How to Get Unstuck - Update your dreams to get moving

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (a little late)!  I just got back from a lovely weekend visiting family and friends and my feet were happy to find some colourful leaves to cruch underfoot.  Crunchy leaves and crunchy ice just make me happy.  I love you Canada... 

Have you ever found yourself with a dream, a long time dream, but without the motivation to pursue it?  If the answer is yes, I've got a treat for you. 

Jill Priest, funny gal and dog trainer extraordinaire, recently asked a question on facebook about how to get unstuck.  Jill and I have worked together in the past (we once filled 12 garbage bags full of clothes in one afternoon) and I was curious to hear the whole story, so I asked her if she would be willing to share her story with me (and you).

Luckily for us, she agreed.  Read on for Jill's letter and my response.


Hi Cecilia,

So, I've been feeling "stuck" for some time. What I love to do, and what I'm good at doing, is teaching people how to train their dogs.  I've been doing this dog training thing for ten years and it truly brings me joy.

I've always done this as a part-time pursuit. It used to fill four nights a week and both days every weekend, but I scaled back recently.  All the while, I've held a full-time, well-paying corporate-type job.

A few years ago, during a period of "feeling stuck," I "got really serious" with myself and what I wanted to do -- open a school for professional dog trainers. I identified three key things I had to do to make that happen: 1) pay off my personal debt, 2) sell my house so I was no longer crushed by such a large mortgage, and 3) buy (not lease) and pay off a vehicle.

The results of that little exercise were ENORMOUS. As in, within the space of two months, I had found a buyer for my home (without having to list with an agent), used the proceeds to pay off all my debt, and bought a much less expensive place with a more manageable mortgage. Not only that, but my life was heading in such a great direction and I was so happy about it, within a month after all that I met a the man who would become my husband and make me a happy step-mom to two amazing teenagers.

(I seem to remember posting about this on FB at the time. You called me "an amazingly powerful manifester," if I'm not mistaken.)

Fast forward a couple of years. Man and I are now married, we have bought a home of our own outside the city (much better for dog-related life), and have killed more than half the personal debt we carry (I was debt free, but he was not, so it's a common goal we're working against now).

Having someone to share common goals with is remarkably empowering, but at the same time, it can dilute your intentions a little. For example, I had hoped to be working full-time in dogs by now -- that was the plan, and we were on track for making it happen.

A few months ago, rather than take the leap into working with dogs full time, I talked myself into taking another full-time, corporate-type job, that requires me to commute a total of 5 hours a day.  The commute is actually okay, but the job is not. I'm not happy, I feel stupid much of the time, and in my heart, I know it's not where I should be or what I should be doing.

Part of the problem is golden handcuffs. The salary that I can count on every two weeks is a HUGE source of security to me, especially now that I'm married. Before, if I crashed and burned, well hey, it was just me, right? But if I crash and burn now, I have a partner that I'll be letting down. Not to mention all the pressure he'll feel if he becomes responsible for us financially (like a lot of couples, we've created a life that is based on two salaries).

I've been waiting/praying/looking for a sign or an event to signal to me that it's time to make the change -- winning the lottery or something equally securing. But I'm starting to think that I'm going to have to DO something before a change will come my way. And more importantly, that when I finally do something, whatever it is, it will bring the change that I need, even if it's not the one I have pictured in my head right now.

As always, I value your input and insight, and welcome whatever wisdom you have to impart.


P.S. It's not lost on me that my house is VERY cluttered and I'm certain that if I did a major clearing, it would also help me get unstuck. We were even thinking of renting a dumpster bin to go through a major "clean it out and haul it away" weekend!

(and here is my response)

Hi Jill,

Thank you for this.  It's really lovely to read about your journey.  A few things stand out to me when I read your email. 

The first one is, that I find myself wondering what your intentions are now? 

You write about how a HUGE shift happened when you got "really serious" and wrote down what you wanted and what was in the way.  It's just incredible to hear what happened when you really clarified your intentions.  You met your goals and not only that, but you made some space to meet a wonderful man who is now your husband. 

I guess the feeling that I get is that perhaps your intentions are a little stale.  You had a clear vision for your life and that life has changed significantly. 

