Do you ever find yourself falling for that familiar trap? It might be the negative attitude that keeps dragging you down. Could it be you’ve added another unnecessary activity to an already overloaded schedule? If you’ve ever been in these or similar situations, then you’ve likely asked yourself one or both of these questions: How do I get out of this trap? How do I keep myself from getting caught in the first place?
Over the course of a few weeks, I watched hundreds, maybe thousands, of Japanese beetles surrender to an irresistible trap. And once they’re in they can’t get out. Fortunately for us, the traps we face aren’t usually so lethal. In part one on this topic, I covered the common categories in which we can find ourselves feeling trapped. In part two, the focus is on what you can do to escape, resist, and even avoid the traps in the first place.
As I mentioned before, awareness is the starting place. But what does that look like? In a word, honesty. The truth is, the trap appeals to you for a reason, and only through honest reflection will you be able to understand why. Here is a great question to get started: What is it that I want from this [trap]?
Now with your heightened awareness, you can use the following guidelines to build your strategy for avoiding and overcoming the would-be traps in your life.
Recognize. The best way to avoid being sucked in like a little beetle is to recognize the trap before it gets you. What are you really looking for which the trap promises to provide? Security? Status? Happiness? Regardless of the promise, a trap only provides something artificial. It is not the real thing. Doing the honest work of recognizing your desires and the associated triggers will provide you a defense against the would-be traps.
React. Awareness and recognition can be great defensive tactics—like a shield and armor. But at some point you will need to go on the offense and take action. This may look like boundaries or a specific behavior regimen. It certainly includes choosing ‘not to go there’ when you see the signs. It involves being clear on the things of real significance, the authentic, so you’re able to spot the fake. I like how Greg McKeown says it, say no to the things that don’t matter so you can say yes to the things that do.(1)
Recover. The first two help you avoid, but what if you are currently trapped and need to get out? The wisdom of both Recognize and React applies here as well. Identify what it is that drew you in and then determine what you’re really looking for—the authentic version. Once you’ve done that, outline some ways to be able to spot the fake and begin implementing them. Depending on your scenario, you may also need to outline some steps to walk yourself out of the trap. Sometimes that may take time—like finding a new job, or eliminating a bad habit—but it starts with a choice to do something different.
Remember. The final piece is to remember why you are doing this. You may need some margin in your life, or to cut back spending and pay down debt. Whatever your motivation, keep it front of mind to maintain your resolve. Michael Hyatt writes, “people lose their way when they lose their why.” Remembering your why will help you remain focused on what matters and not be lured away to settle for something less than the genuine thing.
There you have it, wisdom from a Japanese beetle trap. The 80’s GI Joe TV show always included segments to help viewers be smarter. You may remember those segments, they always finished with this phrase: now you know, and knowing is half the battle. So true, but the other half is doing. Now you know, so what are you going to do about it?
(1) Greg McKeown, Essentialism, Crown Business 2014
(2) Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy, Living Forward, Baker Books 2016