I had the life that seemed like it was plucked right out of a movie script. I worked for the magazine I fantasized about growing up. My days were filled with previews of clothes that weren’t in stores yet, interviews with designers who were so creative it made my head hurt, and editors who started as coworkers and turned into some of my closest friends. I had the dream job. Until I didn’t.
After I licked my wounds from an agonizing layoff, I begrudgingly stepped back into the freelance world. Then I took a job I had no business taking ‘cause I thought the money was worth more than my integrity (another post for another day). Only to get fired days before I planned to quit.
Once the dust settled, I traveled to Dallas on what was supposed to be an escape to normalcy after a whirlwind first half of the year. And I discovered something: I was stuck. I didn’t want to go back to magazines—I’d already had the “dream job.” Deep inside, I wanted to start my own business, but over the years got so good at talking myself out of it that it now felt like an afterthought.
I needed to move forward with my life. It was time to turn the proverbial page. But I also was aware that I stood no chance as an entrepreneur if I didn’t get real with why I felt so damned “stuck” in the first place. And since I’m certain I’m not alone, I reflected on what I did to redesign the trajectory of my life.
Click through for five game-changing tips to jumpstart your journey toward your goals.
1) Check in with yourself
If you’re anything like me, the initial impulse is to go straight into solution mode when you’re feeling stuck. But resist that temptation. Instead, ask yourself three simple questions: How did I get here?, How does my current circumstance make me feel?, and What do I want my life to look like in 30 to 90 days?
During my own self-audit, I realized that fear was the source of my paralysis. And once I went deeper, it was the unknown that came with pivoting away from my dream career to one that created for myself was terrifying. The lesson? Once you zero in on what’s holding you back, chances are you’ll also find your source of liberation not too far behind.
2) Get a second opinion
Let’s face it: There’s no use in building a network of colleagues, mentors, family, and friends if the only time you reach out to them is when your life is a Chanel-filled paradise. You can’t fool the people who have seen you at your highest and lowest, so why bother trying? Those who know you the most intimately can often remind you of who you are at your best and then offer valuable wisdom on how to take the first step forward to your next possibility. For example, when I dove into entrepreneurship, I sourced advice from confidantes who revealed blind spots that helped me strengthen my business plan. Plus, there’s nothing like encouragement from people who believe in you the most to give you that nudge in the right direction.
3) Let your tribe support you
A speaker once shared with me four words that transformed my life: Independence is an illusion. Let that sink in for a fifteen seconds. No matter how educated and tech-savvy you are, the reality is any shift you make in any area of your life will require be as successful as the amount of help you allow from your crew. After all, you don’t get any bonus points going at it alone. And you’ll be surprised at how many people are interested in seeing you win. It may be their contact, resources, or expertise that pushes you over what you once thought was an unconquerable hump.
4) Think about what you're good at
There will always be reasons why you think you can’t do something. And they often include the usual suspects: you don’t have enough time, money, or a team to fulfill your vision. But on the flip side, I’ll bet there are far more reasons why you’ll kick ass than the ones I just mentioned. Want a secret? Focus on your winning qualities.
Confession: I don’t know much about a Series A round of funding. But I do know a thing or twenty about branding and personal style. So I amplify my strengths publicly, while sharpening my perceived weaknesses privately. And spoiler alert: That tribe I mentioned in the last section? Mine includes a start-up business owner who knows the ins and outs of venture capital and is schooling me pro bono. Like I said, people want to see you win.
5) Just do it
I’ve dreamed about owning and building a business for years. But it wasn’t until I started translating my vision into action when I started to make progress. But there’s a caveat: Execute with intention. You can’t get back the time you invest in your life, career, or business, so make it count. Instead of adding a business card you got from last week’s networking happy hour to the dusty pile on your desk, schedule a follow-up coffee meeting with your new connection. If you’ve been sitting on idea for months, write the brand’s mission statement over the next few days. And be sure to track your progress so you can reference how far you’ve come the next time you’re doubting yourself. In the process, what will become clear is that even if you “fail,” you’ll be doing it forward. And I’m sure you’ll take that over being stuck any day.