Dabbling Won’t Get You Unstuck

For several years, I’d been trying to do a headstand.

Mastering a headstand wasn’t likely to change my life, but my lack of progress had evoked plenty of yucky stuck feelings.

I finally asked Jill, my yoga teacher, for help. The first question she asked was, “How often do you practice?”

As, “Not very often,” came spilling out of my mouth, I understood why I’d been stuck for so long.

I’d been dabbling.

It’s an easy place to find yourself when you’re trying to get unstuck.

Whatever it is that has you stuck, here are five steps to help you move from dabbling to lasting change.

  1. Slow. It. Down. When you try to change overnight, you set yourself up to feel overwhelmed and disappointed. Instead, plan small realistic steps you can master one at a time.A few months ago my client Donna showed up for our coaching call ready to beat herself up. She’d hit the wall with her Pavlovian response of instantly responding to emails and phone calls. The first words out of her mouth were, “I’m so mad at myself. I know I need to change but I’ve failed at it every day this week.”

    No surprise she felt discouraged. Her approach was basically, “I really want to be different, so today I shall be a new me.”

    Just like I wasn’t going to suddenly achieve perfect upside-down balance, Donna wasn’t going to instantly let go of a long-standing habit of trying to keep everyone happy. Her first bite-sized step was to turn off her phone and email for sixty minutes a day. That was challenging, but doable with practice.

    Which is the next step …

  2. Practice daily. Whatever you’re trying to change, you wouldn’t be struggling if it were easy. I can still hear the echo of my piano teacher’s voice saying, “Practice makes perfect.” At ten years old I was ready to kill her, but of course she was right.Daily practice for Donna meant taking her phone and email hiatus every day. It took awhile to get consistent and a little longer to feel comfortable. That’s what practice is for ;-).

    In my case, Jill broke my headstand into six steps. I spent eight days on the first one (an itsy, bitsy movement that barely had me off the ground) until I was consistently successful.

  3. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day … or a week.Berating yourself for not making faster progress won’t help! In fact, do the opposite and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they might feel. (It’s a big deal!)

    As long as you’re sticking to realistic steps and practicing daily, you’ll get where you want to be.

  4. Fail forward. You’ll learn as much from what doesn’t work as from what does.Three weeks into my new headstand practice, I excitedly thought I was ready for the full pose. My legs went straight up over my head … and kept right on going.

    I could have done without the sore neck, but I learned two useful things: how to keep my attention on my abdominals, and why skipping steps was a really bad idea.

  5. Ask for help. I’ve yet to discover anything that isn’t easier and quicker when you reach out for support and have people by your side.

    I have no idea how long it will take me to achieve a perfect headstand. But in the six weeks since I stopped dabbling, I’ve made more progress than in the past two years.

    Where in your life do you want to get unstuck?

    Define one small step and start practicing it daily. Then get going with your daily practice and watch how quickly you start to see movement!

 “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

~ Aristotle, Greek Philosopher, Scientist and pretty much everything else, 384 BC-322 BC


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Sherry Essig

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