There’s something about the arrival of sunny days and warmer weather that brings hope – especially in the northeast where we had a foot of snow just ten days ago. The birds are chirping, the sky is blue, and people are smiling. This week’s drastic change in weather, had me feeling a bit like I was coming out of a winter hibernation. During the dark cold days of winter, it’s easy to snuggle into a routine that might be less than productive, a routine that says I’ll stay good and cozy right here until spring comes.

As I started pulling out my lighter clothes and doing a bit of spring cleaning, I realized I needed to clean out the cobwebs of my motivation in some areas of my life. There are a few easy traps to fall into that will confuse our thoughts, rob our progress, and steel happiness that was intended for today.

3 Thoughts that will keep you stuck:

  1. When / then – When / then thinking says happier days are just down the road or around the corner. When spring comes, when you get a promotion, when you find your dream house, when you pay off your student loans… then life will be easier, you’ll be happier, you’ll save for retirement, you’ll be less stressed. Then, you’ll enjoy life. When / then thinking is a trap because life is a journey. If we get stuck waiting for a condition to be met before we allow ourselves to experience all that life has, or do the things we really should do, we’re robbing today of it’s potential. Get rid of “when” and stop procrastinating life. Find ways to enjoy where you are each step of the way.
  1. What if – What if thinking says you might fail, people might judge you or laugh. What if you write a blog and no one reads it? What if the nudge you hear isn’t God’s whisper? Doubt sets in. Fear says stop right where you are, don’t go a step further. Inaction feels easier than the risk of a misstep because what if it doesn’t go perfectly? But what ‘what if’ doesn’t tell you is that even if you make a mistake, you’ll learn. What if doesn’t remind us that we all make mistakes. And, what if this is exactly what you need to do to make a difference of find your purpose? Trade ‘what if’ for ‘why not!’ Stretch, grow, learn and repeat. You will stand taller and go farther on the journey by participating in life.
  1. Can’t / Won’t – I can’t lose weight. I can’t forgive them. I can’t… fill in the blank. ‘I can’t’ weaves its way into our lives with a condemning stop sign. We can’t. It’s not going to happen. It’s not possible. But, the problem with can’t is it often means we won’t. We can’t lose weight because we won’t follow the eating and exercising plan we know we should. We can’t forgive someone of the wrong they did because we won’t take the time to really understand forgiveness and how it traps us, not the person who hurt us. When we say I can’t it’s often because we need to develop discipline we need to overcome the hurdle in front of us. Whatever ‘it’ is, is most likely possible, but first we need to recognize the trap and then change our choices to support our success.

Have you ever gotten stuck by these thought traps? I’m hoping I’m not the only one that has found one or more of these a slippery slope into passing on pursing a goal, or making progress. I was convicted a bit by the ‘can’t /won’t’ trap just this week. I’m working to unhook it from my thinking so that I can make progress towards a specific goal. What about you, what will you unlock by letting go of one of these? I’d love to hear from you!