It is difficult to make a plan to improve yourself if you listen to the voices that limit your possibilities. Learn how to acknowledge the limiting beliefs and move on to your goals, right here, right now!
Putting together a personal development plan can seem daunting. It can feel overwhelming to put together a list of personal priorities for the future when the present feels uncertain. How do I know who I want to be six months or a year from now when I am trying to keep myself afloat right now?
I know this from personal experience.
In the two years, I have had to adjust how I thought about my own personal and professional development. No longer relying on an employer paying for my professional development, or asking me to complete a self-assessment once a year, or even having anyone give me feedback on the work I am doing, I have had to figure out what to do next all on my own.
Coupled with trying to kick-start a new business, manage a never-ending job search, and learning to pivot my skills in the middle of a pandemic – well, it’s a wonder I can look past the next hour much less the next month or more.
But I believe we all have the capacity to at least think about the here and now. We can one thing, something, that will propel us forward to meet our goals. This post will be part of a series: in this post, I will address how to address the limiting beliefs we tell ourselves and how to move on to meeting your goals, right here, right now.
Lesson Learned: Keep Your Own Receipts on Yourself
Quite honestly, this post has kept me up at night. As I have explored the Right Here, Right Now series, I have used my own personal experiences to draw upon. In that way, I can speak from the authority I know: my own growth. But like anyone who stumbles on this blog, just know that I struggle with putting my own goals into action.
Usually the struggle begins with a self-directed voice that says something like:
- No one understands you, your ideas are way too complex.
- You haven’t worked in an office for over two years, what do you have to even share about working anymore?
- Anyone who reads this or tries to edit your work will hate it.
- This is going to be too hard and you’ll give up before you finish.
Depending on my own confidence in whatever project I am starting, the voice can get louder and louder until I stop working on it altogether. A good example is publishing my first book, Tales of a Displaced Worker. I had spent the better part of a year writing the manuscript, working almost daily on the outline, and making each chapter succinct.
I was very proud of the work and how quickly I was able to tell my story. After blogging for a year, I had the practice it took to write quickly and thoughtfully. In total, I wrote the manuscript in about 5 months.
And then I sat on the manuscript for another five months.
The writing was easy. I had been doing it for over a year at that point. But once I needed to move on to the next part of the goal, I was paralyzed by my own limiting beliefs. No one had told me I couldn’t write it or publish the book. I told myself that and at the time I believed it.
Telling Yourself to Stop Your Limiting Beliefs, but With More Feeling
I had experience telling previous supervisors how I needed to be supervised. In fact, I had the highest level of confidence in my skills when I knew what I was doing. It was only when my confidence dipped that the limiting beliefs would take over.
Of course, I was adept at telling other people how confident I felt about the project – but it was when I had to step into the unknown that I had to stop the limiting beliefs I told myself. It was only when I stopped myself one day while blogging about writing my dissertation that I realized something:
I had already written and published a 100 page book before.
Seriously, I had researched and published a dissertation during my doctoral program. There were many times I felt lost in the process, but the high structure of the program kept me from quitting. So I knew I could write a book because I already had.
Realizing this was like taking a big gulp of air. I hadn’t realized that my body was on stand-by like I was holding my breath, waiting for something to happen. Simply realizing a fact – something I couldn’t diminish or make lesser, I felt free to move forward.
So anytime that limiting belief would pop up, I would just remind myself I had done it before. And I could it again.
A Gentle Reminder
This is a gentle reminder that if you are experiencing mental health issues that are impacting your life, you should consider contacting a therapist. While limiting beliefs can be self-identified, they should not be worked on in isolation. I was able to isolate the limiting beliefs to the work I wanted to accomplish, without impacting my overall quality of life. If you need to figure out if therapy may be a more appropriate response, take this quiz from Psychology Today.
What is a Limiting Belief?
According to Lifehack.com, a limiting belief is “a state of mind, conviction or belief that you think to be true that limits you in some way.” This limiting belief could be about you, your interactions with other people, or with the world and how it works. Limiting beliefs can have a number of negative effects on you. They could keep you from making good choices, taking new opportunities, or reaching your potential. Ultimately, limiting beliefs can keep you stuck in a negative state of mind and hinder you from living the life you truly desire.
Author Roz Savage, in How to Overcome Your Own Self-Limiting Beliefs, offers the following tips on how to identify and overcome our limiting beliefs. Without knowing it, I had used these same steps and feel comfortable sharing them with you:
How to Overcome Your Own Self-Limiting Beliefs
- Take your notebook and write down 3–7 beliefs that have held you back
- Taking the first of your negative beliefs, and find an example of a time when that belief may not have been true
- Think about how this belief has held you back
- Now for some time travel: delve back into your past and try to recall when you first started believing this thing about yourself
- Write down a list of the benefits that you have gained from this self-limiting belief
- Visualize removing this limiting belief
- Now breathe deeply, open your eyes, and write down a statement that is the opposite of your self-limiting belief — say it out loud
- Now go back to step two and repeat for the other self-limiting beliefs on your list
Recently, my latest limiting belief was trying to create an online class using a learning management system. Sounds simple enough, but after working on one system for about 3 months I just gave up.
I had made an attempt the previous year and got just as far in that attempt, too.
But using this model, I realized that I had written two different course curricula for two different courses. And I had written part of a book about a new training curriculum, too! These reminders that I had made smaller attempts, with large scaffolds in place, helped me realize I had the skills to move forward.
And once I reminded myself that I didn’t need to be perfect to simply attempt the skill freed me from unrealistic outcomes – a typical limiting belief of mine.
I am still learning how to identify these limiting beliefs, but I feel comfortable using this method to move forward at my own pace and on my own terms.
Career Coaching for the Mid-Level Career Professional
I have worked with entry-level and mid-level career professionals for nearly ten years, helping them reconsider their strengths and ways to learn new skills. Let me know if there is anything I can do to support you as you develop this new skill.
Schedule an introductory meeting so we can discuss a plan that works best for you.