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What Gets in Your way?

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

What holds you back?

What one thing do you wish wasn't standing in your way?

If you didn't have anything stopping you, what would you be doing differently?

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don`t get distracted." Proverbs 4:25-27

There are many things that hold us back, distract us or get in our way. I am going to focus on some internal gremlins that we need to identify. In order to move forward, we first have to identify these inner barriers. We can liken this idea to road works on a highway as we approach a construction zone. We first need to be aware that there are road works ahead as we pay attention to signs that warn us what is up ahead. Then we need to slow down to the new stipulated speed limit. In some cases, we need to stop at road works if our lane is closed for a short time. Once it is safe to proceed again, we can begin our journey and continue to enjoy a safe road experience without construction barriers until the next time.

The road works in our lives can represent physical/exterior barriers like difficult people, work stress or others. Road works can also represent the hidden, more abstract barriers within our minds. I`m sure you are familiar with the phrase "mind over matter" where having a good attitude will affect the choices we make which will ultimately affect our performance. I remember when I ran the comrades ultra-marathon in South Africa and from the half way mark, I was struggling but I was determined to finish the 91 km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. I did manage to complete the race with 50 seconds to spare! This event taught me how much further I could push myself if I put my mind to it. The challenge within our heads, if conquered, is very often more powerful and intense than the physical more obvious challenges.

Road works are "red flags" in our lives that tell us something is wrong and we need to pay attention. But in most cases, we are too busy trying to cope with life; perhaps juggling two jobs or trying to be in two many places at once? Busyness and circumstances stop us from self reflection and we need to slow down and identify these internal gremlins that are holding us back.

It takes being proactive and intentional to change habits when certain behaviors or attitudes are clearly not working.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Lets take a look at these inner gremlins:

1. Negativity:

What kind of person do you consider yourself to be - someone who sees a glass half empty or a glass half full?

How do people close to you view your mindset or attitude?

A negative mindset convinces you that it can`t be done. If you tend to have a "never-be-able-to-do-it" attitude, its important to be honest with yourself and recognize this as holding you back from growing as a person.

Negative assumptions lead to negative perspectives and it is important to understand what perspectives you tend to adopt in most situations. A perspective is a lens through which you view yourself and the world and it is dominated by strong emotions about who you are. Let me explain this with an illustration: A negative mindset of "I can`t get good grades" will result in a negative perspective about not being successful in school. Feelings that are brought on by this perspective could be ones of despondency, low self esteem or lack of motivation. These feelings will in turn lead to negative actions on your part. So you choose negative actions - you don`t study or complete homework or hand in assignments on time. These actions lead to low grades which show evidence of how you see yourself. People with bad attitudes tend to have bad things happen to them with bad results.

Questions to ponder:

When you are faced with a challenge, do you think about worst case scenarios or do you tend to have a more positive perspective?

What kind of actions do you take when you have a negative perspective?

What kind of actions do you take when you have a positive perspective?

What is your current perspective on a current difficult situation?

With this current perspective, what kind of actions are you taking?

How is this working out for you?

Why not flip that negative mindset into a positive one? Let me give you an illustration of this. If you think you are a poor communicator, then say to yourself: "I can be a good communicator." And then ask yourself: If I was an outstanding communicator, what actions would I take? The idea is to change your actions into positive ones and then see the results. For example: you may decide to read a book on how to become a good communicator and decide to implement three ideas. Positive actions are key; your focus is now shifted from your mindset to following through on your positive actions and you now have a plan to follow through and see results.

Studies show that 40% of your actions are habits so what you are doing in the illustration above is changing your actions resulting in changing your habits! Once your new actions reap rewards and you see change in your life, and not be tempted to fall back, you will also begin to see a change in your mindset. Repetition of these habits is key and you could ask a friend or person close to you to hold you accountable or you could use a coach to keep you on track to follow through on actions. It takes 3-4 months to form new habits so it is helpful to find support and encouragement.

2. Fear:

Fear stops you from taking positive action which derails any success. Fears such as: failure; going beyond your comfort zone; change; taking responsibility; etc

Questions to ponder:

What`s your biggest fear?

How does this fear impact your life?

What one action step can you take to conquer this fear?

How will you support yourself to follow through so you don`t fail?

How will you hold yourself accountable? (ask a friend etc)

3. Resistance to Change:

You feel too exhausted to care; life is just too stressful; its too hard to change. Resistance to change often stems from self-defeating talk and a negative mindset.

Questions to ponder:

What`s your relationship to change?

What benefits do you get out of being resistant to change?

How is that working out for you?

What else is stopping you from moving forward?

What one action step could you take to overcome this?

4. Responsibility and Ownership:

Playing the "blame game" and not taking responsibility for your life will keep you from growing up and maturing into a productive person of integrity and principles. Allowing anything into your life that prevents you from owning up and owning it, will not only affect the outcomes in your own life but will also affect how much value and impact you have on those around you. Cultivating a vision of life that gets you outside of yourself will give your life more meaning and purpose, which results in a more fulfilled and happier life experience.

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Questions to ponder:

What are the benefits that this behavior is providing for you?

What else do you get out of this choice?

How will this kind of mindset work out for you?

Where has it gotten you so far?

To Conclude:

I have included some coaching questions you can ask yourself and these questions are some of what I use in my coaching sessions. Powerful questions help you to think deeper and bring on more self awareness as you understand more about who you are, where you want to go, why you respond or react the way you do and how you decide on choices and actions. Understanding your personality and motives will help you to move forward with more confidence as you make better choices and choose more beneficial habits.

Its hard to see the picture when you are inside the frame so a coach becomes your mirror. This is where a powerful partnership is formed!

What are your roadworks?

It helps to work with a coach who will help you to re-frame (a shift in perspectives) and identify these self-distracting thoughts and attitudes that undermine your confidence. These unhelpful thoughts need to be replaced by mental visions and a new desire to pursue your passion as you refocus attention in the right places.

Perhaps its time to rekindle your vision you know you once had?

Please feel free to book a free 30 minute consultation with me.


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