Creating Progress Regardless of Circumstance
Overcoming external factors that make us feel stuck.
The pessimist criticizes, the optimist creates.
In today’s world, it’s easy to feel stuck.
It feels like the deck is stacked against us. Every effort we make to try and move ourselves forward is met with resistance from external forces and poor circumstances.
We’re surrounded by junk food and distractions and beholden to institutions and social norms. None of which allow us to make progress on what’s meaningful.
The way the world is moving is making it increasingly difficult to accomplish anything worthwhile, but we feel stuck because we criticize our circumstances before we create solutions.
We’re quick to shift blame outwards and place the responsibility for our outcomes on external factors.
This makes it easier to carry on our day-to-day lives because we convince ourselves that our shortcomings are not our fault. While it may feel good in the short term, it traps us in a cycle of stagnation and places us at the mercy of circumstance.
To break out of the status quo and get unstuck, we need to create.
Creation over Criticism
When we criticize our circumstances we pull ourselves deeper into the same hole.
If we choose to create when we feel we’re stuck, we give ourselves the opportunity to make positive change.
It’s not only our circumstances that influence how we feel, but our actions and results as well. People from all walks of life have created impressive feats from unimaginably poor circumstances.
Instead of focusing their energy on criticism, they chose to focus on creation.
This helps shift our thoughts from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control. If we choose to think we can’t do anything to change our situation then why would we?
When we’re focused on criticism, we search for new circumstances to make us feel better, so we jump from one thing to the next always looking for something better that will never come.
Nothing is perfect. No matter how far and wide we search our circumstances will always have problems and we’ll always have something to criticize so we’ll always be unhappy.
To break this pattern we need to choose creation over criticism.
If we recognize nothing is perfect, we can begin to take action to improve our circumstances or make progress despite our circumstances.
But to do this we need to take ownership.
Ownership to Optimism
If we can’t admit to ourselves that our actions have an impact on our results then we’ll always feel stuck.
It’s easy to think that “there’s nothing we can do” to change our circumstances, but once we take responsibility and stop criticizing our circumstances we have no choice but to think optimistically.
Instead of thinking about all of the ways we’re trapped within our circumstances, we start thinking of ways to make progress despite them or even use poor circumstances to our advantage. The optimism that comes from ownership spurs action.
Instead of accepting our fate, we begin taking action to improve it.
All of this is not to say that there aren’t circumstances that can truly hold us back or cannot be overcome. Unfortunately, there are bad people and terrible situations that make progress impossible.
However, in our everyday attempts to become a bit better each day, we should look to improve or overcome our circumstances before we blame them or look to escape them.
The grass always looks greener on the other side, but if we never stop to water the grass we’re standing on it will never grow.
Before we criticize our surroundings, we need to start taking action.
Ownership and optimism will always carry us farther than blame and inaction.
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What is one area of your life where you feel stuck right now?
What is the story you’ve been telling yourself about the external factors holding you back?
Have you been taking action to overcome your circumstances? If not, what actions should you be taking?
A short Ted Talk about “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.