Change: When Life Feels Like a Broken Record

by Alli Polin on April 23, 2014

When life feels like a broken record, change your soundtrack.

I called an old friend the other day and instead of catching up on what’s new, important or exciting in our lives, she was stuck playing the same old broken record.  Her amazing life, overshadowed by wishes that are now constant companions and would-be’s that are ruling the day.  I wanted to be blunt and ask her to take off the broken record so we could get to something more meaningful, like what’s underneath, stopping her and pulling her down into the stuck-ness of her life instead of embracing the constantly wished for possibilities. Unfortunately, I bopped along to the soundtrack of her life, that feels like a broken record of “Would Be / Could Be”, instead of forcing her to change the station.

Life feels like a broken record? No wonder…

  • I’m going to write a book.
  • I’m totally going to lose 10 pounds this year.
  • I have a new idea for a small business… this could actually be the one.
  • I am going to book that trip to Paris as soon as I have enough money.
  • I’d love to take some leadership training but it’s just too expensive.
  • When I get promoted to (Title Here) I can finally back off on my hours.
  • This job is sucking the life out of me but there is absolutely no way I can quit.
  • It’s my dream to…
  • I wish I could…
  • If only…
  • When…

Here’s what’s happened, those wishes, whens and wants have become a part of your soundtrack.  If you took action, the people closest to you may fall over because you’ve danced with the longing for so long it’s what they’ve come to expect from you.  Even worse, it’s what you’ve come to expect from yourself.  

When life feels like a broken record, change your soundtrack.

Pick a dream 

Do you have a dream? You know, the one that keeps you up at night as it seductively whispers in your ear?  Most people can’t go after four dreams at the same time, but one, that’s do-able.  Now is the time to do more than talk about it – plan, act, reflect, change, refine, and do it all again.  Here’s the key, your dream can become a reality when you stop wishing and starting doing.

Build your team

The idea that a leader, entrepreneur or small business owner does it all on their own is absolutely ridiculous. The people on your team may not be do-ers, but they are the cheerleaders, encouragers and straight talkers you can’t succeed without.  Your coach, mentor, accountability partner or business partner are your team, your people.  Ask people to join your personal board as you change the record and break free from could-be to embrace will-be.

Call on your courage

Could you fail?  Could your novel suck or you finally get to Paris and it rains for the week?  Sure.  But what if it’s awesome?  Call on your courage to find out what what’s possible and kick your excuses to the curb.  This is the truth: going for what you say you most want, even if you fail, is a success because it means it mattered enough to act.  Failure is not a permanent state, it’s like a trampoline for learning.  You’ll jump higher and see further with each true step you take.  Who decides if it’s a success anyway?  Your neighbor, spouse, BFF or you?  (Hint: it’s you.)

Be ready to celebrate

Don’t go through the motions prepared for failure, prepare for success.  When you think things won’t turn out well, you’ll be right.  Your attitude and mindset impact your success almost as much as your actions.  Assume you’re going to rock it out, allow yourself to sidestep fear and get into flow.  Celebrate being more than a big talker and be a risk-taker in service of your life and leadership.  Celebrate every step along the way and break that old LP to bits.  Who has records anymore anyway?

What’s your broken record?  

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri Klass April 23, 2014 at 7:04 am

I love the post, Alli and especially that our excuses become part of our soundtrack!

I try to listen to myself about what I can’t do and if it becomes too burdensome I just scream at myself in the mirror and say: You can do this! I then reach out to talk to people and gather more information. Just moving is taking action and that can be just the thing to propel us toward our goal.

Great reminder to never stop trying or allow our dreams to die. Thanks for another kick!


Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 7:59 am

Terri – I LOVE that you scream at yourself in the mirror! It’s like shaking yourself in the shoulders and saying “Get a grip! I believe in you!”

The hardest part about creating success beyond our wildest imaginations is getting started. Eventually our soundtrack of wishes and excuses are like extra bags we carry everywhere without even noticing them. It’s time to put them down and MOVE!

You always inspire me, Terri! Thanks for sharing!


