Sometimes in life we find ourselves stalled. Maybe it’s a new project, a side hustle, savings plan or a diet. Whatever it is, it’s happened, and in one form or another we’ve all been there. There are things that can help when you’re stalled and don’t know how to restart the engines.

Why You Need to Get Unstuck

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.In Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, there is a story entitled, “Three Feet from Gold.”

In the story, Mr. Darby and his uncle set out for the Colorado gold mines. After hard work with pick and shovel, they discover a rich vein of gold but do not have the tools to mine it. They carefully cover their discovery and head back home to seek aid.

Back East, they quietly disclose the discovery to friends and family. They raise the capital for mining machinery, buy the equipment is and ship it to Colorado. The Darby’s set back out for their mine.

With the new equipment, the vein is mined and rich ore is sent to the smelter. A few more cars are brought in and the Darby’s are excited. It won’t take many more cars of ore to clear their debts. Then, the ore is gone. The vein drops off and cannot be found.

The Darby’s continue mining, hoping to pick back up the vein. They become frantic and desperate. Then they quit. Trying to cut their losses, they sell their mining equipment to a junk man for a couple hundred bucks. They return home.

The junk man hires an engineer to take a look at the mine. The engineer proclaims that there is a fault line and the vein will reappear quickly, within about three feet. The junk man uses the equipment and sure enough, it is almost exactly three feet in. He makes millions of dollars off the mine.

The young Mr. Darby hears of the mine’s success and vows to never give up again. He becomes an insurance salesman. A very, very successful insurance salesman. He had a saying, a mantra if you will, that he told himself over and over:

“I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance.”

So How Do You Restart?

Figure Out Why You StoppedQuestion Mark on Chalkboard

Without giving it much thought, grab a notepad and a pen. Ask yourself, “Why did I stop?” Set a timer for five minutes and start writing. Let the thoughts freely flow from you and write down everything that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter how big or little these thoughts are, just jot them down. Don’t let this exercise get too big in your mind. You aren’t writing a school essay; this is for your eyes only. If you are done writing about the issue before your five minute timer, keep pouring any of your thoughts on the paper. You may even find yourself writing things like “I’m done” or “I don’t know.”

Now, walk away. Give yourself a few minutes before you read what you wrote. Find a small chore or task. Start some laundry, pet the cat, check the mail. Get up and walk away.

It’s Not a Failure, It’s a Lesson

When you read your notepad, what stands out? Is there something that was first that led to other things? Was it one big thing with a bunch of little parts? Or just a bunch of little parts?

You might also look at the mental vs physical qualities. For instance, did something physical happen? Was there a death, an illness, or an injury? Did any of those physical things lead you to mental reasons for stopping?

If you discover you’ve let friends and family get you down and that it may have contributed to your lack of progress, try reading this post.

It’s often a blurred line between reasons and excuses. That’s okay. While you are discovering why you stalled, this whole exercise is about moving forward. So congratulations, you are already taking a step to move forward!

Recognize that there is no failure. There are only lessons. In Mr. Darby’s mining story there is no failure. He went on to utilize the lesson to become a very successful salesman. He may not have made his fortune with gold, but he made by remembering to not give up.

Help when you have stalled can make a success out of a failureSo How Do You Restart?

  • You give yourself permission to restart.
  • Unless you have a contract with someone else or have agreed to do a job for them, you do not owe anyone an explanation.
  • Use the base that you began to rework your goals. Goal evaluation is something you should consider often, so now is the perfect time. Recognize that even a stalled project has provided you a foundation and lesson.
  • You do it. Get your mind out of the game and get on with it. If this feels funny to you, give yourself a break. Play a mind game with yourself and pretend like you were away for other business or on vacation.

Have you ever stopped three feet to gold? Did you go back and dig it up? Do you have any tips or tricks to help when you have stalled on a project? Share in the comments below, you may help someone keep mining.


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