The Person Holding You Back is You

October 31, 2020

A few weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post from a person in my community that asked the question:

If money were no object, and success was guaranteed, what would you be doing with your life?

The answers people left were fantastic.  Some shared how they wanted to help veterans or the homeless.  Some wanted to travel and learn from a variety of cultures.  Others wanted to teach children, clean the environment, or become an artist.

I was really pleased to see that some would simply continue what they are doing now.  They were already helping people in need and already in their dream career.  They are already living their life according to their own values.

But still, most people were not where they wanted to be.  What is holding you back from living your dream life right now?  What are you waiting for?

It is easy to say that you do not have the time or the money.  It is easy to come up with a long list of reasons of why your current circumstance prevents you from living the life you always wanted to live.

Many are so mired in their current situation that their dream life is just too unrealistic.  They think they are stuck.  They think the goal is unattainable.  If that is you, then I challenge you to ask yourself: “Why am I in my current situation?  What got me here?”  We often think of our condition as a mix of nature (biological/genetic predisposition) vs nurture (influences and learnings from parents, role models and teachers).  But there is a third crucial element: individual choice.  Most often, we are in our current place in life due to our own choices of career, relationships, and lifestyle.  So, if your choices led you here, can your choices lead you out?  The answer is yes.

The magic wand idea is a fantasy.  The thought of instantly transporting yourself into a new life, a new you, is something for a daydream.  The reality is that big changes in your life come from making a long series of small decisions.  Once you figure out your goal, then it is a matter of incrementally making steps in that direction.  It starts with baby steps that require little time and often no money at all. 

It may be hard to admit it, but you also might be afraid.  People can easily find themselves trapped in comfort zones with self-imposed barriers.  Admitting your life is not where you want it to be and then taking proactive steps to improve can feel like a big risk.  It requires doing serious self-reflection and as Jim Collins, author Good to Great, would say: it requires confronting the brutal facts.

So rather than taking charge, many people will drift.  They may live a life without purpose just going through the motions or just transitioning from one crisis to the next.  It is easy to lose focus and settle into a comfort zone.  That is the trap.

No doubt there are some special circumstances people find themselves in that are of no fault of their own.  They may have been born into family that was dysfunctional or poor.  They may have a disability.  They may find themselves the victim of discrimination.  But in every one of these cases the individual can take ownership of their situation and choose to improve or not. 

So why can’t you act now?  Why wait?  The best time to start is right now.  You may not reach your goal, but the journey itself is rewarding and will move you in a positive direction that greatly improves your life.

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Start by defining and focusing on your goal.
  2. Start taking small, incremental steps in the direction of your goal. Celebrate each step no matter how small.  It is all about building momentum.
  3. Focus on what is within your control. Do not waste energy on the things beyond your control.
  4. Believe in Yourself. You are better than you think you are.
  5. Be Consistent. Every day be sure you are moving the ball downfield.
  6. Remember, changing your life is a GRADUAL process.


Your life is yours.  You only live once.  #YOLO.

So, live it.