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7 Stupid Ideas That Are Holding You Back From Being Your Best

7 Stupid Ideas That Are Holding You Back From Being Your Best

“The problem is that the people with the most ridiculous ideas are always the people who are most certain of them.” (The Decider, July 21, 2007) – Bill Maher

In my life I have had seven definite ideas that have held me back from being the best person I can be. When I think about what Bill Maher says about ideas, mine were ridiculous, but I believed them to be “true.” If you feel you are not living your life to your fullest potential, keep reading! Because if you nod yes to one or more of these seven stupid ideas, then maybe you need to change your ideas.

1. I don’t deserve success, it is unachievable so I wont try.

This is an idea that is based on a limiting self-belief, and that actually says you have no hope inside of you and therefore don’t believe you deserve to be successful. Your mind is using a truck load of energy focusing on the negative elements of you — it’s very draining! Instead  focus on the positive elements in your life and I guarantee you will feel so much better about yourself.

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2. Others will think I am stupid if do this.

Here’s another limiting self-belief and the words of Ellen DeGeneres say it all about this stupid idea:

“Start thinking positively. You will notice a difference. Instead of ‘I think I’m a loser,’ try ‘I definitely am a loser.’ Stop being wishy-washy about things! How much more of a loser can you be if you don’t even know you are one? Either you are a loser or you are not. Which is it, stupid?”Ellen DeGeneres, The Funny Thing Is…

Surround yourself with people who make you happy, who support you, believe in you and who see you at your best. They are the people who will stop you from thinking you are an idiot and stupid. I do, however, like what Ellen says about being more definite in saying you are a loser rather than saying you think you are!

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3. It’s too late for me to change or to do what I want to do.

This is just an excuse to accept our lot in life. The older we get, the less opportunity we believe we have to follow our dream. It is never too late — it is only because we choose to believe it is too late. The power of choice sits with us.

 “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

If you are a mid-lifer like me, then you will be surrounded by people who believe that it is too late and are waiting to retire. Go surround yourself with young people just starting out on their journey and absorb their energy and positivity about life. Hopefully that will ignite you to go and do what ever it takes to follow your dream.

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4. I tried, but it didn’t work out as I expected, so I am not doing that again.

This is a stupid, negative idea that focuses on your failure. This idea could so easily be turned around to an idea that says, “I gave it a go and it didn’t turn out as I expected, but wow what a journey! I learned heaps and next time I will be more aware of…”  Which idea feels better to say? I am guessing that it is the second idea that feels better. So why focus on negative thoughts when they make you feel yuck? Failures are part of the package of life, so embrace failure, learn from your failures, adjust and keep going.

5. I am actually comfortable with how things are at the moment.

Not only is this idea stupid, it is dangerous and it is tricky. Because to be your best you have to be courageous and uncomfortable at times. I too like the safety of comfort and contentment, but after a while it does get boring. You start to feel worse and even more discontented. I find that once I take up a challenge and push myself out of my  comfort zone, life becomes a good-scary and exciting! If you choose to step out of your comfort zone and you don’t feel energized and excited, then you haven’t stepped out far enough!

6. To be my best requires too much hard work and energy and I don’t have that right now. Maybe later…

This crazy idea suggests that you maybe lack a vision of what it is you want. You actually don’t know what your best looks like and therefore you will find an excuse for not doing what it takes to be that. If you lack clarity about what you want to be, then the desire and motivation are nonexistent. I know that, personally, I have to be clear about what it is I want and what success looks like for me. If I can feel it, smell it and visualise it, then I will do what ever it takes. If not, I will find any excuse as to why I can’t do it.

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If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

7. It’s too overwhelming and I am scared.

To be our best we actually have to change who we are and what we think. And yes, it is overwhelming and scary! If being our best was easy and not scary, then we would be going for it and living our life to our fullest potential. Life is not like that and this stupid idea illustrates how fearful we are of change. Life is not a straight line, it’s full of twists and turns and tough times. However, if we choose it to be, we can live a life full of joy, happiness and love. To be the best  person you want to be embrace change and your vulnerability.

When I watched Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability, it was like a whole new world of thinking opened up to me. Once I stepped into my power of vulnerability, I stopped being scared and overwhelmed and became free of my fear and my stupid ideas.                                      

So get rid of your stupid ideas, embrace change, take up the challenge and go for it!

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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