Simple Mental Shifts You Can Make to Get Unstuck and Live Your Best Life

Mahalie Stackpole

Mahalie Stackpole

Ever feel stuck? Ever feel like you’ve got goals and dreams you just can’t realize?

If asked, you could probably rattle off a list of reasons why nothing’s happened. And, on the surface, the list might even make sense.

The only problem is that the list is wrong.

That’s because we tend to get stuck for reasons that are often invisible to us. In fact behavioral economists have shown that we often behave in ways that are far from rational. Three of those ways – ignoring sunk costs, loss aversion, and status quo bias – cost us much more than we know (check out Richard Thaler‘s book, Misbehaving to learn more).

Sunk costs. These are costs that, once incurred, can’t be recovered. For example, you may have earned a degree in finance but now realize you want to teach. Given the cost of your degree, you may feel obligated to work in finance until you pay off loans or achieve a certain level of success. In the meantime, you’re miserable.

Loss aversion. We are twice as averse to a loss as we are to any gain. This is something we see all the time: you have tenure or seniority, and you can’t imagine giving it up, even though you desperately want to be doing something else.

Status quo bias. We avoid taking action and making any changes because we view change as risky. For example, we want to do something else, but we believe it’ll pay less than what we earn in our current job. We can’t imagine being happier making this change because all we can see is the possible loss of income.

So what steps can we take?

  • Talk to people who’ve overcome these biases. Seek out their stories online in articles and podcasts. Notice the patterns in their stories and how they overcame these biases.
  • Remember to start small. Take one small action each day that moves you closer to your dream. Share this commitment with a friend.
  • Focus on what you’ve gained. As you reflect on times in your life when you experienced loss, think about what you gained. Empathy? Opportunities you didn’t have before? New friends?

If you begin to notice these biases in yourself or others, let me know. Once you’re aware, you’ll find them hard to miss.

A Simple Tool to Help You Build and Grow High-performing Teams



When it comes to teams, you know it can be either the best of times or the worst of times. Either the work goes smoothly and goals are accomplished, or it’s a bumpy ride that ends in frustration and failure.

But there are quick, simple things you can do that will increase the chance that your team succeeds.

That’s why I wrote this article for MindShift. It walks you through a simple, yet powerful, exercise to ensure that the ride is more smooth than bumpy. Continue reading

9 Simple Motivators to Drive Change

Jason Rosenberg

Jason Rosenberg

A lot of life has to do with changing behaviors. Maybe we’ve done something a certain way for a while, and now we need to do it differently. Or we’re responsible for leading a change initiative, and we’ve got to get others on board.

We’re reasonable human beings, right? If we focus on what’s rational and logical, we should be able to change our own and others’ thinking. Yet if that’s the case, then why do so many change initiatives fail, even when they’re our own?

That’s a question government policy makers in the UK asked themselves several years ago, as they took stock of how little impact their policies were having in helping UK citizens lead safer and healthier lives. Continue reading

What a Simple Question Can Do

Ethan Lofton

Ethan Lofton

For the most part, I sleep all right. When I don’t, it’s never the falling asleep. For me, that part is easy. It’s the waking up at 1am or 2am or 3am.

Not fun.

In a few of my previous blog posts, I wrote about how much I love my meditation app, Headspace. Well, 30 days ago, I chose the sleep pack to see if I’d experience any of the great things I’ve experienced with the other packs.

I have to come clean. I was skeptical. How could meditating on sleep soon after I wake up in the morning impact my sleep hours later?

Let’s just say it did. And in a big way. Continue reading

Beautiful Writing Must Be Shared

IMG_0051Sometimes I read a passage in a book and the writing takes my breath away. When that happens, I want to read it out loud to as many people as will listen. Here’s a slice of beautiful writing from Helen Macdonald’s book, H is for Hawk – a terrific book (with lots of incredible passages) about grief, training a goshawk, T.H. White, and the beauty of history and time and nature: Continue reading

3 Ways to Build a Winning Team: A Look at the Golden State Warriors

Alessandro Prada

Alessandro Prada

If you like basketball, it’s a great year to live in San Francisco. The Golden State Warriors are having an incredible season. And if you have a passion for teamwork, it’s a great year to learn from their success.

To put their progress in perspective, here are some numbers: the Warriors “cracked 50 wins last season for the first time in 19 years, and they’ve made the playoffs the last two seasons.” Diehard fans admit that the Warriors have been “truly awful for a long time (most of the last 39 years),” so their recent progress has turned a lot of heads. When I see that kind of turnaround, I can’t help but ask, how’d they do it? And, what can we learn from them? Continue reading

20 Traits of Tomorrow’s Most Successful Organizations

2015-05-28_04-40-32In his forward to Jim Whitehurst’s new book, The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance, Gary Hamel provides a compelling 20-trait list for tomorrow’s successful organizations. It’s a terrific list to jumpstart powerful conversations for organizational change:

  1. Leaders will be chosen by the led.
  2. Contribution will matter more than credentials
  3. Influence will come from your value added, not your title.
  4. Individuals will compete to make a difference, not to climb a pyramid.
  5. Compensation will be set by peers, not bosses.
  6. Every idea will compete on an equal footing.
  7. Resources will be allocated with market-like mechanisms.
  8. Experimentation and fast prototyping will be core competencies.
  9. Communities of passion will be the basic organizational building blocks.
  10. Coordination will occur through collaboration, not centralization.
  11. Lateral communication will be more important than vertical communication.
  12. Structure will emerge only where it creates value and disappear everywhere else.
  13. Strategy making will be a dynamic, companywide conversation.
  14. Change will start in unexpected places and get rolled up, not out.
  15. Control will be achieved through transparency and peer feedback.
  16. Organizational boundaries will be porous.
  17. Everyone will think like a business owner, and be just as accountable.
  18. Decisions will be made as close to the coal face as possible.
  19. Commitments will be voluntary.
  20. “Why” will matter more than “what.”

Agree? Disagree? What would you add? Any of these resonate with you more than others?