Sometimes we wonder: ‘Why do things keep repeating themselves?’ or ‘Why can’t I get what I want?’ Many times we answer ourselves with: ‘It’s too complicated’, ‘The situation doesn’t allow it’, and so on.
We repeat this mindset over and over. However, we ourselves create many of the barriers that stand in the way of us achieving something. We often let our fears, insecurities and prejudices interfere with our goals and constantly self-sabotage our opportunities.
Like Albert Einstein said:
The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
That is, we are what we think. When we believe that we cannot achieve something, we are reinforcing that belief. In doing so, we fail to take the necessary steps to achieve something that requires effort and transformation on our side.
The first thing we must do is believe in ourselves, our strengths and our ability to achieve our goals. It’s not an easy job. It demands a permanent struggle to overcome our doubts, reflection and continuous analysis of our insecurities, and then transform them into opportunities. During this analysis, it is important to remember past achievements and use them to strengthen our self-esteem. If we’ve done it before, why not now?
Barriers to Change
The article in the Harvard Business Review “Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, explains the eight barriers that affect confidence in ourselves, in our projects or company. These can be a major obstacle in achieving our goals and reinventing ourselves.
Based on Moss’ 8 barriers, I propose to work on those items in order to encourage the change we want:
A self-defeating assumption is one where if you think you cannot do something, you can’t. By following these kinds of thoughts, we lose motivation and stop taking the necessary steps to achieve our purposes.
Rationalise your fears, face them and ask yourself: Why can’t I? Don’t I have the capacity for it?
We should not overestimate our capabilities and resources. This gives rise to the second barrier Moss identifies: setting objectives too large or too distant only erodes our confidence in what we can achieve. Before setting a goal, we must first make sure it is realistic. How much time do I need to achieve it? How do I get the resources?
In order to set an attainable goal, it is best to divide it into small goals along the way. This way, we create an action plan that will guide us in the process and as we go through the stages, we will be more motivated to continue.
Once immersed in the process, we must beware of declaring victory too early without having achieved the ultimate goal. Winning a battle doesn’t mean winning the war.
A half-change is not a change; it is just a small modification that is not always lasting. Every transformation requires constant work and effort, step by step and with the final objective always in mind. Ask yourself, is this what I wanted? Is it sustainable in time, just as is?
There is a time in the process when our individual effort is not enough. At this point, many try to do everything for themselves. This is impossible, we need others’ encouragement and support to achieve and believe in our projects.
If others accept and help us, the path will be easier. Follow the necessary steps, and when you notice that your resources or capabilities are stretched to the limit, consider whether you should seek help.
Sometimes, when things don’t go well, we tend to blame others for our failures. Confidence can only be achieved by assuming our responsibilities and moving forward despite mistakes. This will help us to overcome future problems more calmly and quickly.
It is important to understand that you are human, and that you make mistakes. Don’t hide your mistakes by blaming others. Mistakes are part of success because they are part of learning and help you build stronger foundations.
Many times, we build walls around us and look for non-existent enemies. Therefore, defensiveness is a barrier that prevents us from continuing successfully.
We must not defend ourselves before being attacked, nor apologize for who we are. We should rather be proud of how far we have come.
If we make the mistake of not anticipating setbacks, we can retreat a long way. It is important to be realistic, to know that problems can arise and to think of alternative solutions. Thus, we will gain confidence in our decisions, because we have taken account of all possible outcomes.
Excess of confidence is closely related to the previous barrier and is opposite to the self-defeating assumption. Believing that nothing will go wrong leads us to complacency and arrogance, and opens us up to errors by blinding us to potential problems.
Change your Approach
To achieve change, we could start with our own approach. It is important to change the way we look at our need to change.
Human beings tend to be more committed to obtaining results when they choose for themselves, when the choice is theirs and is freely made. Then, why don’t we change the focus?
Let’s not focus on what we lack and the reason for the change. Let’s identify ourselves with what we benefit making the change. This way you will have more passion and you will try harder to change.