“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” – Chris Grosser
These are words spoken by many successful individuals in order to travel the path of greatness. However, the route is never easy and oftentimes, the obstacles many encounter are manifestations of their own minds. It is human nature to doubt yourself and your abilities but letting it control you can result in the festering of various negative thoughts and habits in your head. This can limit your perspective and form a mental cage that will hamper your journey to success. If neglected, these can permanently impede the success you have dreamed of. Therefore, it is important to identify and rectify these toxic beliefs and habits in order to break through the mental cage you have built around your mind.
Here are the 6 things people say that hinder their path to success and how to overcome them.
1. “I don’t have the resources to succeed.”
At first glance, it seems like our circumstances in life play a big part on our pathway to success. When things are extremely difficult, the urge to deflect accountability and blame the circumstances is the option many turn to. But when things are great, why do so many pride themselves in taking responsibility for their success, regardless of the circumstances leading up to it? This is because deflection is a much easier solution to avoid having to face your own shortcomings. Tackling complex emotions such as guilt, shame, embarrassment and acceptance, may be difficult or exhausting for those who are not mentally prepared to reflect on their own vulnerabilities. The result of this solution? You feel better about yourself. Ignorance is bliss after all.
Despite the relief provided by these excuses, many are unaware of the impact of their actions (or lack thereof) towards their own future. Using circumstances as the reason for lack of success only acts as temporary comfort and not an actual solution to their problems.
Truth be told, some have definitely received more privilege than others in terms of opportunities. However, it is also about how they are able to utilise said opportunities to their advantage in order to succeed. As no one is born with the same circumstances, it is up to you to do what you can with what you have. Making excuses while doing nothing will only stunt your growth as an individual as you will never learn how to rectify your situation. You have to keep in mind that although some circumstances may be out of your control, you are the only one responsible for your own life choices.
You can either stay where you are or choose to be better.
2. “I don’t have time!”
Prioritization is one of the abilities many successful individuals possess. However, for the rest of us, this is a habit we have difficulty practicing. We are always rushing and scrambling to finish tasks, unable to discern which is important due to the stress of meeting their deadlines. Without a clear sense of priorities, we often spend too much time and effort on activities that are not as important as we think they are.
The solution is to step back and identify which tasks are more important but not as urgent. List down all the tasks and the respective deadlines to be met. Categorise these tasks by their level of urgency and importance. You can also consider jotting down an estimated amount of time required to complete each task to facilitate easier mapping of the tasks for each day. Lack of clarity will hinder your success as it will misguide you from your initial purpose. While it may seem like a simple solution, you would be surprised with the amount of actual work you have been neglecting.
Delegation is another solution you may consider. Not many people see the importance of delegation to manage their time better. Delegation is not about pushing tasks to another person just so you can reduce your workload and cut down on your responsibilities. It is about achieving more efficient utilisation of time as you engage someone who has better skills or expertise in a particular area to perform that task. The time you saved can be put to better use to complete the other tasks. This is also a common approach that successful individuals adopt to free up more time to accomplish even more.
3. “I don’t think it’s within my skills.”
One of the most obvious ways that your own actions can hamper your success is by being cynical or having a pessimistic mindset. While cynicism can benefit growth by challenging ideas and encouraging innovation, having a cynical attitude may be detrimental to your mental wellbeing.
In the words of Suzy Kassem, “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.
Pessimism has led many businesses to fail, millions of people to give up on their dreams, their relationships and even their families. No matter what your idea of success may be, having a pessimistic or cynical mentality can hold you back from reaching your goals. Pessimistic thinking is the tendency to stress negative views and/or expect misfortune or the worst outcome in any circumstance. Constant negative thinking can cause you to doubt yourself and turn down potentially good opportunities in life. Having such an attitude can go as far as becoming the way you perceive life, people, experiences and most importantly, yourself.
There are a few ways to overcome pessimism. One simple way to tackle this is to start trying to be grateful for simple things you may have taken for granted. Taking a minute or so every day to reflect on what you can be thankful for is a great way to change your perspective when you have a setback or failure. Another effective solution is to surround yourself with positive people. Just like negativity, optimism is contagious. Seeking out individuals who see the bright side of life will help you on your journey to mitigate pessimism. Do not be mistaken – this doesn’t mean to specifically find people who always have a smile on their face as they bury their heads in the sand. It simply means to find friends with a positive outlook on life who take realistic risks to achieve appropriate goals.
4. “Did I bite off more than I can chew?”
Ambition is a double edged sword. Although it is a good source of motivation, it can also bring frustration and disappointment. Many are usually blinded by the light of success when setting their goals, disregarding the possible hardships they may encounter while working towards it. Once they realize that the road to success is not as smooth as they expect it to be, they get discouraged or quit all together. In short, impatience closely follows fervor for success.
Therefore, it is important to remember that success cannot be achieved overnight. Careful planning and setting realistic goals will mitigate expectations, reducing the chances of being demoralized during failures and setbacks.
5. “I’m scared I’ll fail.”
Fear is the number 1 culprit behind many toxic and damaging thoughts. Although its key role in our lives is to protect us from impending harm, it is often the obstacle that hinders us from our goals. It can lower our self-esteem and create doubt in our mind. In fact, it is the factor that paralyzes many from trying due to overwhelming fear. These fears can then influence the choices and decisions you make as well as the results you obtain. Hence, success is heavily reliant on leveraging these fears to prevent yourself from limiting your own potential.
What many don’t realize is that fear can be used as a source of motivation. Through fear, there is an opportunity to learn and improve yourself in order to overcome it. One must embrace fear and bravely face failure as it is evidence that you are taking action to accomplish your goals. To do this, you must acknowledge that the outcome of your quest towards success, whether good or bad, does not define who you are as a person. Whatever the outcome may be, you must try to not take it personally and move forward.
6. “I’m not as good as him/her.”
Nobody likes being compared to others. Especially if it’s to someone who is seemingly greater than ourselves. However, comparisons are something unavoidable especially during this social media era where people only showcase the best parts of their lives. Through social media, we are subconsciously pressured to compare ourselves through socially-constructed measures of “success” such as beauty, money, weight and many more. They can be used as motivations but this can easily turn self-destructive as they may not necessarily bring you fulfilment once achieved.
This is often rooted from the lack of self-love and belief that you’re not good enough. But what you have to realize is that it is unfair to compare your own reality, knowing your own insecurities and talents, to someone else’s retouched reality. You will never know the full extent of their life and identity through a screen. Hence, it is important to keep yourself informed that everyone goes through different struggles and that you are good just the way you are. Of course, this does not happen overnight. Gaining awareness of your own thoughts will help you gain clarity and identify destructive beliefs about yourself. Through reflection, you will realize how hard you have been on yourself and thus start to work on self-improvement to accomplish your goals.
Of course, no one knows the secret to success. However, it doesn’t happen by accident either. The road itself is not an easy path to travel; obstacles, failures and setbacks are common before you accomplish the success you have been craving for. The most important thing to remember is that most of the time, the thing holding you back is yourself. Negativity and habits are all in your head. Remember that successful people are no different than anyone else. They are successful simply because they have identified their personal setbacks and have taken action to correct them. Nobody is forbidden from the gates of success – it is by our own actions that decide whether or not we are on the right path leading up to it.
Co-Founder of The Joyful Investors and Manager of The Moneyball Portfolio. I graduated with a degree in Economics in National University of Singapore (NUS). My previous experience with traders at the Merrill Lynch enable me to realize many counter-intuitive truths about how the financial markets work and to uncover the challenges faced by many new investors. We believe that investing can be astoundingly simple and want to make financial education understandable for everyone.
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