Why is it so hard to break out of your old ways and change your life?
Perhaps you want to start a new exercise regimen, eat healthier, or be more productive. Maybe you’d even like to further your education and start a new career that will give you better work/life balance, not to mention make you more money!
Most of us fail at these goals most of the time, instead taking the most comfortable path that offers the least resistance. There’s always tomorrow, right?
The Biggest Obstacle in Your Life Isn’t Time, Money, or Support…It’s You.
The way we think about our goals and even ourselves is the greatest barrier to making the types of changes we’d like to make. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “You’re your own worst critic,” then you know what I mean.
Do any of these describe you at some point?
- You cheat on your diet once and then, because in your mind you’ve already lost, you throw moderation to the wind and make it ten times worse.
- You make plans for social engagements, workshops, or activities that are good for you, but because you’re outside your comfort zone, you find a way out of them.
- You have too much to do, so you procrastinate and allow yourself to get distracted.
- When you’re less than perfect, you are overly critical of yourself.
- You are afraid of change, so you stick with the difficult life you’re familiar with rather than risk failure trying to improve your circumstances.
We’ve all done these things at one time or another, but when we do, we’re getting in our own way. If we can conquer our doubts, fears, and insecurities, we’ll be able to handle future difficulties with far more success.
When we face uncertainty, we can freeze with inaction, even if our chances are pretty good. In many of us, the fear of failure is so high that we rationalize why we shouldn’t try in the first place.
You need to cross a stream and, conveniently, there are large rocks that you could probably use to hop across the water to where you want to go. Of course, there is a chance you could fall and get wet. Are you the type of person who makes the attempt, or are you more likely to say, “Nah, I didn’t really want to go over there anyway—this side of the stream is just fine”?
When you react to uncertainty with doubt, procrastination, and rationalizations, you are getting in your own way.
So, How Do You Get Out of Your Own Way?
You have to learn to become comfortable with failure and uncertainty. I’ll admit, this can be hard to do, particularly at first.
Step 1: Recognize self-defeating behavior when it happens.
Awareness of this tendency is the first step to overcoming it. When you are cognizant of self-defeating behavior, you can beat it by stopping to think about your reaction. One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in my life is that our beliefs influence our behavior.
When you notice behavior you’d like to change, such as procrastination, rationalization, or distracting yourself, tunnel down to find what beliefs are the root cause of your behavior.
Maybe you don’t believe you’re good enough, or you think you don’t deserve something better. Perhaps you believe you will fail and feel shame in front of others. It could be a number of things. Just pause to think about it.
Step 2: Act.
The moment of truth comes after you recognize the feelings of getting in your own way. You need to do something about it.
Prolific writers often set rules for themselves. It’s easy to get a case of “the Mondays,” come down with writer’s block, or just not feel motivated to write. Disciplined authors might set a daily requirement. It could be, “write 2,000 words no matter what.”
Perhaps what they write on any given day is no good and they don’t use it, or it’s completely unrelated to the project that they wanted to work on but were out of ideas for. Whatever the result, the outcome is positive. They practiced writing, developing a habit of always writing no matter what.
Some days (whatever the project), you might only make a tiny amount of progress, while other days you end up pulling off something wonderful. Whatever the case, we know what the outcome will be be when you do nothing, so instead, act and do something.
Step 3: Accept whatever happens.
This doesn’t mean to be complacent—far from it. I’ve known many people who struggle with this concept.
Life doesn’t usually go according to plan.
Make a plan that leads you to your goal, and do your best to stick to it. But also realize that life has a way of throwing a wrench into your plans. That is true whether you are a student, a doctor, or a general.
Because there is no single path to happiness and a successful life, as long as you keep pushing in the direction you want to go, you’re likely to find both.
What Are You Waiting For?
Are you ready to take the next step toward your new career as a pediatric dental assistant, or are you going to get in your own way?
If you’re ready to take positive action, learn how the Pediatric Dental Assistant School can help improve your life. By registering with the PDAS, you’ll be ready for a new, rewarding career as a pediatric dental assistant in just nine short weeks.
So what are you waiting for?
~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth