What’s Holding You Back?

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Recession and job cuts have (at some time or other) caused us to consider a change in job or career. I have – I’m sure you have too. Sometimes, the reasons to change are great. But still, we might find ourselves unwilling or scared to do anything about it. What’s holding you back?

Get this – we’re much more likely to hold ourselves back because of excuses rather than genuine reasons. We use excuses to rationalize a fear or worry. Excuses are a convenient ‘truth’ we invent to avoid the perceived pain of changing.

How we generate excuses is typically dependent on our personality and the wiring in our head. There are two dichotomies of behavior that I think are especially relevant:

  • There are people whose default response to a situation is to take full responsibility for it. I.e. they blame themselves. They might say “I’m not good enough” or “I haven’t got the money to do that”
  • There are people whose default response to a situation is to take no responsibility for it. I.e. they blame other people. They might say “I won’t get the support from X” or “They want me to fail”

When we’re faced with a challenge we perceive to be painful, we might generate an excuse using our default response as above and rationalize it as a reason not to face the challenge. Our excuses hold us back, but we find comfort in our excuses.

I tend to take personal responsibility. When I make an excuse, I believe that I am deficient in something. I beat myself up, and put myself down. A close personal friend does the opposite – he blames to world and his dog for being held back. What he hasn’t learned yet (despite me sharing my opinion about it) that he is stifling himself.

How about you?

Do you recognize which of the dichotomies you fit? If not, don’t be surprised at first – the process of identifying how you respond can be painful itself. It requires some soul-searching and self-enlightenment.

But here is a simple way of finding out. You need some paper, a pencil, and a friend.

Start writing on the paper the outcomes you want to achieve, or the changes you want to make. Write them down as you think them so let it flow. Second step is to write down why you think you’re being held back – what are the reasons (rational or irrational) that success isn’t happening for you? Third step is to talk them through with a friend and get their opinion on the reasons. Make sure it’s a honest opinion!

So long as you have picked a good friend, this process will reveal to you whether you tend to take more responsibility for being held back than you should be doing, or the opposite.

Guess what – you will also find this process helpful in spotting which excuses can be wiped away (with some counselling from yourself, friends or colleagues), and which ones need more work. Your goal must be to remove all excuses and leave yourself with a list of genuine reasons – which become the real challenge!

These reasons are what hold you back, in reality.

Stay tuned (as I will soon be sharing some tips on how to overcome your obstacles) by subscribing to my RSS Feed

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