lion-588144_640Earlier this week I hit a wall. It’s the kind of wall that doesn’t really need to be in my way, and the kind of wall that frustrates me and puts me in a bad mood. When the wall appears, I just feel . . . stuck.

This is a feeling I’ve become somewhat familiar with, but something I’m learning to work through little by little.  I think many of us feel stuck at one point or another. In fact, I know this to be true because the other day I heard of a name for this exact kind of stuck. Lion syndrome.

What a peculiar name, right? But here’s the thing about lions. When they are being “tamed” say, in a circus, their tamer usually holds a whip and a chair. It turns out, the lion is subdued not by the whip, or the fierce man in a silly hat and coat, but rather by the chair! What?! You see, a lion perceives each of the 4 chair legs to be a separate threat, which divides the lion’s attention and confuses him. The lion can’t decide which threat to address first, so he backs down . . . it’s submission by overwhelm.

As it turns out, people experience submission by overwhelm too. And, in the fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in, the demands and distractions that pull our attention are endless. With so much to do, so many options, and so much going on, it is easy to say “screw it” and spend the day binge watching Netflix.

So what’s a person to do about it? How can we avoid feeling overwhelmed and stuck, and instead learn to focus, get things done, and reach our goals? The five steps below are strategies that I’m finding helpful, and, in my opinion, an excellent place to start!

  1. Just get started. It’s really easy to overthink things, and while I’m certainly not saying that reaching your goals doesn’t take thought or planning, sometimes the best thing to do is to stop thinking so much and start doing! As Mark Twain said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
  2. Don’t worry about being perfect, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Whether we like it or not, fear is often a big player in not moving forward with our goals. That may be fear of messing up, failing, being judged, etc. Instead of worrying, practice believing in your ability to be creative, adaptive, and resilient. There is no perfect path, and things don’t always go smoothly. Instead of being absolutely sure things will work out well before you start, focus on your ability to overcome new challenges as they arise.
  3. Make (to-do) lists.  I say “lists” because it can be helpful to have more than one. At the very minimum, having a to-do list for each day is essential. Know what you need to do, how you’ll do it, when you’ll do it, and how long it will take. Write your list for each day the night before or morning of, and be realistic as to how much you can fit into your day. Include at least one task that will move you closer to your biggest, most important goal. It may also be helpful to create other lists, like grocery or menu planning lists, to-do lists for the week or month, goal lists for the year, etc. Bottom line? Writing things down gets the info out of your head where it may be distracting, and allows you to focus more clearly on your ideas and essential tasks in the present.
  4. Minimize distractions. Block out time, whether it’s an hour each day or each week, to find a quiet space for yourself, turn off your phone, log out of your email and social media, and focus on completing the most important task(s) for your current goal.
  5. To quote one of my mentors, Jill of JillFit Physiques, “know you can do everything you want, just not everything all at once.” That is, focus on one important goal at a time, but rest assured that you can and will reach all of your goals!

If there is one thing I hope for you moving forward, it’s that you are able to approach this life with the spirit of a wild lion . . . that is, with great prowess, great hair, a confident roar! By focusing on each challenge, demand, or goal one at a time, nothing can stop you!

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