Frustrated woman with glasses pushed up her forehead asking what do I do when I'm feeling stuck?

One of the most popular questions I get is, “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?”

It’s a question based on motivation. The question really being asked is, “How do I overcome my lack of motivation?”

I get it.

I struggle with motivation too.

Honestly, if I worked out when I was motivated, I’d work out maybe twice a week. More than likely, once. (Or none at all!)

Motivation, outside of the beginning thrust on a new and exciting project, is largely useless in personal development.

Instead, we need to rely on discipline. Building a life of discipline is simple (not necessarily easy), but it is rewarding.

Here are three ways to build a life of discipline:

1.) Create clear and compelling goals

As I’ve written about before, clear and compelling goals are the greatest asset you have to overcome the lack of motivation.

Good goals are SMARTER

Specific Frustrated woman with glasses pushed up her forehead asking what do I do when I'm feeling stuck?

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Timely

Energizing

Rewarding

A lack of motivation could mean that our goals aren’t clear enough. A bigger problem is that we don’t reward ourselves for a job well done. As Shawn Achor highlights in his TEDTalk (and amazing book), by failing to reward ourselves for achieving our goals, we subtly teach our brains that our work doesn’t matter. In other words, by failing to reward our progress we learn that progress doesn’t matter.

Our brain says, “What’s the point?” and gives up.

If you’re struggling with the question “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?” create clear, simple, and compelling goals.

2.) Be a Part of a Community

It’s hard to go it alone. Whether you’re an entrepreneur growing a business, a spouse improving a marriage, or a coach in athletics, you can’t do the journey of life alone.

Find a supportive community to help.

A community provides support, encouragement, perspective, and wisdom. It gives us strength when we are weak and positivity in a world filled with the negative.

A community of like-minded voices gives us the endurance and accountability to press on when we feel like giving up.

If you’re struggling with the question “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?” find others to walk the journey with you.

3.) Hire a Coach

A lot of coaching is accountability. More than the community, a good coach asks reflective questions, highlights understanding, deepens insight, and inspires action.

Great coaches help you see through your own bias, false beliefs, internal narratives, and weak spots. They equip you with the tools to overcome those rough edges. They leave you accountable to your action plan.

Just last week I was working with a client who didn’t complete all of his growth homework for the week. After talking about it, we discovered that it was an important goal, but not the most important.

Instead, before hiring another employee (his task he gave himself for the week) he needed to free up time in his calendar (his new task). With more free time, he would be able to get new business, get caught up on billing, and have space to mentor and onboard effectively. Completing these tasks would ultimately do much more than “hire an employee” and instead give him the capacity to build his business.

That’s a much more effective use of time!

Coaches can shorten the time it takes to learn tasks, complete projects, and accelerate to succes.

Looking for any of those? I’d love to walk with you on that journey.

If you’re struggling with the question “What do I do when I’m feeling stuck?” hire a coach!

I’m a huge believer that external facets of leadership health are largely a reflection of our internal health.

In short, if you want to lead in a healthy way, you yourself must first be healthy.

The next two parts of this series will focus on those external dynamics of healthy leadership: relationships and finances. These external (tangible) results of leadership can only be accomplished if we’ve first dealt with the internal dynamics of sustainable leadership.

This conversation is needed now more than ever. As we head toward summer, we’re all feeling the compounding stress from a year of COVID, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, and a variety of other factors. blog cover photo four pictures showing leadership fatigue, burnout, and victory from defeat.

So it’s no wonder that burnout is on the rise.

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Before we transition to the external facets of leadership health (and given the startling rise of burnout during 2020), I want to offer signs and symptoms of burnout. If you or someone you know is experiencing the following, please seek professional help. You may contact me here for coaching or reach out to a licensed therapist in your area.

