emotional wellbeing Mandy Kloppers

How to overcome your barriers to success

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Do you ever get annoyed with yourself when you don’t get stuck in with the things you want to achieve? In order to overcome your barriers to success, you need to figure out what is stopping you. Why are you resisting? It’s extremely common to create a goal and then not carry it through. A goal to lose weight or find a job might start off well but then resistance enters the picture and we succumb to that packet of biscuits or tell ourselves that we will have one more day off before starting something.

When we procrastinate or avoid altogether, the emotional consequences can be tough. We can end up experiencing anxiety, depression, self-loathing and/or a feeling that we aren’t good enough. Social media only makes it worse when it appears that everyone else seems to be forging ahead (although social media is often all about image and has very little to do with reality). It’s super easy to market yourself with glossy airbrushed photos or choice images that paint you in the best possible light.

So what can you do to overcome your barriers to success?

Russ Harris created a therapy approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and here is a portion of that approach related to overcoming barriers and procrastination:

Here is a formula you might find useful – FEAR and DARE

Overcoming F.E.A.R.

Let’s assume you have clarified your values, and set yourself a goal – but you haven’t followed through on it.
What stopped you? The F.E.A.R. acronym covers most of the common barriers:

F = Fusion (stuff your mind tells you that gets in the way when you get caught up in it – like thinking you are too old, not clever enough etc)
E = Excessive goals (your goal is too big, or you lack the skills, time, money, health, or other resources)
A = Avoidance of discomfort (unwillingness to make room for the discomfort this challenge brings)
R = Remoteness from values (losing touch with – or forgetting – what is important or meaningful about this)

So now, in as few words as possible, write down everything that has stopped you following through:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

Now go back, and label each answer with one or two of the letters F, E, A, or R – whichever best describe this
barrier. In other words, was it F = Fusion with a story (e.g. I’ll fail; it’s too hard; I’ll do it later; I’m too weak; I
can’t do it); was it E = Excessive goal (you lacked the time, money, health, facilities, skills, or support necessary;
or it was just too big and you got overwhelmed); was it A = Avoidance of discomfort (you were unwilling to make
room for the anxiety, frustration, fear of failure, or other uncomfortable thoughts and feelings); or was it R =
remoteness from your values (you forgot or lost touch with the values underlying this goal)?

The antidote to F.E.A.R. is D.A.R.E.

D = Defusion
A = Acceptance of discomfort
R = Realistic goals
E = Embracing values

Go through your barriers, one by one, and work out how you can deal with them, using D.A.R.E.

Below, you’ll find some suggestions to help you.

Overcoming F.E.A.R.

Defusion strategies:

See the thoughts and stories in yur mind as separate to you. Observe the thoughts but you can dismiss them or be aware of them without judgement. Acknowledge your inner-bully (we all have one) but don’t believe every thought you think. Thoughts are like leaves floating down a stream – they will keep coming but you can just watch them pass by without focusing on each one and being drawn into every detail.

Acceptance strategies:

Notice how the thoughts make you feel – be curious.

Realistic goal-setting:

Problem-solve ways to improve your skills and move forward. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. Consider how you will get there and what you will need to do. break your goal down into smaller time-bound steps. You can take it slowly as long as you are moving in the right direction. If the goal is truly impossible, e.g. due to health or financial issues, or external barriers over which you have no direct influence, then set a different one.

Embracing values:

Think about what is most important to you and consider how you are including these in your current life and in your goals. If you love freedom and adventure, are you making time for these experiences in your life? What gives you meaning and purpose? What inspires you?

Values are not the same as goals. Values involve ongoing action; they are like directions we keep moving in, whereas goals
are what we want to achieve along the way. A value is like heading West; a goal is like the river or mountain or valley we
aim to cross whilst traveling in that direction. Goals can be achieved or ‘crossed off’, whereas values are ongoing. (No
matter how far West you go, you never reach it!)

Using these ideas (and others of your own), write down how you can respond to the barriers you listed above.
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

Finally, ask yourself this question: am I willing to make room for the difficult thoughts and feelings that show up, without getting caught up in them or struggling with them, and take effective action, in order to do what matters, deep in my heart?

If so: go ahead and give it a go.

If not, consider these three questions:

a) Does this really and truly matter to you?
b) If it does, then what is the cost to you of avoiding it or putting it off?
c) Would you rather have the vitality-draining pain of staying stuck or the life-enhancing pain of moving
forward?

When you think about the costs of staying where you are and not making the changes, this can motivate you to take the necessary steps. It’s not a good idea to put things off until you feel like it. Our brains prefer comfort and like to avoid unpleasant feelings and this is why it’s vital to take the first step even when you don’t feel like it. It’s the best way to get the momentum going.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a qualified therapist who treats depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, trauma, and many other types of mental health issues. She provides online therapy around the world for those needing support and also provides relationship counselling.

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