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Your Ability To Unlearn Things Holding You Back Will Be The Great Equalizer Of The Future

When you can unlearn what's holding you back — the future is yours


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Jon Brosio

4 months ago | 7 min read
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Millions of us believe these 4 lies that hold us back from our true potential

William Damon, director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, found that only one in five young people have a clear vision of where they want to go, what they want to accomplish in life, and why.

The research further suggests that 80% of people of all ages don’t know what they are passionate about.

If you're like me, you know this all too intimately…

Seven years ago, I was working at a job that felt like a death sentence. I was drinking and doing drugs almost daily. I was hanging out with "the wrong crowd".

On top of all that — if a career coach hypothetically asked me, "what's your passion in life?" I'd look at her with a three-mile stare,

"Uh…Next question?"

I had no idea what I was passionate about. I had no clue how I could turn my life around and start living an empowered and fulfilling life.

Fast forward to today:

  • I've built an online business that helps provide financial stability while simultaneously positively impacting millions of people.
  • I've been featured on several popular podcasts and notable publications like Forbes.
  • I've found an amazing life partner and we support each other intellectually and spiritually.

I don't tell you this to gloat or make you feel any particular way. I say this to provide a guidepost for you in your own life's pursuit.

You can do what I did…It won't happen overnight. All too often, individuals believe they need to try new things to improve their life. They believe they need to add the hot new trend.

Contrary to all of that — I'm here to tell you, you already have everything you need to actualize your true potential.

The biggest things hindering your growth are the beliefs you have (whether innate or developed) that hold you back. Your ability to unlearn the things that hold you back will be the great equalizer of the future.

Here's how to do it.

"Inspiration" is a death sentence of epic proportions

Here’s a little tidbit that is going to save you a lot of time — months, years, decades even. It has to do with reality.

People fight reality. They fight it tooth and nail, with everything they’ve got. And anytime you are arguing or fighting with reality, reality will win.

  • You can’t outsmart it.
  • You can’t trick it.
  • You can’t bend it to your will.

Not now, not ever.

When people think about how they want to design their new life, generally, they think about what they want in the future. They write down the job they want, the relationships they want to nurture, and how they envision a healthy life going forward.

However, we neglect to consider the reality of where we are now. Think back to perhaps a few weeks ago (depending on when you're reading this) and all of the conversations you had with others about how next year is going to be the "best yet."

Where are you right this second? Consider that question and what you can do with that in mind:

  • "Today, I'm going to [fill in the blank]"
  • "Right this second, my [financial/health/relationship] status is already pretty good."
  • "I'm going to put my phone down right now and meditate for ten minutes."

Dreaming is amazing. It helps you ideate what's possible. You use your imagination to hypothetically build another life. Don't get trapped in envisioning the future, however.

99% of real growth is killed by endless dreaming. It's the 1% who take action — regardless of the outcome that make real progress in life.

Start building and growing in the present.

It's time to embrace being "stuck"

If you're reading this, it means you're human.

If you're human it means you've found yourself feeling "stuck" at one point or another in your life. You could have felt stuck at the recess playground when you weren't picked early for the pick-up football game.

You could have felt stuck when you were pressured to select an undergraduate major. Maybe you're feeling stuck now with your relationship outlook and how to find a complementary partner.

Most people feel being "stuck" as a death sentence,

Well now, I've reached the end of the road. There's no hope for me anymore. Perhaps my ex-girlfriend was right — I really did "peak" in high school. Oh, woe is me…

When you're stuck, you have a precious opportunity at your doorstep — you just have to know how to look it. To fix our lives when we're feeling stuck, we need "ideation," (or the ability to come up with a lot of ideas). Wild ideas. Crazy ideas.

This might not come as a shock. When we're stuck, people tend to conjure up that one idea that will get us out of this rut.

This is where we go astray, however. When you're stuck, believing that there’s only one idea out there leads to a lot of pressure and indecision. With this one idea, you might come up with thoughts such as:

  • “I don’t want to blow it.”
  • “I really need to get this right.”
  • “If I just had a better (the right, a killer) idea, then all would be well.”

