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6 Mental Barriers You Must Tear Down to Succeed The world has few obstacles as formidable as the ones in our own mind.

By Timothy Sykes Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Andy Ryan | Getty Images

Have you hit a slump in your career? If you are finding it difficult to get ahead, it could be because you're inadvertently holding yourself back in ways you don't even realize.

Many of us have unhealthy habits and behaviors that stunt our career growth. By becoming aware of them, it's possible to begin facing these obstacles head-on so that you can remove potential roadblocks to your future success. Here are 6 surprising things that are holding you back:

1. You don't know the basics.

What if you were to build a house on top of a weak foundation? It might be fine for a while, but one day, it would inevitably cause problems and affect your quality of life. Similarly in your career, if you don't take the time to form a strong foundation of knowledge in your field, it may keep you from advancing and growing later on. Therefore, it's vital to learn (and sometimes to re-learn) the basics.

There's no shame in hitting the books and learning the basics or re-learning them, even well into your career. You know how when you re-watch a movie or re-read a book you pick up on things you didn't notice the first time around? It's very much the same in career education. So whether you're a baker or an investor or a manager, make sure to develop a strong foundational knowledge of your field of work. It will serve you in many ways as your career advances.

Related: 5 Online Marketing Basics Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

2. Vague goals.

Setting clear and specific goals is one of the major building blocks of career success. On the flip side, without specific goals, you're more likely to suffer from lack of motivation and aimlessness in your career.

Want proof? Consider the work of Dr. Edwin Locke, who released a still-relevant article in 1968 entitled "Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives." In this research-based article, he determined that employees were most highly motivated by clear objectives and specific feedback. Working toward extremely specific goals provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the desired end result, which improved performance. Moreover, specific and difficult goals led to better task performance than vague or easy goals.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Concrete Goals Are Essential to Entrepreneurial Success

3. Caring too much what others think.

According to Aristotle, "There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." Are you too much of a people pleaser? If so, this tendency could be holding you back from finding the success you deserve.

No matter what you do, you'll never please everybody. Yes, you should always make your best efforts in any endeavor, and you should always try to be respectful of the opinions of others. However, don't let other people's opinions affect your every move. If you do, you'll constantly operate from a place of fear and will never achieve great things.

Related: What Aristotle Can Teach You About Marketing

4. You're trying to figure out everything without a mentor.

Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Oprah Winfrey. What do these people have in common? They're all crazy successful...and they all had mentors.

Many people suffer from the belief that to become successful, they have to do the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest alone. However, this mindset is likely stunting their career and slowing down success. Truthfully, seeking out the guidance of a mentor is both a brave and smart career move. A mentor who is further along in their career than you can help advise you, point you in the right direction and help you avoid common pitfalls. There is so much to gain from having a mentor; why hold yourself back by trying to do everything alone?

Related: 7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success

5. Poor time management.

Without a doubt, pursuing a new career or business endeavor takes time. Many people claim that it's impossible to work toward their dreams because there's just no time. But is this really true?

The fact is, nobody's ever going to gift wrap extra time and give it to you like a present. It's your responsibility to make time. It might involve changing some of your habits like bingeing on Netflix or getting lost on Facebook for hours on end. Or, it might mean that you wake up early in the morning like Apple CEO Tim Cook, who gets up at 3:45 so he can answer emails and take some time for himself before the responsibilities of the day descend. There are always ways to make time for what matters if you're truly driven to succeed.

Related: 15 Time Management Tips for Achieving Your Goals

6. You stopped learning.

Lifelong learning is a trait of the most successful people. Don't you want to be one of them? If you think you know everything, then there's no possible way for you to continue moving forward in your career or even your life.

As Malcolm X famously said, "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." When you approach the world as if you can learn from every experience and every person, you'll reap many benefits. You'll be able to keep improving, you'll be able to remain mentally nimble, and since you won't be a know-it-all, people will probably like you a lot better. Never stop learning if you want to keep growing.

Are any of these things secretly holding you back?

Timothy Sykes

Entrepreneur and Penny Stock Expert

Timothy Sykes is an entrepreneur and a penny stock expert, trader and advocate. He has been featured on CNN, Fox News, CNBC and more and has spoken at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University. Watch his media appearances and speeches on Youtube here.

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