The Strategist

Three key elements for a breakthrough in work and life

01/15/2021 - 09:57

You've already reached a certain point, but the next step is so far away that you can't even think about getting there yourself? You need a breakthrough.

There are three key elements to a dramatic increase in results: getting help, investing, breaking away from the familiar. Let's look at each of these components separately.

Get help

This is nothing new, because, really, the first thing you need to make a breakthrough is to get help. Help can be in the form of coaching or a responsible partner, someone who can look at your situation from the outside, with an open mind, and determine the best path to success. It should be someone who won't hesitate to criticize you and whom you trust to do so. It is even better if you can find someone who has been in your situation before and is now where you yourself aspire to be.

You have to do this, because you simply are not able to get where you want to go on your own. For many reasons, our brains and our behavior are controlled by our beliefs. These beliefs are born out of personal experiences and reactions to them.

Good, bad or irrelevant, these beliefs create certain patterns. Stagnation catches up with us precisely when we use familiar and comfortable patterns. There is no shame in accepting someone else's help. There is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of.


In order to make a breakthrough, you will have to make a relatively uncomfortable investment in yourself. The word "investment" is used on purpose. Most people, when they hear it, immediately ask, "Well, well, well, how much is this going to cost me?" Unfortunately, that's only half of the equation (or even less).

You will have to invest your time. Throughout your life, you will make and lose money, gain and spend. You can replenish your financial sources in spite of spending. This is not the case with time. You can't get back the time you've wasted. There is an analogy comparing life to a roll of toilet paper. As the roll gets smaller and smaller, it gets used up faster and faster. And once it runs out - that's it, it's gone, and you certainly don't want to reuse it.

Time is the only valuable resource we have (and it's still debatable whether we really "have" it). In order to achieve results quickly, we need to slow down. The same principle works with time investment. A lot of people are so consumed with endless daily tasks that the idea of deliberately tearing a piece of their time away from them to invest it in themselves seems like a waste of a resource to them. But this view is wrong.

The need to invest in a breakthrough may seem extremely uncomfortable and simply frightening to you. You will have strong doubts about where to get the budget and time to do it in the first place. And your first response will probably be, "But I don't want to do that!"

However, if you take thirty to sixty seconds to really consider what you might end up with, your brain will say, "Wait... That doesn't seem so bad! I think I can handle it!" For many people, the very idea of dedicating two hours a week from their schedule seems ridiculous. But then, when they realize how much they will benefit from those two hours, it becomes not at all difficult for them to find "windows" in their schedule, which then turn into five or six hours. Sometimes even on the same day!

Run away

On the one hand, this is the easiest component of making a breakthrough, but it has several different interpretations.

While not a bad place at all, your comfort zone is often the only thing that limits you or, more accurately, keeps you from making a breakthrough on your own. At the heart of your comfort zone is everything that you are familiar with. Every decision you make is subconsciously tied to the fact that you are already familiar with the experience, or the food, or the temperature, or the amount of effort required, or the fun, or the sadness.

So, to distance yourself from anything familiar, the easiest thing to do is to run away. What do you mean by that?
  • To get out of your office.
  • To get away from your co-workers.
  • Get away from your family.
  • Get away from the daily grind.
  • Leave your time zone.
  • Change your diet.
  • Give up watching television.
  • Discard any "story" you are currently convinced of.
Call it an opportunity to change your vantage point or open up new perspectives - whatever you like. But in order to clear your brain and prepare it for the breakthrough to come, you need to give up everything you used to do and how you used to do it. It can be as simple as organizing important calls from the coffee shop or from home rather than from the office, where you are constantly distracted.

The components of a breakthrough are familiar to everyone, the challenge is to put it all together. Try it to surprise yourself.

Based on “Master Your Mind. Counterintuitive Strategies to Refocus and Re-Energize Your Runaway Brain” by Roger Seip and Robb Zbierski