Why Your Life is Stuck… And How to Get Unstuck

Diego Baptista

Big Progress Requires You To Make Big Changes

I’ve been moved by how Portland has had over 3 months of consecutive protests over racial inequality. Also, by the massive amounts of people in Hong Kong who came out to protest the Chinese government’s overreach to limit their freedoms.

Big progress sometimes requires massive change.

When I look inward at my own life, it’s been a constant contradiction. I have illusions of grandeur but then I plop on my couch to catch the latest Netflix release. I’d like to change this world for the better, but then settle for a game of Clash Royale, only to be humiliated by prob a 10 year old kid on the other end.

If I’m not yet willing to quit my “day job” and travel the world in #vanlife, then what is the change I’m willing to make? This might be the perfect solution.

“The key to his creativity, Adrià once explained to HBR, was closing his restaurant for six months each year. ‘The pressure to serve every day doesn’t offer the kind of tranquility necessary to create as we would like,’ he said. ‘The most important thing is to leave time for regeneration.’ This mindset is reflected in the Japanese concept ma, which stresses that space is necessary for growth and enlightenment.” — @HarvardBiz [6]

Below are some ideas to change the way you work — some small, some big, depending on your appetite for change and craving for more success. In other words, how serious are you.

  • Sabbatical, sorta — During this pandemic, if you’re lucky enough to have job that allows for long-term telework, consider renting a place somewhere else and living there for a month(s). The change in scenery could do wonders for your creativity, and when else will you have an opportunity like this. DO THIS: Go on VRBO.com, find a place you like, and contact the owner directly for a long term stay and ask for a discount.

Don’t have a job that allows for that flexible or have other obligations, no problem. There are still things you can do to change your environment, and therefore create space for massive change.

  • Dedicate a space in your house for creativity. For me, it’s my backyard patio. Whenever I’m ready to work on my passion project, I sit out there and crank through it for hours, with nature sounds on background and less distractions from the house. DO THIS: Build your own table to work on. Here’s how I built mine.
  • Get a tool to help bring your ideas to a prototype. Called “Frankenstein prototypes,” these are low-scale, cheap and put together in a way to simply prove a concept. DO THIS: Get a 3D printer. My friend has been using this one with great effect.

The bottom line is, do something to disrupt your habits. The bigger the disruption, the more likely you’ll create space for the change you want to make. Going back to the protesters in Portland and in Hong Kong, they don’t want to stay out and put their lives at risk. They do it because they believe by getting out of their homes, that it will create massive change.

“Realize that you are your primary source of energy.” — @brianhamiltonnc [5]


If You Feel Stuck In Life… Be Someone Else!

Back in the day, when we actually went to conferences and had social gatherings full of new people, I found it absolutely nerve-wracking and exhilarating. The nerves sucked all the energy in me from having to be “on” and to make good first impressions. Yet, excitement because I didn’t know who I could become in that instance.

Let me explain.

Each of us is obviously very complex. Sometimes we’re funny, sometimes we’re observant, or sometimes we’re serious and intellectual. For me, when meeting people who don’t have any preconceived notions of me, I can be anyone I choose to be.

What’s much harder to do is to choose who you are around your family and friends, because that’s already been set in stone for years and years. Yet, if we are feeling stuck in life, maybe it’s time to take a sledgehammer to what others think of us! Stop being who others think you are, and start being whoever you want.

No, I’m not talking about pulling a Talented Mr. Ripley. Rather, I’m talking about what can we do to remove any limitations placed on us due to other’s expectations of us, or even our own expectations.

“I knew what my future would have looked like if I had stayed in my corporate job: I would have worked hard from 9 to 5, gotten a promotion, and been comfortable, and my parents would have been proud. But I had the idea in my head, and I wanted to be brave.” — Amber Leong [4]

A simple analogy is going for a run. There’s the true physical limitations on the maximum distance we can run without stopping, and then there’s the mental limitation. Proved over and over is that we are capable of so much more, but it’s the mental limitation (weakness) that is holding us back.

In his book, Living with a SEAL, Jesse Itzler recounts what it was like to live 30 days with Dave Goggins, “the only member of the U.S. armed forces ever to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Air Force Tactical Air Controller.” As you could imagine, hilarity ensues when normal Jesse is met with someone who shatters any mental limitation.

Takeaway is anytime you have a thought that limits who you are, such as “I don’t think I can” or “that’s too hard,” stop yourself and start being someone who’s not limited by them. Imagine what you can accomplish.

“Reimagine roles. Not only do you need to bring together folks with diversity of thought and experience, but those leaders also need to challenge long-held orthodoxies that can limit progress. Being open to reimagining roles allows all of the partners and resources at the table to be put to their best use.” — @benhecht [7]


The #1 Reason Holding You Back

“When Alexander the Great landed on the shores of Persia in 334 BC, he found he and his army of men greatly outnumbered. In order to ensure his men didn’t try to flee, Alexander destroyed all their ships. He was utterly eliminating the notion of retreat. Victory was the only option.” — @TracyBrower108 [2]

Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve heard that story, it gets me every time. It might be because each time I hear it, I imagine Alexander the Great shrugging his shoulders and saying, “f*ck it.”

