Getting Through the Mopes, the Blocks and the Stalls

It happens…

The time will come in this 20 Hours Ahead Journey that you stuck. You will not feel like doing the work. You will not feel like you’re progressing, and you will certainly feel like somewhere along the line, you made the wrong decision to learn something new, to put yourself out there, and strike out on your own.

For me (and maybe for you), these crisis come in three different forms. Naming them helps, and being able to identify when they are happening is even better. There’s nothing worse than waking up a week or two into a mopeblock, or stall and wondering where the time has gone.

The Mopes

You know what you don’t know, and that’s a bummer…

The Mopes come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and severities. Basically, it’s the emotional reaction and general discouragement when what you’re doing isn’t working as easily as you’d hoped.

These typically occur when you:

  • realize how limited your skillset is
  • receive negative or even neutral feedback from a client
  • compare your work to others in your industry and see just how far ahead they are.

For me, I look at folks that I admire in the WordPress community (specifically Genesis Developers) and think “It’s hopeless. They have at least five to seven years on me. I’ll nevercatch up…” And that’s when I get my sweat pants on, make some coffee and abandon my work because it’s “pointless”…

Like Harry Potter and company training to ward off dementors, if it helps you to look The Mope in the eye and yell “Riddikulus!“, you probably should:

Now that we know the Mope is ridiculous, let’s move on…

The Blocks

You didn’t know what you don’t know, and now you don’t know where to go or what to do.

Sometimes, it’s not our feelings about our work that get in the way. It is the actual limitations of our experience, knowledge base and resources that keep us from doing our job. Blocks occurs when you:

  • try something more than 7 times, just like the pros do it, and it doesn’t work for you.
  • can’t get to the “next steps” in the process due to lack of information or resources
  • just don’t know what you don’t know

The biggest block I can remember was breaking a website with a little bit of PHP code, and not knowing how to fix it. In all honesty, I about threw up. I’d put a solid ten hours of work into that site, and had backups. But I didn’t know how to restore the backups (still working on finding a good solution within my range of abilities) and I didn’t know what I had done wrong (so, I might very well do something like this again and not have a way to fix it again)

Big blocks like this happen, and at the time, there’s nothing you can do about it… Unless…

The Stalls

You know what you don’t know, and that scares you a bit.

You might have hit a Block, or you might be into the Mopes (deeeeeeeeeep into the mopes). Or, like a guy with bad circulation, you might have a classic case of cold feet. Whether isolated or compounded with other factors, Stalls typically occurs when you:

  • get intimidated by the work in front of you (and you distract yourself)
  • become nervous that people might actually buy what you sell
  • don’t have the next step or two planned out (and therefore don’t what to “move on”)

I’m not always a fearless person, but whenever I’m on a cliff, and I count to three, I usually jump (so I might be an idiot too!). However, I have a huge sense of responsibility and dedication to make things that people want more than worth the money they’re paying. I’m currently sitting on a book that is 80% done. It would take me a week to finish it, edit it and submit it to Amazon…

But it sits… and sits…

Fear: the Common Denominator

“Oh, you will be… you WILL BE…” -Yoda

I believe the common strand in the mopes, blocks, and stalls overcoming us is fear. It happens to all of us, especially the fear of losing something. That some-thing is whatever we’ve been working so hard on. The harder we work, the greater the fear. We can fear many things happening to us:

  • loss of a sale/contract
  • being perceived as an imposter
  • loss of time
  • making something that no one wants
  • launching your product or service on the day of the zombie apocalypse (just you luck!)

Whatever the case, fear happens, it grips us and we freeze and back away. We don’t want to get burnt, cut or scarred.

Maybe that’s actually why you got into this whole business/freelancing/learning-a-new-and-marketable-skill-thing: fear that you’d lose your current job, or worse, that you would keep it…forever… (cue evil laugh…)

I’ll raise my hand and say that on a good day, I’m testing out this “side-gig-thing” to see if it’s actually something I can actually make a decent side income from it. And if I can get reallygood, maybe it will be enough to replace mine or my wife’s income (can you see the way fear makes me cautious and non-committal?).

Solutions and Fixes

You will have to figure out what works for you because you MUST. There are plenty of ways out of this that I have found helpful:

  • Quit and go back to what you know or start over with something else (I usually do this, and it’s not recommended or very much fun, but do what you must)
  • De-screen and go do something else for 15 minutes (helpful)
  • Admit that you’re afraid, or at least that you’ve got the Mopes, Blocks, or Stalls
  • Reach out and ask someone for help (you’d be surprised at who’s will to help. I know I have been!)
  • Pay for a product, service or course in whatever you’re trying to learn to accelerate your learning
  • Go back and look at the log of projects you’ve already completed (or if you don’t have much from what you’re doing now, you’ve probably done something before that you can be proud of and encouraged by)

Finally, remember:

this is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a journey, not a beer run.

Time I’ve wasted with the Mopes, Blocks and Stalls since trying to do my own thing: 20+ hours!!!

Here’s the final question: do these hours “count against” us in the 20 hours ahead project?

What do you think?


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