  • Prolonged depression
  • Feelings of apathy about work
  • Questions around meaning and purpose
  • Using food, alcohol, or drugs to self-medicate feelings
  • Lack of satisfaction about work accomplished
  • A lack of energy
  • Little desire to be productive or passionate in work
  • Physical ailments like prolonged upset stomach, heartburn, and/or headaches.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Thoughts of harming self or others
  • Irritability around coworkers or superiors
  • Extreme self-doubt
  • Isolation and avoidance of others
  • Continued tardiness or leaving early from work
  • Emotional numbness
  • Quick and excessive weight gain

The Wrap Up

If you or someone you know is facing burnout, please get help. Email me to set up your first appointment.

Looking for more ways to fight against burnout? Here are 50 self-care tips.

 Want the entire series as a Kindle book? Go here.

Two people exercising with kettlebells and superimposed text reading your body was made to move

Holistic leadership health includes physical health. Your body was made to move. It not only provides physical benefit but mental and emotional health as well.

Your Body Was Made To move

During my master’s program, I was extraordinarily unhealthy. I honestly stopped stepping on the scale after it read 250, but if I had to guess I got much closer to 260 or 270. I was overweight, had issues sleeping, bought the biggest pants I’d ever owned, and masked my feelings through food.

Shortly after graduation, my family moved from California to Denver and Elise became pregnant with our second child. My sleeping had gotten worse and I literally could not make it through a single day without taking a nap. My weight ballooned closer to 280.

Finally, I had enough. I bought a membership to the local community rec center and hit the weights. I was weak and I was tired, but I was determined.

Soon, after that, I began to clean up my eating.

Along came babies three and four, and new responsibilities at work. The pressure was mounting.

This time, however, I exercised the stress away, rather than attempting to eat my feelings away.

By the time we left Denver to move back to California, I was down over 40 pounds. While 240 was still much too heavy for me, I was on the right path.

Three years later, I’m now a trim 215 and in the best shape of my life. I now find it more of a struggle to not work out than to go hit the weights. My morning routine includes 30-40 minutes of weight training in the morning and a 10-20 minute walk in the evening.

Lead Through Physical Health

Healthy leaders who care about avoiding burnout take their own physical health seriously.

I know this because I suffered from burnout while being extremely physically unhealthy.

I also know this because I’ve worked with dozens of leaders over the years and have seen it play out time and time again.

If your work schedule consists of more fast food than fitness, you’re in for a world of pain. Two people exercising with kettlebells and superimposed text reading your body was made to move

Healthy leaders know to move their bodies and stay in great shape. Physical shape and your ability to control yourself around food often say as much about your emotional and mental health as anything else. I’ve seen it enough, it’s almost a guarantee: if you are unfit physically, you’re also likely unfit emotionally and mentally.

Benefits of Exercise

There are numerous benefits to exercise. Exercise has been shown to:

  • Release the brain’s happy chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.
  • Boots creativity.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Increase sex drive
  • Promote better sleep
  • Fight off infection
  • and Balance hormones

Made To Move

Our bodies were made to move. It’s why I added a personal training certification to my coaching packages years ago and constantly work with my clients to achieve optimal health. Our bodies, when not in motion, experience degradation.

Sitting, quite literally, kills you.

Whether it’s taking frequent walks around your office, your block, or your neighborhood, your body is made to move.

If you’re struggling, start small. At my heaviest, I had no grand illusions. I never wanted to “run a marathon” (still don’t!) but I did want to make it to the gym three times in the first week. Next, I tried hard to go three days without dessert. Then, I challenged myself to sleep through the night. I replaced an overabundance of coffee with more water.

Make a small but significant step today to seize control of your health. Call a friend and go for a walk. Eat an apple instead of a donut. Head to bed on time instead of binging your favorite television show.

Each time you intentionally make a stand for your own health, your leadership capabilities improve. More than that, you care for those around you.

People are counting on you to show up, perform at a high level, and influence those around you. 

When it doubt, move your body. Your body was made to move!


The Wrap Up

If you or someone you know is facing burnout, please get help. Email me to set up your first appointment.

Looking for more ways to fight against burnout? Here are 50 self-care tips.

 Want the entire series as a Kindle book? Go here.

The mental health of a leader encompasses everything they do to stay at peak performance and elite levels of people development. Leadership mental health is the foundation to sustainable excellence.

