Hit a Roadblock? Here’s How to See it as an Opportunity (and What to do Next)

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As freelancers and entrepreneurs there’s one trait we all share:

A desire to use our natural gifts and talents to make a positive impact in the world.

As creative beings with unlimited potential, that doesn’t seem too much to ask.  Yet, that desire, and the (often different) reality of our experience can be a source of much consternation and general agita.

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As a business coach, I’ve witnessed many creative professionals experience this push/pull in the pursuit of doing work that matters.

I’ve come to believe that in its best form, our business functions as a vehicle for our self-actualization. At its worst, it becomes a tool with which we negatively measure our progress, impact, and success.

So, what’s the difference between a business or career that supports your self-actualization and one that becomes a source of pain?

Roadblocks and how you deal with them.

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Roadblocks, we’ve all hit ‘em. Whether it’s a low-grade fear that you’re wasting your life in the wrong career, to an outright crisis that feels SO bad it can only be character building, roadblocks show you the gap between your hopes and dreams and the reality you’re experiencing.

Now, if you’ve been hanging around with me for a while, you probably know what I’m going to say next:

This is good news people!

Why? Because when you learn how to take roadblocks in your stride, uncover what they can teach you, and change your beliefs and actions as a result, you’re going to win. Every. Single. Time.

No one ever said this was going to be easy, so toughen up buttercup and read on for 3 ways in which you can turn roadblocks into triumphs.

1. Make achieving and maintaining a growth mindset your life’s work

Seriously, I can’t emphasize this enough. Mindset’s where it’s at and a whole big topic I could talk about for days. A growth mindset (which we can all cultivate) is what allows us to lean into things outside our comfort zone and be willing to try, fail, and learn.

These experiences are how we build the resilience we need to overcome roadblocks. A growth mindset is your greatest asset, so how do you get one? I’m glad you asked!

What you can do: Check out this amazing book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck.

2. Identify the roadblock

Working for yourself is awesome in so many ways, but one of the challenges of spending so much time alone is missing the critical perspective we get from interacting with other professionals.

We often can’t see the wood for the trees and fall back on (often erroneous) assumptions, stories and beliefs we picked up from our parents, teachers, society etc. Maybe it’s a belief that your creative brain just doesn’t “do” business, so you don’t even try.

Perhaps you think because you haven’t made money doing a certain thing, you’ll never be able to.  Or maybe you think your career or business has topped out and there’s no place to take it.

Being around people who are willing to challenge those beliefs is critical to overcoming roadblocks.

What you can do: Find your people, online and off. I love What Works for an online community of business owners and Creative Mornings for my in-person fix.

Explore options and see what works for you. Remember, this isn’t about being around people who only agree or identify with you and your challenges, but rather hanging out with people who will challenge you in the most supportive way.

3. Take action

OK, this is where the rubber meets the road. Once you’ve identified the roadblock and uncovered what it had to teach you, it’s time to take action.

Let me give you an example.

In 2008/2009 when the recession struck our industry, the bottom all but fell out of my talent management agency. After a period of abject fear and paralysis, which led me to have many, many conversations with people in my community, the idea for the coaching business I have today was born.

Was I qualified? No.

Did I have any idea about how the coaching industry worked? No.

Did I very nearly throw the idea out because of factors 1 & 2?  Yes, Yes, and Yes!

But I didn’t. I started to look at is as an opportunity for me to learn. From that mindset, I was able to figure out what it was that I needed to learn and who could help me do that.

Ultimately, I joined a 1-year coaching program, showed up, and did the work. And it was A LOT OF WORK.  But here’s the thing. Work, we can all do. It’s the fear that stops us dead in our tracks.

What you can do: From the growth mindset of “What can I learn from this opportunity?” list ALL the things you need to learn and do to take a step forward (not achieve the end goal, just take a step forward!)

Maybe it’s hiring a coach as I did, maybe it’s starting or joining an accountability group or mastermind group. Maybe it’s getting therapy. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do one thing to move forward. Then repeat.

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