What Steps Are You Taking To Conquer Your Roadblocks?

Showing up and breaking down those roadblocks

apw-squarespaceSquarespace (1 of 4)

The Only Known Cure For Roadblocks

At the end of a recent shoot day, I was taking down a nine foot seamless backdrop with our new production intern Dana. What we were talking about as we exhaustedly tried to manage that enormous tube of paper was how tiring and hard running a business was. Mostly because it never quits, and you find yourself wrestling with a nine-foot paper tube at the end of a long day because no one else is going to do it (and you also know you still have to get the monthly budget balanced).

What I learned in art school (besides all the useless psychological pseudo-science of experimental acting training) was that the cardinal rule of art was showing up to do the work. Every single day, you have to work. Not inspired? Too bad. And like acting training, running a business is an (possibly spiritual) exercise in just showing up, because you have no other option. When I worked for bigger companies, I was a cog in a pretty big machine. I liked to think of myself as a not unimportant cog, but still. The entire company was not going to fail because of my actions. Running a business, that’s not true. Each of my actions matter. The way I manage people, the way I build our editorial calendar, the way I craft our business strategy, the way I set up our budget—all of those are important. And every time I make a misstep, I have to live with it. So I show up, and try to do the work and do it well, inspired or not.

Two weeks ago, we talked about our roadblocks—those mountains we make out of molehills. Those things we can’t just seem to get past to make it to the next level. Today, I want to talk about the only known cure for roadblocks, which is (sadly) just doing the work.

As discussed previously, my always and forever roadblock is websites. It’s embarrassing to admit as an online publisher, but I’m just not that technical. When you combine “just not that technical” with my overwhelming fear of first steps, setting up a website is one of the hardest things in the world for me. And judging from some of the comments in that first post, it’s the same for some of you too. So this week, with the help of Squarespace, I sat down to start setting up a website. Partly because doing the work means showing up and breaking down your roadblocks. And partly because, if I can do it, so can you.

MegKeene.com Sqaurespace | A Practical Wedding

Let’s Talk About Squarespace

This is where we get to confession time. Because Squarespace is such a well built, user-friendly platform, I secretly hoped it would build my website for me. Possibly it would just know how I should lay out each page, and what photos and copy I should put where, and what exactly I wanted my messaging and branding to be? I was, in fact, willfully ignoring the fact that projects that you don’t have to work on are projects that end up useless to you. If you don’t have to put some elbow grease into something, you’re never going to value it, and you’ll never figure out what you want from it in the first place. So here is what I learned, for the zillionth time: I had to do the work.

Squarespace is fundamentally a platform built for entrepreneurs. And that means, they give you a great set of tools, and beautiful templates, and super helpful examples. But at the end of the day, you have both the power (and hence the responsibility) to figure out what kind of site you want to build. Squarespace does not, in fact, give you those useless unalterable templates that you have to find a way to somehow live with. Instead, their tools allow you to figure out what kind of message you want to send, and what important parts of your business you want to feature. And then they allow you to carefully and easily build that website.

Squarespace is also really clearly a company run by people who care about the product, and care about the user experience. You can tell by how thoughtfully the site is set up: there are tutorials, guides, and seriously intense, awesome video workshops to guide you through each step. Plus there’s the 24/7 customer service. In short, it’s a really powerful tool at a surprisingly affordable cost: the most expensive plan is per month, and if you’re building a wedding website or a personal site, you can probably even get away with the per month option. With that you can install photo galleries, storefronts, blogs, the works, without having to know anything about coding. Which, achem, is something I wish I could do on this website. Things are rarely that easy in web design.

Tips and Tricks

For those of you who share my website roadblock and are ready to try to hurdle it already, here are some of the things I learned:

  • Squarespace makes the basics easy. The things that always scare the daylights out of me, like setting up hosting and linking your site to a custom URL (WHY IS IT SO HARD)? Done with the click of a button.
  • Modifying Templates is intuitive. Squarespace provides you with templates to play with, but what I found the most helpful (and will continue to find the most helpful) is that they show you tons of user examples on any given template. For my non-technical non-designer brain, I want to see what other people did that looked good, and then copy that. Fake it till you make it.
  • There is a Logo Maker! I have a lot of graphic designer friends who find the idea of a logo maker preposterous. Which: NICE FOR THEM. I, however, designed my first logo in Word, and would design the logo for this site in Word, if left to my own devices, so thank god Squarespace isn’t leaving me to my own devices.
  • Leave yourself time to play. Apparently Squarespace isn’t just going to design and build your website for you, and pick all the pictures and write all the text? THE NERVE OF THEM. Leave yourself some time to create something that’s as awesome as you are. You’re worth it.
  • YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMMIT RIGHT AWAY. Unlike most platforms that offer a free trial, Squarespace doesn’t make you commit with a credit card, so feel free to try them out for two weeks, no strings attached. And if you do decide to stick with them, Squarespace is offering you guys a 10% discount on an annual subscription. Just use the code APW14 when placing your order.
  • The little plus sign is how you add things. If I’m being honest, there was a point at which I wanted to give in and let my roadblock win. I couldn’t figure out how to add new elements to the page, and I felt dumb for not understanding something so basic. But Squarespace gives you a ton of resources at your fingertips, and they make it really hard to give up. So I pushed through, found the right tutorial, and eventually figured out the answer to my problem (I was thisclose to logging a ticket with their 24/7 support team, but I was too embarrassed because that’s what a roadblock does to you.) If I can, you can.

