Overcoming Obstacles

5 Big Lies That Block Your Progress -- and How to Conquer Them

Next time there's something that you really want to do and you're second-guessing yourself, stop to see if one of these five big lies is the culprit.
5 Big Lies That Block Your Progress -- and How to Conquer Them
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7 min read
This story originally appeared on Ellevate

Every day I talk with people who have big dreams and want to pursue them but don’t. They feel frustrated and stuck and aren't sure what to do about it. Deep down, they know exactly who they are and what will make them happy, but they are afraid to give in to their desires.

Related: Struggling With a Career Change? Try Looking at It Like Dating.

When I probe a little deeper to understand why they don’t pursue the goals that will make them happy, there are five common excuses that come up. I call them the five big lies:

  1. I have to take the big leap. 
  2. I’m not ready. 
  3. This decision is do-or-die. 
  4. Nobody will take me seriously. 
  5. People who have taken a chance and made it are different than me.

Maybe you've also encountered these five big lies. If they sound familiar and you're tired of them holding you back, read on as I break them down one at a time so you can conquer them:

Big Lie No. 1: I have to take a big leap.

It’s natural to feel like making a change in your life is a big scary leap, but you are the one who decides how big a leap it is (or if it's a leap at all). When I started my coaching business I was frozen at times because I told myself I had to “take the plunge” like an Acapulco cliff diver. A wise friend pointed out that I could start in the baby end of the pool if I wanted to. That mental reframing helped me to make progress and gain confidence, and before I knew it, like a kid learning to swim, I was jumping in the deep end with energy and joy. Had I held onto the original big lie that a swan dive off a craggy cliff was the only way to get started, I’d still be huddled under the covers biting my fingernails to the quick. 

The straight dope: Take a small action in the direction of your goal. As the old adage goes, a trip of a thousand miles starts with single step. 

Related: Are These Habits Getting in Your Way?

Big Lie No. 2: I'm not ready. 

The interesting thing about this statement is that no one ever says it unless they have some expectation of action. If you have an expectation for something, part of you wants it. When you say you aren’t ready, that’s your fear talking. To address this in a positive way, ask yourself what's one teeny baby step you can take toward your goal? Much like big lie No. 1, you are 100 percent in control of the action you decide to take and when you decide to take it. It can be as small as deciding that yes, you are ready to take one small action. Once there’s even a little momentum, the next step becomes that much easier. 

The straight dope: Your first step could be as simple as making a phone call or having a conversation with someone who is doing what you're considering doing, and if you find yourself hesitating, use Mel Robbins' 5 second rule. Count down "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... go" then take action. 

Big Lie No. 3: This decision is do-or-die.

This can be a showstopper. Perhaps you don’t take action because you think the result has to be perfect or the impact has to be huge. This is like a baseball player coming to the plate and expecting to hit a home run every time. An expectation like that leads to performance anxiety and can decrease the likelihood of anything productive happening. However, if you detach yourself from the outcome, you can try something different each time until you figure out what works. This approach can even be fun -- you may find yourself approaching your tasks with a curiosity -- "I wonder what will happen next??"

The straight dope: Try stuff ... and be kind to yourself. Give yourself credit for being brave and notice parts work and what you want to change next time. Keep up your activity and before you know it, you'll be "getting on base" and maybe even hitting the occasional "home run." 

Related: 3 Myths About Confidence That Stop Women From Being Heard

Big Lie No. 4: Nobody will take me seriously.

This is a big one. Often when we decide to do something different there’s fear that we won’t be taken seriously by others. The thing to remember when you have these thoughts is that confidence is contagious. When you have confidence in yourself, others tend to have confidence in you. If you doubt yourself, others pick up on that and doubt you. Occasionally, you may encounter someone who rains all over your parade, but to be clear, that’s about them. Your boldness may trigger envy or fear in them that they project onto you so they don't have to deal with their own emotions. When you decide to make a change do your best to be around supportive, like-minded people who bolster you rather than undermine you. 

The straight dope: There's a saying that is very relevant to this situation: "What other people think of you is none of your business." Focus on what you want and what you need to do to make it happen. Support yourself in the same way you'd support a friend or loved one who was trying something new and scary.

Big Lie No. 5: People who have taken a chance and made it are different than me. 

I’m just going to call this one what I is -- a self-serving excuse. The only difference between you and someone who is successfully doing what you'd like to do is that they decided to do it. It’s very easy to sit back and dream and never take action to make your dream become real. There are many reasons we tell ourselves not to follow our dreams, but imagining that someone else had it easier and that’s why they are successful is not valid or relevant. 

The straight dope: Someone else’s success has nothing to do with you and vice versa. They put their foot on the path and started walking in the direction of their goal. They figured it out step by step ... and you can, too! Don't compare yourself to others. Your journey is your journey and no one else's. Whatever it is that you want to do, just get started. 

These five big lies can seem like ferocious tigers standing between you and what you want to do. You don't pursue your goals because these "tigers" appear threatening, but when you have the courage to look more closely, you see that they are actually paper tigers that can be conquered with a breath or flick of the finger.

Next time there's something that you really want to do and you're second-guessing yourself, stop to see if one of these five big lies is the culprit. Use these tricks to shine the light of truth on what's really going on and move bravely towards what you really want out of your life.

(By Terry McDougall. McDougall is president of Bright Beam Consulting.)

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