Do you ever notice that you have a plan and you’re really trying to get something done and it just isn’t coming together? Try as you might, you feel like something is blocking you, getting in your way? What if the thing that is getting in your way is you?
We block our own success in many ways, mostly involving our beliefs about ourselves and how we let them affect us. Most of us have firmly held beliefs about who we are and what we can do, mostly based on what we have done in the past, and we use this as our best way of predicting the future. But this also limits us because we can’t always imagine a course of action that takes us out of this predictable and comfortable zone, even if that would be the better route to take. We need to be around people who challenge us to get out of our own way by not limiting ourselves too much.
On the other hand, many times we get in our own way by trying to do too much. We unwittingly set ourselves up for failure by biting off more than we can chew. We decide we want to do something, but don’t have the resources, time, or knowledge to complete the necessary parts. We know that we can’t possibly do what needs to be done, but often don’t figure that out until we’re committed and then have to scale back our expectations, letting ourselves and others down in the process. This would be a great time to call on help or delegate responsibilities so that we can meet our goals.
Often when we are doing something that is difficult, frustrating, or confusing, as many new challenges are, we find ourselves procrastinating. We’ll do anything to get out of starting on a task that makes us feel inadequate. We’ll even involve others in our procrastination so it looks like we didn’t have a choice, or tell people we like the pressure of working right up to the deadline. Procrastination only puts off the inevitable until a later date, and makes everything more stressful. An accountability partner would be a good person to have here, someone whom you’ve asked to help keep you on track and who agrees to nudge you in the right direction.
Setting the wrong goals is another way we block ourselves. When we want to do something new and important, we often ask for advice or support, we talk to others who have been in the same position or read books to help point us in the right direction. And what they tell us makes a lot of sense. It worked for them, right?! But just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you or that you can do it in the same way someone else did. Set goals that make sense for your temperament and your capabilities. A subset of this is doing what you “should” do instead of doing what is right for you. Always do what you should when it comes to legal or ethical responsibilities, but there is not always a match between what others tell you you should do and what is the right thing for you to actually do. And if what you want to do and what you think you “should” do are the same, all the better!
The next time you are feeling stuck, take some time to examine how you might be holding yourself back. And then get out of your own way!