Squarespace Wedding Website | A Practical Wedding

A Note About Wedding Websites and Squarespace: Building a wedding website is about a zillion times easier than building a business website, pretty much always. That’s because building a wedding website is kind of a fun game. (What do we want to say about ourselves? What funny ways do we want to say it?) Squarespace makes it really easy to put that together in a killer way, particularly if you have hot engagement photos that you want to show off. Leave yourself a weekend afternoon to play with it together, and you’ll end up with something rad. (Plus, if you’re really stuck, they have a twenty-minute video workshop on creating a wedding website that takes you through the process, step-by-step.)

Squarespace Wedding Website | A Practical Wedding

Doing The Work

This week I tackled my roadblock. MegKeene.com is halfway to something (that’s a sneak peek up there for any interested parties), and I’m feeling empowered to finish it out sometime… this year. So now it’s your turn. What first steps will you take to tackle the roadblocks you listed in our open thread?

Your homework? Take one small step this month.

To help APWers tackle their web-related roadblocks, Squarespace is offering a 10% discount on all annual subscriptions. Use the code APW14 to redeem!



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  • ruth

    Thank you – I really needed to hear this today (as I wasted time online while procrastinating on finishing my novel manuscript.) I’ve been having the opposite problem – not a fear of starting things, but a fear of finishing things (because if it isn’t finished, it could still be perfect….) But I also realize that the only difference between a professional and an amateur is finishing the projects we start. And I really want to finish this book. So – back to work!

    • Meg Keene

      Oh, I like that, “the only difference between a professional and an amateur is finishing the projects we start.” And by finishing, you really just mean STOPPING.

      I don’t even look at my book anymore, because I’d probably want to change a million things. But one day I had my final deadline, so I stopped.

      • I agree. Sometimes finishing just means knowing or deciding when to stop.

    • I’m struggling with the exact same thing right now–I’m thisclose to finishing my third draft & querying and it’s just terrifying to actually BE DONE. But that’s the only way I’m ever going to get where I want to be, so it’s time to buckle down and just DO IT.

      Best of luck!

    • Erin

      I stole a motto from Tina Fey’s book regarding this issue. She recounts something Lorne Michaels says about SNL: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s perfect. The show goes on because it’s 11:30.” …When I find myself stalling due to perfectionism, I pretend it’s 11:30.

    • JenClaireM

      Your comment reminds me of the book, The War of Art, which I loved and which talks a lot about the difference between the professional and the amateur. Have you read it? I found it really helpful in motivating me to step past the fear and just do the work.

      • I’m going to look this up…

      • Kelly Benvenuto

        Yes, this book is fantastic. Sometimes it’s helpful to just acknowledge that you don’t want to do it, but sit down and do it anyway.

      • Thanks for the suggestion! I think I need to order this book….pronto.

    • “…(because if it isn’t finished, it could still be perfect….)”

      Yep. I started reading this post hoping it might inspire me to jump in on a big project that I need to do, but have been procrastinating on….probably for this very reason. Thankfully, eventually the realization that “finished and imperfect” is always better than regrets of not finishing always propels me to the end.

  • Nice! I had an email discussion with Lucy about moving my blog to Squarespace. I made a deal with myself that I needed to have written 12 posts in order to open one up. I have two written now, but they need editing. I don’t exactly know what I have to offer the world, but I know that having an online presence makes “showing up” real and possible for me.
    Despite all of this work I’ve been doing to pay the bills, I can’t help but daydream about all the things I want to do, want to make, and how I want to move forward from this space I’m in now. It’s a slow, slow process but I am moving forward.

    • Meg Keene

      Achem. May I suggest that the 12 posts rule might be one of those… roadblocks??

      • Are you saying that I should start the migration without the posts or that I should write the damned posts already?

        • Meg Keene

          You should start the migration. 12 posts is a LOT OF POSTS. Writing 12 essays would take me… probably 12 weeks.

          • Okay, here’s another road block. Maybe the real road block. What is the line between professional and personal when doing this creative work? I need a job. But what I really want to do is build a blog where I post my creative stuff (however slow that may take), build a brand out of that flailing to be creative, design and order business cards with brokensaucer.com on them and BE ME.
            It is really killing me that I can’t just walk up to people right now and say, “Hi, I’m Sera. I’m currently working on a project where I take selfies every day. If you’re interested in seeing it…”

          • Amy March

            If the only think keeping you from sharing your artistic work with people is lack of a website to point them to, I’d say you are pretty well on your way!

