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5 Ways to Overcome Success Barriers

5 Ways to Overcome Success Barriers

Success would be something easy to achieve, if it weren’t for success barriers. You see something, you go for it, and you get it.

The trouble is that, in reality, there are habitually walls in front of you that prevent you from reaching what you want. And in order to reach it, you need to find a way to go over, around, under, or through these walls.

Fortunately, most of these walls can be surmounted. It’s not always easy, but it’s almost always possible. I’d like to show the 5 most important strategies I know, drawing from my experience as a coach, to overcome success barriers.

1. Decide What Success Means For You

Everybody wants success. But success means different things for different people. For some, success means making a lot of money, for others it means having great relationships with great people, and for others it means enjoying a life of freedom.

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If you’re not clear on what success means for you, you’re going to chase a vague, undefined version of success, which constitutes a major barrier in achieving it. It’s like chasing a ghost. You’re never going to catch it.

This is why, first and foremost, you want to seriously think what success signifies for you. Decide what your personal definition of success is. Only once you’ve decided this can you start seeking your version of success.

2. Detach Emotionally

When something prevents us from getting what we want, we typically become frustrated, fearful, or sad. And under the veil of these strong negative emotions, we try to decide how to overcome the obstacles in front of us.

The problem is that almost without exception, these negative emotions will prevent us from assessing the situation rationally, seeing the best solutions, and making wise decisions. So we are unlikely to surpass the obstacles.

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For this reason, it’s critical to try and detach emotionally before trying to find a solution to your problem. Sometimes this can be as easy as taking a few deep breaths, other times it may require a little time out to let those negative emotions subside, and other times it may involve soothing yourself with positive self-talk. Options are always there.

3. Look at the Barrier as an Outsider

This is a great way to see your problem in a fresh way and find good solutions for solving it. Imagine that the goal you want to reach is not yours — it’s someone else’s. And the obstacle that prevents reaching it is theirs as well.

You’re just an outsider looking at another person’s issue. And as an outsider, you have a penchant for problem solving, so you analyze this person’s issue and try to see what would be, from your perspective, some good solutions for it.

Give this strategy a try in dealing with obstacles you face. It’s like seeing your situation with new eyes, and often you’ll be amazed at the resolutions you’ll see with these new eyes.

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4. Inform Yourself

The people who are best at overcoming success obstacles are very well informed. They have a good comprehension of the situation and the obstacle, so it’s easy for them to see appropriate ways to surpass it.

For example, if a marketer runs into problems in promoting a product, provided that he has a lot of practical marketing knowledge, he’ll quickly realize why the product promotion is not going well and what he can do to fix this.

A marketer with little knowledge in this area, on the other hand, will have no clue why things don’t go the way he wants them to go or what to do about it.

Don’t be this second person. Be the first one. How? By constantly learning, especially in the areas where you want to achieve performance, and keeping yourself very well informed. Knowledge truly is power, as long as it’s practical knowledge.

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5. Keep Trying

Persistence is not flashy or glamorous, but it’s an extremely valuable attitude. I find that many people don’t overcome obstacles because they only try one or two ways to overcome it, and if these don’t work, they give up.

Unfortunately, especially when dealing with new problems, it’s quite possible that the first solution you’ll try will not work very well. In order to overcome the obstacle, you’ll need to try several solutions, and move from one to another based on the results you get.

You’ll eventually find the optimal solution and you’ll also have learned a lot from the labor of getting to it. But you have to be persistent. You have to keep trying instead of giving up.

If a solution doesn’t solve your problem, look at the problem again, try to understand why that solution did not work, and find another one. Persistence is key to success.

It’s worth saying again that whatever barriers stand in front of you achieving success, it’s almost certain that you can overcome them. The trick is to apply a few smart and effective strategies. With clarity, detachment, learning, and persistence, you can go a very long way in a very short time.

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Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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