One of the funniest things about the human brain is how it’s able to manipulate surroundings and perceptions to make almost any situation fit our internal dialogue.
Case in point: the article you're reading right now.
When I started writing in November 2012, I had to actively overcome dozens of excuses for why it wouldn’t work. I thought to myself:
- “Ok, I’ll try to start writing…but I really need to make sure I’m doing it the ‘right’ way. Better do some more research.”
- “Man, I really want to talk about entrepreneurship…but there are so many people smarter than me who already talk about that…I’ll never get my voice heard.”
- “I don’t have special connections or a fancy degree. Nobody will care about what I have to say.”
On and on I went like this. Until one day…I just said, “Screw it.”
I started writing. At first, nobody listened.
But then, I started to gain traction. Slowly and steadily my readership grew. The interesting part was that I found later most of my assumptions about what “should” happen or what I “couldn’t” do were entirely wrong.
My brain made up excuses as a "shield" in an attempt to protect me from failure. Ironically, those same excuses that were supposed to protect me from failure were also holding me back from making progress.
Excuses like these are “mental barriers.” They often come in the form of perverted logic and well-intentioned rationale.
They often sound reasonable, but make no mistake. They are deadly.
Here are seven common “mental barriers” that sabotaged me, and maybe you, along with the solutions to overcome them.
Which ones are you falling for?
1. “I should do more research.”
No. You should start. Don’t research every possible outcome of a project or idea. Just identify the first steps. Ask yourself, “What’s the absolute minimum knowledge I need to get started?” Then do that. “Ready, fire, aim” is an overused phrase, but it really works. A poorly executed plan trumps the perfectly planned, unexecuted idea.
2. “It’s all about who you know.”
Yes, knowing people is extremely helpful. But that overused excuse leaves out a crucial detail: you can meet more people. You can make the connections. Most people aren’t born well-connected. Just because some people are, that doesn’t mean that you cannot become well connected, too. That’s why I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Anybody. So don’t let that excuse hold you back. I’m calling your bluff.
3. “I have too many ideas/not enough ideas to make a decision.”
Although they appear to be polar opposites, both of those barriers come from the misguided belief that you’ll find an idea that is “The One.” You're searching for the fabled "Perfect Idea." It doesn't exist. Every day, we go to the store or search online and find things that we could have invented. These moments leave us scratching our heads, wondering why we didn't think of it first. The difference maker is execution, not necessarily the quality of your idea.
4. “That idea has already been done.”
Good. That means there’s a market for it. Now do it better. Or differently.
5. “I’m too busy.”
If you’re being brutally honest with yourself, are you really too busy…or is it that you’re still learning how to organize your time? This is something that I’m continually working on! I’ll start work on a new project and say, “That’s it. My time is completely booked up!” Yet, I still find time to binge watch every episode of House of Cards.
Be brutal! Track yourself. Where is your time really going? I’m not saying to cut out all your leisure activities. We need those to keep us sane. But reduce them by half, or even one-third, and replace that time with the work you claim to be “too busy” for. Boom. You just added extra hours to your week.
6. “I need more money before I can start.”Mmmm….nope. No, you don’t. There are plenty of things you can do to start a project that don’t require any startup capital…like this, this or this.
7. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
If you said that yesterday, you’re already lying. Nike solved this problem decades ago. You know what to do.
Overcoming these mental hurdles isn't easy -- but the first step is recognizing they are there. Once you can spot them, you can work hard to eliminate them.