          • I also need some artistic work to share. There’s that too.

          • wordbunny

            Order the business cards. Seriously, just go order some. Give yourself permission to redesign them later. I edit and proofread on the side and ordering business cards made me feel so much better about my freelance work.

          • Makes it way real, right??

          • Alsooo, I would say there’s not really anything wrong with preemptively getting some business cards made. Vistaprint is always running deals for those on the super cheap, and they would be serious motivation for me (maybe I should order some?) because their mere existence would be so taunting that they would force me to write/create/get off my butt.

          • Meg Keene

            WHO CARES WHAT THE LINE IS. That’s my real advice. Give yourself permission to make the website and order the business cards and tell people what you want to tell them.

          • Moo.com makes business cards in small batches. You can always redo them later.

            If what you do to earn money (or enough money to live) isn’t how you want to answer that ubiquitous “what do you do?” question at parties, feel free to stop answering that way. From my experience, that made a huge difference in my attitude and confidence, and sometimes lead to people who wanted to work with me. If I’d told them I was a temp receptionist or former studio manager, those connections would never have happened.

          • Shotgun Shirley

            My company got our business cards from Moo and I LOVE THEM. They are seriously the nicest cards I’ve ever had. I let my daughter hold one and it’s so think she said, “there’s two of them.”

          • I love Moo. We use them for our little side business and get a million compliments on how adorable they are!

          • Cat

            overnightprints usually has great deals too- I’ve been really happy with the quality and cost. So much so that I want to order more for my yoga teaching, and more for my art. and some for the cats. :)

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            You know, I don’t think it actually matters, outside of what you goals are. The first job is to create. If you want to create something that you want to sustain you, then make decisions throughout the creative process that help you monetize your creativity. If you want to create for the sake of creating, then get a job that gives you the freedom and time to create when you’re not working. I feel like there’s so much pressure for everyone to have a roadmap before they start something. The reality is that you have a general idea of your endpoit, and your roadmap gets built while you’re getting there.

          • This is really excellent advice.

          • I think there is the rub for me right now. After 14 days of work in a row, one day off where I cleaned the house and hosted 8 for dinner and now I’m on day 4 of 8 work days in a row, no matter how inspired I am in my head, the physical labor of the creative work is not happening. My goals are vague at best. But you’re right, if I just start creating, the road map will unfold.
            Maybe the squarespace is the gallery for that creating. If I need walls to put stuff up on, there they are.

          • JenClaireM

            This is really great advice!

          • I think there is a lot to be said for carefully choosing the words we use to describe our work. Like the words creating the reality. If somebody says in response to “What do you do?”: “I am an aspiring writer” or “I write, sorta.” or “I work in a coffee shop and write for fun.” or whatever….that underlines the fact the we feel we are art is Less Than. I think it is important to carefully choose our words, because that is the road we are making for ourselves to follow. I am intentional to explain myself as an artist (director and writer) first, and then if people inquire further, I explain that I have a dayjob that is not that and that I am restarting my career in this place I live, in a second language, etc., etc. I always think our response should be honest, of course, but at the same time, not minimalizing of our work.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          If she’s not saying you should start the migration, then I am. :) Here’s the deal, there are two ways to open up a store: One is that you collect a bunch of stuff and you then when you feel like you have enough stuff, you find a place to put it all. That could take…a while. Because you probably are never going to feel like you have enough stuff or like your stuff is good enough. The other is that you get a space and suddenly realize you have a responsibility to fill it. I’m of the opinion that the latter is the faster way to get shit done. Accountability goes a long way; arbitrary goals can often be a hindrance rather than a motivator. (Or at least, that’s how I become the biggest procrastinator. “When I’ve finished this post, I’ll go clean my room,” is the quickest way to never clean my room. Because I always push the goal out further to, “Well, when I finish my WHOLE to-do list.”

        • Start! Start today!

          • Okay. I started my trial…

          • a single sarah

            YAY! I clicked the link to brokensaucer.com and it’s not working yet. Excited to see it soon :)

          • It’s not actually up yet, I just started it. My old blogspot still works though… brokensaucer.blogspot.com

  • Anon

    I’ve taken the first step, and it is scary. I have finally admitted that perhaps my career as a corporate firm attorney on partnership track is not such a great fit. I never thought I would do this, but I have started looking at other jobs (mainly in the university setting and out-of-state). I don’t know that I’ll end up leaving my current job, or even apply to any positions I find, but at least I’m being honest with myself, exploring my options, and not looking at leaving the firm as a “failure” on my part. That has been a huge step for me.