Lalita Raman April 23, 2014 at 7:50 am

If we allow our negativity soundtrack (love that word and the way you have used it ) to dominate our thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions, change is never possible and we become victims of our doing.

Intention to do something is great but of no use if if can’t be turned into action. All about living to one’s own commitment and that to others. Sadly excuses is all that most people with broken records (those who fail to walk their talk and promises) go by.

Great post Alli.


Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 8:03 am

You know what’s really interesting… I’m not sure that everyone knows that those are excuses but instead believe that their statement is holding a commitment. At one point that may have been the case but we should always make time to take a beat and re-evaluate our priorities and act on the ones that are calling to us. There is always a way to make the time when it really matters.

Hard to get much done at all when our soundtrack is negative but it’s when the negativity is hidden under neutrality that we need to do the most digging to uncover the truth.

Great insight from you! Thanks for the addition here!


Joy Guthrie April 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

Another really great post Alli. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Thanks for sharing.


Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 8:32 am

Exactly what it boils down to! Thank you, Joy for hitting the nail on the head 🙂


Jon Mertz April 23, 2014 at 8:46 am


There is nothing worse than listening to a broken record! It is living an “I wish” life and never actually doing something to make it happen. In this mix (pun intended), we need to learn to say “no” to things that distract us from our dreams and doing what makes our record rise up the charts!

Great points!



Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm

I love the pun 🙂

You’re on to something…. big time. Sounds simple and it’s so powerful: Say no to distractions. I don’t think that most people that make these “wish” statements think that they’re being negative they just aren’t making the space to say YES. Maybe the first step is to figure out just how important it is…

Excellent advice from you, Jon! Thanks!


Matt April 23, 2014 at 9:23 am

Thanks for the never tired message of taking-action-is the-only-way-tocreate-change.

One thing occurred to me: it can be near-impossible to take the “thing” on directly (i.e., the soul-sucking job, or relationship, or… ), but if we work on other, “smaller” areas of our lives we 1) develop our change muscle and 2) things just seem different.

Something a coach can help one see/implement… 😉


Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Matt –

I’m with you!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Small steps = big leaps.

Lots of cliche’s but they stick for a reason.

Great point too – when we make changes, any changes, it changes our perspective and capacity. Now how to help people that are playing these broken records to realize that’s it’s time to turn the station? No change ever happens if you’re cool with the status quo.

Thanks, Matt!


Kaarina Dillabough April 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

Love, love, love this post! In much of the work that I do it’s all about getting people to realize that holding onto that broken record is exactly what’s holding them back. However, in some cases, people just love their misery. They really don’t want to change. There’s comfort in being a “victim of circumstance”, and for those people, I have to realize that until they’re ready to make change, the change won’t occur. Goes for everything in life, right?

Hope all is well. Would love to Skype again sometime soon. Cheers! Kaarina


Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Kaarina –

Your experience definitely echoes mine. I don’t think that everyone realizes that they’re holding on to a broken story or being negative. They truly want these things but there is work to do to get underneath the reason why it’s just not happening. Kinda uncomfortable – especially for those lovers of their story that they’re victims and have no other choice.

As far as Skyping again soon? YES!!!!


Kaarina Dillabough April 24, 2014 at 8:38 am

Will be in touch to schedule something:)


LaRae Quy April 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Great post, Alli! Love the way you get into specifics on how folks can get out of that “broken record” rut and move on.

I also believe that negative attitudes are something that can be changed…there are ways to move through or around the constant negativity that hammers away at our brain.

Your post got me thinking of which areas I am a “broken record!”


Alli Polin April 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Negativity and stuckness do not need to be our constant companions even though we may fall into their traps over and over.

Cultivating positivity changes the way we see – a critical first step to see the broken records that we have in our lives. I know I have some and am committed to changing the channel!

Appreciate your insights! Thanks, LaRae!


Karin Hurt April 23, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Great post. I always worry when I feel like “I’ve seen this movie before…” I want to jump to the ending and share… that seldom is helpful. Each circumstance is new and has new considerations and choices.


Alli Polin April 25, 2014 at 4:21 am

Great perspective, Karin. Just because it sounds like a broken record to us… that’s may not be the case.


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