Think You're Stuck? You're Not, Says Seth Godin. And You Might Want To Consider If You Actually Prefer It This Way
Feeling stuck is an enemy of our own making, says Seth Godin. It's the fear of failure and resistance to change that is the very thing that's keeping us there
And this is pretty much the case for any other roadblocks we perceive in our lives that leave us feeling stuck, he argues in the second video.
The key issue when we feel stuck, he warns, is that we can get a bit too snug and warm in the holy sanctums of our comfort zones – we get accustomed to the idea of being stuck and actually take active decisions to stay there.
"Staying stuck is the reason we're stuck," he argues. "Because looking at the situation that we're in, looking at what we believe about the world around us, we come to the conclusion that it is safer and easier to stay stuck (and maybe whine about it) than it is go through the valley to the other side where unstuck lies."
If we want to push forward in whatever endeavour we are faced with, it’s essential we face the fact that it will always feel uncomfortable at first. We will most likely come up with a fair amount of not-particularly-earth-shattering stuff initially. We might make mistakes. But, it's only by braving the period of being a rank amateur - and sticking with it anyway - by edging forward, bit by bit, that we will actually and evidentially get unstuck, he says.
And ultimately, we only ever have three options to choose from, anyway, when we are in these situations - do something, don't do something - or obsess. "You can change it, you can stick with it or you can complain about it," says Godin. "But changing it is an act of forward motion. And sticking with it, accepting it, working with it is also an act on your part."
"The place to avoid is this feeling of being stuck."
Many workplace environments can be incredibly demoralising places for us to spend our time, providing us with a delightful daily cocktail of insufficient pay, bad management and stifling levels of box-ticking.
Feeling like a cog in a wheel is hard enough when this is a job to pay the bills (rather than a step towards something greater). It can become intolerable when we are perpetually undermined, given insufficient freedom to make decisions and are left feeling like a piece of meat (and let's not even get started on toxic peers).
For some, quitting isn't an option, which just compounds the misery we feel. We can't take action to rectify the situation and the feeling of helplessness takes root, with no visible remedy in sight.
This lack of agency, as Johann Hari explains in the video above, is a key factor behind depression and anxiety, according to scientific evidence:
"If you go to work and you feel controlled - you feel you have few or limited choices - you are significantly more likely to become depressed," he explains. "Or actually even more likely to have a stress-related heart attack."
The reason being, he says, is that we have a strong psychological need for agency, or the sense of being in control of the direction of our lives. And the answer? Not surprisingly, it is to take back control.
There are many ways we can do this. In one particular case that Hari cites, a woman quit her job along with her husband to run a bike shop together. Her husband had worked in one before but the act of being responsible for it themselves had the inadvertent effect of erasing their depression and anxiety.
But the changes we make in life to feel happier don't have to be as dramatic. This feeling of powerlessness isn't just confined to workplaces - and neither are the answers.
In the late 1970's, esteemed Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer and her colleague Judith Rodin, conducted what was to become a landmark experiment in Arden House, a care home in New England.
What they did was deceptively simple but startlingly effective. They divided the residents into two groups, both of which were given plants and films to watch, with a subtle variation in the parameters set around the control group, as Langer explains in her book Counterclockwise:
"...they were allowed to choose where to receive visitors, and if and when to watch the movies that were shown at the home. Each also chose a houseplant to care for, and they were to decide where to place the plant in their room, as well as when and how much to water it."
As Langer goes on to explain, the point of the exercise was to help the residents "engage with the world and live their lives."
Eighteen months later, they revisited Arden House, compared the two groups and found that the control group were not only healthier, happier and more alert but twice as many of them were alive, raising the idea that not only is the feeling of control directly linked to happiness - it's linked to longevity, too.
What is so reassuring about this study, is that sometimes the desire to be in control of our lives can take on what feel like unreachable goals - we want to own a house, run our own business, be in a position of status. And, of course, these things might come.
But for the time inbetween, it is a relief to know that the things that markedly improve our happiness levels right now are the little decisions we are able to take every day - and knowing that there are always some aspects of our lives (if not all) that we are in control of.
Find Out MOre About Taking Back Control Here
A Simple Trick To Tell If You're Ready To Quit - Or If You Are Just Hitting A Dip
We can all hit points where we want to give up on a creative endeavour. Here's a trick to tell if you are hitting a rough patch - or if it is time to pack it in.
In any endeavour, we can hit a point where we ask, "Is this really worth it?". We are not getting anywhere, it feels like a thankless task and we wonder if all that enthusiasm and excitement we had in the early days was ultimately misplaced.
It can be really hard to know what the right step is for us to take. Our minds might say one thing, our hearts another. Are we in denial? Are we refusing to face facts? Are we just committed to this because we have been doing it for so long?
