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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting

How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting

When it comes to setting our goals we need to take a few things into account – what we need to do to start achieving our goals, how we’re going to achieve our goals and what our motivations are behind them.

For many of us goal setting can bring up a sense of anxiety which usually comes down to our limiting beliefs. These manifest as thoughts around our lack of ability, our current situation, expectations from others and comparing ourselves with other people’s lives. All of these results in us setting goals that may not be inlined with what we truly want and our motivations are not focused on our inner growth and development.

Limiting beliefs are usually those negative thoughts you have about yourself like thinking you’re just not clever enough or believing that you’ll fail. Ambition can be hard for a lot of us since limiting beliefs can make us think that high ambition will only lead to failure and disappointment.

But research says that aiming high and having big ambitions actually makes you happier and here’s why.

Ambition Is The New Happy

It’s typical for people to assume that with more ambition comes more risk of failure but this is actually a pessimistic view and one that probably belongs to someone who typically isn’t ambitious. Research has found that ambitious people generally tend to be more satisfied than those who have lower expectations.

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The outcome of several studies show that when people set goals, they have two factors in mind – expectancy (how likely you are to succeed) and value (what the process will do for you). When we set limiting goals or goals that are ‘safe’ and easy to achieve, we don’t get any value from them and get no real sense of achievement or satisfaction. In other words, people who focus on the value of the goal rather than the odds of being successful or not are much happier in the long term.

So to overcome self imposed limitations, the key is all about stretching yourself, aiming high while not focusing on the potential failures but also with a sense of belief that it can be achieved.

How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations:

When you think of a big goal you want to achieve what comes into your mind? Do you think you’re not good enough? Not smart enough? You don’t have the education or the money? Do you worry about what people will think?

If any of these crop up then they are limiting beliefs. These are usually a result of an accumulation of negative ideas, thoughts and beliefs that have built up over your entire lifetime. They most likely came from others, intentionally or unintentionally, as we made our way into the independent world.

The problem with these limitations is that they create thoughts that stop us from believing we are capable of achieving big things. They make us just settle for our lot in life and never allow us to go after anything that will benefit our happiness and sense of wellbeing. As you can see this is a pretty dangerous mindset as it manifests as fear that we’ll fail or be judged for going after what we truly want.

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1. Investing In Your Self-Development

It’s important to realise that happiness starts from within. If you find yourself having doubts about your abilities, then it’s worth looking into working on your personal development.

If you make excuses around your situation like the the town you live in is too small for good opportunities, you’ll put something off until next year when you might have more money, your family wouldn’t approve, or you’re just too old now, then these may just be excuses in disguise. Most of the time anything is possible. When we make excuses, they can be hiding a deeper issue of low self-confidence and self-limitations.

You essentially need to stop identifying with the limiting beliefs and don’t allow yourself to be defined by them. Working on your confidence, shifting your perspective and cultivating a positive mindset towards yourself and your goals will create a good basis moving forward.

2. Don’t Give In To Societal Pressures

This is a biggie when it comes to limiting our ambitions. There is an immense pressure to conform to social norms but what are social norms anyway? All they are, in essence, is an accumulation of other people’s opinions and ideas imposed on the masses who and has become some kind of universal rule that people should live by.

No one has the right to make you feel like you can’t follow your dream if that’s what will make you truly happy. People have their own lives to worry about so make sure you just stick to concentrating on yours.

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3. Don’t Listen To Negative Opinions

We can get very swayed by what other people think and say especially if they are close to us. It can have the power to stop someone going after their goals and this really is a sad state of affairs. By doing this we are giving our power to other people which naturally leads us to feel less happy.

Even when we’re on our goal journey, we can come across people who have negative opinions about your decisions which can lead us to question whether this is the right thing to do. The key is to understand whatever negative speak you hear, know that it is coming from people’s own fears, insecurities and issues. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people who support your goals and encourage you to carry on.

