Productivity: Escaping the Land of Stuck, Part 3: The Quagmire of Failure

We return for round three of Escaping the Land of Stuck.

If you have done the past couple of sessions and neither the The Isle of Perfectionism or The Sea of Change seems familiar, there is one more location where a gzillion people get stuck and you might be right there with them: The Quagmire of Failure.

It’s a nasty little place where stinking thinking sets up shop and dishes out a toxic stew. 

That toxicity is created from the stories we tell about rejection. After all, it may be woven into the life of an academic, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when it happens. And not surprisingly, rejection can easily get twisted into you having failed and then in a hop, skip and a jump, you become the failure. Like I said, it’s a nasty place.

So, if you are finding yourself unable to get going because you had a setback, welcome to the Quagmire of “Failure”!

Now let’s get you the hell out.

First, we are going to take a little detour. Or more accurately, we are going to cut off all of the exits from feeling bad. That’s right. I want you to FEEL not getting what you wanted. Too often we skip over the actual feeling bad and move to anger or blame or any number of emotions that are not just straight up disappointment. So, set a timer and cry it out (either literally or figuratively).

Finished? Ok, now, let’s get you back into the arena, because that is where the game is played.

For this last exit strategy, we are going to flip the script a bit. Rather than having you explore your “stuckness,” I am going to ask you to get out that piece of paper and instead begin a list of the stories you are creating.

If I was coaching you individually, and you told me you that thing you wanted and you are unable to muster the will to go back to work, I would ask:

“What do you think this rejection says about you as a scholar?

“What story are you creating about your future?”

“What space in your head are you giving over to other people’s (imagined) opinions?

As you worked out each story (because that’s all they are) I would ask:

“What of that is actual fact rather than your fear or opinion?”

And once you had unpacked the ways you are willfully scaring yourself with fiction, we would begin to explore a more supportive line of questioning.

“What are you forgetting that you do/did successfully?” (Hint: You SUBMITTED IT!)

“What can you learn from this?”

“What can you do to remove fear from the driver’s seat?”

I am going to leave you here with one more resource to get yourself safely out of the quagmire: Check out the podcast we did on dealing with rejection!

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Productivity: Escaping the Land of Stuck, Part 3: The Quagmire of Failure — 1 Comment

  1. What a great way (all three parts) to help students reframe their narrative of what getting stuck / experiencing writer’s block means. I love that it plays on strengths that all doctoral students have: being curious and asking questions. “Instead of getting mad, get curious. Why did I get stuck here?” The best. Thank you!!

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