    • MC

      I shared this in another thread recently, but I just read a book called Trauma Stewardship, and one of the author’s suggestions for self-care and centering is to always think about your Plan B – whether you love or hate your job. She writes that because there’s an idea that your career = your life, even the act of reminding yourself that you can change your path and still be you is important. That really resonated with me, as someone who loves her job but definitely feels like it’s very strongly tied to my identity as a whole. Good for you for taking that awesome first step!

      • ART

        That makes me want to read that. There was a point in my life several years ago where Plan A was at least partially in the garbage, and I FREAKED OUT because I did not have a Plan B in mind. It all worked out, but I could have saved myself A LOT of heartache, maybe. I feel like I have gotten better, but still need to work on it.

        • MC

          READ IT! It is an amazing book. The second half specifically has some great practical advice for self-care & staying present.

      • Laura C

        As someone who ditched Plan A a few years back, I no longer have a plan at all. I like what I’m doing now and I feel like if the time comes to move on, there will be options and I will go with them.

      • Anon

        Thanks, that’s really helpful! I need to take some time to reflect on that, and maybe check out the book :)

  • August

    I’m going to New York city on Monday to spend a few days in the public library there with the microfilm researching for the novel I’m writing. I just about choke when I try and tell people why I’m going to the city and what I’ll be doing. I’m planning for another trip, more like a road trip, to do more research at the end of April. That trip will involve actually talking to people. And then there is the writing. I’m having a hard time showing up every day to do the writing.

    • Meg Keene

      Yeah the shitty part of writing is definitely writing. And I don’t even have a tortured relationship with it, because it’s not my first love. But still. Still.

      • But you are a writer. You’ve always written every day, haven’t you?

        • Meg Keene

          Me? Erm, in journals I suppose. I’m dyslexic, so I never considered myself to be anything like a writer till maybe five years ago, about a year into APW. I still don’t have a ton of self identity wrapped up in it. I have a LOT more identity wrapped up in being an ex-theatre person, artistically. Which to be honest, makes things easier. My stakes are low: that expresses what I think, in a clear way that people can understand, and makes me feel fulfilled creatively. I don’t have anything approaching literary standards for myself.

          And sadly, I don’t do real writing anything like every day anymore. Day to day I’ve become an editor (which does make you a stronger writer). I have to carve out writing time now.

          • Sometimes just writing in my journal feels difficult. The further away I get from it, the more difficult it becomes. I’ve taken to carrying it around with me even if I don’t write in it.
            I used to edit a ton. I liked that part of my job. I liked that part of school. And yes, it does make us better writers. I think I need better content to edit though…

  • lady brett

    i think this is an indicator that i need to speak to my boss. with words. ugh. but, alas, it appears that punting the hard part off to email has been ineffective, and i really don’t need to be using that as an excuse to second-guess my decision.

    • Ah, so you sent the email and got no response? Go talk to her/him. In person. Look in her eyes. I will you all the power in my soul, because you know what you want and I want it for you.

      • lady brett

        i’m going to need it. i am unaccustomed to putting my wants forward…and he’s going to be *disappointed* (which is, clearly, the worst thing result of any action, just ask my whole childhood).

        • Let’s take all of our feelings of being “disappointing” and roll them up in a ball and put them on a raft and light that fucker on fire! I’m tired of feeling like I’m going to disappoint someone else! What happens when they disappoint me? Who gives a damn about that? Just don’t disappoint yourself by not asking for what you want.
          I’m on your side. You are not a disappointment. Virtual hugs!! <3 <3

          • Heather

            I love the support in this little thread. You’re both awesome.

          • lady brett

            ha! thanks!!

          • Emily


            (This is ridiculous, but I’ve been struggling with a plumber who’s very nice but clearly doing sub-par work. What you wrote is exactly me: here he is disappointing me (having to shop-vac water out of carpets at 2am is disappointing to me) and I’m feeling bad for calling his boss and requesting they send someone else, not him. He has disappointed me! I want decent plumbing work!).

            Thank you!

          • call! You’ll feel great when your plumber does a good job!

  • Lian

    Graduate school… Graduate school is all about showing up and doing the work. Something which (in my final semester) I seem to finally be able to do. I’ll keep an eye on SquareSpace if I decide to pursue this side-business-consulting-thing I have in mind!

    Oh, also: you wrote entrepenurship on your page rather than entrepeneurship

  • Allie

    I REALLY wish I had know about Squarespace before I paid someone a LOT of money to build one for me that turned out nothing like how I wanted it to. Now I know better for next time though.

  • MC

    Last week I decided to train for & run a half-marathon at altitude (~7200 feet) that’s happening two weeks before my wedding. I’ve never run more than 10K, but running/exercising in general is something I’ve been putting on the backburner while I figure out how to do the work of my day job + writing on the side. Running in particular is something that is really hard for me to just DO because I have all sorts of self-confidence stuff around it left over from my adolescence. So I made the decision, told some people about it, and found a good training plan that works with my life. And today I’m going for a run.