Those of us fortunate enough to live in the modern world with access to some degree of choice, freedom, mobility, education, and technology spend most of our time immersed in a world obsessed with optimization.

There’s always got to be a better idea, a better way — even "the best" way. That kind of thinking is pretty dangerous to unlearning what holds you back in life.

On the flip side, if you work through lots of ideas, your chances of hitting on some that can be really energizing for you go up. This increases your chance of creating something that can work and that you’ll love.

Individuals un-learning what holds them back learn to have lots of wild ideas because they know that the number one enemy of creativity is judgment.

The crazy ideas may not be the ones we pick (and rarely are, actually), but often after having the crazy ideas, we have moved to a new creative space, and we can see new and innovative possibilities that can work.

"You often have to go through the wild ideas to get to the actionable good ideas."

— David Kelley, the founder of the Stanford Design School

The simplest way to get you thinking [deeply] about your life

I first discovered Ockham's Razor while in my mid-twenties. If you're unfamiliar with Ockham's Razor, it's the idea that,

"The simplest answer is usually the best one."

With that in mind, how can we answer the question,

How do I begin thinking deeply about where I am, what are my values, and how should I operate in life?

The answer we come up with is: borrow strategies and blueprints from people who do this better than anyone else?

Okay, fine. But then (if you're like me) another question comes up:

Who are the people that are doing that better than anyone else?

For me — it is the ancient Stoic philosophers. Distilled down, stoicism is generally, "focusing on what you can control and impacting that and silencing and ignoring everything you cannot control."

Now, I rarely ever do this in my articles, but a tool that I recommend you use to help you keep the principles of stoicism at top of your mind is the Daily Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday. Why do I recommend this tool?

Because (if used correctly) the book prompts you with a different daily question to keep at top-of-mind the idea of how to live a good life. Some of the questions are:

"What is the purpose of my life"

"What things are truly in my control?"

"What am I learning and studying for?"

This is helpful because I get confused in the whole journaling world. I don't know about you, but often (without the help of the daily stoic journal) I sit at my desk and think, I have zero effing clue what to journal about.

A belief I had to unlearn is that I'm not a deep person, therefore, I'll never think critically about my life that can lead to lasting change. Talk about depressing, huh? But after reframing this, I was able to see it more along the lines of:

I don't need to conjure up life-altering questions at will. Humans like me have tackled these questions for eons, let's use those to think critically about my life.

Blame this person for everything in life (good & bad)

There's one person you can blame for everything in your life. On the flip side, there's one person that should take all the credit for everything great that has blossomed throughout your existence.

  • It's not your parents.
  • It's not your teachers.
  • It's not the leader of your country or anyone in the governing body.
  • It's not Little Jimmie (who didn't pick you for the recess pick-up game).

Are you ready for me to reveal who is most responsible for your life?

Drum roll…

It's you. I know, "shocker" right? You probably saw this coming a mile away. But it's worth repeating: you're the person most responsible for unlearning the things that hold you back in life. 

None of what I've listed above will work unless you put in the time and effort and use the tools available to you to make a change.

I truly believe, one of the biggest lies holding people back in life is this:

"If this thing were to change, then I'd be free (happy/healthy, etc.)"

That's why I included the Stoic journal earlier. Things outside of your control are just that: out of your control. Do you know what's 100% within your control?

How you react to what happens around you.

That's it.

When you realize that, you've un-learned the biggest obstacle holding you back.

Closing takeaways

You may think you need to add things in your life to step into your true power. You might search Google for some innovative to trendy New Year's Resolutions that will give you a spark of motivation and inspiration.

I'm telling you, you don't need that.

You have everything within you — I promise. There are false beliefs — maybe those beliefs are about yourself or about the world — that are holding you back.

  • You might (falsely) believe that you need to summon a fantasmagorical idea of what your future life should look like.
  • You may think you need one idea to get you out of this rut.
  • You may think you need to generate life-changing questions to help you navigate treacherous waters.
  • You may even believe there are people — other than yourself — that are the reason you're in the spot you're in.

Unlearn all of these (false) believes as quickly as possible. Your life depends on it.

When you can unlearn what's holding you back — the future is yours

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