Stagnation– the state of being stagnant, or to cease to flow or progress, is the silent killer of men, women, and children of all ages. Have you ever felt at a complete standstill in life? You have big ideas, thoughts, goals, wishes, and desires, all of which remain active presences in your train of thought, yet are left to fester with other routine thoughts and never acted upon.
I know the feeling all too well and am not afraid to admit it. My past three weeks have developed into a slowly growing period of stagnation. I lose track of days, wake up at all times of the afternoon, and have produced much much less than I was shooting for, creatively speaking at least. When you feel like this, it is important to recognize what is occurring, why it is occurring, and what you can immediately do to combat it.
In my case, it was an initial stretch of jet-lag that took me down for a few days combined with a late night schedule of socializing, partying, late dinners, and overall craziness that created lazy days and intense nights with a below average amount of sleep- a recipe for disaster.
It is so easy to use excuses when feeling stagnant. You tell yourself you will start Monday, the first of the month, tomorrow, or after an event. You develop ideas and goals yet none of which are delivered. You trick yourself with one more drink, one more “everyone else is going so I have to too”, one more jot on a notebook as a reminder that will fade in between pages of grocery lists and inspirational quotes from Oscar Wilde that you will never remember by heart. Life becomes a faze, a facade of sorts…what is happening? Is this the result of living a free open schedule life? Simply put, probably.
Now that you are strong enough to admit what is going on, it is time to make a difference and get back on track, even if you have to force yourself to do something. We are humans, we find pleasure and purpose in growth, recognition, and completion of tasks, no matter what the size or target. What is the answer- AN ACTION PLAN.
An action plan is a list of immediate small tasks you can do to progress. These are things you can complete in the matter of hours without any external resources, pressure, or excuses. Start small. Do 100 push-ups, apply to three jobs, write two pages, etc. Whatever it is, the key is the get into a habit or production where all of these little wins are amounting to a change in lifestyle that will become second nature at some point. An action plan differs from a traditional goal list because it only contains tasks that can be started immediately.
Short-term Action Plan
– Learn something new everyday. Create a list and the night before plan the next morning’s activity or task. It can be how to make homemade meatballs, learning how to pick a lock, simple language tasks, or any new talent you can acquire in a short amount of time. Imagine that after one year you will have 365 new skills that will make you undoubtedly a more well-rounded and interesting person. The key is to do it the day you learn it to help with long-term memory of the task.
– Get out and do more. Similar to the previous list, I will fill my calendar with one or two events each day in the city that I am living in. These can be cultural or art related, festivals, promotions, and or meet-ups. I will have a few to widen the variety and adapt to whatever mood I happen to be in that day- a task that will prevent excuses of getting in the way.
– Small goals. Writing a screenplay is to daunting of a task to add to an action plan. Instead, I am focusing first on character development, more specifically just the main character. Also, one new blog post a week. That will keep the creativity flowing and I will shoot for more ambitious efforts but the key is to remain realistic at first and to develop some type of rhythm.
– Other tasks. Healthy eating, cleanses, exercise. These have become second nature in my life to the point where I no longer need to remind myself of the choices to make or what to do. This is a prime example of how early action plans many years ago have led to a complete reconstructive lifestyle change for the better.
Whatever your goals and desires are, you can use this approach to get back on the right track. Start small, remain ambitious, and get back to full productivity before the good life takes over and complacency sets in!