    • ART

      Yay! I’m training for one happening six weeks before my wedding. It’s not going swimmingly (or…runningly?) but it’s going. You can totally do it!

      • MC

        Thanks! The training plan I found online said something like, “On the day of the race, it’s doesn’t matter how fast you go or how much you need to walk – as long as you finish.” Good running/life advice!

        • I did a half a couple years ago, and I am SO NOT A RUNNER. But it’s true, on that day of nobody really cares how fast you are going. There will be people cheering you on, and when you feel like you can’t go anymore, people will encourage you to keep going! At about mile 9 I didn’t think I could finish, but I looked up and there was this half-naked cowboy holding a sign that said “Hell, you’ve gone this far, you might as well finish.” It made me laugh, but it also made me keep going. I don’t remember my time, but I remember limping across that finish line!! Totally worth it.

    • Sara P

      I’m not getting married any time soon, but I am running a half-marathon in June. (Happily, at about 600 ft.) Fistbumps! It’s been good for me already, I know it. Best of luck!

    • M.

      I’m running my 3rd half (fiance’s 2nd) two weeks after my April wedding. We thought, hey it will induce us to exercise during this stressful time. Turns out, we have felt too busy and stressed and tired and cold to go. Some real, some just mental roadblocks. BUT we are doing it. We got up extra early to run on Monday, which was a first, and we’ll do it again Friday.

      Good training plans work if you follow them and trust them. It may seem like you won’t get there, but you will. I find my body is much stronger than my mind gives it credit for. I was never a runner (Asthma! I’m slow! I’m a better sprinter! Blah blah) but hey – now I run! Just from getting my ass out the door to do it.

  • sara g

    My roadblock is exercising. And sticking to it once started. I just can’t seem to keep the motivation. :(

    • Right there with you. I have something wonky going on with my body, but basically if I don’t work out every single day, my joints lock up and I have lots and lots of pain. I’ll do really really well with self care, go excercise every day, get plenty of sleep, eat well, etc. Then I’ll miss a day and go down the rabbit hole to hell. And I’ll be exhausted, in pain, and in a bad head space, which makes it 10 times harder to get back on track, even though I know that’s the one thing that will fix what ails me.

      A good friend who keeps in touch long distance just told me about an app called cody, where you can log your workouts (or meals if you’re into that sort of thing, but I know nothing about it because it would never ever work for me) and get automated cheerleader-y messages from the app, and if you have workout buddies or accountability partners, they can do the same.

      • sara g

        I’m in a similar situation… my back and neck have horrible pain and exercising (especially yoga and flexibility type things) helps SO MUCH. And yet even though I know doing it will help me sleep better, have more energy and a higher libido, and alleviate my pain, I STILL can’t keep up the motivation. Go figure.

        I’ll have to check out that app… maybe it will give me that extra push. :)

        • Marcela

          I’ve started using an app called Pact that is linked to my credit card and charges me for workouts I’ve missed. I make a bet at the beginning of each week that I will go to the gym twice and do food logging for 4 days. I set my bets to $5 each. If I don’t make my bet it’ll deduct the money straight from my credit card and if I do make the bet, I’ll get a small pay out from others who did not succeed. Money is a much better motivator for me to get off my butt and go so it’s helped me get into a routine.

          • Oh my word! I’m such a cheapskate, so that just might work.

            That or I could fall behind, feel like my laziness is driving me into both debt and ill health, and berate myself counter-productively . . .

          • that sounds terrifying… but awesome!

          • KH_Tas

            The app page for that one has been open on my home laptop for a week while i roadbock in fear over it

    • Cleo

      Something I’ve found that really works for me is forcing myself into a schedule and taking away the choice of “do I or don’t I” and basically all other options I would have that would allow me to make excuses. I think I have decision fatigue in my life and scheduling my days like I’m in elementary school helps me.

      I go to the gym before work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. No other option. I know on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, I get my gym bag ready — put my work clothes in it, fill up my water bottle — and put it by the front door. Then, I lay out my gym clothes. When I get up, I put on the gym clothes, so even if I want to skip, I’m already dressed for it, so might as well go. I have a workout already planned and pre-logged in a notebook I take to the gym with me. I know how many sets and reps of what exercises I’m doing and how much weight I’m using. I know how long/far I’m going to run.

      It takes about 2-3 weeks of diligent forcing to get into the routine, but after that, it feels weird to not be in it. I changed to Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday last week because I was going out of town on Friday morning and wanted to get 3 workouts in and my entire week I was so disoriented. I thought it was Monday on Tuesday and Wednesday on Thursday (which was nice whenever I realized it, but hugely confusing for scheduling purposes).

      • dani

        One thing that helps me get up and exercise is not washing my hair the night before… I think you have to find the little things that you use as excuses and flip them on yourself…Routine is definitely king and pre organising as well as telling people so that you have vocalised it to the world as its easy to not do something if the only person that knows you were going to do it is you.