4. Break The Habit Of Assumptions

Assumptions are a huge ambition killer. Our limiting beliefs cause us to come to all sorts of incorrect conclusions based on what we think we know. But most of the time we don’t have all the information or we base it all on past experiences. We like to seek out examples in our lives for how it didn’t work before and apply this negatively to our new ideas and goals.

If this sounds familiar then you need to test your assumptions, and by this I mean finding ways and evidence that break the pattern of your self-imposed limitations. Take actions that test whether your past judgements and conclusions are actually untrue. By doing this you can build a sense of empowerment, give your mind proof and a different perspective on the situation.

For example, if you want to go back to studying but you think that, because you were never motivated at school, the same will happen again, then perhaps take a short course in something you’re interested in and see if this belief really is true. The chances are you weren’t motivated at school because you lacked any interest in what you were learning but now your priorities and interests have changed. By doing this you give yourself a chance to prove that what you believe isn’t actually true and gain self-empowerment.

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5. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Last but not least, we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. We all have a tendency to do this and it only brings up dissatisfaction and a sense of failure if we see other people doing ‘better’ than us. Of course, this really is just an illusion. We are all on different paths with our own set of limiting beliefs that we’re battling with. It all comes down to assumptions again – we cannot know what is going on in other people’s lives so it really is pointless to compare ourselves to them. It’s really unfair to do this to ourselves since we’re making comparisons with something we don’t have full knowledge of.

Give yourself a break – understand that you really can achieve anything and all you’ve got to do is believe in yourself and believe it can be possible. So aim high and live a much more fulfilling and happier life.

Featured photo credit: Vijay Putra via pexels.com

More by this author

Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you had no fear. What would you do if you knew how to overcome fear? It’s not difficult to imagine that it would alter your life significantly.

I believe that fear is the single biggest obstacle that holds people back from fulfilling their potential and becoming the best version of themselves. Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of success, fear of not being good enough

The question is, where does it come from?

Neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds. We scare ourselves by imagining the worst possible outcomes, assuming that we are protecting ourselves from imminent danger.

You make the choice to be a victim of your fear and anxiety or to push them aside and be courageous.

In this article, we’ll look into the root cause of fear and how to conquer fear to realize our potential.

What Is Fear, Really?

This acronym best reflects what fear is[1]:

Learn how to overcome fear with the fear acronym

    Fear is an emotion created by your mind based on real or imagined threats. Fear may be completely founded in reality, or not. It may also manifest as anxiety disorders in some cases, as anxiety is based on worries or fears about the future.

    These imagined scenarios of perceived threats end up feeding your fear to the point where it becomes all-consuming. Often, these scenarios never happen.

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    The real issue is not the fear itself, but rather how we hold it in our minds.

    How to Overcome Fear

    Overcoming fear may sound easier said than done. When you are in the thick of fear, it’s hard to see a way out. The good news is that, because you are the root cause of your fears, you are also the solution to them.

    1. Identify Your Fears Through Writing

    There are times when I’ve felt afraid but couldn’t identify why. If you keep your fears inside, you allow your mind to control how you feel.

    In order to prevent this confusion from happening in the first place, identify what your fears are before moving on to learning how to deal with fear.

    What makes you feel afraid?

    Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down. When you write down your fears on paper and actually question them, it forces you to analyze why you are afraid. Questions are designed to trigger your fears and bring them to the surface.

    This isn’t a comfortable process, but deep inner work never is. However, if you continue to keep your feelings in the dark, the scarier they will be, and the more disempowered you will become.

    Once you identify the type of fear and the experience that you associate with your fears, you become armed with the power to take action to change them. Eventually, your fears become smaller and smaller, and your strength gets bigger and bigger.

    As you’re identifying what your fears are, you can try Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment. It will help you identify which areas may be causing you more fear and which you can fall back on as strengths.

