Simple Trick to Get Out of the Mud

photo credit Josh Houghtelin

Are you trying to accomplish your goals, but, alas, you have a problem? Maybe you’re frustrated or angry about something. Perhaps motivation is nowhere to be found. Do you feel like you just can’t move forward? We all have those days (or months). For most of us we get tripped up by focusing on the problem, frustration, and feelings that are keeping us stuck in the mud. There’s a simple solution to get traction again. Ready for it? Click to read more.

The Real Problem: Focusing on the Roadblock

When we have a problem, where most of us go wrong is in our focus. We are focused on the problem. It’s like focusing on the mud when your car is stuck. Your focus needs to be on getting the wheels turning, getting traction, and getting back on the road.

The Solution: Focus on Where You Want to Go

So for any problem situation, the solution is simple:  Focus on What You Want to Be True. Focus on The Solution. Bring all your awareness to getting back on the road, not on the mud.

Once you figure out what you want to be true, then assume it mentally, live it out, and get on with your day.

Example Problems and Solutions

You may feel like this rule doesn’t apply to your situation. You may feel like “my problem is different.” But, if you read on, you may be surprised at how familiar these situations sound to you.

Let’s look at a few examples to help illustrate how problems can be fixed by changing our focus.

No Motivation

You’ve set some goals. Your steps for conquering the world begin with

  • Wake at 5am
  • Meditate to start the day right
  • Write the Great American Novel, Create a Fortune 500 company, etc.

You wake, you meditate, but when it comes time to do your work, your brain feels like warm clam chowder. You feel mentally heavy, lethargic, and not-motivated.

So what do most of us do in this situation? We notice and investigate very closely this unmotivatedness. We dwell on it. We wallow in it. We wonder how to ever overcome it. Basically, we feed this little monster until it is big and powerful. And now we’ve spent the morning handing over our power to it.

The Solution

Your problem is no motivation. Your solution is to focus on what you want to be true. You think you want motivation. What you really want to be taking action on your goals. So stop worrying about having the Feeling of motivation and instead reconnect with your goal, why you want to accomplish it, what your best next step is, and then do it! Take action. Just focus on what your next step is and do it.

The truth is 90% of the time motivation comes after you take action. So get busy. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or if you don’t know the next step after that. Just at least do the first step. When that’s done, figure out the next step. If you can’t figure it out, ASK for help either from a friend or even from your own intuition.

To tap into your intuition you can do one of two techniques:

  1. Close your eyes for 3-5 minutes, quiet the mind, and ask the Universe, God, and Your Intuition for an answer to your question. “What should I do next?” Listen. Whatever comes to mind, that’s your next step. If you get a bunch of steps, write them down and put them in some rough order of priority.
  2. Grab some paper or a journal and write down solutions to your question with whatever pops into your mind. Don’t edit yourself. Just write. After you’ve written uncensored for 3-5 minutes then analyze and organize your ideas into your next action step.


Fear as Procrastination

You have a list of items on your to-do list. You get ready to attack the list, and all of a sudden your brain conveniently dredges up a worry. Not just any worry, but a big juicy doozy of a worry. Something that spells potential catastrophe. You may not recognize that you are in fear, but you are.

  • You may be thinking of a future problem in your relationship (that could end in a break-up).
  • You might be thinking of a potential disaster at work (that could cause you to lose your job).
  • You may be worried about a little health nuisance (that could be the beginning of a debilitating disease).

In each example, the focus is on the worries and the fears behind the worry. In doing so we waste a great deal of time worrying instead of living our lives as we want them to be.

The Solution

Worrying distracts us from living our lives, reaching our goals, and enjoying life. The mind says, “This is an urgent situation. This is so urgent I can’t afford to think about anything else until this is resolved.” The problem our fears are usually overblown. The potential situation is often unlikely to even happen. Even if it is likely to happen, the bottom line is we should be living in the present moment with what is in front of us.

Here again the solution is simple, focus on what you want to be true. What we all want at our core is to be OK so that you can get back to work, living, and enjoying life.

Fear is a sort of special situation in that you can never eliminate the potential for all your fears. (This is what makes it such a great procrastination strategy of the mind). But what you can do is recognize that in this very moment you are OK. And in all likelihood, in the next moment you will also be OK. Even up to our ultimate physical farewell, in a sense, you are always OK. (Read Fear by Thich Nhat Hahn for more on this.)

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt. No truer words have ever been spoken.

So it’s important to recognize that you are OK right now, that you will do your best on the things you can control, but that you will largely leave fear behind and get back to living and your goals.

So allow yourself to focus on your work, goals or enjoyment.  Let it be true that you are allowed to focus your mind on your work.

The best solution here is to:

  • Focus your mind on what you want (not what you are afraid of)
  • Expect the best to happen
  • Be ok with whatever happens
  • Know that you can handle anything that comes your way

You can use these as mantras for a few minutes and then get back to work.

Stuck in Anger

You’re driving to work, visualizing your perfect day that is coming up. You’re smiling and feeling like the world is your oyster today. Then you call your son to see if he completed the important favor you asked of him. He says he forgot and didn’t get to it. “I’m sorry mom. I’ll do it next time.” You’ve heard this excuse before. This is just another dropped-ball in a series of dropped-balls by him and your anger is ready to take over your mindset like quicksilver.

You flash back to the original vision of your day and your thoughts go something like this, “Just great! I’m pissed off now. How could he let me down again, especially when I do so much for him? I bet this day is going to suck.” And then you start to mentally bathe in the bio-chemicals of anger that your body is now producing at a furious pace.

Anger is your zone and it is building far, wide and deep in your mind. You’re prediction is probably accurate. If you keep your focus here, you likely will have a terrible day.

The Solution

Oh the sweet feeling of anger.

What? Sweet feeling? Anger is not sweet.

Is it not? Do you not find yourself really working up that anger, not wanting to let it go, in fact finding it almost impossible to let it go?

Don’t feel bad about this.

We all do this. It is a habit. Our bodies actually become so accustomed to the neuro-chemicals of our habitual feelings that we find it hard to stop the cascade once those feelings start bubbling up.

But you can stop it. It’s a matter of establishing a new habit. The hardest time is when you are first establishing this new habit. That’s when your body wants to go into its usual reaction to certain situations.

So how to do you change this habit?

Focus on what you want to be true.

You want to not be angry.

You want to actually feel good, happy, and peaceful (although in that moment of sweet anger, your body’s addiction to your habitual emotion chemicals is telling you to keep the anger brewing).

Instead focus your mind on this:

  • I want to be happy.
  • I’m allowed to go back to being happy even though this disappointment just happened.
  • I don’t have to choose anger right now.
  • I can choose any emotion I want. I choose peace and happiness.
  • I choose to feel light in my heart.
  • Being happy gives me more power to solve my problems, do my work, and enjoy life.
  • I’m actually allowed to be happy at any and all times.

At first it will be hard to release the habit of anger (or frustration, sadness, disappointment, envy – whatever your go-to emotions are). But go with these new empowering thoughts. Repeat them for at least 5 minutes mentally or write them down.

Allow yourself to smile and to relax your body. Allow yourself to physically and mentally release your anger and tension. Go ahead and laugh at yourself even. Don’t take life so seriously, especially when it’s serious. Just laugh. Laugh a lot. Anger is way overrated.

Once you have started your mind journey back to being happy and peaceful, you can go ahead and get back to conquering the world.


To get out of the mud and get your bus moving again towards your goals, focus your vision on the road, not the mud. Focus on the good things you want. The more you do, the sooner you’ll be out of the mud!

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