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10 Biggest Obstacles Keeping You From Making Change Successfully

10 Biggest Obstacles Keeping You From Making Change Successfully

Your life does not better by chance, it gets better by change. — Jim Rohn

So true, yet it is much easier said than done. There are many times in life where we wonder how on earth we ended up in such a miserable situation. What is even more miserable is the inability to break out of the mess. The light is clearly at the end of the tunnel, but we are not moving at all. Becoming aware of the obstacles that keep us from making change makes an incredible difference. Here are 10 obstacles that will hold you back from making change successfully:

1. Facing the Unknown.

We become comfortable with what is familiar. Even when it is detrimental to us, we are drawn toward what we already know. Change will challenge us to step out and break free from our comfort zone. Push through the barrier of the unknown through creating a vision for what you desire. Make it so real that your mind cannot tell the difference.

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2. The Need for Instant Gratification.

In our “microwave culture” we expect to always see immediate results. As technology puts everything at our fingertips, we crave the same ability in other areas of life. Change does not have to be instant. Rather than try to go from black to white, do not forget about the grey area in between. Work on making incremental change rather than drastic change. Take baby steps.

3. Misinformation and Getting the Wrong Advice.

Receiving the wrong advice can really mess up your attempts to change. You may be doing everything right in terms of researching and gathering the knowledge needed to make some shifts in your life, but you could be getting them from all the wrong sources. Be careful about who you allow to speak into your life. Even people you look up to and respect may not be the right people to get advice from.

4. Pressure to Conform.

We are naturally inclined toward being in community. The need to belong. However, this can become adverse to change when the community you are in is not bringing you toward your goals. Start to explore different social groups and search for like-minded people that share your interests.

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5. Overthinking your Goal.

Carefully thinking through your next big change is a good thing, until it becomes the only thing. We can spend so much time aiming but never firing. In order not to be paralyzed by this obstacle, be sure that you are regularly taking action on your plans. Think, but also do.

6. Limited Finances.

It is very true that if money was not an issue, we would all be living the dream. Money can provide a real sense of comfort and security, but it can also be a major obstacle holding back change. It may be necessary to take a little bit of a pay-cut in order for change to happen. On the other hand, you may need to begin setting some money aside and make little sacrifices- maybe one less mocha a day.

7. Questioning your Abilities.

Stop doubting yourself! You need to give yourself a little more credit about your ability to make change happen. Trust that not a single door closes without another door opening. If you are still alive and breathing, you still have the ability to make changes happen. Do no let doubt cripple you. Believe. Have some faith.

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8. Being Indecisive.

Constantly changing your mind is a guaranteed way to choke out any change. You may take one step in one direction, only to stop and take another step in an entirely different direction. Ultimately, you just end up going around in circles and not making any progress. Make a decision, commit to it- at least long enough to see whether it is the right decision.

9. Trying to Live up to Family Expectations.

This one is tough, we all love our family and respect their opinions. But their opinions may very well the the obstacle keeping you from change. They may get frustrated at the choices you make, but express to your family how painful it is for you not to make the change.

10. Your Pride & Status.

Nobody likes admitting to pride- but that is just being prideful. Change may mean that you have to give up all of the ‘status’ that you worked so hard to gain. That takes humility, the opposite of pride. There is no doubt that you have worked very hard to gain the respect and position that you find yourself in, but ultimately, if there is no fulfillment in that role, it is time to take the exit.

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Lastly, if you are standing on the edge and struggling to take that leap toward making the much needed change in your life, let this well known quote motivate you,

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

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Thai Nguyen

Thai's a Mindfulness-Meditation Coach, a 5-Star Chef and an International Kickboxer.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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