By Executive Coach, Karen Nutter
Do you ever feel like your life and career are just going in circles? I can promise you, you’re not alone. Many of the smartest, most talented, skilled, and educated people have trouble accomplishing their goals and creating the success they desire. Through my years of coaching and mentoring, I have found that in many cases the biggest obstacle to a person’s success is themselves.
As humans, we are very good at creating our own distractions and roadblocks. We tell ourselves we’re not good/smart/talented enough, we aren’t properly recognized and appreciated at work, we’re in the wrong job, or that we simply don’t have enough time to do what is needed to get ahead. And, while it’s common to blame other people, circumstances, and even genetics, the reality is we are all responsible for creating our own success – no matter what!
There are countless stories of people from all walks of life who have overcome tremendous odds and achieved “the impossible.” I would guess that within your own circle of family and friends, there are people who have persevered through illness, difficult family dynamics, addictions, or physical limitations, and turned their challenges into motivators. Likewise, we all know someone who seems to “have it all” and yet struggles to move up the ladder, hold on to a relationship, or move their life in a positive direction. The key to overcoming roadblocks is to identify which ones you are putting up so you can stop doing that and get out of your own way.
Common Roadblocks To Success
There are several common roadblocks people put up to stop themselves from moving forward, and most of the time, they do this without even realizing it. Personally, I have found that it’s impossible to fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. So, if you’re having trouble achieving your goals maybe it’s time to take an honest look at your life and see if any of these things are creating a constant detour on your success path.
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” ~M. Scott Peck
I couldn’t possibly review all the reasons people have self-esteem issues that inhibit their success. But, I can tell you this – low self-esteem is often a result of chronically comparing yourself to others, and there is really no reason to do that. No two people are alike, and everyone walks their own path. That means comparing yourself to anyone else is unfair. They are not you. You are not them. If you aren’t feeling as qualified or deserving of success as everyone else, you aren’t likely to find the motivation to pursue your dreams. I wish I could give you an easy process for building self-esteem, but there really isn’t one. I encourage you to create opportunities that provide a sense of achievement; work with a coach, counselor, or therapist who can help you identify the cause(s) of esteem issues and work through them; and recognize that you are uniquely you – no comparisons necessary – embrace and believe in yourself and the rest will fall into place. Few successful people were the smartest, most talented, kindest, and most skilled people in their field, but they believed in themselves and pushed forward. Believe in yourself and you will create success around you.
“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~George Herbert
There have been many times in my life when I have not felt motivated to do what I needed to do. When this happens, I feel tired and bogged down. I move that task to the bottom of the list – sometimes repeatedly. And, if it goes on for too long, I start berating myself for avoiding the task. One of the things that helps me overcome those feelings is that I now know that once I “get ‘er done” I feel SO much better – about everything. It’s amazing how freeing it is when you accomplish that dreaded task – it can feel like winning the lottery! Often, clients who have issues with motivation do so because they have not aligned their tasks with their values. We look at what truly motivates them, review their goals, and find a way to connect the two. And, if we can’t, we explore new options and opportunities. Everyone has Driving Forces that tell WHY they do what they do. By understanding and connecting to these forces, you can engage your motivation and move forward, or change direction. Either way, you will grow.
*Inability To Focus
“The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move. Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.” ~Ralph Marston
One of the most common challenges to success is an inability to stay focused on the right things at the right time, or stay focused on one task long enough to successfully complete it. Whether you have some degree of ADD/ADHD, have too many projects going, or are distracted by social media, family obligations, or just lack a productive environment for work, finding (and keeping) your focus is crucial to every accomplishment. I used to work with a woman who always had great ideas for special projects that could help advance her career and the company, but she never saw any of them to fruition. She would start one project and then change directions. Then, she would start the new one, develop a “better idea” and start over. Each time, she rationalized her new ideas as “better” than the others, and in some cases that was probably true. But, overall, she was simply diverting her own attention away from completing the tasks necessary to move forward. Why was she doing that, you ask? In her case it was because she was feeling burnt out in her career but didn’t realize that was the issue. Once she figured it out, she was able to make the changes needed to get ahead. There are many reasons people can’t stay focused, and often it takes a lot of digging before you get to the root of the problem. Start by paying attention to your behaviors and feelings, then keep digging. Teach yourself to stay focused by setting a timer for 5 minutes of Focus-time each day. Add a minute each week, and eventually start adding more Focus-time sessions each day. These little increments will add up, and staying focused for longer periods of time will become easier. Also, make sure you set yourself up for success by reducing any distractions, creating a workspace that is conducive to focus, and keeping obligations in balance. As you do this, prioritize where you need to focus and you’ll make even bigger strides forward.
*Poor Prioritization Skills
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” ~Stephen R. Covey
Whether you call it time management, or prioritization, getting things done in an efficient order is essential to accomplishing goals. Early in my career I learned the benefits of creating “To Do” lists, and categorizing that list into categories based on urgency. (My Time Management Tool was created to help teach clients how to use this same process.) But, for many people prioritization is a skill they have not yet conquered. As a result, they spend the majority of their day putting out fires, and often drop the ball on things that are more important… at least, until those things become fires, too. It’s also easy to get into a routine where you take care of the easiest items first, or address the ones that take the least amount of time so you feel like you have accomplished a lot in a day. Unfortunately, these tasks may not be the key drivers of growth and revenue for your business, so after a while, you’re trying to put out budgetary fires instead of building your career or business. Additionally, few people actually want to do the hardest tasks first, or ever. So, even though they may be important, if the motivation to do them is low, they aren’t likely to get the priority they deserve. If you start by looking at your goals, and planning backwards from there, the most important tasks will show up as those that have the biggest impact on achieving your success. In business and in life, there will always be “fires” that need to be put out, but with proper planning and prioritization they will less frequent and more manageable.
Observe. Think. Do.
More than ever before, we live in a time when there are distractions everywhere. Television, social media, email, and countless other external factors can divert our attention from the tasks we need to complete. But, the real obstacle in our way is often what’s happening to us internally. It’s the way we see, feel, and interpret life that affects our behavior, and that behavior alters our course. So, if you are having trouble accomplishing goals, look inside yourself for the true source of distraction. Observe how you feel. Think about where those feelings come from. And then Do something to overcome the obstacles you have created so you can get out of your own way and actualize the successful life you desire. Unless, of course, you prefer to keep running in circles….
If you would like to learn how to use Emotional Intelligence, Behavioral Style, Motivators/Driving Forces, and Prioritization to benefit you and/or your team, contact us for a free consultation and learn how we can help you create the success you desire.