We all unknowingly, and sometimes knowingly, block our own success. Fortunately, there’s power in self-awareness, because once you understand how you’re blocking your own success, you can put protective factors in place to outsmart yourself. Too often, I see people beat themselves up for not being able to do better, use their willpower, or make better choices, and not only does that thinking pattern leave you feeling defeated, but it also isn’t productive. That thinking pattern fails to solve the problem because it only focuses on the negative.
What if, instead of beating yourself up, you put systems in place to outsmart yourself? For example, I used to plan to go to the gym. I would come home from work and inevitably talk myself out of it. For weeks, I went through the same pattern, until I just accepted that I couldn’t go home before the gym. Instead, I brought my exercise clothes to work, and headed straight from work to the gym. Problem solved. My husband is a spacey guy. He’s forgetful, and always leaving his car keys in his jacket and his wallet in my car. For years, he would beat himself up for forgetting something, or leaving things in the wrong place. Now, we have systems in place to prevent him from misplacing his belongings such as never placing his wallet in my car but instead keeping it in his pocket, a dish for keys, and a routine of walking through the door, and placing the keys in the bowl before doing anything else. If you’re someone who knows you need to talk about your feelings, but have a difficult time doing so, you may benefit from setting up some basic topics to discuss with your significant other every night or every week (e.g. how you’re feeling, what the best and worst part of your day or week was). By doing so, talking about your feelings becomes the norm and you don’t have to go through the willpower of initiating the conversation.
Designated post days hold me accountable for being consistent on this blog, a designated bath day for our puppy ensures we’re keeping up with his grooming needs, and a specific morning routine can ensure you’re following through with your self-care or personal development work. I’ve had a consistent yoga schedule before in the past, making a point to practice yoga consecutively for the first two days of each week, and then two additional days after that because starting my week out with a solid yoga practice made it that much easier to reach my goals. If you’re someone who says “yes” to things too easily, you may create a routine where you consistently give yourself a night to think things over before responding, so you can analyze if the project or responsibility is truly something you want to commit to. How to put this practice in place for yourself:
Identify what you’re wanting to change and/or accomplish. Do you want to adopt a better diet, have more consistency with your business, talk about your feelings, practice more self-care, improve your energy.
Identify the barriers to achieving this goal. Next, think about why you have been failing at achieving your goal. Do you have too much junk food in the house? Have you failed to set up a consistent schedule with business responsibilities? Is it hard for you to initiate a conversation with your significant other about issues. Do you end up running out of time at the end of the day, etc.?
Brainstorm how you can outsmart yourself. This is where you take the barrier and figure out what routines, or systems you can put into place to outsmart yourself. You may have to be ruthless in what methods you use. For example, you may have to throw all the junk food out of your home or spend an extra hour at the beginning or end of your day working on business ventures. You might have to pay or sign up for your yoga classes ahead of time to hold yourself accountable.
Set up a system. A system, as defined by the dictionary, is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method. Systems are the best way to support change over time. For example setting up specific days and specific times to follow through with activities will support you to actually do them. I have a friend who owns a business and 1 day per week is an OTB day (on the business) where she spends a full work day working on the business. This could include accounting, marketing ideas, loading up social media posts for the next 1-2 weeks, organizing events, etc. Set up a schedule or system where the changes you make are scheduled into your life. And again refer back to step 3. You may need to pay for things in advance, utilize the buddy system, or do things first thing in the morning.
There’s no time like the present to break down the barriers to your life goals. Start with something smaller to build up your confidence and then slowly begin to tackle the bigger endeavors.