How to Create a Breakthrough
You know the drill: you get started on a new project and for a while it goes well. You’re excited and inspired by what you are doing; the ideas are flowing; and you are a bundle of seemingly endless energy.
And then it starts to suck. It gets really hard. You wonder whether you’ll ever figure it out. The assumptions that held true at the beginning of the project no longer apply. And you feel well and truly stuck.
This is an important point in your project, and you have two choices on how to proceed:
- You can throw in the towel and wallow in despair.
- Or you can keep going, even when it feels as if you are wading through treacle.
The first option is where people often go. They decide that nothing more can be done, so they slap together whatever they’ve got and label it their final product. Or they give up entirely and start another project, one that looks more promising.
What you will discover if you choose the more difficult option – the one where you keep going at it against what seem like insurmountable odds – is that at some point you will reach a breakthrough.
At that breakthrough point the things that previously made no sense will come together like the pieces of a puzzle. You will feel a burst of energy and a renewed strength you didn’t realise you had.
I’ve been in that place many times, both with projects that lit up my heart as well as those that just needed to be done. In both cases that breakthrough state was exhilarating. And each time I’ve got to the end of the project, sat back and smiled at my handiwork and thought: I can’t believe I pulled that off!
You can create breakthrough moments in the projects you’re working on:
- Realise that inspiration at the beginning is great, but it won’t last. Like a new romance, the thrill will fade in time, and then you will be left with real work on your hands.
- The value of working on projects that inspire you is that they get you started on a high, and the end goal you’re after can serve as motivation to keep going. If you are doing work you don’t love, you’ll have to expend a lot of energy to generate enthusiasm throughout the life of the project. It’s exhausting!
- The tough part is inevitable. It is simply the natural cycle of any project, so don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean the project is hopeless; that you’ll never get it figured out; or that you are not good enough to succeed. Knowing that it’s not about you will help to prepare you for that tough stretch.
- Keep going, and you will create a breakthrough. And once you do, you’ll wonder what you were stressing about all along. Ride the wave, enjoy the renewed burst of energy, and use it to produce the best work you can.