    2. Practice Gratitude

    If you want to learn how to overcome fear, gratitude is key. From personal experience, I have learned that it’s difficult to experience fear and gratitude at the same time. They are literally on opposite ends of the continuum of the human experience.

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    When you are experiencing difficult times in life, it’s easy to drop into fear and overwhelm. In that energetic space, it can be hard to stay grounded.

    Developing a gratitude practice allows you to not drown in fear. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel it, but the blow will be lessened, thereby allowing you to see the brighter side of struggle.

    In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their physical and mental health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships[2].

    Anyone who experiences fear knows that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of.  Fear loves to hang out with your inner critic and come up with worst-case scenarios about what could happen.

    Gratitude helps keep these limiting stories at bay when you’re learning how to overcome fear. When you practice gratitude, your brain shifts to what is currently working instead of what isn’t working.

    The act of being fearful is a future-oriented process, while gratitude is a present-oriented one. The next time that fear tries to creep its way into your head, replace that disempowering thought with an empowering one.

    You can learn more about how to replace fear based practices with more positive ones in this video:

    3. Release Control

    Being a control freak is how a lot of people manage their fears, or so they think. Unfortunately, control has no place on the path to learning how to overcome fear.

    In actuality, all that they are doing is masking their fears by trying to control everything. If you can relate, it’s time to release control. Trust me when I say that this is a losing battle.

    Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking, it further intensifies our fears.

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    In your attempt to control fear, you actually become a victim of it. This fear and control cycle leaves a lot of people feeling defeated. The reality is that there will always be things that are far beyond your control.

    The only way that we can move past needing to be in control is to accept that it is not always up to us. While you may be in control of your decisions, you don’t always have control over situations that you are pushed into, nor can you control how others react.

    The only thing that you have control over is your inner world and how you choose to respond to your external environment. The next time you catch yourself trying to control everything, step back and ask yourself what you are afraid of.

    Start to get curious about what thoughts are generating your fear. Curiosity and fear don’t like to co-exist. Once you let go of one, you invite the other in, which will help as you learn how to get rid of fear.

    True freedom comes from fully releasing control. When you are able to do this, you begin the process of releasing your fears as well.

    4. Recite Positive Affirmations

    Positive affirmations can be used to combat almost any negative thought pattern, which can be very helpful when you want to learn how to overcome fear. Using them to help challenge your fears can help retrain your brain and have your fears reframed as powerful statements.

    Research shows that you can actually train your subconscious mind such that it will help you to attract exactly what you desire in life[3].

    Instead of saying “I am afraid of doing this because I might fail,” look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am prepared for this, I am ready, and I will not fail.”

    The more you use positive affirmations, the stronger they become. The best way to cancel a negative belief is to develop its positive counterpart.

    Commit to making positive affirmations a key component of your morning ritual. It literally takes one thought, repeated over and over again, to set you on the path to transforming your entire life.

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    Here are more positive affirmations you can try: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

    5. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

    Living in your comfort zone will get you nowhere in life, and it certainly won’t help you learn how to overcome fear. In my experience, not doing the things that scare you will only increase the likelihood that your fears will grow and inevitably take over every decision that you make.

    I want to encourage you to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small. All that matters is that you take action. Make it a habit to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

    Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. Here’s the mind-blower: that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things[4].

    When you condition yourself to do something every day that scares you, your fear fades away, and your courage grows. Think about it…when you face your fears, how can you fear them again? Soon enough, your confidence will skyrocket.

    Final Thoughts

    The next time that you feel threatened by fear, I encourage you to pull upon one or more of the above strategies. Change your relationship with fear. Instead of letting it knock you down, use it as motivation to grow and achieve more.

    Once you recognize that fear is not real, the obstacles that appear to stand in your way will be removed, and you will feel empowered to take action.

    Your potential in life is limited by only one factor: you. Are you ready to transform fear into action?

    More on How to Overcome Fear

    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com

    Reference

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