6 Traps That Are Keeping You from Doing Great Work

Note: This post is written by Saurabh Srivastava

So, you have got this dream. It might be writing a novel, building up a popular blog, making 6 pack abs, and anything else.

You might know people who reached these goals, and their journey was just a long walk on the warm sand. And here, you have been hustling on the thorns since quite a long and yet you find yourself reaching nowhere.

If this is the case, there are great chances that you might have fallen in one, or more, of the traps that are pulling you down.

And the worst part? You don’t even know that you are trapped. And like most people, you fail at whatever you are trying to do. You are like the rabbit that keeps running inside the wheel forever, to get the carrot hug outside.

“A trap is only a trap if you don’t know about it. If you know about it, it’s a challenge.”
– China Miéville, King Rat

It is time for the rabbit to simply step down the wheel, and then jump for the carrot. Yes, it is that simple.

Here are 6 possible traps. Identify which of them you have been trapped into. Challenge yourself to step down those compulsive habits, and change them.

1. The ‘Learn-More’ Trap

The information business has fear fueled you into believing that you’ll be doomed if you stop hearing their incessant teaching. In fact, the above introduction of this post is an instance of such a tactic. It doesn’t mean that the information provided is useless, it is just that Tiger Wolf didn’t become such a great golfer simply by reading ‘7 mistakes you should never commit on the golf field’.

Reading is learning from others’ experiences and mistakes, which is smart enough. But you must dare to make some mistakes on your own. Learning and doing should go hand in hand.

You are not caught in this trap, yet you don’t seem to reach anywhere, is it? May be, the next trap is your wheel.

2. The ‘Better-Idea’ Trap

After days of researching and brainstorming, you finally come up with a really nice idea of executing your dream. You take a weekend off, and when you are back, you find that you are blooming with new, better ideas of doing it.

It is good if this happens once or twice. But once you get into this trap, it starts recurring so often that you become indecisive about your ideas, plans, strategies, or methods. It is like picking up the best rose from a farm of 200 acres of rose plantation. Thus, you end up with a lot of projects kept on hold, waiting for the most suitable idea. And you never really ship anything.

You need to learn to make intelligent compromises. You need to know how to strive for perfection, and when to settle for excellence. Because perfection is anyways unachievable.

Are you stuck in the ‘idea phase’, even after finalizing a good enough idea? You might be trapped here…

3. The ‘Think-Big’ Trap

Ever since childhood, you have been taught to think big. You want to do great things. And you end up procrastinating, in search of the big break, or the grand start. This becomes a trap when you don’t realize the obvious fact that moving a mountain begins with carrying away small stones.

The only cure for this trap is to think small. Think about the smallest step you can make in the right direction. Experience what it is to work from the grassroot level. Don’t think of the outcomes right away. Focus on learning before earning.

Are you already too worn out carrying the smaller stones that you have no energy and enthusiasm left for the bigger ones? You need to read the next.

4. The ‘Work-Hard’ Trap

Hard work is suggested as the cure for all the problems. Working hard sure boosts your ego, but it doesn’t necessarily boost your journey. As a result, you work so hard on something that you get exhausted and your brain gets foggy, before the actual struggle even begins. The idea is simple: if you run too fast in a race, you’ll start panting even before you have reached the midway.

For centuries, we have been tamed into the buffalo mentality. It is time to step out of this trap and become the smart human that we actually are. Because this is the age of smart work.

Automate and delegate your works as often as possible. Why not request your spouse to do the groceries on the Sundays you have to work on your project? Why not hire a developer to customize your website instead of learning programming on your own? Soon enough, you will have decluttered your mind to focus on more important things.

Ready to rock? There is another pit you may fall into.

5. The ‘Take-Risk’ Trap

You want to swim across the English Channel. There is a risk of drowning, yet you jump in and start swimming. It is the coolest, the bravest, and no doubt, the dumbest thing to do.

The concept of ‘Just Do It’, looks good on the reel screen. But in real life, it is a trap. Yes, you need to be brave, and take risks. But they need to be calculated risks, where you know the pros and the cons. You need to be ready to face the gravest of the falls, and have an idea of how to deal with them.

Make researching a habit. Make an effort to think and plan things out properly. Blind risking is as good as not doing it at all.

You, my friend, can do everything right and still not get the real success. Here is why…

6. The ‘Think-Ahead’ Trap

You are expected to anticipate the future. You are expected to focus on the end results and get there as soon as possible. But under the weight of all these expectations from the future, you forget to really enjoy the present.

Beneath all the struggling, chasing, and achieving you often forget something very important: you need to enjoy the work that you do. No matter what it is, or how small it is. No matter how distant your goals might be. Being too future-focused sucks the vital life energy from within you. You need to focus on the work you are doing right now.

Steve Jobs said that half of what separates successful people from unsuccessful people is pure perseverance. And enjoying the work is crucial to being able to persevere, despite all the hardships. You may not have the answer to everything, but you must have a song to sing along.


You make things hard by falling into these traps. Acknowledge and avoid them. Life is supposed to be a celebration. And there is no greater way of celebrating than doing the work that you truly believe in. You are born to do great things in life. And you will!

Saurabh Srivastava is an author, who loves helping people find and pursue their passion in life. You can register for his free online course ‘The Passion Project’ and create the most passionate work life for yourself.


  1. Great list of the common traps that hold you back. The think big trap kept me stuck after college. You end up overwhelming yourself without realizing it takes a bunch of small steps to get where you want to be. Focusing on the small stones is less mental stress.

    • Saurabh Srivastav
      Saurabh Srivastav

      Thank you Lea. I am glad that you found this post useful.
      Saurabh 🙂

  2. I want to be more effective!! Thanks for sharing, this post definitely gave me some actionable tips to be more.

Comments are closed.