How to Get Out of Your Own Way

Three Parts:Stop Holding Yourself BackMove ForwardGive Yourself Some Extra Help

The road to success and happiness lies before you, but there are also numerous obstacles along the way. You might be the biggest of these obstacles without even realizing it. If you want to reach your goals and lead a fulfilling life, you'll need to get out of your own way before you do anything else.

Part 1
Stop Holding Yourself Back

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    Identify the things that hold you back. Ask yourself what preconceived ideas and thought patterns stop you from getting things done. Be completely honest with yourself about the patterns that are helpful and those that are destructive.
    • For example, maybe you position yourself in front of a particular window when you intend to work. You might think that the scenery inspires you, but if you find your eyes wandering away from your work and lingering on the activity you see through the window, this could actually be a negative pattern.
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    Break your habits. Even if a habit doesn't necessarily seem bad on the surface, getting yourself in a rut can stop you from taking the steps you need to reach your goals. Mix things up and change your routine.
    • Even small changes can alter the way you approach the world around you. Instead of starting your morning with a cup of coffee, try a cup of tea or a sports drink. Rather than hopping on your smart phone and playing a game during your break, go for a quick walk or pick up a paperback book.
    • As you accustom yourself to the idea of change by making small alterations to your daily routine, you gradually make it easier to introduce bigger, more significant changes to your life.
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    Notice your feelings without letting them control you.[1] When you feel anxious, hesitant, doubtful, or unworthy, make a note of it. Figure out why you feel that way. After you've identified the negative emotion, press on with your plans in spite of it.
    • Getting rid of your negative emotions can be a daunting task, and if you wait for those feelings to be gone, you may never move forward with your life.
    • Acknowledge your unfounded worries and fears. Accept that they exist, but also tell yourself that you aren't going to let them control how you act.
    • As you continue to move forward, you can foster more positive feelings that can help drown out the negative ones.
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    Stop looking at the people around you. Comparing yourself to other people will inevitably make you feel worse about your own accomplishments. Your self-confidence takes a hit, and you might find it more difficult to work up the nerve to pursue your present or future ambitions.
    • Since everyone has his or her own unique circumstances, though, it isn't fair to assume that you should be at the same place in your life as someone else is in theirs.
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    Give up on perfection. Perfection is a literal impossibility. You will fail and you will fall. The key is learning to accept your mistakes and move past them. Once you can accept your failings, the fear of failing will stop getting in your way.
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    Stop playing nice.[2] Showing kindness to other people is important, but you won't be able to please everyone. Don't break your neck trying to appease every person in your life and stop apologizing for things that aren't your fault.
    • Learn to say "no" to people, especially when the requests they make are unfair.
    • If there are problems, speak up. They probably won't fix themselves, and if you don't say something, there's no guarantee that anyone else will.
    • Stop apologizing every time someone gets upset or inconvenienced. Apologize when you know you're at fault, but don't needlessly make yourself into the villain.
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    Quit procrastinating. Instead of making excuses, make progress. It's far too easy to think of a reason why you can afford to postpone a task until a later date, but postponing something prevents you from achieving a goal or step that lies just beyond the task you're avoiding.

Part 2
Move Forward

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    Understand your motivation.[3] Most people need to feel some sense of purpose in the things they do. Work that seems pointless is naturally harder to get done.
    • If you're struggling through a task or decision, ask yourself why it is important for you to complete it. Consider what good thing might be lost if you don't see things through, or what bad thing might happen if you slack off. Identifying some reason for doing the work may make the work seem worth doing.
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    Focus on your desired outcome. Think about the goal you're trying to accomplish. When the work you need to do to reach that goal gets tough or mundane, return your thoughts to the goal itself. Fixating on something you want can make it easier to take the steps needed to attain it.
    • If the anticipated outcome doesn't motivate or excite you, you may need to reevaluate the path you are presently on. Ask yourself if the goal is really worth pursuing. You may realize you should change the goal and not the steps you need to reach it.
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    Move forward in small steps.[4] Large leaps can be intimidating, and if you miscalculate, the resulting mess can create a lot of waste. Inch forward little by little. Doing so is both practical and emotionally beneficial.
    • For example, if your goal is to find “the one” and enter into a healthy romantic relationship, you might take a small step by asking a few trusted friends to set you up or by starting an online dating profile at a trustworthy website. Neither option requires much commitment, so if it doesn't work out, you haven't lost much.
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    Adjust your plans based on your observations. Watch the outcome of each step you make and take notes. Regardless of whether you experience success or failure, you can use your observations to figure out what your next step should be.
    • Maybe your online dating profile hasn't attracted anyone good, or maybe the date your friend set you up on ended in disaster. Evaluate what went wrong. You may need to try a different website or a different friend. Alternatively, you may realize that you need to try something else in your quest for romance—like attending a local singles' group or visiting a popular hangout.
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    Keep the promises you make to yourself. Good self-discipline is essential. When you set a goal, you need to keep it. Doing otherwise will probably make you feel worse about yourself, and that negative self-image will only drag you down.
    • Think about how great you feel after a productive day. Then, think about how frustrated you feel after you've spent the day slacking off.
    • When you routinely break your own deadlines and slack off on your own goals, you start losing faith in your ability to get things done. Staying focused now will help you remain focused in the future.
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    Applaud yourself for your successes. Pause long enough to acknowledge each successful move you complete. Your mind may naturally fixate on your failings, but oftentimes, you will need to make a dedicated effort to acknowledge your wins.
    • Tallying up your successes can give your sense of self-confidence a tremendous boost. As your confidence grows, your desire to push yourself along typically grows, too.

