It wasn't me; it was my nisus

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Illuminate me, Amy!

We’ve all got one.

And no, I don’t mean a pandemic-induced impulse buy off social media, though that’s related.

(Seriously, no judgment; raise your hand if you’ve found yourself feverishly entering your Visa number into your phone after clicking through an ad on IG. 🙋‍♀️ No? Just me?)

I’m talking about a nisus (pronounced NAI-səs), a noun meaning an effort or striving toward a particular goal or attainment, an impulse, or a perfective urge or endeavor.

When used for good, your nisus might be why you put your all into completing a work assignment a week before it’s due.

The trouble with nisus?*

It enables avoidance, which can cause you all heaps of trouble.

One way it manifests is by making you feel stuck, especially in something important, like your career. You compensate by being busy, not productive, sometimes unconsciously so.

(Ugh! It’s the worst!)

If that rings true, here’s how to how to make progress:

Admit you’re in a rut.

Many don’t realize they’re in a rut, busying themselves being busy, using their fear as a way to avoid reality.

Change your mindset.

Staying in a negative headspace won’t help you move forward. Instead, shift to one of positivity and possibility to consider what could be.

Help others and practice gratitude.

When you help others, you feel better, which paves the way for more good. And when you practice gratitude, you create a virtuous cycle of positivity to get you back on track.

Figure out what you want.

Getting unstuck requires clarity and begins with your ability to answer a simple question: “What do I want?”

Ask for help—and be open to receiving it.

A trusted friend can offer words of encouragement in a supportive and non-judgmental voice. Do your best to listen to the advice given, even if it includes an unfamiliar path.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Stagnation thrives in comfort zones; it’s where career ruts are born. Getting unstuck is about pushing yourself to take risks and reaping the rewards.

Don’t forget the importance of self-care.

Ignoring your needs is counterproductive to your progress. Treat yourself the supportive way you would a treasured friend.

Making progress is connected to productivity, which is enhanced by how well you can manage your time. Last week, I wrote about the importance of protecting your time (BTW, my biggest lesson of 2020, and probably my career), and I often speak of the benefits of time management, like in this video:

But for some, no matter how hard they try, they still struggle in getting things started (or completed). And when they don’t accomplish their task, they feel awful about it and even more stressed because they have the added pressure of less time to do it.

If you’re reading this, silently nodding your head, rest assured that you’re not lazy—or alone.

In my latest Forbes articleI share why psychologists say procrastination isn’t about time management and what you need to address to finally tackle it.

And before I go, tell me: What’s your nisus? (C’mon, I know you have one—I already shared mine!)

Shine on,


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P.P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or procrastinating…err, I mean allowing my nisus to drive me, I’m a social media ghostwriter(Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.

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*Yes, the plural of “nisus” is “nisus.” It’s one of those oddball words that does double duty, meaning both singular and plural, like “deer,” “fish,” “moose,” or “spacecraft.” These are called unchanging nouns because (you guessed it) they’re unchanging.