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The art of getting unstuck

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When you have a portfolio career, you embrace a multitude of passions that can take shape as different creative and entrepreneurial pursuits. To some, it can look like juggling a bunch of stuff that doesn’t make sense; to others, it’s a beautiful artform. I don’t need to define this, you already know it, that’s why you’re here. 

You’re one of the wild ones. The dreamers. The innovators. The ones who yearn to make a positive impact in the world, even if that intention sometimes gets tangled in the shadows. It’s what drives us. 

But it also stops us. It can drag us down, hold us back and stunt everything from our productivity to our sense of self-worth. If we don’t understand how to harness and manage this bright, untamed energy, we can get stuck. And it’s easy to perpetuate the holding patterns that keep us from moving forward without laser sharp and clear awareness. 

But even when you’re highly aware, there can be blind spots

Which is why it’s important to stop and reflect when something is holding you back. This reflection process demands a willingness to go deep and the courage to see everything. Growth begins within, and if you nurture yourself from the inside out, that will be reflected in your personal and professional success. When you take responsibility for your wellbeing, befriend your demons and offer yourself unconditional compassion, even when insecurity rears its ugly head, you’ll experience scalable and sustainable growth personally and professionally.

Afonso Pereira © The Portfolio Collective

The ride also requires forgiveness and embracing your authenticity – what you do is unique to you, and that’s why people are inspired to work with you. If you want to generate positive change in the world, you have to start by remembering who you are and what you have to offer.

Being part of a supportive community empowers this process because you learn from each other and lift each other up. The Portfolio Collective is perfect for this because we’ve all been there – we know what it’s like to navigate the feast and famines of a portfolio career, and we know how hard it can be to not just sell yourself, but recognise how powerful your unique skills really are.

Let me begin by sharing a bit of my own story

I started in Hollywood at Brillstein Entertainment Partners and became excited about the digital brand space while working on the talent side and training to be a yoga teacher. I then left to join early at Thrive Market where I learned how to build, launch and scale a unicorn brand. I was part of developing an influencer programme that grew to four million users in under two years without any paid spend. And I’ve been developing brands ever since. 

There was plenty of chaos in my early career and I found that I kept hitting the same walls. While I’ve always had a happy baseline, I felt a chronic undercurrent of depression that caused me to self-sabotage, blow everything up and spiral down just when I was about to soar. And even when traumatic events would occur, I couldn’t help but wonder, did I somehow call this stuff in? I always believed there was something inside of me that could be adjusted towards a better experience, a solution to feeling better on a cellular level and doing better; doing things differently.

Through my commitment to healing the root of the problem and diving all the way into what lurks beneath, I was able to cultivate a toolkit that allowed me to break through blocks and transform my stuck energy. And now I help other people do the same, which is a big passion that drives my portfolio career.

If you feel stagnant in any area of life, you can identify what is making you feel stuck and reframe the way you think about the problem, ultimately changing the energy that surrounds the work you do. Not only will this do wonders in your career, but it will ripple across your life as well.

My goal is to help you easily integrate these tools into everyday life.

This doesn’t have to be hours of deep inner work. It might take longer to start, but eventually it can be a 30-second commitment to understanding what you need and asking the right questions. Here’s a step-by-step process for identifying and reframing the things that are holding you back.

Step 1: Recognise that there’s a block

A block can show up as something feeling off: frustration, fear, anger, anxiety, overreacting, withdrawing and isolating, crying, judging, criticising, shaming, shoulding, putting others before yourself, taking on more work than you know you can handle, and being afraid to pitch for projects.

For me, it’s frustration and literally feels like I’m being squished in between four walls and the ceiling is caving in on me. I can’t bust out. I have zero control, I want to push but all I can actually do is let go and surrender. It feels annoying, painful and it causes me to spiral into negative thoughts. When I’m in that space, I get curious about what old stuff is triggered within me.

Afonso Pereira © The Portfolio Collective

Step 2: Identify exactly what’s holding you back

Recognising the issue is half the prescription. Next, you need to create room for yourself to understand exactly what’s causing the block and how you’re perpetuating it. This requires space for clarity and being as open, clear and receptive as possible.

