Do you often tell yourself that you can’t do something? I probably say “I can’t” at least once a day, if not more. More often than not, that is the thing that prevents me from accomplishing a goal. Not circumstances. Not another person. My own brain holds me back. We all have those things that we think we are naturally good at, and those things that we think we just can’t do. Why do we develop these beliefs about ourselves? Did someone tell you that you couldn’t do something? Do you have a fear of stepping outside of the box you feel comfortable in? Are you worried about being judged if you don’t get something exactly right the first time?
Often times our mental narratives are built by childhood and adolescent experiences. Sometimes it was a negative experience that formulated this belief. Sometimes it was a seemingly benign statement by an authority figure. You observed someone you respected and identified with have the same beliefs about themselves. A bully made fun of us for something. A teacher told us that we just are better at one thing and not very good at another. A parent who had low self-esteem or an ingrained belief about what was possible or not possible for them to achieve.
So what can we do about this? How can we push ourselves past our biggest obstacles? The obstacle of the ingrained belief system is the hardest obstacle to crack. Once you know you can do something, it becomes easier and easier over time. Positive reinforcement that you CAN do something creates a new belief in the mind and eradicates the old doubts. These 3 steps can help you achieve exactly that.
Step 1: Setting Goals and Formulating a Plan
What is something that you want to do so badly, but believe that you just can’t do? What exactly is the belief you tell yourself is the reason why you cannot achieve this goal? What is your why? Why do you want to do it and why do you think that you can’t?
Now I want you to think of ways you can work around those obstacles you tell yourself exist. What can you actually do that can solve the problem that exists? Do you not feel knowledgeable enough? What are some steps you can take to increase your knowledge on it so that you can combat that belief you hold? Do you feel physically incapable of doing something? What aids can you use to get you to the point where you can do something you currently can’t? If there is something that doesn’t already exist to help you solve your problem that holds you back then can you create something yourself to do so?
Make out your plan to help you overcome the things you believe are holding you back. It’s rarely an outside influence that holds us back, but an internal belief that there is no way to overcome an obstacle. There are always resources we can find to help us achieve most of the things we want to do. So what tools can you use and what plan can you follow to take you from point A, where you are now, to point B, the end result of achieving your goal? Write it all down. Make a flow chart. Form a storyboard or vision board. Whatever you need to see how you can put your plan into action.
Step 2: Put Your Plan Into Action
Now this is the step where people get tripped up. We all know or are those people who talk about someday I’m going to do this or eventually I’m going to do that. They make a million plans but never take action on them. So many people dream and dream big but never DO anything to achieve those dreams. They are still holding themselves back. Their mind is telling them that they can’t, and so they don’t even try.
So how does a person overcome this? How do you get past your mind telling you that you just can’t do it and put your plan into action? You don’t focus on the end zone. Focusing on the end result gives you a kind of tunnel vision where you can only see where you aren’t at rather than how to get there. When you plan a trip, do you just look at a picture of the place and wish your way there and then lament when you haven’t gotten there yet despite wishing every day? No. When you plan a trip you chop it up into smaller pieces and formulate your plan to get there (step 1). Then you have to actually set foot outside your door and make your way there. We are not Dorothy and able to click our heels to get where we want to be. You have to put in the legwork to get there.
Focus on ONLY the first step. It makes it so much easier to tell yourself you only have to do this one small thing. Once you achieve this one small step on your way to the bigger end goal, you will have developed a trust that you can achieve that one small thing and it becomes that much less scary. You’ve already done it! You obviously can do that one thing after you’ve shown yourself you can. Then the journey is that much shorter and less intimidating. So then you move on to focusing only on the second step, and so on and so on. Each small achievement increases your faith in yourself to be able to accomplish your goal, increment by increment. This is how we battle the mindset. We prove to ourselves that it is false and replace it with a new true belief.
Step 3: Enlist the Aid of Others
Find your crew that will sing your praises, the people you can rely on to back you up when you need it. If you don’t have anyone like that in your personal life (many people put their own beliefs and fears into you when it comes to our family, friends, etc…), then find yourself a mentor. Search online for motivational speakers, people who know how to succeed at what you are trying to do, teachers, counselors, consultants, or anyone else that can keep you active in your plan and on the right track. Find books, videos, courses, retreats…whatever you need to keep you motivated.
People who succeed will often tell you, they didn’t do it all on their own. They sought help when they needed it to help them get to where they are now. They didn’t sit around waiting for help to magically show up on their doorstep and do it for them. They kept themselves motivated. Once you start, you need to find ways to keep your momentum going. If the ball stops, it takes more energy and effort to get it going again than while it is already in motion. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need help to get where we want to go in life. It is not weakness to admit you need others to keep you on track. It is strength.
You are stronger and more capable than you think you are. Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to fail. You are stronger than your negative self-beliefs. And remember, failure is only one step on the way to success. We learn each time we fail, so just remind yourself that failure is positive as long as you keep going. It is only negative when you let it discourage you, and you give up.
To review: Formulate your plan, Put it into action one step at a time, and Find people to help you keep on track. These 3 steps will help you naturally overcome the limits you put on yourself and build new positive self-beliefs while shattering the old negative ones.