Most people don't even realize they're being held back by a mental roadblock that's in their power to change. I know because I had the same problem.
- Ramit Sethi, CEO and author of "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," has helped thousands of people build their own businesses.
- He's found that many of them are held back by the stories they tell themselves - that they're introverts or that they don't work out or that they're stuck with bad genetics.
- Sethi spent years believing he was cool under pressure. But when the pressure got more intense, he had to question the story he'd always told himself.
- Anyone can rewrite the stories they tell themselves, he says. They just have to get started.
We all like to believe that there are reasoned, rational decisions behind our actions.
In reality, many of the things we do are driven by the stories we tell ourselves - the stories we may have never even consciously thought about … and which might not even be real.What's a story you tell yourself? Is it:
That you're not someone who goes to the gym?
That you're an introvert?
That you're stuck with bad genetics?
These are the stories that are so subtle, most of us don't even realize that we've absorbed them into our conscious thoughts.
And one of the most startling and unsettling things is realizing one day that you've been believing a story about yourself - that actually might not be true.I know because that happened to me.
I used to tell myself that I was a business owner who didn't stress out. That I'm not someone who would crack under extreme pressure.
But 2017 was a tough year for my business and the team. I had to make hard decisions. I had to change how we did things. And as a result, I was under a lot of stress and, for the first time, had immense trouble sleeping. What was going on? This level of stress was new to me because for the past 35 years I had fiercely clung onto the "I'm cool under pressure" story I'd believed all my life.
It was a surprising moment. Maybe I had been wrong about who I was all along?
To "correct" this, I did something very difficult: I rewrote my own story.
Before I get to that, first ask yourself: What stories have you always believed?
I used to believe that I was just a skinny Indian guy who could never build muscle. Believing that story stopped me from getting into shape until I was almost 30.Because, until I was in my mid-20s, I had never seen someone who looked like me - a skinny, bookish Indian guy - get huge and ripped.
If you've never seen someone who looks like you, doing the thing you want to do, then it makes a lot of sense that it's hard to imagine you doing it (this is also called Imposter Syndrome).
If you've never met or seen someone like you who started a business, it's no surprise that it's hard to imagine actually becoming an entrepreneur.
That's why it's such a relief to see someone who looks like you, and you start to understand why we believe the stories we do, sometimes without even realizing it.
Think about all the stories you might believe:
- Money: "I need to cut back on lattes to get my finances right."
- Relationships: "Just wait, and be yourself … the right person will come around when you're not looking."
- Business: "I'm not the kind of person who's good with ideas …"
- Fitness: Basically everything from the health and fitness industry - ugh.
Changing your story isn't easy. It's way easier to avoid confronting the stories and distract yourself by watching 30 more YouTube videos or telling yourself "someday ..."
Instead, you can and should rewrite your story now. And this is how it can be done:
- Start your story with two words: "What if?" What if you decided to be someone who cooks? What if you decided to start a business this year?
- Make yourself the hero of your story by (1) having fun and (2) getting the help of other people around you
- Look to the future and imagine where you want to be.
My story changed once I realized that I was under an extreme amount of stress and took control to rewrite that story (check out my post here). We made several big changes in our business, and almost overnight, my sleep problems disappeared and I returned to sleeping like No. 1 Sleep Champion of the World. If you do this too and take it seriously, you can change your life faster than you imagined possible.Ramit Sethi is the author of the New York Times bestseller "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" and writes for more than 1 million readers on his websites, I Will Teach You To Be Rich and GrowthLab. His work onpersonal finance and entrepreneurship have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider.