"How to Get Unstuck – 6 Cures for Anxiety"

by Ali Brown

Last week, I introduced a very valuable way to think about where you get stuck from the perspective of creativity coach Eric Maisel. Maisel outlines 6 stages of a project and why anxiety creeps in at each one. If you missed last week’s article, catch up here.

This week, I’ll discuss what’s needed at each of these points of paralysis. My suggestions are based on Maisel’s recommendations and the hard lessons I’ve learned when I’ve hit these impasses myself.

Stage 1: Wishing - if you’re stuck in daydreaming mode but can’t get your feet on the ground, you’re suffering from Hungry Mind, according to Maisel.

Rx: Feed your hungry mind. Ask yourself what you need to nurture your project so you feel you can move beyond this visualization stage.

Action Items: Take a course, hire a life coach, and attend a networking event to meet people who are doing what you want to do.

Stage 2: Choosing - if you’re stuck here, you’ve probably got 5 different projects in your head and are waiting for the right one to call out to you. Maisel calls this Confused Mind.

Rx: Ask yourself what choices you need to make right here and now.

Action Items: Think about your immediate priorities -- is it to get an income in FAST, or feed your creativity? Be honest about what your deep needs really are, because it makes the rest of these stages much easier to stick to!

Stage 3: Starting - This is the very frightening stage of being stuck with a blank “canvas”, and Maisel says anyone stuck here is overcome with Weakened Mind.

Rx: What’s needed is appropriate strength, and if you ask me, strength comes in small, bite-sized packages.

Action Items: Break your big project into tiny baby steps -- don’t say you’ll write for an hour, say you’ll write for 5 minutes. Don’t say you’ll cold call 10 prospects, contact 1 old work friend and chat them up about your business.

Stage 4: Working - This is for the all-over-the-place worker, in other words, Chaotic Mind.

Rx: The elixir here is Appropriate Order, according to Maisel.

Action Items: Hire a personal assistant to take those redundant to-dos off your plate. Set up a proper workspace if you haven’t already done so. Tell your family that you are NOT available from the hours of 7-9am. Create space and create order for your work.


Stage 5: Completing - This is for the stubborn Critical Mind, never happy with their project and literally unable to stop working on it—even after they’re DONE.

Rx: Maisel suggests Appropriate Appraising by asking 2 questions. 1) What criteria do I need to develop in order to assess my work objectively, and 2) Can I consult someone or something?

Action Items: This could be as simple as an outline of your project with strikethroughs on it to make you SEE that you’ve completed the stages of your project (even though it might not feel like it). If you’ve written a first draft, hire an editor to suggest content edits.


Stage 6: Showing - According to Maisel, if the thought of showing your project paralyzes you, it could be that you’re suffering from Shy Mind or Attached Mind.

Rx: Shy Mind is cured with Appropriate Performing. And practicing Appropriate Detaching can cure Attached Mind.

Action Items:  Sign up for a public speaking class, or post your blog on a ghost site, just to feel the thrill of clicking the “publish” button. For Attached Mind, remember that you are not your business. Once I yank my ego out of my business decisions, it’s easier for me to admit when I need help and what I need to do next.

Remember, anxiety experts all agree that erasing fear isn’t the solution. The only thing you can do is to learn to live with the fear. As the saying goes, feel the fear and do it anyway. What you learn by taking action in spite of fear is that you can always deal with what happens next.

© 2010 Ali International, LLC
Self-made entrepreneur and Inc. 500-ranked CEO Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE weekly articles and advice at www.AliBrown.com.

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