Do you have trouble in trying to remove what’s holding you back from achieving what you want in life?
You had big dreams, you set goals – whether it’s losing weight or changing a career to starting a business, or saving up to travel the world – and you took massive actions for a while.
But after that, you start to falter backwards and regress. Nothing seems to be working anymore and you seem to be on a plateau. Everything seems to lose its drive and motivation.
Eventually, you might drop that dream or goals and go back to leading the life that you were living before.
How To Remove What’s Holding You Back From Achieving What You Want
It’s not uncommon to drop our goals and dreams but it’s also not impossible to be achieving what we set for ourselves. Before we go into the details, we need to first identify what are the factors that are holding us back.
Are you surrounded by negative people around you who are influencing your motivation and decisions?
Or are your bad habits, like procrastination, holding you back from achieving what you want?
Identify what the factors are at your inner core (deep inside your heart) so that you can remove what’s holding you back. Get to the root cause.
How to do it?
You can journal your thoughts out based on the goals/dreams that you have left off, or those that you have attempted but found it hard to keep up.
Perhaps you wanted to quit smoking, but you find yourself picking them back up again after 3 months. Is it because of the environment you’re in? What caused or triggered you to pick the cigarettes up again? Could it be because of stressful situations, or were you at certain events that could trigger these habits, such as when you go clubbing and drink?
Perhaps you wanted to lose weight, but found yourself time and again having bouts of emotional eating. Find out what made you turn to food everytime you told yourself not to? Keep asking yourself the WHY question until you get to the root of the problem.
Maybe you wanted to start a business and be your own boss, but each time, you find yourself procrastinating and unmotivated to start. Journal your thoughts out, and keep delving into the real cause. Why can’t you focus? Are you overwhelmed? Why? Why are you not motivated? What makes you procrastinate? And so on….
The External and Internal Factors
While there could be many varying factors that could contribute to you not being able to achieve what you want, when you look deep enough, you will find that these causes are more or less aligned with what you do and how you act in other areas of your life as well.
External Factors – People and Environment
External factors like the environment you grew up in and where you are planted now, your education background, your upbringing and the people around you play a part in influencing your decision-making process, as well as the way you think and hold on to your beliefs today.
If you grew up in a supportive, nurturing and conducive environment, you might perhaps be a more confident person who is a go-getter. The opposite may make things in life harder for you. Perhaps also, you are surrounded by people who love and care for you but they often pour negative comments and impose limiting opinions on you for your sake.
For instance, you might get outpour of concerns of your family and friend trying to persuade you not to be rash or to think twice when you want to change careers. Eventually, their advice and opinions may rub off on you.
What can you do about the negative people and naysayers?
It can be pretty straight-forward or it can get tricky. If you find your friends or circle of network constantly putting you down, you can choose to make known to them your decision or you can choose to stay away from them.
If your family members and close friends are the naysayers in your life, recognise that they might be looking after your interests at heart. Get to know their intentions and seek to clarify these concerns that they have. Address their doubts. Some may worry about you not being able to take care of yourself financially if you change to a lower paying job. They may be concerned that you will regret after choosing a different path while others may have doubts about what you’re thinking, such as breaking a long-term relationship that no longer serves you. Whatever concerns, doubts and worries they have in mind, you might have already thought about and have answers to.
What can you do about the negative environment?
You can either remove yourself from the environment that’s jeopardising your progress and your goals. For instance, you can choose to stop partying and drinking for a period of time until you are confident that you will not be tempted to smoke in such surroundings.
You can choose to surround yourself with positive people. Make friends who are like-minded. Find your kind of people who share similar goals and dreams as you, and those who you are happy to support along the way and vice versa. Find your circle of humans who will be happy to help you and see you succeed in your journey. It may take a while but the result is worth the effort and time.
Internal Factors – Beliefs and Fears
While the outside factors play a part, most of the times, we are our own enemies. Even with the best situations given to us in life, one can still manage to jeopardize his/her own actions and future by what’s going on inside our heads.