Actually, it strikes a chord with all of us because deep down inside, that’s what we want to do with some part of our life. We want to burn it all down, start over, and emerge victorious, like we always knew we would.

I understand how impossible it feels to do something that drastic in our life. The fact remains, it’s only ourself that’s holding us back. Let’s explore a few ideas that could help us make big gains but with less burning of ships.

“But I also felt like I was not in the arena — I was just a spectator.” — Amber Leong [4]

The issue on the table is how far are you willing to go, to risk, to achieve your goal. Instead of framing this question in a drastic, “all or nothing” tone, let’s instead look at our day-to-day life and simply restructure it.

For example, what if we did no TV for an entire week. (If you just gasped or are about to delete this email, keep reading!) With all that TV time, redirect and invest it into your passion or goal. Ask yourself, are you going to regret not watching TV for a week? Whereas, I bet you would regret not trying to achieve your dream.

The top 2020 New Year’s resolutions were:

  • 48% To eat healthier
  • 47% To exercise more
  • 41% To lose weight
  • 36% To spend more time with family and friends
  • 32% To live more economically

These are just ideas to get you thinking that yes, there are other things to do besides watch TV. The trick is to redirect your precious time towards what you want your life to be about.

TV is one of those things we think we need in life to unwind, but that may not be true. “Deep work” is a state of flow and focus, that can leave us with a feeling of accomplishment, and therefore happy.

You don’t have to burn down an entire fleet of ships to force yourself to do something. All you have to do is watch no TV for a week.

“This is not to say risk-taking requires no forethought. Intelligent risk-taking combines fearlessness and smarts. It requires certain considerations, with attention to finances chief among them. In particular, assessment of your budget (including healthcare costs), your choices (what you can potentially cut back), and implications for your future financial well-being are important.” — @TracyBrower108

Work Hard Anywhere

Want Huge Success? Reprogram Yourself

Just had an interesting conversation with my wife. We were commenting how in American culture, traits like self-starting, pursue your passion, and standing up for yourself are emphasized. While in Asian culture, traits like adapting, respecting authority, and taking pride in your station is taught. There’s no right or wrong, just what’s more likely to succeed in certain societies.

But how often do we question how society raised us, i.e. programmed us?

That’s like next-level awareness! Imagine that we’ve been asleep at the wheel and got lucky to arrive at our success in life. Yet… we want more. We know there’s more success to be had (just look around!) and know we’re capable of it, but something’s been holding us back. That thing holding us back is ourselves.

“The problem is, focusing only on traditional metrics often masks long-term forces of change that undercut normal sources of economic value.” — Harvard Business Review

Ask yourself, how are you measuring success or happiness? I’ll bet it’s the way society has taught us.

  • Bank account balance — The problem here isn’t necessarily the measuring of money, but that every week there isn’t a noticeable difference. Hence, it’s anti-climatic and trains our brain to be letdown. Unless you’re Jeff Bezos, his gravestone would read, “First person to have $200B”
  • Job title and position — If your identity is wrapped around a job title, then it’s time to let that all go (again, unless you’re Bezos). Promotions happen every few years, which means tying happiness to them translates to years of no reward.
  • Comparing to others — If you’re looking around and feel like you’re behind in life, then you might have programmed yourself to always feel this way. I mean, won’t there always be someone more successful than you? (Ex. Bezos.) Instead, this can be a positive motivator, not a negative reflection on ourself.

Identify what YOU find important, and measure that! For example:

  • Health — Track how many hours you sleep, how many days you workout, and what you eat. Heck, go buy a health wearable if that helps. Check out the latest gadget, this time by Amazon… dang, Bezos is out of control!
  • Finances — Manage your money better by measuring how many books or podcasts you’ve consumed about better finances and investments. Knowledge is power, so measure it!
  • Travel — You want to see the world, so keep count of how many days out of 365 will you go travel. I know this year has a giant curve ball thrown in it, but you can still do road trips. Pull out your calendar, pencil in vacation dates with notification reminders, and then follow through.

“Scalable efficiency,” in other words, must be replaced by “scalable learning.” — Harvard Business Review


  1. Got a bad habit? Here’s how to train your brain to beat it by Arthur B Markman
  2. Why now is the time to push yourself and take that big risk: Forcing a shift in your routine can go a long way, specifically by nudging your mind toward a new outlook. by Tracy Brower
  3. Updated: Bold Action in the Time of CovidHow Everlywell founder Julia Cheek pivoted her team to fight fraud and FDA confusion and save frontline lives — in just two weeks. by Tom Foster
  4. This Founder Scored Almost $1 Million on ‘Shark Tank’ — But First, She Had to Sell Her Car, Cash Out Her 401(k), and Battle a Serious Illness by Emily Canal
  5. Thinking About Going From Employee to Entrepreneur? Make These Mindset Changes First by Brian Hamilton
  6. Bring Your Breakthrough Ideas to Life by Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade
  7. The Ways Big Cities Think About Large-Scale Change by Ben Hecht
  8. The Big Shift: Measuring the Forces of Change by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison
  9. Most popular New Year’s resolutions in the United States for 2020 Published by Alexander Kunst, Nov 28, 2019

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: