Part of my work as a coach involves Barrier Hunting.
Barriers get in the way of positive change – removing them makes it much easier to pursue and achieve your goals. But sometimes barriers can be hard to identify, especially in your own life.
Barriers can be practical [a simple example: not having running shoes when you want to start exercising] but often they relate to the ways you think.
If you’re struggling to achieve, it can be worthwhile to examine your thought processes. Here are some limiting ideas that I hear often:
I’m not good enough
You know what? It is possible that in certain situations this might be true.
But often the assertion is untested: the person telling me hasn’t even checked out what the requirements are, for what they want to do. They’re just holding on to to a self-limiting belief, which is protecting them from ever having to try.
I am constantly surprised by how often the people I see succeeding are not the best of the best. They’re the people who are actually giving it a go [and persisting].
It has to be perfect
The pursuit of perfection is really just a delay tactic, because perfection isn’t possible.
As long as you’re pursuing perfect you will never put your stuff out there, so you’ll never have to risk vulnerability. But you’ll also never have the opportunity to experience the amazingness that can come from delivering something to the world.
Try consciously committing to something else: like great.
Stuff will get better, if I wait long enough
Clients tell me they’ve been in jobs/relationships/lives they hate for weeks/months/years and then suggest that maybe, if they wait just a bit longer, stuff will improve.
Time doesn’t improve anything. Stuff gets better when you work to improve it, over time.
I don’t have the courage
It’s a big misconception: that some people are brave and others are not. Everyone gets courage for [their own version of] the big scary stuff, as they go. If you feel like you’re failing in the bravery department, try focusing on just the next little step. That’s all, just that next step.
They hate me/think I’m stupid/think I’m useless
A whole lot of people are held back from doing great things, by thoughts about themselves that they ascribe to others.
If you find yourself assuming that others are assessing you negatively, it can be helpful to distance yourself from those thoughts. You might like to try using the phrase: I am having the thought that. So instead of thinking: they hate me, you say to yourself: ‘I am having the thought that they hate me’.
Some simple shifts can remove these barriers, allowing for incredible life-enhancement. Top notch!
So, you hate your job. Or maybe you sort of like your job [cool people, good location, ok pay] but you want to be challenged or you want to experience something different.
You’ve updated your CV, jumped on seek.com and spoken to your friends. But you still haven’t found anything. You’re getting frustrated.
Most people pursue what seems to be the most efficient route to a new role: identifying a position on job sites then applying for it. But then they really struggle to find a role and apply for it, successfully. Or they get the job and it doesn’t feel like a great fit.
There is a whole different [flipped!] approach to job seeking that is much more effective. It is a technique that is incredibly practical and so, empowering.
Here are just three simple things from that method that you can do right now. To get you closer to a career you love.
Consider your values
When applying for jobs it is critical to be aware of what matters to you. You wouldn’t pursue a relationship with someone whose values clashed with yours [misogynist boyfriend anyone?] so it doesn’t make sense to pursue a job that doesn’t align with your values. And yet people do. Often because it hasn’t even occurred to them to consider the values fit.
If you can get clear on what matters to you and then only pursue jobs that match, you’re likely to have far more success than if you just pursued roles that don’t connect with you, intrinsically.
Talking to people when you’re job hunting is critical. So many jobs come about through connections rather than through formal job ads. But often times people tend to limit themselves to the folk they tend to see regularly. They forget who else they know.
Expand your thinking: grab a big piece of paper and a chunky pen and map out all the people you know and all the people they potentially know.
An important point: make sure to write down everyone, not just people who seem directly related to the jobs you’re considering. [Think yoga instructor, school friends, uni lecturers, dog walker, house painter, former housemates…everyone!] The point of the exercise is to consider your broader networks.
This is a great one because it delivers multiple benefits. It’s an opportunity to do something good for other people and help yourself. If you find the right volunteer role, you’ll get valuable experience, strong contacts and you’ll be able to test whether a particular field is a good fit. You’ll also feel like you’re doing something [momentum in a job hunting is essential] and you’ll feel good about yourself [self-confidence is critical too]. Bonus!
People tend to come to me with goals. Brilliant! [I am mad for a goal.]
I am, however, mad for a goal that is going to work: one that can actually be achieved.
Often times, goals arrive with me sounding a bit like this: I want to be more confident / I want to be happier / I want a job that I love. They are very general; they require a tweak.
If you’re currently working with general goals, without much success, try adding on these three words: as evidenced by.
So, for example – I want to be more confident, as evidenced by me:
- presenting to the partners at the monthly meeting
- asking that person out for a coffee
- wearing the orange dress I love but always keep at the back of my wardrobe
- smiling at the ridiculously.beautiful.coffee.person when they hand me my latte
- booking a solo trip to Mexico
If you’re working towards a very general goal, it can be difficult to determine actions that will help you achieve it. It is also difficult to recognise when you have achieved it…and so know when to pull out the good champagne!
See how you go with this small change [and let me know!]
Confidence [specifically: how to get it] is a big theme over at Upstairs. So many women I speak to have a whole heap of amazing ideas floating around in their heads but they’re terrified to share them with the world. They come to me seeking confidence. My response?
Sitting on your sofa thinking about doing cool stuff isn’t going to boost your confidence. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that sitting there Not Doing Anything is actually diminishing what confidence you do have. A big source of confidence is doing stuff that’s challenging and realising that you are actually incredibly well equipped.
An example? I can think of three [in no particular order] times where my confidence peaked – after I competed in a super hard physical race, after I gave birth and after I appeared live on national telly. It’s important to note that I didn’t feel that confident before any of those events but afterwards I felt I could do anything! And that sense of capacity has continued to grow as I have pushed myself.
If you’re sitting there, still waiting to be hit with the [non-existent] Confidence Stick, here are three different approaches:
Accept that for you, the discomfort involved in doing is not worth the life experience and growth it will most likely bring. Give yourself permission to sit quietly and safe. This is not necessarily a bad option – you can live a lovely life feeling safe. But chances are, if you’re reading this blog you are someone who wants more. In that case you can:
+ Start small.
Start with stuff that [for you] is easy – make a list, comment on a blog, get an ABN. Then build up to harder [for you] stuff – call someone, start a course, travel solo. And finally, leap into the really scary [for you] stuff – teach a class, write a book, give a TED talk! But if all this sounds like it’s going to take a while and you’re keen to start RIGHT NOW you can choose instead to…
+ Go Big.
Launch right in! Think of the scariest thing you can, commit so that you can’t renege and then do it. Once you’re done, everything else will be a breeze!