How to move forward (when everything’s holding you back)

move forward - work your way

move forward - work your way

“I was going to procrastinate… but then I changed my mind and waited.”  Anon


Ever had one of those days, or weeks, when you struggled to get started?

Perhaps something as simple as your next blog post – that proverbial blank just staring back at you?

Or you’re not sure whether you’re promoting yourself as effectively as possible?

You’re not sure where to find your next client?

You’re not sure how to move forward with your business.

For me recently, it was a new course.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the content or material. In fact, I had tons of material. That was the problem. How to take all the content, all that material, all my ideas, and form it all into a plan of action, into something that could serve others.

What about you?  What’s holding you back?

There’s nothing worse than feeling stumped. Feeling that whatever direction you turn, you face a brick wall.

When you have a tough time deciding what to do, the danger is that you hold back from doing anything at all. And that won’t get you anywhere, will it?

Firstly, I find that it helps to define why you’re holding back.

For me – it tends to be:

  • Too many ideas
  • I’m not sure where to start
  • I’m worried my idea is not good enough

And here’s how I deal with them:


Too many ideas – Prune back

Firstly, when I have far too many ideas, I find it helps to get them down on paper (see 2 below). Having them swim around in my mind, all jostling for space is overwhelming.

Once they’re down on paper, it’s easier to see them for what they really are – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Daft!

OK, I’m sure your ideas don’t fall into those categories, but you know what I mean – we’ve all had ideas that are more viable than others.

Once they’re down on paper, I can then start a process of pruning them back. Think of a plant or bush that needs to be pruned, if you don’t it becomes a tangled mess. And with some plants, pruning back dead buds or branches encourages new growth.

Similarly, once your ideas are down on paper, you’ll be able determine which ones need to be cut back (removed) altogether, to give you more time to develop the ones that are more viable.

Of the ideas that are viable, I’ll next decide whether I can action them myself or whether I need help (i.e. whether something needs to be outsourced). In a sense, this is still pruning back, but at least it’s effective at the same time, as it is still getting me closer to my goal.


Unsure where to start – Best foot forward

When I feel unsure where or how to start, I find that the only solution is to simply take my best next step forward.  It might not be the correct step, but I’ll only know that once I’ve taken it.

What’s the next best step for you?  Perhaps you’re taking your very first step into finding work that you love, but can’t decide what to do first? Or perhaps you know exactly what you want to do, but need to take those first steps in promoting yourself.

Even the smallest step forward is progress.  So, for example, if you’re not sure where to start at all, your next best step might be to simply write your ideas down on paper. The very act of committing them down to paper requires:

(a) focus and concentration: It’s impossible to write without focusing and concentrating on what you’re doing,

(b) clarity and direction: your thoughts written down on paper now become something you can clearly see, something that you can aim for, a new goal or a new direction.

Or your next best step might be more tangible.  You need a new website but can’t afford a designer yet.  Well then, for now, just buy your domain name.

Or let’s say you already have the website, but have a tonne of things to do before you launch it.  Just do the next best thing.  Draft the content for one page.  Leave it, go and do something else.  Then return to this project and draft the second page.  and so on.  They might be small, incremental steps, but at least they are helping you to move forward.


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Lao Tzu


Worried you’re not good enough – Good enough will do nicely

Most people expect you to be good enough.

Few, at least that I know of, expect perfection.  So instead of worrying whether people will think your project is good enough, why not just go ahead and ask them? It’s one of the most exciting ways you can launch a new project, (think of it as launching in Beta) as it means you can tweak it based on feedback as you go along

Just go ahead and ask: ‘Look, I’m working on this project and I’d really value your input. Do you think I’ve covered everything/left anything out? What else would you like to see covered?”

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well it’s received. It mightn’t need improving at all.

When I find myself holding back for whatever reason, I remind myself to align whatever I’m doing with my purpose.  For me, that’s to help others create work that they truly desire and to have it fit in seamlessly with their life.

When you remind yourself of your purpose, you feel compelled to NOT hold back. Your people need you and they need what you have to offer them. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Ask them what else it needs and they’ll tell you.

But in the meantime, don’t hold back.

Go get ‘em.





I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.

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