Why You Create Limitations in Your Life
Do you set goals for yourself?
Do you regularly set goals for yourself in life?
Do you respect yourself enough to set milestones for self-improvement?
Big goals and small goals should be a daily part of your life, if you are looking for self-improvement.
It can be silly when you first start writing down that you will go for a ten-minute walk every night after dinner, instead of dumping your body straight onto the couch for mindless screen time.
It can be even sillier when you start writing down that you will increase your salary by $10K next year, instead of not even thinking about your income or the potential of increasing it ever.
These things feel silly or weird when you first start doing them because they seem out of reach or useless.
‘Walking for ten minutes a day is going to do nothing substantial for my health,’ might be your first argument.
‘There is absolutely no way for me to earn an extra ten grand a year, so it is stupid to even think about,’ might be your second argument.
Well, neither goal is silly or insignificant.
As cheesy as these examples may be: A painting is started with a brushstroke, a race is started with the first step and a book is written with the first word typed.
Everything of substance started off as something small and insignificant.
Everyone who has accomplished something of significance started off as someone simply trying to do something.
We are all capable of achieving something amazing and our circumstances do not limit us from what tomorrow could hold.
A friend of mine once laughed at me when I asked what she hoped to accomplish this coming year. It was her birthday and I had taken her out for dinner, which was a bit of an ordeal because she was a single parent to two young children, so childcare was always a struggle.
“I’m a single parent just trying to make it to Friday,” she said with a chuckle, “Unlike you, I do not have the luxury of time to run marathons, write blogs or go to school.”
I (fake) laughed and ignored the jab at my life before responding, “Seriously though, what do you want to accomplish this year? You are only forty for 365 days, what do you want to get done, for yourself?”
“Nothing,” she responded back, “Nothing at all. I just want to survive; you would not understand and I do not expect you to.”
It can be really difficult to argue with someone when they have built a wall around themselves so high, thick and impenetrable that even the idea of self-improvement is silly to discuss over dinner.
I am not a single parent. I am not juggling work, two children and childcare, so no, I have not lived a day in her shoes, but I know many people who have lived a very similar life to hers. As cheesy as it may sound, J.K. Rowlings comes to mind.
I also find it extremely offensive to blame others, especially children, for your lack of personal progress. Sure, having kids is a lot of work and no one is discounting that, but I know a lot of people who have not used their offspring as their scapegoats to not achieving success.
We can use the people, places and events in our lives as barriers to our success or catalysts for our success and the choice is entirely ours.
You can say that your low wage job is a barrier to you attaining success and why you cannot write the next great novel, or it could be the catalyst that burns your desire to furiously type away every night after your mundane, ill-paying job is done.
You can say that your children are the reason you cannot go back to school, or you could be like my mother, who as a new immigrant to Canada, went back to school when she had three children under the age of ten at home and still got the job done. She said she had to go back to school for us, in order to get a decent paying job to support us and help my father with the finances.
Many people also do not make goals for fear of failure.
The idea of saying or writing down a goal, when you genuinely believe it is impossible to complete is very scary. To quell this fear it can be really easy to start building walls around yourself, so that you no longer have to see your own potential.
Why try anything new if you genuinely believe you will fail at it?
Why bother updating your resume for that promotion if you are too embarrassed to even tell your boss you are interested in the opportunity?
I find examples in life like these fascinating. Honestly, in the scale of life, how significant is what your boss thinks of you? Is the fear of embarrassment stronger than the potential of making more money and having a better job (and life)?
I find this such a frustrating concept: People too embarrassed to ask for what they want because they are scared of what one person will think. That person is busy, they are probably not even thinking about you at all, so quit making yourself bigger than you really are.
News Flash: The next time you need to negotiate your salary, ask for a promotion or apply for an entirely new job remember that everyone wants to have a job they enjoy doing and everyone would like to make more money. By not negotiating a decent salary, or salary increase, out of embarrassment, you are figuratively shooting yourself in the foot.
If you do not ask, they will never offer, and why the hell would they? If you are willing to work for less, why would they even consider paying you more?
