There are three key steps in this technique:
First, identify the elements of a problem you haven’t been able to solve. Sandy was impassioned about a new project but bored with the mundane details of his business plan. “I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet,” he repeatedly groused. He knew the phrase refers to how soldiers took their minds off surgical pain before anesthetics were available. In parallel, he found it agonizingly painful to take those necessary steps to achieve his goal and had to “bite down” to help himself bear it. He wanted to break through his pattern of avoiding those details.
Second, go on a mental excursion for several minutes, letting your imagination explore a seemingly unrelated arena. If you need to stimulate ideas, you can brainstorm a list of anything imaginable – such as archaeology, biology, cooking, espionage, oceanography, parenting, space travel, transportation – then pick one arena that feels intuitively interesting. Sandy picked "transportation," and settled on cars. As he played with aspects of driving a car – velocity, heading toward a destination, traveling in an enjoyable way – he exclaimed, “I love Jeeps!”
Third, do a force fit; bring the novel ideas gained in the symbolic excursion to apply to the original problem. Sandy explored the similarities and differences of a bullet and a Jeep. Drawing on the image of enjoying a Jeep ride across bumpy ground, he created the metaphor "jump in the Jeep" to replace "bite the bullet." Same benefit – a reminder to get busy exploring some difficult terrain – but with an image that attracted him. This seemingly small shift released new energy in Sandy to approach the nitty-gritty details with more pleasurable anticipation.
Now look for the above three steps in this additional example:
New coach Alicia had completed her coach certification, was clear about her business vision, had defined her target market, and was working on her web site. “I’m on overload,” she sighed. “I see a lot of coaches farther along than I am in marketing to my target audience – they have their web sites, their newsletters; they’ve been there for so long. What does little start-up me have to offer that hasn’t already been said?” Alicia identified her key issue as "exhaustion with the process." She took a symbolic side trip into areas of experience where exhaustion occurs in pursuit of a goal.
A picture came to her mind of a mountain and a peak. "I think I was brought here," she said, "because I enjoy hiking and backpacking. There's always this mind game of 'Oh, it's so far' but once I get up there, the feeling I'm going to have!" Alicia let this picture work in her mind. "There's no short-cut," she concluded. "You can take a helicopter or drive your car up, but when you make the climb on your own, you're so much more proud of yourself."