We've all been there, in a position where we can't seem to stop spinning our wheels. No matter how much effort and energy we put into something, we don't seem to get anywhere. It's discouraging, and in some cases, even devastating. 

To get out, we need change. But change is hard--especially when we feel as though we've tried everything--from every angle. Or so we've come to believe. 

According to Google's director of behavioral economics, Maya Shankar, what may be holding you back from change isn't the difficulty associated with the act of change, but rather, the lack of one simple thing. It's not a lack of confidence. Nor is it a shortage of connections, charisma, or even money. 

It's a disconnect between how we see ourselves and who we really are that holds us back. In other words, what holds people back is their own limited perception of who they want to be or believe they are. Perhaps not surprisingly, entrepreneurs are among the biggest offenders.

The Identity Trap

During an interview on the Rich Roll podcast, Shankar explained how we, as humans, can settle into a self-identity early and close ourselves off from change. In return, this identity trap creates an attachment to who you want to be, which could be killing your ability to be successful as who you actually are. 

Nearly everyone has been there at some time or another. It's human nature and part of our development. 

For example, Shankar became a highly accomplished violinist at a very young age. Consumed by her love for playing, she grew up with the assumed identity of being a violinist. It wasn't until she broke a finger while she was studying at Yale University that she was forced to consider life as anything else. 

But even something as prestigious as being a professional violinist is a limiting belief. After all, that was just one aspect of what made Shankar who she is, not the entire picture. 

You're More Than a Buzzword 

Chances are, if you ask a founder in Silicon Valley who they are, they will say they're an entrepreneur. Perhaps they'll even jazz it up with the additional qualification of "serial entrepreneur" to let you know they've been at this for a while and are something of a seasoned vet. 

But even the most successful entrepreneurs are not simply entrepreneurs. First and foremost, they're always something else. Something bigger. The title of entrepreneur is simply an aspect of their identity--not the entirety of it. For example, Steve Jobs was not just an entrepreneur or designer, but a brilliant minimalist whose love of simplicity fueled a design revolution. Elon Musk is not simply a founder or serial entrepreneur, but a genius innovator, a lifelong learner, and a wildly invested worker who found the trick to working superhuman hours.

Find Your Through Line 

Odds are, your through line, as Shankar calls it, is much greater than the label you've stuck on yourself. Sticking to this label can hold you back from your greater potential. In other words, you're probably much more than who you like to see yourself as. Most people are.

In Shankar's case, she wasn't just an incredible violinist. She was also someone who loved to connect with others on a deeper level--which is exactly what made her love playing music. Once this became clear, she became a lot more than a violinist. She became a violinist and a highly esteemed cognitive neuroscientist, a White House adviser, and the director of behavioral economics at Google.  

As a culture, we have largely fallen into a trap of labels, with an obsession with personal brands and identities. The problem, Shankar says, is that most are not actually empowered by the labels they choose but held back by them. In a conscious effort to be something, there's a tendency to overlook who we truly are subconsciously. Let go of the labels that limit you, and odds are you'll notice that you become much more. Much more you--and more successful.