What’s Holding You Back? (Part One)

If you’ve ever felt stalled, discontent, unhappy, directionless, or like everything always stays the same, no matter what you do (or don’t do), the big question is what’s holding you back?

There are plenty of people ready to tell us how to think, what to do, and what to say. They advise us to do more. Think positive! Get enough sleep! Let go of emotional baggage! These messages are valuable and delivered with the best of intentions. But if you’ve heard all that before, why not try something different?

How about doing less?

Wait. What? Do less? Yep. I’m suggesting that by doing less, you’ll accomplish more. The key is to target the right areas for this do-less experiment to free up space in your life for goodness to enter. Sound good? Great. Then buckle up and let’s get started by stopping these three things (immediately):

Saying Yes John ShinSaying Yes

I know, most self-help gurus are all about saying yes and putting yourself out there. But take stock of your habits here. Do you say yes because you think you should even though you hate the idea of whatever it is you are saying yes to? Do you say yes because you feel you must to make someone else happy? How about saying yes out of habit or to be nice or liked?

Or do you say yes because you’ve taken the time to figure out what you want out of life because saying yes fits your overall state of well-being? The next time someone asks you to do something, or you catch yourself feeling unhappy tackling your daily to-do list, stop. Think. If your first thought is nope, I don’t want to do this, then don’t. Say no for a week to anything and everything that doesn’t bring you joy or a feeling of happiness and excitement and see what happens.

Operating on Autopilot John ShinOperating on Autopilot

We all do this at times. Get up. Get ready. Work. Run around. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. After a while, we’re so busy we forget what we enjoy and feel overwhelmed.

Open your eyes to the possibilities life offers every single day. Make a list of things (right now) that you enjoy most. Imagine your perfect life. What would it include? Fancy toys? Music? Candlelight? Sunshine? Laughter? Reading? Time in the mountains or by the sea? Money flowing like water?

Great. Now, look at how you spend your days. Plug into your schedule everything on your happiness list somewhere. You can do it. I promise. Five minutes with your feet in the grass counts as outdoor time. As you consciously make more time for good things and look for ways and places to add them to your days, you’ll find more and more room for them. You’re the boss. You’re in control. And don’t you forget it.

Ignoring People or Situations or Feelings John ShinIgnoring People or “Situations” or Feelings

Sometimes people are a pain. We don’t like to pay bills. Or deal with crazy Uncle Bob. Or we worry about the lingering feeling of concern over things we said to a potential client or a friend. When we’re saying yes to everything and living life on autopilot, we can find ourselves in the weeds with no way out but avoidance. But there is a way out. The way out is the way through.

Stop avoiding people, situations, problems, and feelings. Deal with them immediately, once and for all. Let the chips fall where they may. Address your issues head-on. This removes a boatload of future worry and stress in an instant. Honor your commitments. Apologize when you don’t. Tell Uncle Bob you love him but you’re not down with his brand of crazy. Acknowledge people on your team. Take care of them. And take care of you. Trust your instincts and listen to your inner voice.

To Recap our Discussion:

  • Instead of following the common misconception that doing more is better, do less.
  • Say no more often. You’ll know in your heart whether it’s appropriate or not.
  • Turn off the autopilot and take the controls. Fly the plane of life yourself.
  • Address situations and people up front and let the chips fall where they may.


Next week, we will address three more ways to do less and accomplish more. Until then, you can (not) do it. And that’s okay!

I’d love to hear about what you’re giving up doing this week. Me? I’m giving up everything but joy.



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