Ideas On How To Free Yourself From The Reality Trap

By Todd Polke

March 31, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Have you ever been told before to be more realistic?

I have spent so much of my life, being told this, especially by those closest to me, and it grates on me every time. It seems like such a harmless phrase, but that simple phrase can kill potential and creativity so quickly, especially to kids.

Why do we constantly get told this anyway and especially by those closest to us?

Simple, they want to protect us and take care of us; they want us to be safe and to not see us fail. It is often out of love that most people tell us to be more realistic. But despite the fact that this statement can often come from the best intentions, it is actually extremely selfish at the same time.

Explanation required right? Let’s start by asking, “What is reality?” Here is my definition.


Simple definition, but I believe to be totally accurate. Through this experience we then create a set of rules around our lives, which tells us what is possible, and what is not for us; what is right and wrong and what is safe and risky and these become our limits for our own lives and our reality.

If these were true, isn’t then our reality just a personal experience and a personal opinion? So, when people say to you “be realistic” what they are really saying is “please live your life by the rules that I believe are possible so you can stay safe and your behavior feels comfortable to me”.

Who are we to overlay our rules and limitations of what is really possible in life on someone else’s life? Totally selfish!

Isn’t it true that someone else’s day-to-day reality is just a fantasy to you? Isn’t it true that some people are living a life far beyond your wildest dreams that it just doesn’t feel real?

What if we heard this time and time again, “to be realistic”? And, what if we believed that this was a great way to live our lives? Ask yourself:
What could that do to the quality of the results that you could possibly achieve?
What could that do to the level of goals you went after?
What could that do to the standards you hold for yourself and others?
Could it stop you from going and being involved with people who are living a different reality than yours because it is scary?
Think about the ripple effect having a belief like this could have on you and others for years and decades or an entire lifetime? It is mind boggling to consider. What about your own life?

Let me be clear on something however, I am not saying set so unrealistic goals that you feel that there is no hope as of right now. What I am saying is create a big dream and a big vision and hold onto it and then create smaller attainable goals to stretch towards and continuously increase your own reality until you are truly living your dream.


The best belief we can have for ourselves is to know that your dreams of tomorrow can be created starting from right now.

Here are some ideas on how to free yourself from the reality trap:

Get around others playing a bigger game

– When you experience others living a reality 2-3 steps beyond yours, your own rules of what is possible get stretched, we then start noticing the gaps between what we know to be possible and where we are right now and you will begin to move to close that gap.

Have a do something different night

– We are so often living in our own comfort zones (which are just another set of rules we have for ourselves). So, what if once a week we purposely did something different outside of your comfort zone to increase our experiences? What could that do to expand your reality?

Focus on mastery of key skills

– When we master a skill, what does that do to your sense of self worth and confidence? It goes through the roof right? With a greater confidence, do we tend to take bigger steps in our lives and go after things more directly? You betchya. Now there are many ways to increase your confidence, but I have found that this is such a powerful tool for it.

Set a clear vision and 90 days goals

– What happens in our lives when we have a clear vision, a direction in which we are heading and a plan to achieve it? Clarity is power. Get a clear vision for your life and where you want to go; what do you want your reality to look like in the future and then break it down into smaller and more manageable steps. I use a 90 day burn, where every quarter I set my key tasks and outcomes
which I am going to go after for the next 90 days where if I accomplished a major proportion of these small achievable
goals that they will have a significant impact on the overall direction of my life and the reality I live in. It also creates the habit of constantly reviewing our goals on a regular basis, so we are aligned to our outcomes and stay on task.

Reality is a personal opinion, so next time someone says to you to be realistic, you can then turn around and thank them for their opinion and then march on towards turning your dreams into your reality.

Todd Polke

As a Property Investment Coach, personal mentor and professional speaker I help every day people take their personal, professional and financial lives to the next level.

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