6 Mental Barriers We Must Tear Down to Succeed

“The world has few obstacles as formidable as the ones in our own mind.” Timothy Sykes


Imagine the scene: You’ve been working relentlessly to be successful in your endeavors, but you’re frustrated by the fact that no matter what you do, things constantly go wrong. You think you’ve been doing all the right things, and you’ve certainly put in the hours to bring it all together! Success, however, remains elusive—so what is happening here? Are circumstances coming together to sabotage your designs? Who or what is doing this to you?


Or…could you be your own problem? Could it be that you are inadvertently holding yourself back, and you are completely unaware of what is happening?


Timothy Sykes (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/317591) notes that “many of us have unhealthy habits and behaviors that stunt our (objectives).” Many of our real or perceived failures, and many of the obstacles that we seem to find in our way, have their origins and perpetuations in the very habits and practices to which we’ve so long and erroneously clung—habits and practices that we actually thought represented the path to success. Thus, Mr. Sykes holds that we must face the negative habits and practices in our lives, analyze them, and then take action to remove them as threats to our overall success. He points out 6 mental barriers that we should take into account and address if we want to change our fortunes: 


1. We don’t know the basics.

Sometimes, in our zeal to get started, we wade into a project without understanding the fundamentals associated with bringing the project to fruition. Would you try to build a house on a weak foundation? Possibly, and it might stand for a time, but eventually, you’re going to have problems. Can you answer a question correctly if you don’t understand the question in the first place? The answer to this should be obvious, but too many times we begin an endeavor without the tools needed to build the desired result. It doesn’t matter if you are a student or a professional in a given field: If you don’t have the fundamentals firmly in place, your results on an examination or your client’s satisfaction with your work—to name just two examples—will more than likely come up short. Build a sufficient foundation before you begin. Simply put, you cannot do B unless you know A, so take the time to learn the basics. It doesn’t matter whether you are a student or a professional…continuing study and practice will serve you well in the long run.


2. We have goals that are too vague.

What is it that you want to accomplish? A simple enough question, right? Not really. Can you get your mind around your goals in sufficient detail to carry you through the intricacies of your project? It doesn’t matter if you are a student or a practitioner, the principle remains the same: Know what you are trying to achieve before you set out to achieve it. Just wanting to be “successful” is not enough; you should know what success—the desired end-state—clearly looks like before striking out in an insufficiently understood direction. Set well-defined and specific goals. This will provide the roadmap needed, and outline the metrics needed to evaluate your progress vis-à-vis your vision of eventual success. Without this, you may fall victim to a lack of sustained motivation and long-term dedication to your objectives. Research has consistently indicated that specificity regarding one’s goals is the most valid variable associated with goal attainment.


3. We care too much what other people think.

First, simply ignore the naysayers—people who will always oppose what you want to do. Nonetheless, advice and guidance from trusted others can be essential for goal attainment, especially if you’re working in areas in which you are not an expert. But even in these circumstances, there can come a point at which listening to others can become pernicious—an impediment to success. Should you do it in the first case? This is up to you, but Aristotle famously said: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and (therefore) be nothing.” Are you too dependent upon the goodwill of the people around you, in terms of their approval of you and your objectives? Stated otherwise, are you too much of a people-pleaser? If so, this tendency could be holding you back. Try as you might, you will never please everyone. Should you listen? Yes. Be respectful, but at the same time, develop a sense of when to stop seeking advice and simply “go for it.” As Mr. Sykes clearly states: “Don’t let other people’s opinions affect your every move. If you do, you’ll constantly operate from a place of fear and will never achieve great things.”


4. We try to figure out everything without help.

This may seem at odds with Point 3 (above), but it is not. While Point 3 urges that you must eventually become decisive when faced with negative influences, Point 4 pushes you to seek advice when it is needed. Simply put, never be too shy to seek essential guidance when you require it. Remember, the only stupid question is the one not asked! No one who has a reputation for being successful got there alone. They all had advisors—mentors—in one form or another. Even Sir Edmund Hillary did not climb Mount Everest solo. Mr. Sykes states that “seeking the guidance of a mentor is both a brave and smart career move. A mentor who is further along in his/her career than you can advise you, point you in the right direction, and help you avoid common pitfalls.” In short, no one knows it all. Sometimes you need help, so get it!


5. We have poor time management skills.

As indicated earlier, simply putting in the hours does not equal productivity. Coming early to work (or class) and staying late may be admirable traits (or not), but it is what you do with your time—how you use the 24 hours afforded to you in a day—that counts. Do you sometimes find it impossible to work toward your dreams because there is no time? Everyone’s calendar is laced with “fluff time”—time that is essentially non-productive in terms of accomplishing what you claim that you want to do. Without a doubt, pursuing a new career or business endeavor takes time, but many people claim that it’s impossible to work toward their dreams because of an insufficiency of time. But is this really true? Think about it… If you want to go to a football game or to the cinema, it’s amazing how you can find the time to do these things, right? So, if you’re really serious about your goals, there is nothing wrong with getting up at 05:00 from time to time, having a cup of coffee, and continuing your work. In short, “there are always ways to make time for what matters if you’re truly driven to succeed.”


6. We simply think we already know it all.

How many times have you heard someone say something like, “I’ve been in the business for a long time? In fact, I’m the one who should write the textbook! Who are you to tell me how to do it?” Well, if you ever get a sense that you know it all, please know that you are on your way to failure. Face it: You don’t know it all, and never will! We are all victims of our own totalities of experience, and surprises lurk around every corner. While students don’t generally fall victim to this fallacy, the longer-serving practitioners among us are sometimes tempted to think of ourselves as experts (whatever that means). The solution? Dedicated yourself to be a life-long learner. All highly successful people have a strong sense of reaching out to gain more and more information, especially with regard to their own capacities to face new realities. “If you think you know everything, then there’s no possible way for you to continue moving forward in your career, or even your life.” A measured sense of humility would serve you well. 


Are any of these things secretly holding you back? Take a close and honest look at yourself, and decide what you’re going to do to put yourself back on the road to success. Take control. You could be your own best friend or your own roadblock.

Written by: 

Follow us

Go to top