Part 3
Give Yourself Some Extra Help

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    Change your mood with background music.[5] Listen to music that motivates you. Make sure that the music sets the right tone and actually inspires you to get things done, though.
    • Try a few different types of music until you find one that naturally motivates you.
    • Start off with the same set of songs for a while. When you hear these songs, your brain will eventually come to associate them with staying focused.
    • If the music becomes a distraction, though, you should change your selection or try working in silence again.
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    Use scent to engage your focus. The sense of smell is often neglected, but odors can sway your thoughts and feelings in a very subtle way. Designate a certain scent as your motivational scent. Train yourself to associate that scent with productivity.
    • Pick a scent that makes you feel focused. Popular choices include cinnamon, mint, lemon, orange, and rosemary.[6]
    • Find candles, incense, or essential oils in that scent, and keep them stationed around your workspace or home.
    • When you start working on things, make sure that you do so in the presence of your signature scent. Continue to do so as often as possible.
    • Ideally, you'll eventually reach a point at which you associate that scent with productivity and focus. Once you reach that point, you can carry your scent in portable form (an unlit candle, a dab of essential oil on a handkerchief) and give it a whiff when you need to focus in an unfamiliar setting.
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    Move around to chase away fatigue. If you feel stiff or fatigued after working for long periods of time, get up and move around. Take a walk, perform jumping-jacks, or just stretch.
    • Activities that get your heart pumping are best. The increased blood flow can actually reinvigorate you, making it easier to focus as a result.
    • Take a break even if it has to be a short one. A few minutes of physical activity are better than none.
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    Make it easy to get things done. Give yourself all the tools and supplies you need to get your work done. When you're missing something significant, you're likely to use that as an excuse to procrastinate. Staying organized will prevent those excuses from piling up, thereby allowing you to get things done more effectively.
    • Take a few minutes to figure out exactly what you'll need before you start working. If you'll be somewhere noisy and distracting, bring headphones and music that can drown out the noise. If you'll be working on your computer, make sure that the laptop battery is charged and bring your laptop charger just in case.
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    Surround yourself with positive people. Negative people will discourage you from moving forward, even if they don't necessarily mean to do so. Positive people, on the other hand, have a “can do” attitude and may actively or inactively encourage you to push forward with your own life.
    • You don't need to completely cut ties with every pessimist in your life, but as a general guideline, try to make sure that your five closest companions have attitudes that lean more on the positive side.[7]
    • When a negative person in your life actively works at tearing you apart, the relationship between you has grown toxic. You can try to fix it, but if nothing changes, your best option might be to cut ties.
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    Help another person. Take the time to help the people around you. In doing so, you can view various aspects of life from an objective perspective. Looking at things objectively can make it easier to find solutions to problems that you've been struggling with in your own life.
    • Lending a helping hand to someone else can also make you feel positive about yourself overall. When you make a difference in someone else's life, you feel important, capable, and needed.
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    Take a break and make it meaningful. Your life needs balance, so you do need time to relax and calm down. Don't settle for distractions you'll regret later, though. Weave meaningful activities into your life that can refresh you in a more constructive manner.
    • When you commit to relaxation, you need to stick with that commitment. Don't guilt yourself into working through it.
    • When you need to unwind, do it thoroughly by taking a bubble bath, doing yoga, or meditating. Choose an activity that truly calms you down instead of one that momentarily makes you feel better.
    • Likewise, make time for activities that involve your family and friends instead of aimlessly killing time alone.

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Categories: Creating Life Balance