How to Stop Getting in Your Own Way

I’ve been slack.

I’ve let things slide. Big things like health, business and friendships.

It’s so easy to take your eye off the ball and get distracted by life, and I’ve realised that I’ve done just that this last year. Which is why I’m working with a new coach to kick me up the ass.

I got in my own way. I let little things divert me and big things stop me. Which means I have work to do.

I figure you can relate.

The things you want to work on and the texture you want your life to have will only happen once you get out of your own goddam way. And it’s not a one time thing. You don’t do it on a Wednesday and then sit back for the rest of your life safe in the knowledge that you nailed that getting in your own way thing.

It’s an always-on process, and here are 3 huge, important ways to help it happen.

You won’t get eaten

I’ve got one word for you. FEAR.

It’s perhaps the biggest reason you put obstacles in your own way. Fear of failure. Fear of screwing up. Fear of looking silly. Fear of success. Fear of not being good enough, after all.

So many fears.

That stuff is pernicious and sticky like jelly wrestling with Miley Cyrus, but one simple fact can be enough to counter it.

You’re not going to die

You might screw up. You might fail. But you’re not going to die. You won’t get eaten by tigers. You won’t perish in flames. You won’t get beaten by an angry mob.

Whatever happens, you’ll be fine.

This reassurance—the assurance that you can take your next step and not die—is as comforting as it is enabling.

Skip the small talk

Getting in your own way happens when you talk yourself out of something, or talk yourself around to a different point of view.

Now’s not the right time for me to do that.
Maybe things will be different in six months.
People are already doing it better than me, what chance do I have?

I’ve been doing this a lot, waiting for my health to improve before I really get moving. Fact is, CFS / ME might not improve, and though I’ll keep working on that I have to watch when I’m using it as an excuse.

Individually, these little moments when you decide to go small might not be a big deal. Just tiny little thoughts and adjustments that go by almost without noticing them.

But cumulatively, it’s death by a thousand cuts.

So start noticing those thoughts, those moments when you go safe instead of going forwards, because otherwise they’re already building up. Noticing them does one important thing – it allows you to step back and maybe, just maybe, make a different choice.

Noticing them takes regular, deliberate practice. But it’s worth it.

Life’s too short to talk yourself small.

Put on your lab coat

Taking that step or making that move can seem like a challenge too big. There’s too much involved – too much change, too much risk, too many unknowns.

How can you quit your job when you have genuine responsibilities? How can you start that new project when you don’t have time? Or how can you ever feel better about yourself when you don’t know where to start?

With all that seemingly insurmountable and unfathomable “stuff”, is it any wonder you get in your own way?

So try it a different way.

Run an experiment

The point of an experiment is to try something different and see what happens, right? So change a variable and see how the output changes. Give something your best shot for a week or two and see how it looks or how you feel at the end. Without needing to commit yourself to all kinds of change and upheaval, simply try something and see what happens.

Then run another experiment. Then another. And another.

Through repeated experiments, life is made.

So I’m curious, what experiment can you run?

  • Good one as usual, Steve. I talk myself out of writing all the time – which is dangerous, since I’m a writer by profession. I’m perfectly happy and motivated to write for others, but when it comes to my own blog, well, “I don’t really have anything interesting to say, who would want to read that? It will just show my other writer friends what a bad writer I am.” And so on. So my experiment will take place in February, and I’m going to try to write – something – every day. Even if it’s just a few sentences.

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