Whether you call it personal development, self-improvement, career development or career growth. We have all had a time in our lives where we have asked, “is this really it?” Some of us don’t know what we want in life yet, and that’s absolutely fine. But for those of us that do, despite knowing what we need to do to make a change in our lives, and even how we might implement these changes, there seems to be something holding us back. Whatever that “something” may be.
In this blog post we will discuss some factors stopping us from achieving what we truly desire and, ultimately, from reaching a place of total happiness and contentment.
How Can I Overcome My Fears?
Change is often scary. It’s in our nature to fear change, but fear is not always a negative thing. As psychotherapist Stacey Millichamp explains, “Fear is a natural part of life. It is not always a signal that something is wrong; it is also a sign that courage is needed to challenge ourselves by stepping into the unknown.” Fear is an emotion that you can overcome and even use to your advantage, to help boost your self-esteem, encouraging you to overcome future barriers.
Whether you’re in a job you feel isn’t quite right, or are thinking of making a career change, the thought of taking the plunge can be scary. The unknown is something we all have to deal with, so how do we force ourselves to overcome the deep fear of failure that comes with decisions such as these when our happiness and life fulfilment truly depend on them?
In her bestselling self-help book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, Psychologist Susan Jeffers PhD, advises “the only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.” This may seem like a difficult piece of advice to heed, but it’s just like training a muscle at the gym; the more often you exercise your courage by facing your fears, the easier it becomes, allowing you to affect positive change. Jeffers goes on to advise “every time you encounter something that forces you to ‘handle it’, your self-esteem is raised. You learn to trust you will survive, no matter what happens. In this way, your fears are diminished immeasurably.”
More often than not, our fear of failure stems from a place of low self-esteem and self-doubt. According to Millichamp, one way to overcome your fears is to befriend them. “Learning to soothe your fear, whilst also taking ourselves by the hand and breaking new ground, is essential if we are to live a fulfilling life.” By removing the power from your fears, you are able to conquer them one at a time, making a change to your life. Harnessing the power of fear and moulding it into something positive to continuously encourage growth and improvement, you begin to recognise fear as a tool that can be used to push you through negative thoughts. Some of us have moved past the point of being able to take control of our fear, and have fallen victim to our own mental barriers that can also cause us to grind to a complete halt and even regress.
How do I stop self-sabotage and self-limiting beliefs?
Low self-esteem, self-doubt and fear of failure can easily spiral, leading us down a winding road of procrastination that ultimately terminates in a nasty and sometimes unrecognisable place. Self-sabotage is a behavioural trait developed over time, where we unconsciously avoid making challenging decisions and change, even though we are aware of the long-term benefits.
Consultant psychologist Dr Elena Touroni, believes you can “recognise self-sabotage by noticing a gap between conscious intentions and their behaviour.” In order to combat this, you must first look at making positive changes to your behavioural habits.
Procrastination can be stopped by tackling the task head-on. By taking that initial step, you allow positive decision making to become a habit, enabling you to carry on in a positive direction.
“How to eat a frog?”, Carol Ann Rice, a leading UK Life Coach, asks. “Quickly and with one swallow. Don’t drag out painful tasks. Work in bursts doing the tough stuff quickly and efficiently.” The reason we put things off is that they present us with a psychological challenge and barrier we must overcome. Tackling the largest, most intimidating area of a problem is the quickest way to give yourself a huge feeling of accomplishment, boosting confidence and giving you a kick start into doing what needs to be done to accomplish what you desire.
How can I ensure continuous positive change?
We know we don’t like change, and this is why we form habits. However, it’s our bad habits that hold us back and allow us to create excuses for not making progress. Old habits are hard to break, and good habits are even harder to form. Dr Touroni suggests to conquer this, visualise what is important so it becomes easier to break bad habits that hold us back. “Once we do this, we need to work in a focused and disciplined way towards achieving the new habit or behaviour, reminding ourselves of why we are working towards this when there are bumps along the way.”
Once you chip away at restrictive habits, continue to form positive ones that will drive you towards your goals. “It takes 90 days to create a new neural pathway in the brain, so it is about doing something small and different and being patient with the progress,” says Rice. 90 days may sound like a long time, but once you have found the power to resist going back to your old ways making the hard work worth it.
One way to ensure you keep on track is to make sure you are held accountable for your actions and progress. Check-in regularly to review what you’ve achieved and get in the habit of doing this regularly, setting yourself goals to reach by a specific time.
By focusing on what it is you truly want, it can become easier to push yourself through your mental barriers in order to achieve what you desire. Challenging yourself and finding that you can fulfil what you set out to achieve will boost your confidence. Setting you along the right path to finding happiness and success in life.
Making change is easier said than done, but if you tackle it head-on, the possibilities are endless. What goals do you want to achieve and what is holding you back? Let us know in the comments.