If you’re feeling a little like that proverbial hamster, running like crazy on the hamster wheel of life, trying to move forward but instead remaining stuck in the same annoying cycle, then this post is for you!
In my experience working with clients and students, I’ve found there are seven key “symptoms” that keep people financially stuck and breaking through to that next level. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to make more money, move ahead in your organization, recover from a setback or uplevel your lifestyle. It’s the same seven culprits that always show up! Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Lack of Destination
You can’t get to where you’re going unless you have a firm idea of where that is! Whether for your personal life, professional aspirations, or building your business, you need to define EXACTLY what you want. How do you define your success? How will you know once you’ve achieved it?
And I’m not speaking in generalities, like “To be abundant and happy” or “to be successful.” I’m talking about specific, detailed definitions like, “To make $250,000 per year while working 30 hours a week,” or “To obtain my VP title, a $20,000 raise, and 4 weeks of vacation time.” There are a whole host of neurological reasons why this is important, but suffice it to say that your brain needs specificity to help you move forward.
Fear of Commitment
Fear is the biggest thing that holds you back. Fear of failure. Fear of judgement. Fear of not being “good” enough. This fear factor keeps people from actually making a firm commitment to go after their biggest goals. Instead, they hedge, leaving their commitment to the outcome vague and lose. Using phrases like “I hope”, “I wish”, “I think”, or “if, when this happens, then”, all signify an underlying fear of commitment.
In order to move to the next level, you MUST COMMIT to getting there. When you commit, you transition a thought to an actual goal. By setting goals, you send a powerful signal to your brain that you’re serious and your brain goes on high alert to help you find the path to success. Spoiler alert: you will likely fail, once, twice or even several times along the way (I sure have!). Expect it and accept it. Look for the learning and keep moving forward.
Make a decision RIGHT NOW about what you’re going to go after. Write it down and commit. That simple action puts you ahead of over 97% of the population!
Out of Alignment
This one is tricky to diagnose. For those of you that keep working really hard, trying to get that next level, but find that you either self sabotage or keep coming up against barriers to breaking through, then you’re likely out of alignment. Basically, it means that there is a disconnect between your subconscious beliefs and your conscious actions. It’s like a car with two steering wheels and drivers that want to go in different directions. In the end, you go nowhere.
For instance, if you have set a goal to get a new position and a raise, but you don’t believe deep down that you are worth it, then you likely will never get it. You’ll self sabotage by avoiding asking for it, or by not exhibiting the necessary confidence to show your boss you’re ready for the promotion. Or, if you want to have more money but deep down you feel like your friends or family would alienate you, you’ll find that even though you may make a lot, you never seem to be able to hold onto it. Instead, you spend or waste it, keeping you in the same financial position regardless of how much you make.
In order to determine if you’re out of alignment, start analyzing your behaviors and get to the root cause of what you think and do (or don’t do).
With our busy lives full of constant input and options, it’s no wonder that we suffer from squirrel syndrome! Squirrel syndrome is basically the inability to stay focused on a single objective long enough to achieve it. Focus is your key to success.
The problem is, you’re fighting against your natural nature when you try to stay focused for longer periods of time. You’re hard wired for immediate gratification and pleasure. Add to that the typical pressures of stress, anxiety or a nasty inner critic (the focus stealers), and it’s a wonder we get anything done at all!
It takes concentrated effort and conscious intention to master the focus necessary to achieve our goals. Creating mechanisms to keep you focused, such as writing down and reviewing your goals everyday and developing a reward system along the way for smaller wins, are great ways to keep your brain engaged. Also, consciously recognizing the “focus stealers” when they are happening so you can make a choice to overcome them, will keep you moving forward.
Failure to Launch
You can think and dream and even set goals all day long, but unless you take CONSISTENT AND MASSIVE ACTION, you won’t make much progress. So many people get stuck here. They have great ideas. They set their goals. They develop their plans. But, they fail to launch by not taking actual action.
As humans, we are driven by the forces of PAIN and PLEASURE. If you aren’t taking action, ask yourself why. Is the pain (potential failure, effort, embarrassment, cost, etc) bigger than the potential pleasure of achieving your objective? Sometimes, your actions, or lack thereof, can be driven by the avoidance of pain, ie. the lesser of two evils. The pain associated with procrastinating and not moving forward is less than the pain of setting yourself up for potential failure.
When you find yourself avoiding taking action, look for the pain/pleasure drivers that are holding you back. Once you’ve identified them, determine how to overcome them, by increasing the focus and evaluation of the pleasure side of the equation.
Gotta See It To Believe It
This sticking point is all about doubt. Doubt that it’s really possible. You don’t actually BELIEVE it can happen for you. You may even find yourself waiting for some condition to be filled, saying things like, “when I have a better job, I’ll save more money” or “if I only had more skills, I’d land that promotion”. You basically want to see proof something will work before you commit to going after it.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have it backwards! You gotta believe it to see it, not the other way around. Building confidence in yourself and your abilities is one of the real keys to success. This should be your number one priority. You are awesome! And I can tell you, if you don’t believe it, no one else will (and that includes your potential boss, new client, or ex-husband).
Look at all of the things you’ve done, created, and achieved over the years. What skills and strengths do you have. Write them down. Affirm them. If you’re developing new skills or knowledge, affirm those too. Review your list daily and start seeing yourself as already being successful, skillful, unique and amazing. Believe it, and the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy will take root and you’ll create your reality!
One And Done Mentality
Repetition is the mother of mastery! You must treat the pursuit of a better life as a lifestyle change and not a diet. It takes practice to master your mind, develop your skills, expand beyond your comfort zone and achieve your goals. So many people don’t realize that achieving success in anything is a skill. And, as with any other skill you’re trying to master, you MUST PRACTICE.
Up to 90% of the actions we do each day are driven by habits or some sort of conditioning (meaning we have a conditioned response or operating mode based on a certain trigger). You’re essentially on auto-pilot for the majority of what you do each day. Reconditioning your brain to change an old habit or action takes repetition and effort. If you stop practicing, you’ll find that you slip right back into those old behaviors.
One of the best ways to practice is by taking at least ONE action each and every day towards what you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. All that matters is that you are reinforcing the behavior or replacing any response scripts that no longer serve you. Overtime, these actions will literally rewrite the neural pathways in your brain so that they become your standard operating mode!
If you haven’t been able to break-through to that next level, it’s likely one (or several) of these seven “sticking points” is your issue! The good news is that you CAN get “unstuck”. Assess which one(s) sound like it’s holding you back and start doing the work to overcome it…today!