Our thoughts and beliefs are very powerful. They can either make or break us. We could have the best support, resources and environment all set out for us, but if we think we can’t do it, we will never be able to do more than what we think we can. Unless we are able to break free from what’s holding us back inside, nothing that we do on the outside can make us change. Unless there is a shift in our mindset, we will not be able to accept new wisdom and change.
What do you believe about yourself? Some of the hardest beliefs to remove are those that we’ve picked up when we were small, back in our younger days when we’re also absorbing lots of other information from the adults and the world. We’re so good at absorbing that we take in even the negative ones.
If someone close to you told you that you have a bad trait, for example, that you’re a selfish person, chances are, you might hold that belief about yourself today. And you might subconsciously try to prove them wrong by doing more for others, trying to please others or being more friendly and thoughtful.
What beliefs are you holding on to that’s limiting you now?
I’m not good enough.
I don’t have enough experience.
I don’t have the time/resources/support.
I am not ready / waiting for the right time.
What if I fail and disappoint my family?
I have never succeeded at any goals I set!
I’ll never be slim. It runs in the family!
I’ll never be as good as ….
If I do it, I must make sure it’s a success right from the start.
I cannot afford to lose.
What can you do about your limiting beliefs?
Remove old limiting beliefs. Remove the naysayer in your mind. Replace with uplifting new beliefs about what you can do.
Easier said than done? The first step to remove old limiting beliefs is getting to the root of that belief.
Do you believe the real you, on the inside, is the person someone commented about you as a passing remark? Do you sincerely believe that you will never be successful or happy? What evidence do you have that supports 100% that you are what you think to be? And vice versa, what have you done or achieved that shows that you are not who you think you were? Collate as many evidence to prove that you are not as bad as you think.
Fears come in many forms and in today’s world, we have to deal with all sorts of fears. Most of the time, they are internal, emotional and psychological rather than physical.
Fear of judgement. Fear of failure. Fear of not being enough. Fear of losing face. Fear of disappointment.
When these fears arise in us, they can be quite crippling. No matter how resilient you think yourself to be, if you are not able to face that one fear that’s holding you back, you will always be standing in that same spot.
If you fear judgement, whatever you do or say, will be filtered. They won’t represent the real you, but rather, what you want others to see you as.
If you fear disappointing yourself or others, you might find yourself sabotaging your own actions before you even start. If you don’t start, you don’t risk having to show results.
What can you do about tackling fears?
1. Let Go of Expectations. Let Go of the Idea of Success and Failure (or of Winning and Failing)
Don’t take your ventures too seriously. It may sound contradicting because if you are starting a business on your own, there is too much at stake to not take things seriously, right?
When you get too serious about something, it becomes a win or lose kind of venture. Instead of looking at failures as learning steps and stepping stones, each mistake or failure becomes a blow to you. it destroys your drive and motivation faster than you think.
The same with being in a friendship or relationship. The more you expect them to work, the easier you feel disappointed and dejected when they don’t work out the way you want them to. What about the times when you just let yourself enjoy being in the relationship? How did these moments turn out for you? Were they less stressful and more productive?
It’s the journey, not the destination that matters. Have you ever been so focused on a task or an activity that you’re enjoying so much that time seems to pass? Have you ever take up a course or challenge that push you to open your mind and learn, while at the same time giving you a sense of achievement? It is exactly the same kind of fun to look for when you are going after your goal and dreams. Do what you do with enjoyment and immerse yourself in them, have fun, learn and tweak your progress along the way.
Recognise also that in Murphy’s Law, whatever that can go wrong will go wrong. You either learn to be more prepared, or you overcome each hurdle as they come along. Either way, you are learning more and progressing more towards your goals and dreams.
2. Stop looking to others for approval. Set your own clear directions. Get clear on your own ideas.
Fear of failures and judgement often cause us to stumble in our journey. And at times, even before we start our journey. We want to be accepted by those we care about. We seek approvals of others to feel validated. Sometimes, we might even depend on others to decide for us.
