Defeating Your Biggest Enemy… YOU!
It’s tempting to blame outside circumstances for the challenges that we face in achieving success, but the truth is that we are typically our own biggest enemies. In fact, we often face psychological barriers of our own creation that prevent us from attaining the things that we want to achieve. Fortunately, by taking a logical approach to the steps required to achieve success, it’s possible to engineer a way to defeat our biggest enemies… ourselves!
Asking yourself the following questions can support you in figuring out what your own barriers to success are. Then, once you have a better idea of how you’re holding yourself back, how you’re designed, you’ll be much more able to get out of your own way and engineer your pathway to success.
What outcome(s) do you want to achieve?
The first step in overcoming your barriers to success is to envision your ultimate outcome. This can be as simple as deciding that you want to exercise more often. If you want a big outcome, such as going back to school or starting a business, then you’ll want to be sure that you can find a way to break it down into smaller, actionable goals. Smaller bites are much more palatable than the confusion and overwhelm of the whole.
What steps do you need to take in order to achieve that outcome?
Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve, the next step is to think backwards in terms of determining which steps you’ll need to take to achieve success. It’s often helpful to reverse-engineer this process, by beginning at your end outcome and working backward to determine every step that you need to take. In short, start at the end!!
Which specific steps are blocking you from achieving your desired outcome?
You may be surprised to find that the barriers that pose the biggest challenge to your success are actually usually very easy to overcome. In fact, overcoming your barriers can be as straightforward as changing the order of the steps that you need to take in order to be successful. As one simple example, many people have a goal to eat more fruits and vegetables. They may even go so far as to purchase a variety of vegetables at the store, with every intention of preparing vegetable-rich dishes throughout the week.
So when it comes time to make dinner, why is it that so many people ignore the vegetables in their refrigerators? One reason is that many vegetables are stored unwashed, in plastic bags. Although it doesn’t objectively take much time to remove the vegetables from the bags and wash them, this small physical barrier has a large, negative psychological effect on a person’s likelihood of making the effort to prepare the vegetables.
Overcoming your own mental blocks is often a matter of changing your time frame, or the order of steps that you take to get to where you want to be. For example, using the vegetable scenario above, what would happen if you unpacked and washed your vegetables as soon as you got home from the store? It’s the same step, but simply washing all your vegetables right away makes them psychologically more accessible when it’s time to prepare your meals.
As another example, say that you want to exercise more but you feel as though you can never get motivated to go to the gym. For many people, this is related to the effort that it takes to get ready to go to the gym. What would happen if you packed your gym bag the night before? Or if you got into the habit of leaving an extra set of workout clothes in your gym locker?
Ultimately, if you want to defeat the obstacles that you create for yourself, you’ll have to be specific in determining what your barriers are. Once you know what’s holding you back, life is a blank canvas of creativity and industry. Get creative about how to reduce and disappear those psychological barriers! we are creatures of habit, take yourself on, get some new ones! The kind of habits that elevate and demand your growth.