A study of 2,000 people found that 69 percent feel trapped in the same old routine and over 40 percent are generally unhappy with their lives because of it. (1)
In this article, I’m going to outline the three main reasons that people get stuck in the first place, give you the three ways to get unstuck and provide you with practical examples of your next steps so you can live a life of endless personal growth.
But first, why is “getting unstuck” even that important? Especially if I’m comfortable here…
According to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, the greatest regret people had when they were in their death bed was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” She goes on to write: (4)
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Many people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
The goal here is to not wait until our last days to realize our potential and regret the way we lived our lives. God has created each and every one of us for some form of greatness, whether it is to be the best 3rd grade teacher possible, the quickest and most accurate delivery driver, or the next President of the United States – either way, it is our responsibility to find that out and figure out how to get there.
The 3 main reasons why people get stuck:
- We don’t set goals
According to recent research, less than 3% of Americans have written goals, and less than 1% review and rewrite their goals on a daily basis. (3)
The primary reasons people don’t set goals is because they don’t know how, they’re scared of failure, or they’re just not serious enough.
- When we do set goals, we suck at it
Studies show that under 25% of us actually stick to New Year’s Resolutions after 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them. Clearly, there’s something wrong with how we are setting goals.
Because most of us just don’t know how to do it. Brian Tracy, self-development author and a goal-setting expert says, “One of the greatest tragedies of our educational system is that you can receive 15 to 18 years of education in our schools and never once receive a single hour of instruction on how to set goals.”
- We are too one-track-minded about growth
Most people think growth is linear, assuming they can only grow in one way at one time. Then they get stuck on it.
For example, if you’re trying to get a promotion, you dial into the lifestyle it takes to get that promotion and forsake everything else. Or if you’re trying to lose weight, you do a mediocre job at work, maybe hang with your friends when it’s convenient, but give your fitness goals 100% of your attention.
The problem with this is that we stay there, and even once we’ve reached our goal, we don’t think to diversify until we’ve sunk into the depressive state of being stuck again.
Now that we’ve covered the bad news and the not-so-fun statistics, here’s the good news: you can change.
Getting unstuck isn’t that hard; I promise. It’s just a few simple steps. You can live a life of greatness, fulfill your potential, and be happy doing it. And most importantly, you can start right now. Not next Monday, next month or next January.
Here are the 3 Ways to Get Unstuck and Stay There Forever:
- Identify all of the areas where you can grow
In an earlier article I wrote, 7 Life Hacks to Mastering Work-Life Balance (5), I wrote about the four main quadrants of focus in life: Family, Business, Health, and Hobbies.
Although what falls in these quadrants may be different for you than it is for me, I still think everyone’s life should have these 4 main areas of focus in which you can grow.
Within each quadrant, there are sublevels of focus.
- Extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.)
Q: What can you do today to grow in any of these family relationships?
- Full-time job
- Other opportunities
- Relationships that pertain to the above (staff, partners, managers, vendors, etc.)
Q: What can you do today to grow in any of these business-related areas?
Side note: I look at health in three ways: physical, mental/psychological and spiritual.
- Education (or continued education)
- Church (or another spiritual establishment)
Q: What can you do today to grow in any of these health-related areas?
Q: What can you do today to grow in any of these personal hobbies?
- Set SMART goals
S-M-A-R-T goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. (6)
For example, if you know you are overweight, instead of saying this:
- “I want to lose weight this year” (too vague and immeasurable).
- “I’m going to lose 20 pounds in a month” (unachievable).
- “I’m going to do a juice cleanse” (irrelevant and immeasurable).
Say this: I want to lose 20 pounds this year (relevant and specific). I am going to lose 1 pound a week by exercising 3 times a week and watching what I eat (measurable and achievable), and by December (time-bound), I will reach my goal.
I like to set 3 types of goals: Personal (Family and Health), Professional (Business) and Play (Hobbies).
- Reference them daily, weekly and monthly
This one is the easiest one, which is good and bad. It’s good because it takes very little work, but it’s bad because it’s the easiest to not do. It seems so unimportant over time, but don’t be fooled, it’s the biggest step.
- Write all of your goals down where you can reference them daily and easily. I put mine in my iPhone notes.
- Set a reminder on your phone to read them daily. This takes 3 minutes.
- When you see one that stands out that you need to begin working towards, set a time during the weekend to plan how you will achieve this goal.
- At the end of each month or the beginning of each new month, set time aside to audit your goals and track how well you are doing, where you may be falling short, what you need to change, and most importantly – what you need to celebrate!
As promised, here are some practical examples:
- Set a goal to hang out with your friends one night a week, and when you read this in your notes, start a group chat with your buddies and ask if any of them are free for dinner and then make sure it gets scheduled.
- Set a goal to have at least one date night with your wife, put it on the calendar as a recurring appointment, and make sure to ask her in advance what she’s in the mood to do.
- Set a goal to talk to your parents more and set a reminder in your phone on your least busy day to “call parents”.
- Set a goal for 2 million in revenue for the year, then break that down to quarterly (.5M), monthly (167K), and weekly (38.5K). Then, get with your team and strategize what it takes to reach that goal, and measure it week over week.
- Set a goal to delegate a major task of yours to one of your direct reports by a certain time period, then establish the steps to reach that goal, and identify what you will do with your time once it’s done.
- Set a goal to increase profitability by 2% by the end of the quarter and do an internal audit of all your expenses. Get rid of unnecessary expenses that have accrued over time, pay off high-interest debts, and renegotiate what you can.
- Set a goal to get 49 hours a week of rest. On the nights you don’t get 7, try to make up for it the next day. Make sure to catch up by Monday and start over.
- Set a goal to eat healthy 80% of the time. If you eat 21 meals a week, this allows you 4 “cheat meals” per week. Figure out ahead of time what 4 places you will have your cheat meal, so you can enjoy it as much as possible.
- Set a goal to bench press 250 pounds by December, and break down weekly how much stronger you need to get. Then create a workout program that incorporates bench press often.
- Set a goal for how many new destinations you want to visit this year, then look at your calendar, reference your paid time off, and schedule those trips ahead of time.
- Set a goal to read 12 books in the year and pick out the books. Then identify how many pages per day you’d need to read in order to read 1 book a month.
- Set a goal to get a soccer game together with some of your old teammates, reach out to all of them, and make a Facebook post. Then schedule a game once every month.
Even after doing all of this, you are still going to find areas where, even when you are trying your hardest, you will get stuck. When trying to lose weight, you’ll reach a plateau. When you’ve got the promotion, what’s next?
The main point is you can always grow. Once you hit that plateau or reach that goal, look at everything else. If you have outlined all the areas in all four quadrants, then you should easily be able to recognize an area where you can grow, and a strategy to do so. Life will always have its ups and downs, it’s highs and lows. It is your responsibility to focus on what you can control, and make the best out of whatever season you are in.