Imagine following the opinions of others to let go of what you want to go after, only to find yourself regretting it when you’re 70, when you have no time nor energy anymore. How would it feel to you?
If you are one who’s used to letting others decide for you and/or one who is always seeking for approval, stop yourself from doing that from today onwards. Start with the small challenges, such as asking others what to eat or whether the blue or red dress looks nicer on you. Then, gradually move on to more challenging decisions like if you should change that job, run that marathon or go travel.
3. Face Fear with Actions. Set schedules but stop planning, and start doing. One action a day.
The best way to tackle any fears is to take (massive and consistent) actions. You must have realised by now, that most of the fears you try to avoid are in your head.
We often imagine the worst before we even try something out. If you have done an extreme sport before, you’d know how it feels. The night before you’re due for the activity, you couldn’t sleep. You’re excited and nervous at the same time. You have concerns and doubts too.
Before you arrive, you might find yourself getting jittery as time creeps closer. By the time when you are physically there, you’d almost want to back out. Up till the moment when you actually do the activity, your fear builds up, to a point that you might not be able to handle it and eventually give up.
But what happens next could be the most amazing experience you will feel. It could be the most exhilarating jump, most satisfying dive or the best experience ever. All the fears that had built up over the last 24 hours almost seem to vanish when you have taken the action to overcome your fear.
Whatever fears you have towards your goals and dreams now, tackle them the same way – with actions.
As you set your goals, break them down into nibble size action steps that it’s so easy to act on them.
Want to lose weight? Stop displaying junk food in your home. Each time you pass by the kitchen, drink a glass of water. Each time you feel tired, do some stretching. Do simple tasks that bring you big benefits.
Want to quit smoking? Choose to forget to bring your pack of cigarettes when you head out. Occupy your tea break time with work or meetings with clients until your smoking friends have dispersed back to their cubicles. Chew gum all day. Keep yourself busy.
Want to start saving up for your travel? Take an empty container you can find at home and label it as a ‘Travel Piggy Bank’. Each time you have coins or small change, drop them into the bank.
Set these little goals to act on consistently. Turn them into habits, and reward yourself with each step forward to keep motivating yourself.
It is important to limit your goals and options to a few at first. Too many choices and options can lead you into an analysis paralysis, because of the paradox of choice. The same with setting too many goals. Your attention gets dispersed, and you end up achieving mediocre results in every goal that you set rather than really crushing them.
Make use of the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule. Eliminate those nice to have goals and focus on the few 1-3 important ones that will bring you the greatest satisfaction and results you want in life.
4. Separate your feelings and thoughts from your actions.
It is easy to say no to what you have laid out for yourself when you are feeling less than great. The thing is, no one feels upbeat every single day. There are times when you may feel down, unproductive and such, but you still can get things done. Separate your emotions from your actions.
You can be tired, grumpy and lazy, but you still put on your shoes and head out for your run.
You can be angry, disappointed and unmotivated, but you still sit in front of your computer to get that work done.
You might feel tired and worn out, but you still wake up on time every morning to prepare your children for school.
It’s commitment to stick with what you want to achieve.
5. Reflect and review regularly on your progress.
It is worth noting that every challenges, fears or doubt that you will come across, you almost end up delaying yourself in your goal. And these challenges make it easy for you to drop your goals.
Having a review on how far you have gone or what you have done today, or this week, helps you bring your focus back onto what you want to achieve. Journal or simply note them down in point forms. You will realize as the days and weeks go by, you are already crushing your goals, little by little. You are already way ahead than when you have thoughts of uncertainties playing over and over in your head over the last two weeks.
Also, you get to adjust your actions each time you find yourself falling backwards. You can keep yourself accountable when you do your reviews regularly instead of just letting things slip.
Additionally, you can choose to invest in your mindset change. Find a coach or speak to someone who can see the overall picture of your problem and give you some pointers. Sometimes, you might find out the answers for yourself as you are talking to someone about your problem. It’s like a sudden realization that you actually have the answer within you all this while. You just need to be asked the right questions.
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