivate you to complete the task you’re stuck on and move on to other things.
This is me with my bookkeeping and my accounting FYI, so I'm definitely not immune to both types of stuck-ness!
3. Focus on The Big Picture to Get Unstuck in Your Business
Looking and focusing at the big picture gets you unstuck in your business fast!
Accomplish this by:
a) coming back to your goals if you have them already set, or
b) set some goals so that you can widen your perspective.
This one task you’ve been avoiding or feeling stuck on, is just one piece of the puzzle. Understanding how it fits into the fuller picture of what's happening in your business and in your life is bound to help.
Once you have that greater understanding, you will bring a new perspective to where you’re stuck (dwelling) or where you’ve had a lack of focus (avoiding).
Regardless of if you're avoiding or if you are dwelling, one thing that you can do to get yourself past this hurdle and onto the next thing is to think about what the bare minimum would be to actually get this out into the universe.
A lot of clients talk to me at the very beginning of working together about how they've been avoiding DIYing their website, for example. For those clients even if this is somebody who is going to continue DIYing their website, they're feeling stuck.
Think about what the bare minimum is that you could do to actually get it completed knowing that you can always come back and add detail on to it later.
Example: a photographer feeling stuck on creating two websites for two business projects
The bare minimum here is not two websites, it’s one. With projects this large, it’s overwhelming to tackle two of them at the same time. The bare minimum is to create one website, and even better, a one-page website.
Of course, this photographer won’t want to stay there forever. They’ll soon want to grow and expand from that one-page website and add detail. But getting that one page launched first is going to be the quick win that they need to be able to get past this feeling of being stuck and to see the other side of things.
Whatever it is that you are focused on at the moment, whatever detail is keeping you stuck, think about what you can do that is enough for now.
I know that you want to do things that you feel proud of and that you want to do things well in your business. Making some smaller benchmarks you can accomplish, before tackling that huge goal is going to give you a lot of freedom and flexibility. This will free up some mental space for you to focus and take action and get things accomplished.
4. Visualize How You Can Move Forward From Lack of Focus or Stuckness in Business
This simple visualization exercise can help your unconscious mind prepare to move forward from your feeling stuck on one detail or your refusal to focus on one detail. Find a quiet place where you can connect to your inner self.
Ready? Let’s go!
For this visualization, imagine yourself as a character in a novel or in a play or in a video game.
Start creating that world in your mind by adding color and sound, and then bring your character into focus on the one detail that is causing an issue for you right now in your business.
Notice what kind of visuals come up now. Notice what your character is doing, saying and feeling.
Pay attention to how you’re picturing your character. Are they going in circles? Are they on a journey? Are they surrounded by a fork in the road or new possible paths? What kinds of visual clues can you use to get insight into your situation?
Now, ask yourself what else is going on in the plot.
Next, imagine your character looking off into the distance. How would they feel if they knew the path forward?
Ask your character, what do they truly want? What are their goals? Their dreams, their desires?
Ask your character if they have anything more to share with you.
To bring your visualization to a close, embrace and thank your character and bring your awareness to your breathing, to the rest of your body, and to the rest of your space.
You are capable of overcoming your lack of focus or your feeling stuck in business. All you need is a little increased awareness and more self-talk. Try making space in your schedule to help you focus, or reduce the space a task is taking in your schedule to help you feel less stuck. Then, focus on the big picture and visualize how you can move forward.
When you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be on your way to overcoming this issue quickly so you can move on to more fun parts of your business.