Have you ever felt like you get in your own way? That, when working toward your goals, your path always follows the frustrating sequence of one step forward, two steps back?
We all get in our own way at times, particularly when it comes to the areas in life that we struggle with the most. Getting in your own way can make it difficult to take the actions that will improve your situation.
For example, if you struggle with your weight, you likely get in your own way by not exercising regularly or eating well. If saving money is the problem, you likely have adopted a mindset that isn’t conducive to creating long term wealth.
Whatever your struggle is, getting in your own way suggests that you may not have a healthy relationship with yourself in that area of your life. As such, taking action toward the goals that you set will feel difficult (at times, impossible), and you’ll often struggle to find the motivation necessary to get things done.
Below you’ll find five suggestions for getting out of your own way. Commit to improving in one of these areas, and you will likely upgrade the others as well. Self-growth is a whole process, greater than the sum of its parts, and improvement in one area will lead to transformation in another.
1. Eliminate negative self-talk.
You’ve probably heard before that negative self-talk can inhibit your ability to achieve a goal. There are many reasons this is true, but here’s one of the most important.
All human behaviour is the result of you choosing to either avoid pain or seek out pleasure. Think about any behaviour you engage in regularly, and you likely can deduce which one it is for you.
It’s important you understand, then, that negative self-talk is painful on a level that only we can create for ourselves. When you demand perfection, or when you berate yourself because things didn’t go perfectly or how you imagined they would, your brain associates these negative feelings with your experience.
This could be why you avoid the activity that will help you reach your goals. Show more compassion to yourself and remember that achievement is a journey. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you will experience failure at some point, but failure is necessary for growth and, as such, should be embraced rather than feared.
2. Take a new approach to stop doing things you know you shouldn’t be doing.
Have you ever found yourself doing the thing you had, just moments ago, said you wouldn’t do? Most of us are all-too familiar with this scenario.
If that’s the case, I encourage you to flip your own script and take control in another manner. Instead of focusing on the things you shouldn’t be doing, focus on the things you should. Begin referring to these things as your “non-negotiables.”
For example, if your goal is to build a business, your non-negotiables each day might be:
- Cold call or cold email five prospective clients
- Spend one hour developing or growing your business
- Write one new blog post for your social media outlets
In this scenario, you take the focus off the minutiae that you sometimes get distracted by or caught up in — checking social media, answering emails, improving your website, etc. — and place it instead on getting your non-negotiables, the things you SHOULD be doing, done first. Whatever happens after that happens. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you moved the needle and advanced yourself on that day.
Apply this to any area of your life and watch how this shift in focus destroys your tendency to do exactly what you think you shouldn’t.
3. Wisely choose the people in your life that you spend time with and take advice from.
It’s a simple solution, but if you feel like you are getting in your own way, take a look at the people closest to you. If you find that your social circle enables you to make bad choices or live in a manner that is out of alignment with the vision you have for your life, you need to change that. Going out several nights a week or doing things that violate your values or beliefs for the sake of convenience is not doing you any favours.
While I’m not suggesting that you dramatically delete anyone from your phone who isn’t helping you reach your goals, I do recommend you start consciously limiting the time you spend around them. As with suggestion #2, your goal is to achieve peace of mind. What level of exposure to your friends and family will give you peace of mind and keep you effective at the same time?
Like it or not, the people that are closest to us influence our moods, beliefs, and actions. The people around you can help you reach your goals or can be a major reason why you never get there. Only you can decide what is right for you. Just remember, when it doesn’t feel right, it’s time to make a change.
4. Negatively perceiving your past failures.
A surefire manner of getting in your own way is to believe that the future will be just like the past. When you think about it, it’s kind of a dumb belief. If we were all doomed to repeat our mistakes, why would we ever bother trying to improve ourselves?
Deep down, you know it might be similar. There’s a good chance you’ll struggle with the same one or two things that beat you up last time. But the outcome can always change. Achievers understand that failure is a form of feedback. When you fail, you’ve learned another way that isn’t going to help you reach your goals, and that it’s time to move on and try something else.
Make it a goal to give yourself a clean slate for your new journey every time you start something new. Stop associating past failures with new ventures. If anything, look deeply into what went awry last time and seek solutions that are specific to those problems before you get started again.
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5. Getting ‘unstuck’ from the cycle of stress and self-doubt.
This last one is for people who have chronically struggled with something — weight loss, making money, breaking bad habits, improving their personal lives, etc. If it’s been years and you still haven’t gotten results no matter how hard you’ve tried, you might understand what it’s like to feel like you’re in a “cycle” of failure.
Typically, the cycle goes like this:
- Something external motivates you to get started again.
- You make a grand plan that you’re sure is going to be the solution to your problems.
- Day 1 comes, and you’re confident in your abilities and excited to get moving.
- Day 3 hits, and you’re not as confident as you were when it started. Things get hard.
- Day 4 comes, you fall off the wagon, slip up, or don’t take any action.
- Days 5-7 are typically spent feeling depressed, upset, or stressed. For some, they are also the times when you binge.
Wash, rinse, repeat. Three to four weeks go by, and you start the cycle all over again.
The solution here is this: Break your pattern by taking bold action toward your outcome. What could you do that would prevent you from turning back? Book a spot at a workshop? Throw out all the junk food in your pantry? If excuses were not allowed, what would that action be? Leverage that understanding and do all that you can do make it happen.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly you realize that the old cycle you were stuck in no longer seems as inevitable.
While getting out of your own way can’t be solved overnight, it can be eradicated over time if you strive for small advancements in the areas you struggle most. Consider it a win if you catch yourself before falling into old habits even once.
Be objective with your experiences and don’t get upset, even if you’ve never seen anything other than nominal success followed by failure. The truth is, you are entirely more capable at this point than you’ve ever been before because of what you’ve been through. With that in mind, strive for continual 1% improvements each day. You’ll be surprised how quickly the transformation comes.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to have the difficult conversation with yourself that will serve as the catalyst for progress. Don’t be afraid to pull up the hood and look for the problems. For all of us, that’s the start of getting out of our own way.