Psychological Roadblocks – What’s holding you back?

I hear so many people talk about change but do little else. They cite a list of reasons why they can’t/won’t take steps to actually effect real improvements in their life, staying stuck in the same place as time passes by.

It would be easy to judge these people, labeling them as lazy, undisciplined, or lacking dedication, and then verbalising this in a bad attempt at motivational speaking. The truth is that we all face roadblocks, whether psychological or physical, which are holding us back from just doing our own thing and following the beat of our own drums.

Some of these hurdles are very real, others are imagined, but they remain on the front of our mind until we question their necessity or functional value:

1. Smashing the glass ceiling

Why place so many limits to what you can achieve? Why cap your success, whether financial, career, relationship, whatever takes up your head space? Why police your own ability to grow and do well in life?

The proverbial glass ceiling is often the product of our external environment, being surrounded by those with similarly limited expectations. It could also be the product of our beliefs, such as the idea that success only happens to those “lucky” few.

The reality is if you live by societal norms there is only so far you can go. To shift this mind-set, first challenge your ideas about success. This starts with entertaining your imagination, telling the thought police to take a coffee break and freely visualising EVERYTHING that you would like to happen. Do not let your psychological “reality” get in the way of your dreams, in the form of thoughts of criticism from family or friends; mentally push these aside and hone in on the new reality. Although these will unlikely magically manifest success, it will change your attitude towards optimism and opportunity; opening doors which you always thought were closed to you.

2. Give fear the cold shoulder

Worry is the product of human evolution as the problem solving areas of the brain ruminates over past mistakes and projects worst case scenarios. This is particularly true where past failures are lingering on your mind and red-lighting your decision making.

Worry is only a problem when we believe and act on it. To challenge this, there are many approaches to tacking unhealthy thinking (e.g. exploring the context, rationalising the likelihood of each worry, etc.) but my favourite is to just them it go.

Internalise a mantra to first recognise that worry is happening (mine is a simple “Nope”) and then decide you have no time for it. Whenever a worry pops in, repeat the mantra ASAP and get your mind back to the immediate.

Like any habit, worry dies hard and it takes time to move to the unconscious competence phase; but to eliminate anything dysfunctional from your life you really need to dislike it. So end your relationship with worry and focus on more important things.

3. Visionaries

Do you know what success looks like? Can you see the life you would love to create for yourself? Can you see the impact you might have in the lives of others, e.g. family, friends, clients, etc.?

For better or worse, the internet provides an eagle eye on the lives (and successes) of others. Where some tune into their own failures by comparing themselves to these, others tap into the potential for their own life by seeing what is possible.

If you struggle to find the mental clarity to propel you forward, seek out others both within and outside your industry and see what they have achieved. Over time, you will start to build a moving picture what you can create for yourself. This is a never ending process of learning and expanding through application.

4. When is it my turn?

In a world of instance gratification and reality TV, society is becoming increasingly impatient and in demand of overnight success. So many people want to be discovered and live the dream without putting in the hard and time consuming graft of building the foundation of a new path in life.

Change takes times. Success takes even more. If it doesn’t happen in the first 6 weeks, months or years, are you going to give up?

Ask any successful artist, athlete or entrepreneur and they will regale stories of sacrifices, bouts of impatience and moments of doubt. This time might not be your time, weather the storm, focus on the work and have faith that your time will come exactly when it’s appropriate.

5. Lack of motivation

Why are doing what you’re doing? Is it to be your own boss? Is it to follow your passion? Is it to connect with more people?

For me, I carry two images in my head: 1) the memories of the pit of mental un-health which I unwittingly fell into and thankfully climbed out of; and 2) the experiences of all the people I cross paths with in the practise struggling with relationships, with health or with life in general. These drive me to be better, to know more and to reach out to as many people as possible.

We are unique creatures with our own set of life experiences which act as the petrol needed to fuel our ambition. Whether these experiences are positive or negative, use them, find meaning and purpose to their existence and you will never lack motivation to keep moving forward.

6. Closing the Inner circle

Everyone has negative people in their life who see the world through the tinted windows of their own projections. They might act this out through being excessively critical and suppressing your desire to express your dreams or follow your instincts. Even loving family or friends might hold you back due to their own worrying nature and need for security.

Only you can truly see what you have planned but we all need people behind us to first validate and then encourage our dreams as you work tireless to create some unique.

Pick you circle wisely. Only involve those with at least a basic understanding of where you are going. Most will not be able to fully comprehend what you hope to achieve but if they can see your passion, they will only believe in you more.

7. Dealing with bad days

Everyone hits bumps in the road. I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people struggling and in need of help. To catch this I have to ground myself and park any unrealistic expectations I carry around.

There is only so much we can do and there will be days when you feel like doing nothing at all. This only becomes a problem when we make it one. Accept your own humanity, accept the bad with the good and accept that tomorrow is a new cycle change and opportunity.

8. Overloaded

There will times when you will be completely overwhelmed by the amount of work you will be faced with. Task after endless task will frazzle you out and prevent you from staying focused.

Richard Branson recently wrote a great piece on LinkedIn regarding the importance of note taking. There is only so much the mind can process at one time, but writing everything down eases the pressure and acts as a buffer. I also keep excel open constantly and map out every week for the next 6 months to reign in my time and prioritise specific tasks. I also reflect on this timeline regularly to see what I actually achieved and assess if I need to reduce the number or reschedule weekly items.

For me, the biggest roadblock is paying too attention to what others are doing. Checking social media regularly or shooting the breeze with friends is OK, but not when it’s distracting from WORK. Forget what others are doing and stick to what you need to do. Plan your day, week and month and live by it. The sacrifices will define your experience of building something that is unique to you and will only make you more grateful when success comes knocking.

Take Care

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