    • This is totally me. I’m good once I get into a routine, but the minute my routine gets altered, it’s so easy to just quit exercising altogether.

      • Sara

        I totally do that too. I miss one day, I pretty much derail myself for months.

    • Meg Keene

      How do you frame it for yourself? I work out because I feel shitty if I don’t, and good if I do. So if I fall off the wagon for a few days (I mean, right now my goal is 3X a week, because, baby) then I start feeling not great, and that gives me the fire to do it.

      If I were framing it for myself as “weight loss” or “training” or “good to do/ bad not to do” I just wouldn’t work out, or have a good relationship with it. Since I frame it as something I do for me, to keep myself balanced and healthy, it becomes something I actively want to do, and fight for time to do.

      • stella

        I’m actually feeling the desperate need to work out consistently the last month or so since I realised how badly I needed it to release excess anxiety. I find that for the first time, instead of framing it as ‘I must exercise to be fit, or lose weight’ I am really seeing it as something my body craves for my mental health, and that actually makes me want to go because I know how much calmer I feel afterward.

        • Meg Keene

          Oh HIIIII. I have anxiety. That’s why I work out! Also, if I’m having a really awful anxious day I go STRAIGHT to the gym, do not pass go. (And then possibly have a very tiny scotch. Shhh ;)

    • Sarah E

      I’d suggest keeping it small. I’ve been around fitness my whole life, thanks to my mom, so I can easily get caught up in wanting the perfect workout: attend the best class, go for a great run- and then get bogged down in “but should I change now or later? When should I eat? Will I have time to shower then?”

      Instead, it’s much easier for me to just go for a walk. Have twenty minutes? That’s a great amount of time to be moving. Just have ten? Walk around the block. If I can give myself even a small shot of activity, it jumps me back into the “I’m a healthy, active person!” frame of mind and energizes me for later. When I’m stuck thinking “I haven’t worked out in aaages, I’m so out of shape, etc, etc” then it’s easier to stay in that mindset and say “I’m a lazy, unhealthy person” and then continue in the habits that make me feel that way.

  • Sarah E

    I finally got started building my mom’s website on Squarespace. I’m excited for her and for myself, because I will be the web manager and content editor, and largely the content writer. She’s a personal trainer and between her expertise (26 years and counting), my yoga training, and a a nutritionist friend, we’re going to carve out a place on the web for practical, positive health and fitness.

    I put my tasks into my Google calendar so I can build myself an actual routine and schedule, cuz I need Structure, like woah.

    Most importantly, I sat down to literally re-write the story about myself. I wrote a nice essay I’m proud of about how I got things all messed up about being Smart OR being Pretty (rather than “and”), so I can be done with it now. My new story reads like a page of affirmations, but I’m done telling myself I can’t start things or I don’t have experience or listing all my faults. I wrote a page and half that says things like: I’m strong. I’m the type of person who needs to move, so I make time to be active every day. I need routine, so I build one for myself. Like next month’s theme, it really is all about the story I tell myself about myself. I just had to remember that I get to write it :-)

    This month: getting my yoga homework done, and actually asking my friends if I can do my practice teaching at their house.

    • Not only do I want to read your co-website on wellness (I love stuff like that!) I would love to read your essay of affirmations. Sounds fantastic!

      • Sarah E

        I’ll definitely be singing the website to the world, once my two week trial period is up. The affirmations. . . are mostly for me. Thanks for the support!

    • Sounds awesome! If you lived near me, you could totally practice teach at my house :)

  • This post on The Happiness Project was SUPER helpful for me for getting past roadblocks: http://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2013/02/do-you-agree-with-these-four-levels-of-mental-energy/

    Basically, it says that there are four levels of mental energy and each one allows us to do different things…anywhere from creating amazing things (level 1) to just going through the motions of habitual tasks (level 4). A lot of times, it doesn’t matter what level we’re at because we HAVE to get shit done, but taking stock of what level I’m at has helped me so much, especially in the mornings, evenings, and weekends, when I have some choice in what I’m doing. (And even within my day, I do have a choice most days.) If I’m at a level 1, even if it’s not typical working hours, I try to sit down and plug away at work while I have the energy. And if I’m at a level 3, I look and see if there’s something I can do that still counts as work (like going shopping for a work project) that would allow me to get mentally recharged since I know I’m not going to produce much if I stay at my desk. It’s really, really changed how I look at my time and my expectations for myself. If I KNOW I’m at a level 3 or 4, I don’t give myself shit for not doing more…I recognize that’s all I had in me at that moment and make the best of it.

    • I remember that post, but I think I read too much of her good stuff to keep it all in my head at once. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Laura C

      That’s so helpful.

      Signed, Level 4 at the moment.

