The Common Traps of Living: Which Are You In?

Jun 20, 2023 3 Min Read

We all want a good life. To be healthy and happy. We want to love and be loved. To have experiences, enjoy comforts, and do certain things before we die.

All well and good. But too often we focus on what to do to get the things we want in life—and not enough on what not to do.

That’s where the common traps of living come in—the things that inhibit us from leading the life we want.

We all fall into traps in life. All of us. Moms. Dads. Leaders. Professionals. Interns. Students. Retirees. Geniuses. Dopes.

We all fall into traps in life.

The point is not to beat ourselves up for not living perfectly. Nobody does.

Rather, the point is to recognize the traps we’re in—and get busy climbing out. Too often, we go through long stretches of our lives in several traps pretending like all is well when it’s not. The sooner we address our traps, the better.

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Common Traps of Living

Below are 25 common traps of living, based on my data set of 643 people around the world who have taken my Traps Test as of the end of May 2023. As you read through them, note which ones have affected you.

  1. Overthinking: excessively analyzing something, dwelling on possibilities and second-guessing.
  2. Burnout: becoming run-down and feeling exhausted, often due to lack of self-care.
  3. Ruminating: excessively thinking about problems or repetitively dwelling on the same thought or situation.
  4. Negative Self-Talk: inner dialogue that makes you feel flawed, unacceptable, or not enough.
  5. Postponing: deferring plans or dreams because it’s not practical or “the right time.”
  6. Self-Doubt: lacking confidence or questioning your capabilities and potential.
  7. Comparing: measuring yourself against others and judging your worth by how you stack up.
  8. Clarity (lacking): being uncertain about your purpose, values, vision, aspirations, goals, or priorities.
  9. Perfectionism: setting unrealistic expectations for yourself or others or needing things to be flawless.
  10. Monkey Mind: easily distracted or restless, with thoughts swinging wildly in different directions.
  11. Limiting Beliefs: mindsets about yourself that hold you back (e.g., that you’re not smart or good enough).
  12. Indecision: wavering between different courses of action and having trouble deciding and moving on.
  13. Fear: holding back or not trying important things due to fears about failure or threats to image.
  14. Pleasing: excessive focus on making others happy at the expense of your own needs or desires.
  15. Avoidance: not facing up to difficult tasks, situations, or conflicts.
  16. Numbing: shutting out feelings by keeping yourself preoccupied with other things (e.g., work, technology, substances).
  17. Feeling Behind: feeling that others are racing ahead of you with more clarity or success.
  18. Other-Focus: focusing too much on others’ needs, draining your own reserves.
  19. Divided Life: being separated from your whole, true self and feeling incomplete or broken.
  20. Complacency: allowing yourself to lose urgency and motivation.
  21. Settling: accepting significantly less than what you want or deserve.
  22. Mot Moving On: holding on too long to a bad situation or relationship and not advancing forward.
  23. Margin: always being “on” and running from task to task without downtime.
  24. Losing Yourself: feeling consumed by events or others’ priorities, surrendering your agency, initiative, or sense of self.
  25. Catastrophizing: assuming the worst and blowing things out of proportion.

Which traps have you fallen into? Are there any which are pressing now?

While this is a long list of traps, there are many more. I’ve identified more than sixty traps that inhibit us from leading the life we want.

See my Traps Test to find out your top traps—and then get to work on climbing out of them.

This article was also published on Gregg Vanourek's LinkedIn.

Edited by: Irfan Razali

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Gregg Vanourek is an executive, changemaker, and award-winning author who trains, teaches, and speaks on leadership, entrepreneurship, and life and work design. He runs Gregg Vanourek LLC, a training venture focused on leading self, leading others, and leading change. Gregg is co-author of three books, including Triple Crown Leadership (a winner of the International Book Awards) and LIFE Entrepreneurs (a manifesto for integrating our life and work with purpose and passion).

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