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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

What Holds Us Back from Living the Life We Want

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What Holds Us Back from Living the Life We Want

Parents, caregivers, teachers and society in general all have a huge influence on how we live our lives.

That’s why people traveling to other countries often experience ‘culture shock’. The different rules, different customs and different attitudes can quickly lead to a feeling of confusion and alienation.

You may have experienced this yourself.

But, culture shock really just shows how conditioned we are by our local customs and culture. This is something you may not have considered before. But, I would urge you to do so.

It’s possible that you’re living the life that your parents, teachers and society want you to live — rather than the life you’d love to live.

Ready to break free from this conditioning?

If you are, then you’ve come to the right place, as I’m going to share with you five strategies that will allow you to escape your mental prison.

Let’s look first at…

The Benefits of a Confident Attitude 

Generosity and a humble attitude are wonderful traits to have — yet, being humble can actually hinder you from reaching your goals.

If, when working in a team, you take on tasks behind the scenes, your work may go unnoticed. Which means you won’t actually get the credit you deserve.

It’s a sad fact of life, but if your efforts aren’t recognized, you’ll be forgotten about when opportunities arise.

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And, if you often play the role of “I’m not good enough to do XYZ” —  then please stop!

 Starting right now, if you change your attitude about your own abilities and focus on your strengths and improving on (or delegating out) your weaknesses, then you’ll massively boost your confidence, which will translate into achieving your goals.

So be sure to speak up about what you’ve accomplished. I guarantee your confident attitude will work wonders for you!

Say Goodbye to Limitations

Do you often go through life thinking you’re not smart enough or not disciplined enough? And, how about time? Do you frequently feel that you don’t have enough of it?

I certainly used to feel that way.

Fortunately, over the years, I’ve been able to discover and put into action dynamic techniques that have allowed me to break free from my limitations.

Positive self-talk is an example of one of these techniques. This is a simple, but powerful, tool for stepping outside of your conditioned and habitual thought patterns.

What exactly is self-talk?

It’s the words you externally and internally tell yourself day in, day out.

“I’m not good enough to do this,” you might tell yourself over and over again. Well, guess what? With that attitude permeating your mindset — you probably won’t be good enough.

But, just as negative thoughts can lead to negative results, positive thoughts can lead to positive results. Using the example above, change the wording to “I’m good enough to do this,” and watch your positive self-talk boost your confidence and give you the strength and courage to say goodbye to your limitations.

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You might also want to practice tried-and-tested ways of elevating your self-belief. Stuff like: always finding time to learn new things, focused goal setting and effective time management.

Do You Fear Change?

You’d love to make that big career change, but you’re afraid that it’ll end in failure.

You’d love to ask out that special person on a date, but you fear they’ll say no.

You’d love to move to the coast, but you’re scared to leave behind your habitual environment.

Sound familiar?

I’m guessing it does, as fear of change is probably the most common thing that prevents people from reaching their potential and doing the things they’d love to do.

The secret to defeating fear of change is to understand that if we want to change our lives for the better — we need to make changes in our lives. Without changes, nothing changes. It’s that simple.

In reality, fear of change is really just fear of the unknown. Now, I realize the unknown can be a scary place. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Again, it comes down to our attitude and perspective. If we approach the unknown with excited anticipation — we’ll no longer be afraid of it. And, its power over us will be gone forever.

With that simple change of mindset, you can put your fears in the past, and start living a life that embraces and welcomes change and opportunity; an authentic and free life.

Paint a Picture in Your Mind

Did you know that the majority of us think in pictures? That’s right. While we may speak and write in words, our brain turns these things into pictures.

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Just think back to some of your most important memories (perhaps your first kiss, your graduation day, or the birth of your first child). Do words and sentences come to mind? Likely not. Instead, you may immediately bring back vivid images of the events. And, not just still images, but moving pictures that are equivalent to videos.

Once you understand that the mind functions with pictures, then the key to changing your mind — and your life — is to change the pictures that you put into your mind about the future.

For instance, if you constantly picture yourself stuck in the same job, then… you’ll probably end up doing just that! But, if you make a concerted and persistent effort to picture yourself in a new, stimulating role — then that’s where you’re most likely to end up.

You may know this technique as ‘visualization’. And, along with the other techniques I’m sharing with you in this article, it’s a powerful piece of the success puzzle.

So start right now by building a clear, definite picture of where you’d like to be in 12 months. Once you have the picture, then use daily repetition to place it firmly into your subconscious mind (expect this to take at least 30 days).

Do this, and watch your mental images gradually turn into reality. I like to call this real magic.

Your Setbacks and Obstacles Can Be Opportunities

Pause for a moment, and think about the last few days. I guarantee that along with the good stuff, there’ll be several times when you’ve had to face setbacks and obstacles. Things like: being stuck in traffic, a missed deadline at work, a health challenge, a relationship issue, and an unexpected bill landing in your letterbox.

This is perfectly normal. We all go through similar things to these on a regular basis. But, the difference between winners and losers in life, is that losers are defeated by these setbacks, while winners are propelled forward by them.

Let me explain with a quick example.

You’re on your way to an interview for an important job–a job you’ve always wanted. You allow plenty of time for walking to the train station, taking the train three stops, and then catching a cab to the office where the interview is scheduled to take place.

Your walk goes fine, but when you get to the station, you discover something shocking — all the trains have been canceled!

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You could choose to panic at this time, and perhaps call the company to cancel or delay the interview. Or you could think creatively…

The job is what you’ve always wanted to do, so you don’t want to miss the interview or allow the company to see you in a negative light. You think for a few moments and then decide upon a strategy — you’ll pay the hefty fare for a cab to take you all the way.

The taxi driver is chatty, and he asks you what’s the purpose of your visit. You tell him about your interview and he replies with something surprising: he’s a friend of one of the people who will be interviewing you. He goes on to talk about how nice they are and how you’ll get on really well with them. In fact, he puts you so at ease that you begin to feel like you’re already part of the team!

You arrive early for the interview, and with the unexpected but welcome support from your taxi driver friend, the interview goes super-smoothly. And, a few days later you’re thrilled to receive a call asking when you can start.

Did the taxi driver put in a good word for you? Perhaps. As that’s the sort of thing that happens when you refuse to bow down to setbacks and obstacles.

I hope the self-improvement techniques I’ve outlined in this article will help you to begin breaking free from your limitations — and to begin breaking out of your mental prison!

Build your confidence.

Embrace change.

And, picture your success in all its glorious detail.

Take these steps now, and begin living the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Featured photo credit: Brendan Church via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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