    • Erin E

      I like these distinctions and definitely agree that I have different levels of mental energy. Speaking as someone who used to work from home and now is back in office-land (sigh), I’m finding it hard to mentally shift gears while I’m confined to my desk. When I needed to shift gears at home, it was easy to walk the dog or find another task to re-energize myself. But what can you do in an office when you’re mentally at a level 3 but still have two hours on the clock?? I’ve started popping outside for short walks now and then… but I’d also love to hear what other cubicle-dwellers do when they can’t totally switch gears (at least in a physical sense).

      • KC

        Sorting through email, updating contact lists to be more useful, running a backup, or doing filing might fit the bill as something useful but that doesn’t take all *that* much brain. Basically, looking for either the sous chef work: prepping project components for you to speed ahead when you do have the mental energy – or the dishwasher work: tidying things up and polishing up loose ends.

        I’ve found that having a list of things that need to be done “eventually” can especially help when my brain is lagging – skim over the list, identify the hardest thing that seems feasible given the amount of time I have or the mental energy I have, and go.

      • Jenny

        When I was working a more structured 9-5, I made a list of evergreen tasks. By this I mean things that always need to be done. Lit search, draft the methods section for a project that doesn’t have results yet, clean out the communal drop box, clean out my inbox, clean my desk, clean out filing cabinets, send follow up/thank you notes for the last week meetings with community partners. I find those things were helpful both for me when I was low in energy, but also as ready giveable tasks for the RA’s I managed who finished their tasks early, or wanted a few more hours, which is nice because, especially when I first started managing people giving them tasks was so hard and time/energy consuming.

        • Emily

          We called those the “feed the chickens” duties… gotta feed the chickens everyday!

    • I have never seen this before and it makes so much sense that I think I’m giong to give it a try when I am at home in the morning/evening/on the weekend.

    • S

      I second the concept of just doing the work, combined with recognizing “levels”, as Rachel called them. My roadblock, (although, perhaps more like speed bumps), has been the million projects that comprise our house. Some of them are monstrous and aren’t controlled by me – ie, the ripping off of exterior walls and rebuilding of the kitchen, etc., but others are small putzy things, like making curtains or cleaning the bathroom or putting clothes away or hanging photos on the walls that I keep stalling out on. So, a week or so ago, I tentatively committed to trying to do one productive house thing a day. Also, I work from home, and there are times when I should probably be doing that work, but am not in the zone, or, you could say, at the right level. So, I end up dinking around doing nothing. My goal has been to realize if I’m not being productive at paid work, that I ought the be productive at SOMETHING and to just DO it – whatever small something that might be. And to focus on trying to complete small tasks, rather than saying, oh, I just need to wait for the kitchen, etc. to be done. Because, while there are plenty of things for which that is true, there are also tons of tasks where that does not apply, and the work just needs to get done. Anyway, all this to say – YES, identify what work you’re really capable of at the moment, and do it. Doing some small thing is better than doing nothing!

      • I love the idea of doing one productive house thing a day! Eric and I have been doing something similar…we call it “15 minutes of light activity.” Basically, we just have to do some little thing (not a regular daily chore, it has to a little something extra) or go for a walk at SOME point during the day. I often do more than 15 minutes once I get started (which is fine if that’s the energy level I’m at) but I feel like doing a little something each day keeps those things from turning into huge roadblocks when I really want to get shit done.

    • Lily

      Love the concept … as a serious introvert, I might switch levels 1 and 2 — engaging with people usually takes at least as much mental energy as “contemplative” tasks, for me.

  • Sarah E

    Also, I love this video from Danielle LaPorte that Alt shared on twitter today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cITNveY-kig&inf_contact_key=46f5df37b25ffe5d86b010dedb28485a0c39b8abce0c3f2d370e924f15596a3f

    Full of great mantras. I now have an index card on my desk that says “I’ll figure it out.”

  • Shauna

    I find it helpful to write down the “props-worthy actions” that I do each day (this is part of a larger wellness plan in which I track self-care, exercise, relaxation, etc.). Since we often don’t get external validation for these things (calling the dr. when we REALLY don’t want to, taking a first scary step on a job search, accomplishing a task that is odious-but-important or minor-but-niggling …), I find it very satisfying to catalog these achievements.

  • I need to just get it done – as in commit, go, do. I’ve been working to push myself beyond my comfort zone this year in many realms – creative, personal, professional, and it’s paying off, albeit slowly. When I realized I was focusing too much on perfection and not enough on DOING THE WORK I backed down, because perfection was leading to paralyzing thoughts of “what if it’s not good enough?” Now I try to live by “perfect is the enemy of the good,” and “you will figure it out,” when I’m trying to, well, figure it out. This can apply to those nights when I just want to enjoy a few rounds of Magic: The Gathering with the husband, as well.

    • Shauna

      My friend who works in state government says: “Perfect is the enemy of the good. And sometimes Good is the enemy of the Done.”

      • jashshea

        CERTAINLY. I’m corporate, but rings true there as well. Sometimes it’s best to just do the damn thing and figure out what breaks after the fact.