There is actually a psychological term that's related to this latter question: it's called the "sunk cost fallacy".
It basically refers to those times when we find it really hard to walk away from something simply because we have invested so much time and effort in it.
But the truth is, as Marie Forleo points out in the video above, some things are worth walking away from. And when we do, we will feel better for it, possibly relieved in fact.
But there are other times where the choice is not so clear.
Say it is a passion and it means a lot to you and you are not getting anywhere. What then? How can we tell if we are deluding ourselves or if we have just hit a bump in the road?
Marie Forleo says "The 10-Year Rule" is worth remembering here. She explains that if you really want to know how committed you are - to anything - it is to ask yourself a simple question:
"If you actually did quit this, how would you feel 10 years from now?"
If you feel a gut wrench right now even considering this question, you have your answer. You might have just found yourself in a "dip", i.e., a rough patch. You might be suffering from burnout and just need to take a break, step back and recap.
If, however, you feel neutral - or a sense of relief - then you also have your answer. Like anything in life, if you are happy and willing to walk away from it - for good - it might not have been right for you in the first place.
Find Out More About the Difficult Years Here:
Can't Get Started? Your Dreams Might Have Got A Bit Too Big
Mel Robbins has a useful piece of advice on the age-old problem of procrastination which is well worth considering.
You feel the pressure building. You know it's something you need to do and you keep putting it to one side, finding other things more interesting / exciting / easy to do instead.
But this niggling concern that had been safely tucked away at the back of your mind is now beginning to morph into a rising feeling of panic.
It's the thing you know you should do - but aren't doing.
Mel Robbins has a really useful piece of advice on this age-old problem of procrastination which is well worth considering.
While we might thinking shooting for the stars is the best way to go when it comes to our Big Ideas, actually thinking too big, being overly ambitious, can be the very thing that paralyses us in the first place, she says.
We get overwhelmed, as there is far too much riding on this and way too much to think about - so it's not surprising that that is all we end up doing.
Instead, she says, we need to scale it down - radically. Recognize Rome was not built in a day. Be realistic.
Second, we need to adopt a mentality of "I'm just going to try this out for size" and be willing to leave it there. Accept this thing might not go anywhere and make your peace with that.
But crucially, the key thing to remember about this Grand Plan is we might not even like it when we actually do it.
So before we waste any more time avoiding beginning this life-long goal we've given ourselves, we need to see if we have actually chosen the right one. And all that might take is a week - not a life-time - which is a lot easier to get our heads around.
Find Out More About Ambition Here
Want A Life Of Creative Breakthroughs, Purpose & Meaning? It's Time To Embrace Being Bored
It might feel like hell, but if the science is right, boredom, apathy and listlessness could very well be doorways to creative heaven.
Ah, how nice it feels to achieve something - anything, in fact. And how frustrating are the days when it feels beyond our reach.
We are just not getting anywhere, what previously enchanted us now irritates us - worse, it bores us stupid. And the panic sets in. Is it time to call it a day?
Well, yes, in a word. But quitting doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, as Veritasium explains in the video, right.
It turns out that when we hit a wall and enter that period of abject misery called apathy or boredom, it is actually a gift in disguise - as long as we resist the urge to distract ourselves from it.
The trick is to let it be, to soak it up to its fullest - and the payoffs are somewhat unexpected:
1. A boost of creativity you might not otherwise get
According to scientific studies, there could be a direct correlation between the level of boredom you feel (slight, intense, mind-numbing etc) to the corresponding bursts of creativity you can benefit from as a result. The more bored you are, it seems, the better your ideas can get, is the theory.
2. Higher levels of motivation
A key factor that motivates us into changing situations is finding ourselves in ones we don't like, so in this sense boredom tells us when it is time to shake things up. "Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing," he says "And a push that motivates us to switch goals and projects."
3. Increased feelings of altruism & purpose
If boredom hits existential crisis-level and you're questioning what you're doing with your life, this, also, has its upside. Studies have found that boredom has lead people to altruism, which, as Veritisium adds, can put the fire back in your belly by giving you "an immediate and concrete purpose to a life that might momentarily feel like it's lacking one."
4. Increased clarity regarding goal-setting
Lastly, one of the most unexpected, and needless to say, ironic, by-products of aimlessness is a a higher level of clarity when it comes to setting goals.
When you start asking yourself what you want to do with your life, you might find yourself in a scenario called Autobiographical Planning, he says, which is "to consider your life as a story and where you want it to go in future," he says. "In this way, being bored is essential for goal-setting".
So the idea here is, don't worry the next time apathy hits and you start questioning everything. It could actually be a very good thing that you are...
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