When It Feels Like You're Getting Nowhere, Remember This

I keep thinking, building a business is like a really big jigsaw puzzle. I used to love doing those puzzles, sitting at the kitchen table or alongside my Gran Gran (that's what we called my grandma on my dad's side) if we were staying with her after school.

On the front of the box there's this beautiful image of what it will look like when it's all put together. That's your dream. It's the thing that drives you. The thing that guides you. The thing that you return to again and again in the hardest of moments. The North Star. The constant. 

That image is why you started out on this road in the first place. An image arose inside you. A vision for your life. And even if there wasn't a fully formed image at first, there was a feeling. A flutter in your heart or a whisper of something magical floating into your awareness. And that feeling? Well, it carried a distinct flavour of...aliveness.

For me it was always wide open space. Freedom. Expansion. The space to be all of who I was. To live life according to my own rules. To create it all in perfect harmony with what mattered most to me. And in my image there were always dusty hiking trails, mountains, forests, the smell of pine, pristine lakes and playdates with friends. Adventure, upon adventure, upon adventure.

But no matter how much you love a good jigsaw puzzle and no matter how driven you are by that beautiful image on the front of the box, there are always going to be moments when you want to swipe your arm right across the table, flip those jigsaw pieces into chaos across the kitchen floor and call it a day.

Because no matter how magical the dream, we all have difficult moments, difficult days, difficult weeks and yes, sometimes, difficult years that never seem to end.

  • Moments when none of the pieces staring up at you from the table make any sense.
  • Moments when none of the pieces you pick up seem to fit.
  • Moments when you look down at those pieces and feel nothing but overwhelm.
  • Moments when you feel like you wish you'd never started the damn jigsaw at all.
  • Moments when you begin to wonder whether a different jigsaw puzzle might be better.

But in those moments, here's what I want you to know and remember:

This moment is always only this moment. Don't get caught in the trap of believing whatever thoughts pass through your headspace. Don't give it all more weight or attention than it deserves. Your experience is never more than a reflection of your moment by moment thinking and not a reflection of how things actually are. So you can sit back, relax, and let the storm pass through. It always will. And that's a guarantee. 

Chilling out brings fresh thinking. When you're struggling, in overwhelm, or feel like you're surrounded by nothing but problems it's tempting to sit, to ruminate and to try really hard to figure it all out. Repeatedly, experience shows me that this is not the route out of the maze. As counter intuitive as it often feels, the very best thing you can do is take a break, switch it up completely and do something entirely unrelated to what you're working on. When the mind relaxes, fresh thinking bubbles up, perfect ideas drop in from nowhere, and you begin to wonder what the big deal was.

You're never alone. If you're anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time working alone on your business and so when things get tough, it can feel like you're in it solo. But you're not. Not ever. There are people out here on your side. Friends who can offer a quick pick-me-up. Fellow entrepreneurs who can remind you how much you've already achieved and point you back to that big, beautiful vision you're working towards. There's always someone on your side in this journey and you're never alone. Don't be afraid to seek out your people and ask for support when you need it. We all need it at times.

The frustration and overwhelm are part of the process. It can look to us that the tough moments, the frustration and the overwhelm are a waste of time and something to be overcome as quickly as possible. But I keep seeing how the frustration is part of the process, it just doesn't often look that way. In your frustration, things are sorting themselves out beneath the surface. Things are sinking in deeper. Seeds are growing. What would it be like to trust that everything in your experience is taking you in the right direction, even when it feels like anything but?

Because my dear, my courageous one, here's the truth:

Every single masterpiece that ever came into existence was created in exactly the same way: One single step at a time.

One jigsaw puzzle piece.
One brushstroke.
One blog post.
One word of the book.
One conversation.
One video.
One sale.

So no matter how confusing or overwhelming it feels sometimes, just keep picking up the next piece, because I promise it's taking you one step closer to the vision on the front of your jigsaw puzzle box.

Love and courage,