If you are not willing to fight for the absolute maximum dollar value your time is worth what are you honestly saying about yourself?
If one does manage to write down their goal, they may struggle to start working on the goal.
Creating goals for yourself is only the first step, because then you must be willing to input energy in order for the goal to be attained. Sometimes the self-talk we do on a daily basis is what stops us from doing great things.
You might be telling yourself that:
You do not deserve to be happy, this subpar existence is what you were meant to endure.
You do not deserve to be healthy, this back pain is what something you were destined to deal with daily.
You are not worthy of a relationship, you were supposed to be single for the rest of your life.
Brick by brick, you build up these walls, with concepts that concretize into facts: I am not good enough, I am not attractive enough, I am not smart enough, I am not worthy enough.
I once had a friend who absolutely despised her job. She hated what she did, for eight hours of every weekday, she hated her boss, she hated her workplace environment, and basically, she stayed at this job for almost twenty years because she told me, quite confidently, that she could retire in said job.
I vividly remember her saying to me a few years ago, how though she admired my drive to change positions and take on new opportunities, that what I was doing was risky and what she was doing was safe.
She believed that me moving into managerial roles, or transferring to different opportunities was me continually putting myself at risk. She did not realize that the world we were living in was changing and that individuals with diverse portfolios are seen as an asset, not a liability in this day and age. She did not realize that having a very specific skillset and that skillset alone is very much similar to painting yourself into a very tight corner (contingent on the skillset of course).
She is losing her job this year; technology has made her role redundant. This bright, brilliant, smart woman who spent the better part of the past two decades building up these barriers around her as to why she would never try to find a job which would be more fulfilling now has to go out into the big, bad, scary world and find a new position.
This woman, who trained her mind to believe that this subpar job was doable for over forty years because the pension payoff would be worth it has now lost her guarantee.
She and I are not friends anymore, but my heart goes out to her. I know how absolutely terrified she must be and how her entire plan of working at a job she loathed for forty years, so that she could have the good pension the job provided, has now been obliterated.
As the days go by, the light that is able to seep into your day becomes less and less as you continue to build the bricks up higher and higher.
These words you have been saying so often to yourself become your everyday mantras and you wholeheartedly believe them:
You are not good enough.
This is the absolute best you can do.
You are not worthy of more.
Dreams are for other people, not for people like you.
Taking risks is something that happens in movies, not in real life, to real people.
Eventually, you will be having a coffee with a friend and they will suggest something so preposterous as you joining them in a speed dating session this Friday night and you will not help but laugh out loud. ‘Who would possibly want to date me?’ you say in the most self-deprecating way, laughing at the genuine horror of the suggestion.
Your friend will start to respond, but you will already be waving a hand at them, so well enveloped in your own self-created prison, saying, “I am not what anyone is looking for in a relationship. I would embarrass myself by going to a speed dating event. No thank you, I would rather die than do that.”
Bit by bit, as the time progresses onwards, people will stop inviting you to things outside of your comfort zone, because they know you will not go. Then, slowly, your friends stop calling in general because spending time with you can be cumbersome, since you see everything from a pessimistic perspective. You become exhausting to be around because you are constantly bringing people down with your negative mindset until eventually there is no one around you at all.
When you have limitations built up around your life, they act as a barrier and as armour.
When people poke, prod or protest about your life circumstances you can protect yourself by wrapping all of your self-imposed limitations around yourself even tighter. Every time someone tries to pull you out of your comfort zone, you can throw up one of your well-crafted walls and not risk trying something new or getting out of your comfort zone.
Letting your (self-imposed) limitations lead the direction of your life is easy, but mundane. Each day is typically a cookie-cutter version of the last and there is minimal zest in your day.
They say that the biggest regret we will have when we die is about all of the things we never did, yet day-to-day, the idea of stepping outside of your comfort zone is so damn scary. I just wonder what playing it safe adds up to at the end of the day.
Will you, on your deathbed, say, ‘Thank God I did not take a single risk, now I can die in peace,” or will you feel like you lived a half-lived life or even worse, wasted the whole damn thing?