Beginning in Coaching

I fell in love with coaching because it gave me something tangible to work towards. Fresh out of my master’s program and stepping into a new workplace, it was actually required that I have a coach for the first year of employment. They paid for it, I benefited from it.

Tremendously.

Little did I know that at 24, it would be a life-changing experience.

My first coach, Jeff, helped me see the bigger side of life and leadership. Leaders struggle and leaders fall. Because of this, leaders can’t bear the weight of responsibility themselves.

Good leaders surround themselves with others. Those that will both listen and challenge. Strong leaders embrace the chance to be pushed and to be bettered.

Most of all, leaders take their own growth seriously.

The Faces of Mental Health

Mental health, like a diamond, has many faces to it. Here are several of the types of mental health I talk about with my clients:

  • Counseling A leader presenting a key topic to a group of people with a whiteboard in the background.
  • Coaching
  • Reading Books
  • Seminars
  • Podcasts
  • Conferences
  • Retreats
  • Exercise

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it does provide us with healthy ways to get started – or continue – our journey of holistic leadership health.

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “What’s the difference between counseling and coaching?” Both are in the ‘helping professions’ and both have their place. I’ve experienced both. I’ve benefitted from both over the years. I need both in my life to help me be at my best. So here, in brief, are the differences.

Counseling – The benefit of counseling is that it looks backward in the leader’s journey. Addressing pain points, unresolved issues, family dynamics, trauma, and emotional scars (among other things) counseling provides a safe place for leaders to stop, pause, and reflect on where their life has come from.

Coaching – Coaching is predominately future-focused. Instead of needing details when clients give me their history, they give me the “5-minute version.” I need to know enough to ask good questions, not about where they’ve been, but about where they want to go. Coaching helps individuals get from point A to point F quicker, easier, and more proactively.

Other Investments In Mental Health

Books 

Leaders are readers. If you’re not reading, you will never reach your full potential. I regularly send out my current reading lists and those I see on other websites. I challenged myself as much as possible through a wide variety of genres. Thoughtful leaders engage in history, economics, biographies, fiction, and a wide variety of personal development books.

Seminars and Conferences

Learning from others is a great way to get a quick return on your investment. Find a local or national tradeshow, expo, or conference related to your line of work. Attend regularly, take notes, and write key takeaways from your learning. Years ago, I made it a practice to take the conference notes I took and create a three-step action plan after each one. The amount of new information can be overwhelming and this helped simplify it for me and gave me quick wins when I returned to my normal daily routine.

Podcasts

There are two major time wasters in our daily living: our exercise habits and our commute times. I’ve given up music 95% of the time in favor of podcasts. Exercise six days a week gives me ample time to squeeze in an extra book or podcast. Additionally, I spend an average of 10-15 hours driving every week. I can get in an extra book a month on average just by listening to books and podcasts in the car.

Retreats

Our leadership journeys are often moving at a frenetic pace. Meetings, sales, marketing, investing in others, family time, it can all feel overwhelming. One of the greatest assets you can give yourself is the ability to stop. Breath. Contemplate. Refresh. Retreats are a way to intentionally withdraw from the day-to-day grind and gain some long-term perspective.

Exercise

This is so important we’re going to dedicate another post to it, but the benefits of exercise extend far beyond physical health. Exercise releases chemicals in our brain that make us happier, gives us an energy boost, reframes our perspective, provides inspiration, increases productivity, and stimulates growth.

All In

Growing leaders must be all in on their own health, as this series has shown. Mental health is a critical component of that. This includes both traditional approaches to mental health, as well as positive habits that increase our brain capacity and stimulate our own growth. Leadership mental health is a commitment to yourself and to others to continually execute improvement.


The Wrap Up

If you or someone you know is facing burnout, please get help. Email me to set up your first appointment.

Looking for more ways to fight against burnout? Here are 50 self-care tips.

 Want the entire series as a Kindle book? Go here.

Phone booth with calling quote from Frederick Buechne

How would you answer the question: why on earth am I on earth?

The foundation for all healthy leadership begins with a calling. Leaders have always been called. Sacred scriptures throughout the world emphasize this. However, what is almost always missed is the development of the call story.

