What’s Holding you Back?

A simple way to come unstuck.

The list of things that hold us back and prevent us from reaching whatever it is that we’re striving for, is potentially endless. However, most of these factors generally fall into one of two categories. Knowing how to categorise your hurdle can go a long way towards becoming unstuck.

“Why do you sign up for other people’s newsletters and online courses?”

A friend asked me this baffling question a few weeks ago when we met for coffee. I’d just finished telling her about a useful article I read that morning from a newsletter that I’m subscribed to.

“What do you mean?” I asked, slightly dumbfounded. I mean, I don’t live in my own little bubble, and neither does anyone else. Newsletters and online courses are ways to connect with like-minded people, learn cool stuff and generally be part of the global conversation in whatever area we’re participating in, no?

“But there’s so much free stuff available on the net,” she explained. “Why would anyone want to sign up for my newsletter or online course when they can get the information for free?

Ah… right. The question wasn’t about the value of signing up for other people’s newsletters or online courses, it was really a question about her own value as an entrepreneur-in-gestation.

She’s not an entrepreneur yet, but she has a secret desire to start an online business in an area that she is madly passionate about. She has sound knowledge, many years of experience, enough resources available to her and a supportive family.

So what’s really holding her back?

The things that hold us back generally fall into one of two categories

These categories are simple and pretty much self-explanatory. Category One is for things that are uncontrollable, and Category Two is for things that are Controllable.

Category One is for things that are uncontrollable (we can’t do anything about them.)

Category Two is for things that are controllable (we can do something about them if we really want to.)

That simplifies things immensely — or does it?

While my friend explained her wonderful online business idea to me, I felt butterflies of excitement for her. It all seemed so clear cut and do-able. Yet from her perspective, her path was fraught with obstacles holding her back, all of them seemingly beyond her control.

“I don’t have time anyway,” she says dismissively.

“Imagine what you could get done instead of meeting me, and other friends, for coffee so often,” I say.

“But I have two children. They need me,” she explains.

“Your children are much bigger now and they certainly don’t need you all the time anymore,” I point out.

“But I don’t know how to start an online business,” she pleads.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

“You have a friend who knows, a husband who will be your entire I.T. support team and more, and you already have a list of newsletter subscribers from a bi-monthly newsletter you’ve been writing for years,” I point out, trying not to sound too exasperated. I know many entrepreneurs have started online businesses with much less of a head start than that.

The list of excuses didn’t end there, but you get the point. The things my friend thought was holding her back were fully under her control, and thus changeable, but she refused to acknowledge it.

How to get back in the drivers seat

My friend chose to remain a victim to circumstances “beyond her control” and her online business baby will probably never be born. But what about a situation where you really do want to take action, even though you feel stuck? How do you move forward?

I have two tools that I rely on For. Everything.

  • Surrender

When I find myself stuck, unable to move even though I know that it is in my power to do so, I step back. I’ve come to realise that when we don’t move, it’s because we’re trying too hard. So I surrender control over the situation, I step back and I allow the situation to unravel, to show me the way.

  • Intuition

Following my gut feel, my intuition, has become a way of life for me. I do everything by intuitive guidance only. Yes, sometimes my guidance leads me to another person — a newsletter or an online course for instance — which I’ll sign up or enrol for because that will be exactly what I need at the time.

Learn to trust yourself explicitly, and you will probably never feel like “something” is holding you back again. You will also experience how few things are truly ever out of our control.

Your turn

  • Take ten minutes right now, with pen and paper, and think about an area of your life where you feel stuck.
  • Using a timer or a clock to time yourself, for the next 2 minutes write down all the things that are holding you back from taking the next step in that area. Don’t stop to think — just write all the reasons without judging them.
  • Once you’ve made your list, go through it. Underline or highlight the reasons that are in your control. Those reasons that you can do something about if you really wanted to.
  • If you still have any reasons left on your list that are not highlighted, go through those again and honestly ask yourself — is this really, really, really beyond my control? Or is it a matter of perception?