Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Hitting a Brick Wall?

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By Tammy J. Halstead, Director of Alumni Advising & Development

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“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”

― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

We have all been there… Maybe you are pursuing a goal or developing a skill or looking for a new career… when suddenly, you aren’t moving forward as quickly as you had hoped … time moves more slowly… motivation wanes… progress stalls.  What do you do when you hit a brick wall?

In thinking about ways to keep going when it feels like your progress is not moving quickly enough, here are a few suggestions to try:

1.  Give It A Break.  Sometimes when you hit a brick wall, your body and mind are telling you that you need a break to recharge - make sure you give yourself that time. 

2.  Set Limits.  If moving towards your goal begins occupying an ever-increasing amount of time and thought, a strict time limit may be in order.  "At 4pm my work towards this goal is complete for the day".  By imposing limits, you give yourself permission to relax and come back to your goals later.

3.  Celebrate!  Take some time to acknowledge, celebrate, and shout! how far you've come and what you’ve accomplished.  For long-range goals, focus on small areas of improvement (keep a list!) rather than just the end-game. 

4.  Reclaim Your Energy.  Make a list of all the activities related to your goal and reflect on which ones give you energy and which ones cost you energy.  Can you do more of the things that give you energy?  Can you do the things that cost you energy at times when you have energy to spare?

5.  Get Acquainted…With The Wall.  Are there patterns to when you “hit the brick wall"?  What is the brick wall, really?  What can I learn from this particular wall?  Getting to know your personal brick walls may allow you to identify new ways to go around - or to find a hidden door waiting to be opened. 

6.  Give Back.  Consider volunteering in your community, which will help you increase your network, skills, and fulfillment– a great way to move beyond a brick wall!  

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