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These 5 Things Hold You Back From Success

These 5 Things Hold You Back From Success

So you want to let go of some of the stuff that is holding you back from success?

You can and will make the changes you need to make–and it can be easier than you think.

As a life coach, there is one thing I know for sure: success is relative.  Everything is relative.  We all have different rules and meaning for feeling particular ways.  We must know what our definitions of success are, and we must know key behaviors and points of focus to avoid.

Here is what to let go of if you want to feel better, look better and have a more successful life (in all areas).

1.  Let go of the need to be “right” and get perspective.

I see over and over that the need to be right often destroys relationships and happiness.

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Everyone has a perspective.  You will be surprised that a little validation of someone’s feelings and point of view will take you a long way.

You will feel more supported, loved and have an easier flow in your relationships if you simply let go of the need to be right all the time.

2.  Let go of routine and bring in variety.

Believe it or not, one common pattern that holds people back is routine.

Building good habits can be very productive.  But in life, nothing is constant.  Nothing is permanent.  You must be able to move and go with the flow.  Build that muscle.  It will make you stronger.

The more you get used to variety and become more agile in your nature, the more you can move with the challenges of life.  Trust me, they will come.  Let go of the need to do the same routine and change it up.

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3.  Let go of anger and move through it.

We all pretty much know this one.  Anger leads to illness and it destroys lives.  But anger has a million different faces.

Anger creates separation between you and others.  It also creates separation within yourself.

I know how anger feels and it is not easy to switch off.  You can’t fight anger.  You have to dance with it.  You have to face it and work with it.  Anger can be hidden and show up as passive aggressive behavior, and it can also come out as rage.

One simple rule when it comes to letting go of anger:

When you experience anger, face it and, let it show you what the real message is.  There is something there.  You may not want to see it, but it is a process of awareness and when you move through it, the reward is worth it!

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4.  Let go of that heavy baggage and embrace the present moment.

We only really have what is in front of us now.  The funny thing is that we are pretty much always playing this movie in our minds that has nothing to do with the moment we are in.

We are remembering past memories, fears, creating stories that haven’t even happened yet, and we are somewhere else in our minds most of the time.

You can spend your whole life trying to get rid of baggage.

Or, you can simply bring it back to the moment, every moment.  It’s as simple as that.  Focus on what is in front of you–what is really happening and what you really want in this moment.  Right now.

5.  Let go of resistance and focus on what you want.

Actually, the reality is that there is no way to eliminate stress.  Stress will always be here.  Everyone will experience stress.  The whole world is trying to figure out how to eliminate it and it is a part of life!

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What I really am suggesting here is similar to my point above about baggage.  Let go of that need to hold on to all the “stuff.”

I coach my clients who are under major life stress to first accept, then to strategize and then to take action.  The main thing to let go of here is resistance that you are creating against the thing that you don’t want.

When you experience stress—any stress—what that is really telling you is that you want to move against or away from something.

So start to focus on what you do want.  Bring in the details, the feelings and what you would do if you got it.  Change focus.  If you are stressed about a relationship or a deadline at work, ask yourself what you do want and immediately focus on that.

We are all currently in a process.  Embrace it.  It is for your highest good.  Anything you face— the good, the bad and the ugly are teaching you to be a better, more loving and ultimately more accepting person.

One last point:  There is nothing wrong with you.  Think about all the lessons you have learned in your life.  Some were hard, some came easy and some will take your whole life to learn.  Let go of the judgments you place on other people as they are learning these life lessons—and most importantly the judgment you place on yourself.

I help my coaching clients overcome major life challenges and almost always end up coming back to self-acceptance, self-love and self-connection.  If you are reading this, you are on the right track.  Keep going and let me know how it goes.

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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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