As an expert in helping people be who they are and build the habits that are critical for success, I can confidently say that, most times, people aren’t even aware of what’s truly holding them back.
You may think you’re doing everything you possibly can, but sometimes, it takes slowing down and practicing deep mindfulness and self-awareness—like many of us are doing as we reflect on the past year and plan for the one ahead—to see your blind spots.
If you’re trying to figure out what yours are, the list below is a great first step. Here are nine surprising things that may be thwarting you from achieving the success you desire.
1. You’re Following Someone Else’s Definition Of Success
This means you’re comparing your performance to someone else’s (or society’s) timeline and goals, which will just lead to an inaccurate assessment. Create your own definition of success. Once you do, it should be the only one you pay attention to.
2. Due To A Lack Of Inner Work, A Lot Of Your Behaviors Don’t Align With Who You Really Want To Be
In our culture, we’ve been taught to seek therapy or coaching only when something’s wrong. But I strongly believe that you should do these things even when, on the surface, life seems fine. Understanding who you are and your psychology is essential for success and optimizing your potential.
Without understanding what’s going on inside your mind, you become a victim of the wiring you received from your family of origin. Their beliefs and “rules” are driving your decisions, and they shouldn’t be because you’ll probably end up acting in a way that isn’t in line with the person you want to be.
No matter your goals, you must be aware of your unconscious behaviors in order to achieve them. If you don’t have a therapist or coach right at this moment, you can start to build self-awareness by first slowing down and starting to notice moments where you’re either really happy or really not. What is the mental chatter that’s swirling around in your head? Start to pay attention to these messages. This can be a powerful way to begin the process of understanding what internal messages are driving certain behaviors.
3. You’re Adhering To Outdated Social Norms
You need to get a college degree to be successful. Benefits and pay are more important than how the job makes you feel. Job hopping is bad—really bad! These are all old rules that no longer apply to the modern business world. If you’re following them (or any of these), you’re short-changing yourself big time. You can—and should—break these rules if it’s right for you.
4. You Aren’t Connected To Your Truth
Most people haven’t been taught how important our own instincts are for decisions and career planning. But they’re essential. Success should be a reflection of each unique individual. That means you need to be in the driver’s seat—and your true feelings, your true wants and needs, should be steering the car.
5. You Often End Up In Jobs That Just Aren’t A Good Fit
To find positions (and companies) that you’ll enjoy and thrive in, knowing your Zone of Genius is key. This is made up of your Purpose, which is the impact you want to make on the world, and your Genius, which is the way of thinking or problem-solving that you do best. When you find a job that fulfills both of these, it’s absolute magic.
If you want help discovering your Zone of Genius, take this quiz. It’ll give you access to intrinsic motivation and help you determine what challenges you intellectually.
6. You Followed Advice That Sounded Good But Felt Wrong
No matter how much you revere the other person, at the end of the day, their advice is simply what worked well for them. That doesn’t mean it’ll work well for you. Listen to each recommendation with a critical filter. If it feels like it’s right for your situation, do it! If it doesn’t, put it in a metaphorical box and save it for later, or discard it completely.
7. You Stay Stuck In Your Comfort Zone Because You’re Afraid To Fail
Failures are a great gift! Don’t live in fear of them. Instead, view them as the ultimate way to learn and grow. If you’re holding yourself back because you’re nervous about messing up, you’ll never go far. Failures are an integral part of every great success story. So, take the leap. If you fall, get up, figure out why, make the appropriate adjustments, and try again.
8. You Have A Scarcity Mindset When It Comes To Money (Or You Truly Don’t Have A Financial Cushion That’ll Allow You To Take A Career Risk)
Being able to support yourself (and your family) is important—and it’s a huge component of work. Oftentimes, though, your financial health is more related to your mindset than your financial reality. When deciding whether or not to take a risk in your career, it’s crucial to know how much money you really need. That means figuring out items and services you could do without, at least for now.
The thing is, you’re more likely to achieve your money goals if you’re in a job that intrinsically motivates you. If you have a high-paying job that you hate, your bank account might look exactly how you want it to, but it won’t matter—because you’ll be miserable.
If you don’t have a safety net, start building one now. Because even if you don’t want to leave your current job, you truly never know what could happen. Bottom line: your financial health is a critical partner to career success.
9. You Lack Confidence Believing in yourself, no matter what happens or what other people think about you, is a non-negotiable. If you’re struggling with confidence and can’t seem to build it on your own, I highly suggest seeking out the services of a coach or a therapist. This is a problem that’s entirely fixable with the right support.