What’s holding you back from the work you’ve always wanted to do?
Think about that question for a moment.
When you want to make a as big a change in your life, you need to face anything and everything holding you back from successfully making that change.
Mental clutter can’t be measured in pounds or kilograms, but it is often some of the heaviest stuff we carry around in life. It either prevents us from moving forward or its weight makes our progress sluggish. It’s baggage that needs to be unloaded. Right now you might even feel how this guy looks.
You know the greatest obstacle to your own success? Yourself. No one else. Cliché I know, but it’s the truth.
Beyond the baggage you might are already be aware of, there is plenty more you are carrying around with you that is unknowingly holding you back from the work you’ve always wanted to do.
Here are are a few . . .
A fear is a painful emotion triggered by an action your mind believes is dangerous and threatening.
Studies have shown that pain from fear is experienced the same as physical pain.
People are afraid of everything. Everyone one of us has fears whether we chose to recognize them or not. The worst fears are those that rule almost every decision we make in our lives and prevent us from testing the limits of our potential.
Fears have had a legitimate role in our evolution (read Seth Godin’s post about quieting your lizard brain). They make use more alert and protect us from harm.
However, modern life has mitigated many of the the fears that once plagued our ancestors, but yet they still are a powerful force in our minds. We can reduce their power once we recognize them and get them out into the open.
What are my fears?
I’m afraid of dying before I’m finished with the work I know I have inside me, not being able to pay my bills (which has never been a problem, but alas still a fear) and letting people down who counted on me (the source of this fear is from enduring years of Catholic guilt from my loving mother).
What fears are holding you back?
A craving is a powerful desire that needs to be almost immediately satisfied.
Generally it’s a physical need. It’s also typically a need that comforts us, but has the potential to make us lose our self-control. We over do it. We all have that temptation within us.
We need to reign in our cravings because they bring us out of alignment with our goals and our purpose. They are a huge drain on our energy, our time and our money. The little comfort they offer, can end up being very destructive.
What are my biggest cravings?
Chips, sugar and alcohol are my downfalls. I crave them all. I can polish off a bag of tortilla chips or an entire Ritter chocolate bar in one sitting. Let’s just say once I have more than 2 drinks, the probability of drinking way, way more than I should is highly probable. That’s the thing about cravings, they fill you up with empty satisfaction.
What cravings are holding you back?
A desire is a strong feeling or wish to have something in particular in your life that will bring you satisfaction.
Generally it’s something currently out of your reach. It can be both an attainable and unattainable goal.
Desires can be both healthy and unhealthy. I believe healthy desires are lofty goals that can motivate you to create positive change in your life.
Unhealthy desires become obsessions. They become the sole source of your happiness. They become a need and not something to be enjoyed.
What are my unhealthy desires?
I once desired financial security. Who doesn’t want to have to worry about money? Once I achieved my desire, I was severely disappointed. Becoming financially secure didn’t make me feel any more satisfied or happy. I felt even more empty inside because I ignored all the other ingredients to my happiness. I learned the hard way that money isn’t everything.
What unhealthy desires are holding you back?
An expectation is a strong belief that something will likely happen or it is a preference to have something happen in a certain way.
More often than not, expectations are not within our control. When our expectations aren’t realized, they can leave is very disappointed.
Your goals should be guideposts to give your life direction. Expectations are rigid. They can be walls of disappointment when you can’t climb over them.
Our careers are filled with expectations about when we’ll get promoted, how much money we’ll make, how successful will be in 5 years, etc. Sometimes those expectations are unrealistic because we haven’t taken an honest assessment of ourselves and our abilities.
We get easily disappointed when these expectations aren’t met and ignore all the progress we have made.
What are my expectations?
Honestly, I’ve had so many expectations for myself in my career it’s hard to remember them all! Looking back I have realized, my most productive expectations are those about how I live my purpose and my values.
The expectations that were counterproductive to my career were those tied to specific outcomes like getting promotions, making a certain amount of money by a certain age, constantly thinking my “next job” was finally going to make me completely happy or waiting for the “right time” to pursue an opportunity.
What expectations are holding you back?
Your Risk Tolerance
Your risk tolerance is your motivation for seeking untested opportunities and your ability to embrace change.
I also like to think of your risk tolerance as a measure for your “fear of failure”.
People with a low tolerance for risk direct all their energy into holding onto everything they already have. They fear change.
People with a high tolerance for risk direct all their energy into pursuing new opportunities that have no guarantee of success. They are driven by change.
The world around you is changing faster than ever before. Risk avoidance is probably not in your best interest because change is coming to your life whether you want it to or not. Let it be on your terms.
When you take a chance and fail, at least you will learn a little more about yourself and add another piece to your puzzle of success.
What is my risk tolerance?
Early in my career I would say I was very conservative about taking on risk. Since I was laid off, my risk tolerance has grown tremendously and now I run toward failure because I know I will learn from it.
What is your risk tolerance?
Asking For Permission
Permission is giving someone else the authority to decided what you can and can not do.
Asking for permission is ingrained in us as children and leaves a deeper imprint on us as adults than we would like to imagine.
We constantly look for the validation of others to tell us when it’s time for us to make our next move and which opportunities are best for us to pursue.
I’m giving you permission to stop asking for permission. You are the sole authority over your life and how you get to live it. You may disappoint many people in the process, but they aren’t living your life, you are.
How have I asked for permission in my career?
Before starting Life Skills That Matter I thought I could only build a business by having a partner. More often than not, I under minded several opportunities because I sought their validation.
Worse, I convinced myself I needed it. I slowly came to realize I was the reason for my business success, not my partners. My need for permission also held me back from choosing partners that best complimented my strengths.
What permission do you need to do the work you’ve always wanted to do?
#1 Action To Start Letting Go
If you want to design your lifestyle, so you can work on your terms, you need to liberate yourself form all the stuff holding you back.
I believe the most effective action you can take to start that process is to make a list of all your fears, cravings, unhealthy desires and unrealistic expectations.
Stop hiding that stuff in your head. Get it out into the open by writing it all down. Take an inventory of every last one of them.
You might even consider keeping a journal as you bring more awareness to ones you might not even know about.
For some reason they start to lose their power once they are transformed from thought into your own handwriting. I suppose it’s because you get to view them from a different perspective outside of your mind.
As you read them, they might even seem ridiculous or funny. Your mind might even seem clearer now that you have unburdened it from having to be the sole record keeper of them all.
Most importantly, you are finally being honest with yourself by admitting that these issues that are holding you back from what you want to do.
Now that you have a list, start coming up with individual strategies for dealing with each fear, craving, desire and expectation. What is the source for each one of them?
They are now problems that can be solved instead of ones weighing you down.