Remove yourself from your day-to-day life and give your brain time to really reflect. You can go for a walk and silence your phone so you don’t get distracted. Or you can set aside an hour a week to write your thoughts down. You’ll be surprised by what you might uncover!

Think about what went well in the week and what didn’t. Consciously celebrate the wins, and then unpack the reasons why certain things didn’t go well. Maybe you didn’t finish a project on time because you overcommitted for fear of looking unqualified. Maybe you received a glowing review and didn’t take time to appreciate it because you didn’t believe the same things about yourself. Or maybe you didn’t even apply for a role because you were worried that you didn’t tick all the boxes.

Step 3: Ask some probing questions

Let’s focus on the example of holding yourself back from applying for a project that wasn’t a perfect fit. Why do you think this happened? What was really stopping you from exploring this new opportunity?

When you ask yourself the “right” questions, you build awareness and can move on to taking some actionable steps.

Some questions that may resonate include:

What’s blocking me from doing this? (i.e. How am I getting in my own way?)

How long has this block been there?

What is the root cause of this block?

What is this feeling telling me?

What do I need to get past this?

What’s one small step I can take in the future to avoid this situation?

What boundaries do I have an opportunity to create?

What would I love to do differently?

Step 4: Be open to receiving guidance

This is about being willing to listen to, and understand, the wisdom you already have within you. Be the witness in this phase – allow whatever epiphanies you uncover to arrive without any judgement. Clock them. Write them down (or whatever your process is). Sit with them more or come back later. The awareness is enough to realign your inner compass in the right direction.

Then talk it out with people you trust. Reach out to your community. Your friends, your family, your peers. Anyone who might understand what you’re going through and share their own experiences.

Or maybe something with a bit more structure and interactivity might be able to break you out of your rut – join a networking event and speak to new people, find a mentor or a coach or take part in a course that allows you to discover new things about yourself and learn from others.

Step 5: Start shifting your mindset

It’s time to be a bit more intentional about addressing those issues and changing your perspective. Not only will it be amazing passion fuel that reminds you why you do what you do in the first place, but it will help you put a more action-focused plan in place. 

Let’s say the reason you decided not to put yourself forward for a project was because of your perfectionism. You can choose to transform that perfectionism from a blockage (i.e. I’m not going to do this perfectly, so I won’t do it at all) to an opportunity (I know that I will approach this project to an extremely high standard and will do an amazing job for them, even if it’s not totally perfect).

Step 6: Put that guidance into action

I like to create a reinforcing statement when I pinpoint and unpack the things that hold me back. Sometimes it’s as simple as a word, sometimes it’s an “I choose…” statement that ends with however I define how I want to show up going forward. Once you’re able to notice the stickiness in action, you can align it with whatever tactic works best for you. 

Start by writing down the negative thought. Then write down an action that directly addresses or combats that anxiety or fear. 

For example:

“I don’t have enough experience”

“I can sharpen my skills or learn something new”

“I don’t have the confidence to pitch for this job”

“I can ask for feedback on how I can improve my pitch

Repeat this process for every new blockage you uncover. Eventually, the transformation process will be quicker. Your eyes for spotting issues will be sharper. It’s like training a new muscle. Keep going. The goal is evolution – not perfection. Be easy on yourself (and everyone else while you’re at it).

Need a bit more help moving forward?

Loads of us have been exactly where you are. The first step is reaching out. Post in the community. Connect with people in your space and get to chatting. You can also join TPC’s Catapult course, which dives deeper into what it takes to build a successful portfolio career and helps you better understand everything that makes you unique (which is a superpower in itself.)

I have a 21-Day Ritual practice called 360 You that will take you deeper as well. No matter what you choose to do, keep working on those reframing tactics. Go inward for guidance anytime you need. Believe in yourself. Lean on your community and commit to getting and staying unstuck for yourself and everyone else!

Think this sounds like the right path for you? Come along to our monthly Get started event for new members to find out what a portfolio career could look like and how The Portfolio Collective can help you take those first steps towards professional success – and don’t forget to connect with our community!

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