There are two levels of calling that need to be identified. The first is a general calling and a specific calling. Each of these plays a unique and significant role in the life of the leader.

The general call is usually the first initial calling that comes with leadership. As a coach, it’s common to see this within the coaching field. Fresh out of coaches training, I was under the belief that I could (and should) coach “anyone and everyone.”

It’s an easy thought to rationalize:

If the coaching principles are true, then I should be able to coach anyone!

And while the coaching principles are true and universal, I cannot nor should I, coach everyone. Coaches always seem to learn this the hard way, usually through a bad client. Thankfully, I had my bad client experience early on. While I knew that in theory, I could coach anyone, practically I knew I didn’t want to coach him again.

Specific calling happens when leaders remain faithful to pursuing and developing a robust answer to the question, “Why on earth am I on earth? What’s my ultimate purpose? Phone booth with calling quote from Frederick Buechne

In my own coaching practice, I’ve worked with C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs, managers, religious professionals, educators, and people in the service industry. Each person allowed me to narrow down my specific niche. Now, I can clearly and confidently say that I provide executive coaching for small business owners.

Engaging in Your Calling

Most of us have experienced a general calling to leadership. That’s why we’re plugged into a network like LinkedIn. It’s the place for us to connect with other like-minded individuals.

I’m also willing to venture that many of us have found our specific calling. We know what we were put here to do.

The tension happens in two locations: for those that don’t know their specific calling and for those that do and aren’t doing it.

First, burnout can affect those that don’t know their specific calling. For years, I was stuck in this position. You, or someone you know, might be in this position if they say things like:

  • I don’t know where my life is going.
  • What’s my purpose?
  • I can’t seem to figure out what I’m trying to do.
  • I feel so lost.

These sorts of sayings are clues and indicators of an undefined and unrefined calling. For these leaders, burnout happens because the mounting frustration of an incomplete vision leaves them overwhelmed. Life for leaders was never meant to stop with a general calling.

All leaders all call for a specific reason, to a specific place, for specific people, to accomplish a significant mission.

The second place for burnout is for those that know their specific calling but aren’t practicing it. You might hear or feel sayings like this:

  • I feel like I’m made for more.
  • If I could just get the right opportunity…
  • I could accomplish so much if I could just get out of my own way.

For those with a specific, but yet unfulfilled calling, burnout can happen because of the increasing resentment of seemingly insurmountable barriers.

Leaders with an unfulfilled specific calling struggle with the fear of failure, inadequacy, or of missing out on achieving ultimate success.

Calling – Meeting The Needs of Others

Frederick Buechner once referred to calling as,

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

And notice, that so far, I have mentioned nothing about jobs, titles, or positions. Those are largely irrelevant when it comes to fulfilling a calling in leadership.

I worked with an individual once who, by all personality tests and interviews, would have been a great church planter. As we worked through his areas of calling and gifting, however, we discovered that he didn’t want to plant a church at all. Instead, he wanted to revitalize old churches and bring new life to established congregations.

Another former client worked his way up the corporate ladder, only to find himself lonely at the top. After reevaluating his career choices, he started down a completely different career field that gave him more flexibility in his home life. He was much happier wearing the pinstripes of a coach to his son’s baseball team than the pinstripes of his three-piece suit.

Calling – What it is … and what it isn’t

Calling is …

  • discovering, pursuing, and fulfilling the answer to the question, “What on earth am I on earth for?”
  • knowing intimately your deepest purpose and passion in the world.
  • a part of everyone’s story.
  • foundational to establish healthy leadership patterns while avoiding burnout.

Calling is not …

  • dependent on rank, title, position, promotion, or title.
  • arrogant, boastful, proud, or demeaning of others.
  • reserved for a select few “special ones.”
  • an optional endeavor who want to reach their full potential.

The Wrap Up

If you or someone you know is facing burnout, please get help. Email me to set up your first appointment.

Looking for more ways to fight against burnout? Here are 50 self-care tips.

 Want the entire series as a Kindle book? Go here.