Breaking the Laws of Stuckness

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cars stuck on traffic between buildings

You can only steer a moving vehicle.

Wait, what? Yeah, that’s right. You can only steer a vehicle that is actually moving.

That’s just science.

Basically, according to Newton’s Laws of Motion, an object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force.

Guess what you are in that equation. Yeah, you’re the unbalanced force.

If you’re still a bit confused (or you prefer a tangible example), imagine you’re in your car stopped at a red light and you want to move into the lane next to you? You turn the wheel, but the car doesn’t go where you want it to, right?

That’s because you’re not in motion.

You can turn the wheel and think, wish, hope, and pray about it all you want, but you’re not going to get into that other lane until you start moving…remember, Isaac Newton said so.

Now, if you let off the brake and turn the wheel in the direction of that other lane, what happens?

That’s right! You soon find yourself in the lane that you want to be in.

Voila! Your wish becomes reality!

Coincidentally, the same thing happens with your personal and professional goals, dreams, and desires.

You can ponder, plan, and process until you run out of whiteboard, markers, and sticky notes. But none of those things come to fruition until you get moving.

In order to excel and achieve the way you want to; you need to go beyond the board room. You need to get past the belief that you need to build the perfect plan. You need to find the will to act.

Sometimes getting in motion is easy, other times it’s a real struggle.

And if you’re stuck in a rut, you might benefit from a shortcut.

Well guess what dear reader? I’ve got three of them for you today.

1. Add the letter R to your routine.

Let me explain. Back in 2008, some smart people from Stanford University (including the brilliant Carol Dweck), conducted a study to see what had a greater influence on people’s actions – suggested behavior or identity. And it basically boiled down to just one letter that made all the difference. In the study, people who had already admitted they were likely to vote were asked “How important is it to you to (vote/be a voter) in the upcoming election?”

People who were asked about their behavior (i.e. whether it was important to vote) voted at a very commendable 81.8%. While people who were asked about their identity (i.e. whether it was important to be a voter) voted at a significantly higher rate of 95.5%.

This isn’t a one-off occurrence. This study has been replicated with similar results and it seems that just adding the letter R to your routines can make all the difference.

So what does this mean to you? Well, if you want to move from behavior to identity, simply add an R to your dreams, goals, and wishes.

For example, if you want to get up and run each day, refer to yourself and start thinking like a runner. (I know that involves the letters “ner”, but go with it. It’s more fun this way.)

If you want to eat healthy, refer to yourself and start thinking like a healthy eater. If you want to lead, refer to yourself and start thinking like a leader.

The funny thing is that in your efforts to get into action, you are turning these verbs into nouns. It seems counterintuitive in moving us to action, but adding that letter R is how we turn our behaviors into our identity. And once we know who we are, we are more apt to behave the way we already see ourselves.

2. Add the word YET to your vocabulary.

This shortcut is remarkably transformative to building a growth mindset and getting yourself in gear. And this idea, too, comes from Carol Dweck (I told you she was brilliant!) and her colleagues at Stanford.

Dweck shows that people can move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset simply by adding the word “yet” to the end of any negative statement.

Por ejemplo, if you’re feeling inadequate and you find yourself saying, “I can’t figure this out,” add the word “yet” to the end of it, making the new statement, “I can’t figure this out yet.”

Other examples might be:

“I don’t have the money…yet.”

“I can’t see a way out of this…yet.”

“I don’t have the experience…yet.”

When you add “yet” to your negative statement, you are changing the trajectory of your energy and your intention. Instead of accepting defeat, you are accepting the challenge. It’s a whole new ballgame when you embrace the power of “yet.”

3. Add a little spice to your life.

Decide to do something different today. Being stuck is often a result of being comfortable. And being comfortable comes from doing the same things, eating the same foods, talking with the same people all the time.

While I’ll admit there is a warm and cozy feeling I get from having regular routines, mainstay meals, and familiar friends, sometimes we need to shake things up to find a new sense of adventure or just get a fresh point of view.

Some simple ways to create new thinking and motivation are taking a new route to work or your favorite restaurant, trying something you’ve never tried on the menu, striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know at the office, the grocery store, or in the neighborhood.

While these activities might make you feel a bit uncomfortable, that’s the whole point. None of them will get you hurt, and they might just help you see new angles, discover new preferences, or encounter new opportunities.

So how will you add the letter “R” to move from behavior-based thinking to identity-based thinking? How will you incorporate the word “yet” to create a foundation for possibility? And how will you spice things up to inspire and motivate yourself into new action?

Getting out of a rut can be quite the challenge. But shifting to an identity-based perspective, setting your mind to a hopeful, forward-thinking vision, and introducing tiny changes into your routine will rewire the way you think and ultimately the way you act.

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