      • I like that a lot. Sometimes I just need to get it done, and this weekend on the “get-done” list are to hang the remaining framed pictures on our dining room gallery wall and catch-up in my scrapbook.

  • ella

    Current roadblock: my dissertation. Not the whole thing, but one specific part of it. The part that is based on the fieldwork I did last summer. The fieldwork where I was physically ill, lonely, isolated, and generally unhappy with myself. This translated into an overall feeling that I was a horrible researcher. The result? I’m scared to deal with the data. Code it. Analyze it. Write it. Because it brings back all those feelings. I’ve put it off by working on other chapters of the dissertation. That’s all fine and well, because they needed to get done. But now? I have to do the work. If I want to finish, it has to get done. The first step? I wrote an outline of the chapter. Next step? Writing the intro, lit, and methods. I’m hoping then, the momentum from the chapter being half done will get me through.

  • JenClaireM

    This post gave me that really excited feeling that comes when something speaks to me on a fundamental level of “yes! I want to do that!” It made me feel like it’s doable and something I can make real. So thank you for that! I’ve been hearing Dan Savage advertise Squarespace for ages, but now I’m actually looking around the website – and getting excited about what it can do and what I can do with it. My roadblock for years has been taking my own writing seriously. I can be so dismissive of myself, but I’m working to shift that paradigm. These posts really help with that.

  • YetAntherMegan

    I think right now my biggest issue is just not knowing what the hell I want. I changed my major in my junior year of college and was much happier for a while, but I’ve been out for 3 years and haven’t found a job that uses it. In the meantime, I’ve started a certificate program that I should probably give myself permission to quit, and found a job that is nothing that I’d expect but that it turns out I’m actually pretty good at. At the rate I’m going, it’ll take another 3 years or so to finish the certificate program I’m in, and I’d have to take a pay cut to get a job in that field. But, I find it really interesting and, to a certain extent, the classroom is my comfort zone. On the other hand, I don’t know what committing to my current path would look like down the road. Or even if either option is what I really want.

    • tiffany

      I’m with you 1,000% on this one. I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do when I went to college, I figured it would come to me as I went, except that it never did, or the department was shut down (religious studies). The reality, I should have done more in the Journalism, English, or History end of studies, but for some reason, I was blind to my passions. Instead I decided to go with a German major (I didn’t stop taking my foreign language classes even after meeting the minum requirements and by Junior year decided that I needed to do something, so after talking to an advisor, went with a German major since I was almost there anyway, never mind I had no clue what to do with it, not did I have any leads as to what could be done with it) with a double minor in Classics and East Asian Studies… esentially, a useless degree, unless I went on to get a Master’s degree (which I wouldn’t have minded, except for I took the GRE and think I got points for showing up, yay for not studying). Add to that working though college and not having the money to take time off of work to do internships etc… In any case, fast forward 10 years, and I’m still working jobs that require no education, and provided very little training for a “real” job/career. I feel like I’m no closer now then I was then, except now I know I would have taken a different path of study.

  • tiffany

    My roadblock, trying to decide which path to take, which decision to make, where to go and what to do. I’m just another cog in the wheel in a business that could easily live with out me. I severly dislike my job, but it pays the bills and being the primary provided in my house (my hubby does have a job, he enjoys it (mostly), but it doesn’t really help pay the bills too terribly much) it makes it terrifying to even think about looking at other job options. Why? Simple, I get paid a very decent amount for a job that a trained monkey and parrot could easliy do. In order to change positions, I am looking at a pretty heavy pay cut. I know that pay cut could be balanced a bit with better health insurance (very important since we are talking baby now), but we are struggling as it is to keep up with our day to day, and that’s after some major cut-backs. Right now I just feel lost. I don’t know what path to follow in order to even take the first step, so for now, I show up, I do my work, and I go home. I want to be able to be creative, use my brain and face challenges that need to be solved. So, yeah, damn right I’m terrified! I feel like I went to college to work a job that anyone could do; that I’m wasting my talents for the sake of trying to pay the bills. I feel like I’m failing not only my current self, but also my younger, dreamy eyed self that was going to make a damn difference in this world, the me that wasn’t going to work a job I disliked just because it paid the bills. That’s my roadblock, I guess maybe it’s myself, my fear, my inablility to find figure out what I can do to change things, what path to take, where to begin, what to do.

    • JenClaireM

      Have you ever read “Your Money or Your Life”? I’m in the middle of it, so I can’t fully speak to it as a whole, but it’s giving me a lot to think about in terms of money and work. I too am a cog in a big machine and I also get really scared of what it would mean to walk away from the money that machine gives me, even though I’m not happy in the job. I’m not the primary breadwinner – my husband and I are about equal contributors at this point – so my experience isn’t exactly the same as yours; but I think if you feel like your wasting your talents and failing yourself, it’s worth working on the roadblock. Good luck!