What’s holding you back?

I’m Zack – a Strategy & Growth Consultant, Coach & Entrepreneur.
This is the first in a series of content designed to help push you to your maximum potential and empower your personal growth. As a coach, I work with individuals and companies looking to grow or transform rapidly — through these pieces of content, I’ll share some strategies, tools and tactics which I use with my clients — I hope they’ll help you on your journey. 

Today I want to ask you – what’s holding you back?

If you’re like most people — you have a set of goals you’re working towards right now. You may of heard the term ‘SMART Goals’ – which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Well, even with such well formed and crafted goals — like most people you may be suffering from making progress.

Here’s why…

In general — most of my clients are held back through one or more of the following limiting factors. They’re like chains or barriers stopping you from moving and making real progress.

  1. The People and Influencers in your Life
  2. Your Environment
  3. Your Attitude Toward Internal and External Forces
  4. Your Level of Self-Restraint as a Form of Self-Preservation

Anything stand out as a potential limiting factor or barrier? Well — let’s dive into them a little, to see if we can highlight which one(s) may be stopping you from making the progress you seek. 

The People and Influencers in your Life

Who are the important people in your life? — think of the people you spend the most time with, the people you look up to, influencers online you follow, etc. Everyone who plays a role in our lives has an influence over how we think about ourselves, our world and our possibilities. This is true no matter whether we perceive it to be a positive, negative or neutral influence.

How are the people in your world — through choice or design, impacting and influencing your behaviour? Remember: you control who you give you time to — therefore you are in control whether this is a limiting factor.

Your Environment 

When you see or hear the word ‘environment’ – what do you think of? Without some context, the idea of environment can be a tricky thing. Generally speaking and for this discussion, environment usually refers to our surroundings. Yes — that means the natural world around us, but it also refers to our homes as well as our offices and community. 

The definition I commonly refer to is by the Business Dictionary “the sum total of all surroundings of a living organism, including the natural forces and other living things which provide conditions for development and growth as well as of danger and damage.” 

Well — how does your environment work for or against your mission? 

I discuss environment in depth in my book (so I could write about it here for quite literally days) but to get to the point… you are much more in control over your physical and mental environment than you may think. It’s a choice what you let into your world, how you choose to perceive your surroundings and about consciously designing an environment which serves you and your current needs or priorities. 

Your Attitude Toward Internal and External Forces

Now if you’ve managed to consciously surround yourself with people who are positive forces in your life and design an environment which serves your current needs — you’ve managed the external, now it’s time to think of the internal limiting factors which drive how you see and respond to the world. 

Your attitude is a huge component and it comes within the broader topic of ‘mindset’. You’ll probably see (or may have read) many books on mindset — it’s become a common topic in the media. The concept of mindset was first introduced by Stanford University research professor and psychologist Carol Dweck in a book titled Mindset (published in 2006). Her book brings together decades of research which she’d conducted into the ideas of achievement and success. Ultimately she wanted to discover what makes some people successful and others not so much — even though some big successes came from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds and other so-called failures came from highly favourable ones. 

Her research found that your attitude to the people, places and situations in your life are what ultimately makes all then difference between your success or ability to remain stuck in your current situation. It’s a matter of perception — how do you perceive events which occur to you? If you believe this is a limiting factor for you right now, then you be working with a fixed mindset — which is preventing you from making progress. 

There is another way to perceive and respond to internal and external forces in our lives – we can adopt a growth mindset. With this progressive frame of mind we understand that our basic abilities and talents can always be developed if we dedicate ourselves to learning and we work hard to bring those talents and abilities into alignment with our goals and objectives.

Your Level of Self-Restraint as a Form of Self-Preservation

Okay — the first three limiting factors refer to the people we choose to let into our lives, the environment we create around us and the mindset we use to approach the world. Even if you’ve mastered these, you may be held back or sidetracked a psychological function called ‘risk aversion’. It is described as a natural human preference to stick with a sure thing rather than take a risk to acquire something of equal or greater expected outcome.

The ancient part of our brain known by psychologists as the reptile brain is always searching for safety and guiding us towards what we already know. Popular media often use the term ‘comfort zone’ but really it’s our biological operating system keeping us safe from what was once a threat. Thankfully (most of us) no longer need to worry about getting eaten by lions, so taking a new path is very rarely going to result in something so brutal as death. You may be uncomfortable, sure – but actually causing any real pain is unlikely. 

Consider if you’re being held back by your ancient brain – doing what’s programmed for… survival?

What now?

Well, with this knowledge you have potential power – you now need to execute. If you feel stuck, lost or find it tough to make the progress you seek right now — consider how you can apply these to your world. It’s not going to happen overnight, sure – but you can take small steps which create a world of difference.

Questions, comments or feedback? Get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.



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