When All Else Fails, Be of Service

We all get stuck sometimes, but simple acts of service can both help us get unstuck and help keep us productive and growing

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I have these days sometimes where I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do. I’m sure you’ve had them before, too.

You’re just not sure what you’re supposed to do. Your personal brand is *meh*. No one is reading your latest newsletter, or buying your latest product. Your task list is heavy with big, important things — the kind that are difficult to even think about starting, let alone complete. Your inbox is flooded with all sorts of stuff that you know you need to at least read, if not respond to. You’ve got meetings, a bunch of meetings — oh dear God, the meetings!

You had a list of projects, prioritized, and next actions as well! But new developments have blown all that up. You’re not even clear what’s what right now.

It seems like this day will slip away from you, with not much to show for it.

So what do you do?

Be of service.
And build from there.

Everyone would appreciate a little something right now. Everyone you know — everyone you work with, everyone in your house, your friends, your family — all those folks could use a little something. To give them that something is to serve them. And to serve is among the best things we as humans can do with our time and energy.

Do A Little Something

Feeling tired, anxious, unable to focus, and pessimistic? Call up a coworker and ask how they’re doing, what they’re working on. If they mention something they’re having a hard time with, give them an idea, or offer to help if you can do it easily, or if it sounds like something you’d enjoy doing.

Don’t feel like calling someone? No worries! Chances are, there are emails in your inbox whose answer would be a bit of service. You could answer the person’s email, and add in a little bit of extra info to help them more. Go just a little bit above and beyond — to serve them and their purposes.

Too lazy to go combing through your inbox or call someone? Get up to serve yourself with a beverage or snack, and if you work or live with someone else, ask if they want something while you’re up. Or, if you know that they like certain things, get them that thing and surprise them by bringing it to them.

Does even finding ways to help others seem too taxing at the moment? Honestly can’t get out of your own head long enough to anticipate the needs of another? That’s okay, we’ve all been there. Focus on serving yourself — your future self!

  • Hop on to your bank’s website and move $50 over to your savings account.
  • Go wash a few dishes now, so you won’t have to later on when you’re even more tired.
  • Put tomorrow’s workout clothes in your gym bag now, so you don’t have to remember later — and possibly miss your workout…again.
  • Make yourself a healthy lunch for tomorrow, right now.

Think of a way you can help your future self do better and meet your goals of being a better you — and do that now!

Why This Works

Acts of service do 2 important things: they get you out of whatever rut you’re in and they make changes to your mindset toward value creation.

Acts of service are simple and often easy to do right now, with no pressure. Because what you’re doing is often unexpected and not subject to deadlines or harsh evaluation, your mind hasn’t built up barriers to doing them. So you can simply pick some small thing to do, and do it. And then, boom! You’ve overcome your paralysis or procrastination, and you’ve brightened someone’s day a little!

In doing acts of service — especially ones you aren’t explicitly expected to do — you are changing your mindset toward one of value creation. You create value when you serve others. And when you create value, people tend to notice. Create enough value, and you become known for it. Those known for creating value get opportunities, respect, and compensation.

We all get stuck. We all doubt ourselves and become paralyzed for a little bit sometimes. It’s important that when that happens, we remember that we can still serve someone else. When we do that — in whatever small way we can right now — it can rekindle that fire we once had to create value. Once that fire is burning again, the sky is the limit.

Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”: https://goo.gl/UhzUYL.

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