12 Most Clever Ways to Outsmart the Booby Traps Holding Your Success Hostage

12 Most Clever Ways to Outsmart the Booby Traps Holding Your Success Hostage



Everyone is subject to blind spots, choke holds, death grips and booby traps that have the potential to keep them from moving forward in life and career.

The challenge when getting tangled up in one of these areas is to do everything within your power to get untangled and unstuck as quickly as possible.

1. Hit the pause button

The hardest thing to do when getting tangled up and stuck is to stop fighting it, but that is exactly what we need to do. If you’ve ever had your fishing line get tangled up you know it takes patience and slow, deliberate effort to untangle it.

So I want you to imagine hitting your pause button, because that which we resist will continue to persist.

And the pause is where wisdom emerges.

2. Journal

Journaling is magical. I remember my first journal entry in 1989. Life sucks! That was all I could say, but the more I journaled, the clearer my mind got — until one day I realized I could see and felt good again.

I’ve been known to say that “journaling is a lubricant that untangles thoughts and a salve that heals hearts.”

Flannery O’Connor is quoted as saying, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Try it I promise it will help.

3. Shift your focus

When a person gets tangled up and stuck, they tend to slip into the victim role. And what do victims do? They spend all their time focused on the things they can do nothing about which does nothing to help them get untangled.

Now that you’ve hit the pause button, shift your focus onto the things you CAN DO.

4. Read The Magic of Thinking Big

When the mind loses traction and our thoughts get all tangled up, we lose access to our internal resourcefulness. Einstein said, it’s virtually impossible to fix a problem with the same mind that created it. Which means we need a new mind and there is no better way to gain access to a new mind than by reading a powerful book.

I like the Magic of Thinking Big because it’s filled with analogies that will inspire new thinking and help you regain access to your internal resourcefulness.

5. Walk briskly

Your body needs to move and the psychological benefits of walking briskly are immeasurable. The chemicals produced in the mind from walking briskly help to improve how you think, see and feel.

6. Play and be playful

Science has proven that there are incredible benefits to the adult soul from play and being playful.

Imagine you’re seven again — what were the things you enjoyed doing? Sliding down a hill on cardboard? Building a fort in a cardboard box? Climbing a tree? Playing kick the can? Skipping? Catching bees or lightning bugs in a jar?

Childish? Perhaps. But if acting childish for a few hours might help you get unstuck, then isn’t it logical to at least give it a try? What’s the worse that could happen, you could have a good time?

7. Rewrite and redefine

I like to ask myself the following question, “Where is it written that I have to look at or think about this the way that I’m currently looking at and thinking about it? Who says I can’t rewrite and redefine it? Who says I can’t see it differently?”

You have the freedom and power to choose how you define everything in your life.

So remember, if you change the way you think about and look at things, the things you think about and look at… change.

8. Master your enemies dance

The vast majority of people live in a perpetual state of internal conflict and resistance. They push back, avoid and/or self-medicate, completely unaware that in doing so they’re keeping at bay the happiness, peace and joy they seek and desire. Instead of looking at life’s fears, challenges, difficulties and hardships, look at the opportunities to learn a new lesson.

Don’t resist. Embrace. Look your enemy in the eye. Ask it to dance. Then let it know, you’re taking the lead. This is your dance.

9. Drink plenty of water

The anxiety and tension associated with getting stuck can take a toll on the body. The normal tendency is to eat and drink less-healthy when what would be most helpful is exactly the opposite.

Hydrating the body also hydrates and optimizes the mind so that you can think and see more clearly.

10. Practice smiling because

Force yourself to smile from earlobe to earlobe. If your face doesn’t feel like it’s going to break then you aren’t doing it properly. Now measure how you feel. If you did it right you have to admit that you felt much better as a result and isn’t that the goal in life? To feel better.

Commit to smiling like this throughout the day and I promise you’ll have more access to your internal resourcefulness than if you don’t.

11. Make a “to do list” and a “don’t do list”

By making a “to do” and “don’t do list,” it will be much easier to focus your mind, choices and actions on the things that most need to get done.

12. Meditate and pray

I love to get real quiet and just listen. I’m amazed at the things I can hear when I shut everything down. I also like to pray and I mean pray like my prayer is going to get answered.

Isn’t faith and hope what we need when things aren’t going like we hoped?

Bonus: Clear away the clutter!

“He’s trapped in the weeds and can’t see the forest for the trees” is said about as often as the name Chuck Norris or Kevin Bacon. And for good reason, because that’s exactly what it feels like.

Clearing away the clutter from your car, office, house will help you get more focused, and getting laser-focused is exactly what we need to break through to the next level in our lives. The main thing to remember when getting tangled up and stuck is to keep trying new things until you find one or two things that will help you move forward. Remember: “There is no shame in getting stuck, the only shame is not doing everything you can to get unstuck.”

Question: Which of the 12 action steps listed above are you going to act on now? What action steps would you add to the list?

Photo credit: Big Stock Photos

Les Dossey


Les Dossey is the coach who helps people get unstuck. He produces a live weekly show on Google plus titled ‘Get Unstuck with Les’ where he and his special guest host discuss how to get unstuck from the challenges and difficulties that prevent so many people from getting what they truly want in life, love and profession. Les wants you to know that there is no shame in getting stuck, the only shame is staying stuck. So gather the best resources you can acquire and get unstuck now.

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Great blog post!  Definitely resharing this one!


Great post, Les! I particularly like the point about journaling. Writing clarifies. Being a writer, perhaps I'm biased. But I don't believe I'm a fan of writing because I'm a writer; I think I'm a writer because I'm a fan of writing. There's nothing quite like spilling it out onto paper. Thanks for the reminder.


Thank you for a great list, up early and this is just the mental breakfast I need----yummmmm! 

Kim Bultman
Kim Bultman

Most of your suggestions pertain to off-line life (aka real life), though a number of them are applicable in front of the monitor, too. Balance requires the best of both, and your suggestions are sane, sensible, and do-able, online or off. Thanks, Les!

Sandra Sallin
Sandra Sallin

Love this post. You're right on all counts. The one I need to work on right this minute is cleaning up my studio. It's so calming when It's clean. This is a great post to refer to time and time again. Thanks.

Shannon Hernandez
Shannon Hernandez

This post is AWESOME @LesDossey !!  I am such a huge fan of making lists--especially after the first of the year.  I was doing it a few years back and I got so much done when I was making lists.  I think one thing people should do is control their lists.  If they create massive lists, they need to rewrite them with the items they haven't completed and rid themselves of the completed ones. Although I find that seeing the completion of old tasks rewarding, it always feels fresh to start with a reworked list.

That list lives in front of me all of the time and reminds me to "get work done, son."

Great blog post!  Definitely resharing this one!


@Shannon Hernandez Thanks. I'm a list guy myself. My production skyrocketed once I developed the habit of using them daily. Glad you enjoyed the article. Glad you're in my circle. 


As always, Les, very sound advice. There are several of these that I haven't been doing that I will begin doing NOW.

I learned the power of hitting "pause" this weekend: By the time Saturday hit, I was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed from a busy, hectic week. I decided to hit the "pause" button, and I stepped away from the computer and my work. It felt so good to sit on the couch with my toddler and just play without thinking about the other stuff I had "to do." 

My soul needed it.

Thanks for the reminders! I enjoyed this post.


@wendyrhernandez My pleasure. It really satisfies my soul when those I care about find more peace, joy, success and happiness as a result of things I share. Good stuff.