“What if” is a term I used to use frequently. For years, I was confined by my own fears, insecurities, and indecisiveness. Starting in my formative years and continuing through my early twenties, I held myself back in all aspects of my life including social events, potential relationships, and job opportunities.
When it was time to apply to college, I had my eyes set on a beautiful university that had a stellar music program. In fact, it was the only school I visited. Believing I wouldn’t get accepted, I never even applied to the school. During my junior year of college, I let fear get in the way of applying for a music business summer internship program, a program that could have redefined my whole future. Lacking valor and initiative, I let that opportunity slip between my fingertips. Let’s also throw in a few stalled courtships due to uncertainty in the mix. In my early twenties, I was faced with the decision to take a leap of faith and move across the country. At this point, I was tired of restricting my own personal and professional growth, holding myself back from taking risks. With plane ticket in hand and a smile on my face, I finally chose to get out of my own way.
Although I frequently self-sabotaged many defining moments in my life, I am content with the path my life has taken. I refuse to harp on these situations, but choose to learn from them. It’s from these moments that I realized that I needed to stop getting in my own way.
In life, sometimes we are our own worst enemy, consciously and subconsciously self-sabotaging our future. Due to our actions and negative thoughts, we end up sacrificing our dreams. Your dreams should not have to be an afterthought. Making a slight shift in habits or attitude can make all the difference.
Here are 4 ways to start getting out of your own way.
1. Change your mindset
After several missed opportunities, I was fed up. I acknowledged that a change in mindset was the necessary step to take control of my life. I refused to look back on life with regrets anymore. Life was happening and it was my choice how it was going to pan out. I decided to dive into opportunities, going from “no” or “maybe” to abso-freaking-lutely. Spend a month in Costa Rica teaching the locals English? Yes. Work a winter season in a world-renowned ski resort? Yes. Your mind is extremely powerful and is easily persuaded by your personal beliefs. With positive thoughts and intentions, you have the ability to change your circumstances.
2. Drop the excuses
I used to make excuses for everything: why I couldn’t workout, why I was unable to travel, why I was stuck in a mediocre job. My excuses were masking my fears of the unknown and my fears for disappointment. However, my excuses were only hurting myself. I was never going to accomplish my goals if I continued to hold myself back from even trying. Swallow your pride, your fear, and your self-doubt and just try. By putting yourself out there, you are opening yourself to opportunities and learning experiences. Furthermore, you are making your happiness a priority.
3. Cultivate habits
Time is of the essence. The way we spend our time is a reflection of how we value ourselves. I used to waste endless hours watching trashy reality TV, sleeping, and making plans. I would look up and realize the day was already over and I had accomplished nothing. The plans I kept making were never put into motion. Although I had good intentions, my daily habits were undisciplined and unproductive. With new habits, start small and build from there. If you are eager to eat healthier, start planning out your meals. If you desire to master a forearm handstand, set aside 20 minutes a day to your practice. It’s the small actions and efforts that add up. You don’t have to completely change as a person or drop all of your guilty pleasures, yet finding balance and consistency is key.
4. Be Fearless
You have a choice: to live a life of fear, afraid to take chances, or an extraordinary life complete with fulfillment. Being afraid to step out of your comfort zone may keep you from discovering your true calling, love, or life changing experiences. When you open your mind to the possibilities, anything can happen. Go on that solo trip to Paris. Run the half marathon. Go on that blind date. Get out of your own way and be fearless.
Have you ever experienced a similar situation of getting out of your own way?
Also by Jess: On Staying True to Yourself
What I Learned from Being a Nomad
Related: How to Not Let Fear Get in the Way
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Photo: Surfersparadise via Tumblr; Jess Davis