When stuck, ask “What’s really going on here?”

You’re stuck.

You feel paralyzed. You don’t know what to do next. And you don’t know why.

Has this ever happened to you?

Yeah, me too.

I was writing an article for Location Asia on how you can get cheaper flights than Kayak. I wrote about how you use Kayak merely as a baseline. Then reveal the process I use to book the cheapest flights for my clients. Everything was going well.

Until it wasn’t.

I used flying from Beijing to Manila as an example to illustrate my process. After working on it for about 2 hours… I saw that I couldn’t beat Kayak’s price, which defeats the whole point of the whole article.

So I went through my process over and over again, getting the same useless results. Okay, WTF am I supposed to do now?

I felt stuck.

Then as per usual, I defaulted to my guilty pleasure: For the next hour, I stopped writing… And I read a book.

Fortunately, after one hour I finally got my zombie self to stop self-sabotaging and wake up. Then I asked myself,

What’s really going on here?

Here’s what: The reality is, sometimes there’s no cheaper alternative route. Big airlines, the ones in Kayak… Sometimes, they do show the cheapest flights (especially if it’s from a big city to another)

I realized… Airline flight prices are out of my control.

Yes, I can visit every budget airline’s website.

Yes, I can get creative and try nearby airports.

And yes, I can try routing to hub cities.

In fact, that’s what I do for my clients. And that’s what I did in the example I was writing about. But you know, sometimes Kayak does show the best prices.

And there’s nothing I can do about that.

So I used a different example. And BOOM, I beat Kayak’s price by 47.83%. Problem solved!

Here’s the point.

Like flight prices, many things are not under your control.

If you have a process you worked hard at. You are confident it works. And you implement your process… Even when you get a different result than you expected (what we tend to define as failure), you did your best. Literally, it’s the best you can do with what you have. It’s not you. It’s it. So change it.

That’s how you get unstuck.

A lot of times when I feel stuck, it’s because I’m facing a dead end.

I sit down and cry. I bang my head against the wall. I try to bulldoze the brick wall down. But the reality is… It’s a f*ing dead end.

So why not take a different route?

Remember this: When you feel stuck, ask yourself, and THINK: What’s really going on here?

Wow, I’m trying to think of an example but can’t for the moment. If this resonates with you, I’d appreciate it if you share an example of a personal experience.

Was there ever a time when you felt stuck and you procrastinate and avoid the task and do all sorts of self-sabotaging behavior… Only to figure out that it’s not you, it’s the task?