You ever get the wind knocked RIGHT out of your sail?
One day, you’re ready to get started on your next big passion project. This is the one that’s going to change your life. You get everything in order, make a plan, and start executing it. If you’re anything like most people (myself included), the plan falls apart… FAST! Oftentimes, all it takes is one culprit to set the whole tower tumbling. What follows are some of the most common reasons we lose sight of success.
1. Stop Playing It Safe
In the course of human history, playing it safe has rarely produced worthwhile results. Most of the great minds of the past fought for their passions at great personal risk. You might be afraid that that the world doesn’t want what you’re offering. Or you might be afraid that people will deny your ideas. Many have come before you that felt the same way; the greatest of them are those who continued despite the risk.
Playing it safe may produce good results with consistency. That’s fine. If you want “good,” playing it safe might be just what the doctor ordered. But if you want great, you’ve got to put yourself out there. “Going for gold,” as the greatest olympic athletes do, is often met with life-changing results.
2. Not being clear of your why/what you want:
This one is huge. If you don’t understand yourself or why you want to do what you’re doing, the results will often disappoint you. Clarity about your purpose gives you fuel and direction. Your mission (or ultimate goal) is a necessary part in the success formula.
Starting on your success journey with a vague goal like “write a book” or “invent something great” isn’t enough. When you don’t know exactly what you want, choice paralysis kicks in and we stay “stuck” where we are.
Step back and gather self-knowledge. Read a variety of books and read often. Your reaction to the opinions and knowledge of others is a great indicator of who you are. When you know yourself better, your goals become more specific and focused. When your goals are specific, you’re more likely to achieve them.
3. Giving Up
Don’t get me wrong — there is a right time to move on from something. Choosing a different path may change the course of your life for the better, if that’s what your heart is telling you.
But giving up despite your heart’s yearning can hurt you in the long run. I’ve met many people over the course of my life, and too many of them see failure as the end of a journey. Half of success is the failures it takes to get there, and giving up after a few (or even plenty, in some cases) is not the way to achieve your dreams.
This is where writing goals and creating a plan has helped many people. When you cut your goals into smaller pieces, each “failure” on the way seems more like a hiccup. You can see where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Get cracking! Procrastination, A.K.A. The Success Strangler, is a powerful and deadly force on the road to success. “Tomorrow” becomes “next year” in an instant. It seems like an unconquerable enemy, but procrastination has a more powerful adversary: planning. If you sit down, break down, and write down your goals, you can learn how to systematize your day so you can stay on track despite temptation. We’ll get more in-depth on procrastination in its own article.
You don’t have to be a smiling, soft-spoken peace monger who only thinks positive thoughts. In fact, that forced bliss can have negative effects on you. It’s healthy to understand the inherent risks of something — thinking realistically often produces change.
But negativity is unhealthy.
Our most negative thoughts are often lies perpetrated by an anxious mind that wants us to stay as safe as possible. It can also be the direct effect of a depressive state of mind. With a negative outlook, your brain limits your possible responses to a situation. Negativity can prevent you from doing something you’d love to do (“I’m no good at painting”) or building relationships with people (“They don’t like me.”) When you’re negative, success seems like an impossible goal. Your mind makes up excuses about why you can’t.
The best cure? Actually doing things despite your negative thought patterns. When you perform the actions and complete them, you rewire your negative brain to realize you’re more than capable.
6. Stop Micro-Managing
At times, we get stuck doing things that we might be able to delegate or hire others to do. These small jobs include running errands, answering prospect calls, and running day-to-day operations.
Micromanaging these things, whether to make sure they get “done right” or because no one else will do them, keeps you from focusing on the big picture. Finding success includes the ability to let others focus on the minutiae so you can do things only you know how to do.
7. Excuses Not to Proceed or Move Forward
If you ever feel like you lack creativity, just look at some of the excuses you make up. It’s amazing how we can rationalize anything, procrastination being a particular culprit.
Here are some of the world’s favorite excuses in case you’re in a bind and really need to avoid success:
- It’s not the right time in my life.
- There aren’t enough hours in a day.
- I tried it before and it didn’t work.
- I wouldn’t even know where to start.
These sound like good reasons, but that’s why excuses are so powerful. They’re fear disguised as logic. If you’re willing to work against negative tendencies, you can always form rebuttals to push yourself forward.
So how do you fight back against these habitual success-stoppers? By replacing them with better, positive practices! Here are four ways to start changing your perspective to prevent the worst offenders from getting in your way again.
1. Commit to Your Why
Like I mentioned before: having self-knowledge is crucial in the success formula. Knowing why you’re doing things helps you see past obstacles and crush your excuses. Your greatest goals will be a combination of external (write a memoir) and internal (discover myself).
A clear vision gives you an end goal, which will act as your focal point. When you’re facing the brick wall of obstacles from a place of abstraction, it’s hard to see how or why you’d want to break through it. A clear vision changes your perspective. When you’re looking from way on high — where your goal is always in sight — you can learn to “walk around” those walls.
2. Shatter Your Limiting Beliefs
Another part of knowing yourself is understanding what you’re capable of. Limiting beliefs are the cell-mates of the spirit. They prevent you from doing or saying what your heart desires by convincing you that you can’t or shouldn’t. The first thing you’ve got to figure out: are they your limiting beliefs or were they given to you? Did someone else’s failures rub off on you? Did someone talk down to you and convince you to not go for something?
The second part, what proof do you have of the belief? Failure is not proof, by the way — we already know that failing is a part of succeeding. If you can bring up undeniable proof of your negative self-judgement, that’s fine. But most of the time, you’ll find that there’s no substance to these negative thoughts.
Accountability makes you responsible for what you set out to do. It’s a promise you make to someone else for your own success. It’s the kind of drive that you get when you tell a friend you’re going to do something — the pressure to follow through drives your success.
When we don’t have the proper accountability, it’s easy to slip into success slumber. We lose track one day, another one rolls by, and after a few months we totally forget what we set out to do. An easy route to accountability if you don’t want to involve friends or loved ones? A mastermind group. In a mastermind group, you’ll be exposed to a mutual accountability system and support net. You can confide in others with the goals you set out to complete and hold others accountable for their own success.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
There are enough critics out there. If you want to succeed, you have to learn self-kindness. The best way to do it? Be kind to others. Support others on their paths and you’ll find it easier to support yourself.
We all make mistakes — it’s how you respond to them that changes the course of your future. Do you slap yourself on the wrist and say,”I knew I couldn’t do it” or do you respond with gentleness and support?
It may sound odd to be supportive or kind to yourself, but it’s an important aspect of being a successful person.