Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Limiting Beliefs: Overcome Thoughts That Sabotage Success

Right now, think of something that you've always wanted to do but haven't done. Got it? Okay, now ask yourself why. What has held you back from doing that thing you've dreamed of doing? There might be some solid reasons. I have two daughters who are ballet dancers. I've always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but if I started training now, I might make it into Ballet Geriatric. I'd be in the corps, standing in the back, wearing a heating pad under my tutu. Sadly, it's too late for me to be a professional dancer, but I can still dance. (And I do, much to my daughters' chagrin!)

Yes, there are some dreams we might not be able to realize. Most of us won't become professional dancers, athletic superstars, or president. But I'd like to suggest that the vast majority of our dreams can become reality, and we are the only ones holding ourselves back from seizing those dreams. As Paul Simon says, "There must be fifty ways to leave your lover." I think there are fifty ways to sabotage your success. Let's look at a few of them.

I Don't Have Time
Oh boy. This is the oldest excuse in the book, isn't it? You don't have time if you don't make the time. Life is a demanding mistress, and if we let her, she can take over and manipulate us like puppets. We race around with our tasks and jobs and look longingly at our dream like it's a distant vision in the mist. It will stay that way if we don't seize life by the horns and control it. Put your dream first or at least near the top of your priorities. You control time. It doesn't control you. Make the decision to act on your vision, and remarkably all other activities will find their place in your schedule.

I Might Fail
Yes, you might. But if you only do things you are already successful at doing, you will never grow. Even though it can smack you around and embarrass you, failure is really your best friend. If you fail, you have tried. If you never try, you will never make it to your dream. Sometimes success is a pathway cobbled with failures. Every stepping stone leads you to what you want, and you will get there. Try to laugh at failure, even love it. It shows that you are bold and fearless and willing to step out of your comfort zone. Accept that failure is a natural part of the path to success and just keep going!

I Don't Know How
This is the first cousin of I Don't Have Time and I Might Fail. If you knew how, you probably would have done it. You just don't want to take the time to learn, and you might not get it right the first time. Most of the time, it's never as hard as you think. I have been a special needs computer user most of my adult life. Now I'm blogging, even though I just recently learned what "URL" means. (I know.) I figured it out, mostly by myself. Whatever it is, you can learn it. Just get started. Take the first action.

Others Might Disapprove
This is a hard one. It's so uncomfortable to offend or disappoint people, especially people in your family. Like your mom or dad. Or spouse. We do so many things because we feel we "should". Or we let our dreams sail by because someone else doesn't think it's the right dream for us. Sometimes sacrifice is necessary, especially if your actions might really hurt someone. But if you are just avoiding the discomfort of someone's anger, then you will be forever resentful. This is your one and only life. If you live to age ninety, count up the days you have left. Do you want to give up your dream because it might make someone mad? They will get over it, and if they don't, they are not supporting you the way you deserve to be supported.

I'm Too Old
I recently turned fifty, but inside I feel like I did at thirty. Don't act your age. Act on your dreams in spite of your age. Your brain continues to grow and thrive even into old age -- but only if you keep learning! See every single day as a delicious PuPu platter at a Chinese restaurant. There are so many wonderful choices, so keep choosing to engage in life regardless of age. Age has some limitations (I, for one, no longer wear bikinis), but life is to be lived with joy and passion and adventure. Use the wisdom of age to enjoy every minute to the fullest!


  1. You outlined some really nice thoughts here :)

    Another thought that we use to escape doing something, that sabotages our success is: "I'm not good enough for *them*". Think about it. If you're not good enough, then who is? :)

    Thanks, Barbie!
    -- Zoli

  2. Thank you Zoli! Yes, you are right. Trying to please others is a slippery slope. It's impossible to please everyone, so who do you choose? As selfish as it might sound, putting yourself first is really the best thing you can do for those around you. You become authentic, and those who don't like that will fade from your life.