Why It’s Not Working

published6 months ago
2 min read

There’re many potential reasons that ‘it’–that goal, aspiration, path, story that you’re seeking–just doesn’t seem to be working…


You might be in your head instead of in the world. I find that conceptualizing and creating cohesive mental models is great creating more understanding and consistency around something that is working, something you've got a grasp of that you'd like more of. But to get to new progress, you need to get out of your analytical thinking (all memory and analysis and no learning) and into ACTION. Trying to get it right in your head distracts you from getting into the territory.


You might be giving up too soon–because of expectations, fixed mindset, and/or a lack of feedback. We think something either works or doesn’t, so one failure means that it will never work. We think it’s supposed to be easy. Or on the other side of the coin we think it’s supposed to be hard and it won’t be worth even starting. And our own progress is often hidden from us: the subconscious learning we’re doing, the subtle changes in the world we’re not noticing yet, and what looks like no progress might just be hidden progress. (The dreaded 'plateau'.)


You might not want it. You think you should want it. It’s the obvious or rational or exciting or positive thing. Maybe you do actually want it but you've lost touch with the desire. Or it’s an “in order to” obscuring what you actually want. Your heart isn’t actually in it, and all sorts of forces will conspire inside and outside of you to get in the way.
“The human spirit will not invest itself in a compromise.” – Robert Fritz


Maybe you’ve got something backwards. Your understanding of the field is off, and no engineering can overcome bad physics. It ‘should’ work, but it doesn’t. It might partially or occasionally work, but never quite get off the ground and creates a lot of confusion and frustration, and it probably doesn't occur to you that one of things you know just ain’t so...

One Solution

There are many potential reasons why it’s not working; these are just a few. And you could check out each of them, one at a time, and have strategies for each. But I like the simplicity of simply raising your perspective, and there seems to be a universal intervention that naturally follows from there:

Engagement from an Open Mind

If you’re trying to ‘figure it out’, shift from your analytical mind to a reflective state of mind. Let yourself not know, sit still, listen, and wonder. Sometimes just stopping to reflect for 60 seconds is enough.

From that reflective state of mind, take action. Instead of execution this looks like exploration, experimentation, and play. Don’t expect what will work. Don’t expect how things work. Go find out.

For something ‘not to work’ you need to have made up how it ‘should’ work. You’ll need to drop that story and get into the territory. You’ll learn more about ‘it’, and if you keep investing time and attention into it, it’ll start working, often in surprising ways...

Michael McDonald
Transformational Coach
Leadership, Life Optimization, Intimacy and Enlightenment

P.S. Make the most of your time by upgrading how you make it up! Join me for my next complementary Insight Salon on Making Time this Saturday

P.P.S. Join me at my favorite festival SoulPlay in June, where I will be facilitating two of my most popular Relational Alchemy workshops, Identity Alchemy and Shadow Play. (Use the referral code AuthenticIntegrity for a $20 discount.)

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