This doesn't mean that you don't still want the same thing (to open a school for professional dog trainers), but the way you want it has probably changed.  When you first set out on that goal, your life was one way (you were single, you lived in the city, you had lots of big dogs) and now it's another (you're married, you have step-kids, you live in the country, you have lots of big dogs). 

There's one thing I know about you Jill, and that is that when you put your mind to something SHIT HAPPENS!

Yes, there's a part of you who wants to play it safe, keep the boring job and know that every two weeks you'll get a deposit in your bank account.  I just have to say, of course you want to play it safe.  It's totally sane and natural to want to pay your mortgage, buy food and support your hubby in his goals of reducing debt. 

I guess what I feel when I read your email Jill is that you're trying to figure it all out before you take a step.  As you know, the perfectionist is a huge fan of all or nothing thinking.  The perfectionist wants to know EXACTLY how you're going to get from A to B before she'll even put on her shoes to walk out the door.  She also thinks that you need to choose between the "golden handcuff" security of a full time job and the fly by the seat of your pants insecurity of working for yourself.  The truth is that you'll probably fall somewhere in between. 

You don't move, because you don't know what the journey is going to look like.

Who says that you have to give up your financial security to follow your dreams?

This is what you're going to do. 

STEP ONE: Bring your dream up to date!

You're going to write your destination.  You're going to write down what you want and how it's going to feel when you get there as Jill Priest, October 10th, 2012.

You don't have to figure out how you're going to get there, just paint a picture of your new life, with your school, your sweetie, your step-kids, your house in the country and your dogs.  Reconnect with the part of you who loves dogs and who loves teaching.  Get in touch with the joy and excitement that you feel when you consider living a life that is truly meaningful and fulfilling.

If the picture is a little fuzzy, than focus on the feeling.  How do you want to feel when you wake up in the morning?  What does a great day feel like?  What kind of work gets you excited about life?

STEP TWO: Clear out that clutter!

You lady, I will remind you again, can make shit happen, so ask for what you want and then make some space for it to come in.  This is not about choosing one life over another, it's simply about asking for what you want and opening to the possibility.

When you're sorting through your clutter ask yourself if the item supports you in the new vision you have for your life.  If it doesn't then out it goes.  It's so hard to see a path toward the future if you're bogged down with things from the past.

STEP THREE: Let your dream breathe!

Let it go to let it come.  Once you've decided what you want and you've made some space for it, give it a little breathing room. 

I get the sense that one of the reasons you feel stuck around creating your school for dog trainers is that you're stuck on it looking one way. 

Either you think it's going to be the way that you've done it in the past (working four nights a week and every weekend, uh, no thanks) or maybe you think you have to do it somebody else's way.

Let your dream grow organically.  It feels like this school could be something totally different than what you imagine it to be.  Get clear on the ingredients (how you want to feel, what you want to give etc...), make some space and then allow it to grow up on it's own. 

You may find that there are some things that will make it easier to grow (working a different job, using your five hour commute to brainstorm, moving to a part time job, video training, offering a weekend intensive rather than weekly classes etc...) but it's important to allow both the business and yourself to be pulled in the direction that feels exciting and enlivening rather than the direction you planned many years ago. 

Good luck Jill!!!  I can't wait to hear how it goes.  Once you put your mind, heart and soul into something it can't help but become something fabulous.  I've seen you do it too many times, it has to be true.

Oh, and you know that "sign" you've been looking for?  I think it just might be here.  As Bob Dylan once said, the times, they are a-changin.




Thanks for reading Jill's letter and my response.  Now it's your turn.

Do you have a longtime dream that you can't seem to get moving on?  If the answer is yes than follow the steps above.  To review:

Step One - Bring your dream up to date!

Step Two - Clear that clutter!

Step Three - Give your dream some breathing room! 

I'd love to hear your experience with this so let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Take care,

Cecilia ox

p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on the list!  I send out a fun and useful email just about every week on clearing clutter and living life.  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

p.p.s. I love questions, so if you have any questions on clutter or life, just drop me a line and I may feature your question and my answer in an upcoming post.