Get Out of Your Own Way

Do you recognise some of the following statements?

  1. Everyone else is sorted but I’m not

  2. Stuff like this always happens to me

  3. I haven’t got the time

  4. If only that could happen then I could do this

  5. That kind of happiness/success/status isn’t for the likes of me

The biggest barrier to success and personal fulfilment is the person looking back at you from the mirror as you get ready for the day ahead. He or she is also the single most powerful person in your life. You may be used to looking elsewhere for the things you want and need, hoping for someone to do something for you or blaming them when they don’t, but in reality there is only one person who can actually make those things happen.

The sad thing is, if you’re like so many of your fellow human beings you will regularly and repeatedly stop yourself from doing what you most want to do. You will get in your own way.

We may be plagued by any number of common conditions, such as starting something and not finishing it, making bad decisions or (even worse) no decision at all. We may lack confidence and the root of confidence, which is self-belief. We may not think we deserve success, that there is no point in trying, that we may be ridiculed or judged. These are just a few of the ways in which we get in our own way.

This book is not guaranteed to make you a ‘success’ – whatever that is – or even to make you ‘happy’ – however you might define happiness: as I say, only you can do these things. What it will do is show you some of the ways in which you might be getting in your own way and actively preventing yourself from doing what you already know is right. We can then work on these to find out:

  1. Why we cause the very things we want to avoid

  2. Why we do things that are actively ‘wrong’ for us

  3. Why we stop ourselves from doing what we know is ‘right’

  4. Why it is natural for people to lack self-confidence

  5. The fears that cause these bad habits

Stick or Twist? Change, risk and making decisions.

  • The root of all our fears is the fear of failure

  • Don’t be afraid of making a ‘wrong’ decision. We only grow through facing challenges and overcoming them, even if we’ve caused those challenges ourselves by making a mistake

  • If you do anything at all, you will make mistakes. If you are doing something that you are unfamiliar with, you will get it wrong a few times before you get it right and, while failure is overrated, it’s one of our very best learning tools

  • Don’t conflate two unrelated things: if you make a mistake it doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you a human being

  • If you make no decision at all, you are still making a decision. Everything in life comes with a built-in time limit. Opportunities come with their own life span and, if we miss the window of opportunity, it closes.

  • The moment we take control of a situation is the moment we stop worrying and start doing it

Your brain: a user's guide.

  • Your brain is a hugely powerful super computer, but it depends entirely on the programming you put into it

  • Because we make up our minds about people and beliefs in advance, we often defend ourselves against threats that may not actually exist

  • Our subconscious mind makes virtually all our decisions for us. We’ve already given it all the information it needs and all it does is tell the conscious mind what to do. If we can programme the subconscious for success or achievement, or open-mindedness or learning then it will ask the conscious mind to go and deliver it

  • We can only hold one thought in our head at any one time, so we are governed by the nature of the thought that we are holding

  • What we think becomes what we do, and what we do leads to the results we get

Self-Talk and the Self-fulfilling prophecy: Takeaways from Chapter Three.

  • People can help someone who’s overweight, but they can’t help a monster. That’s the power of self-talk

  • Self-talk is all a pack of lies. It’s just a matter of which set of lies you choose to believe

  • What we can and must control if we want to change and achieve is how we approach the world around us and how we respond to the things that happen in our lives

  • Success or failure is a state of mind. If you decide that you can’t do something then you will never do it, but if you decide that you can, you will.

  • Things only happen for us if we actually do something to make them happen

  • Our thoughts become our behaviour, our behaviour leads to our actions, and our actions produce our results. Those results, over time, become our lives

Luck, opportunity and coincidence.

  • Sometimes, life isn’t fair. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

  • Being upset by something is not a crime; letting it disrupt the rest of your life is a crime against yourself and everything you are capable of being

  • Actions have consequences, so if our actions cause consequences that we would rather they didn’t, we can change those consequences by changing our actions

  • You are surrounded by opportunity but if you are looking the other way you won’t see it and will therefore allow it to pass you by

  • You notice what you are already ‘tuned in’ to, so it’s worth thinking about what you have alerted your subconscious mind to look out for and bring to your attention

  • Avoid going back over past failures and beating yourself up about them. Only review your own life for the purpose of looking forward to what you can do to change things for the better

Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf.

  • We want to believe that we are logical, but in reality we are nothing of the kind. We are driven by our emotions

  • If we only listen to ourselves, or to pre-selected sources of information, we will never hear anything to challenge our existing beliefs. This means we will never change

  • We hold onto opinions that are out of date and irrelevant, and why we stay in comfort zones long after they have stopped being comfortable: we like predictability because we mistake it for security

  • It is easy to generalise based on one or two experiences and come up with a set of ‘rules’ that we think apply across the board: the ‘assumptions’ we make as a result get in the way of reality

  • Things don’t have to be ‘broke’ to need fixing. They have to be no longer fit for purpose, not relevant to what you really want to do or producing predictable but average results

  • If you listen to someone they are much more likely to listen to you

How many ways do I love me? Self-esteem and confidence.

  • Asking the question ‘what if I’m not good enough?’ pretty much guarantees the answer that you’re not. So don’t ask it

  • We need to feel significant in our own lives. Then, and only then, can we feel significant in the lives of others

  • Every time you do something that takes you forwards you feel better. Every time you don’t you feel worse

  • Be you. Don’t try to be someone else; you won’t be very good at it. Be the best version of you and you will do much better than being a poor version of someone else

  • Just do it. If you do something, then something will happen. If you don’t do anything, then nothing will

  • Real and sustainable confidence is built on evidence of achievement

You're not as important as you think you are.

  • Second guessing what others think about you or your ideas or ambitions is a waste of time. If their opinion is important to you, ask for it; if it isn’t, then don’t

  • People in general are not interested in you; they are interested in themselves

  • If you live your life worrying about what other people think you will allow your life to be defined by others. More pointlessly still, your life will be governed by what you imagine other people are thinking

  • All you can control is the here and now. If you focus on what you are doing now and what you can control you will do it much better than if you focus on things you can’t control; things like the past or the future

  • If you remove all the ‘rubbish’ you have allowed to accumulate in your brain you will gain clarity. This is a precious commodity as most of us simply don’t allow the space in our heads to think clearly or ‘sift’ through the mountain of debris that obscures our vision and blocks our path

Displacement, avoidance and delay (why we do it and where it leads us).

  • The passing of time is not a choice, but what we do with our time is up to us

  • ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’, says the old adage. If you allow your time to be stolen then you allow your life to be stolen with it.

  • Let’s accept the logic that it is healthier and more useful for us to deal with what is actually happening than what we think might happen at some point in the future. This is the only way to kick procrastination into touch

  • The more you do the more there is to do, but that’s a good thing. Keep doing the important things and you won’t feel the need to fill your time with distraction and delay

  • Displacement activities are experienced as pleasurable, so we seek them out instead of the pain of doing something difficult, but it’s the difficult thing that gives us the long-term results we are really seeking

  • We spend a lot of our time doing things we shouldn’t be doing, often as a way of avoiding doing the things we should be doing. Try doing the important things instead

Dreams, Goals and Targets: what's the difference - and does it matter?

  • The very fact of creating goals for yourself increases your chances of success compared to those who don’t set them

  • If you are content with where you are, you don’t need to do anything different. Just enjoy it and appreciate the people who share it with you.

  • If you are not happy with one or more aspects of your life, feeling sorry for yourself is not a permanent solution, and having a goal to aim for will be enormously helpful

  • Whatever your goal, you need to want it with passion; there has to be pleasure in it, enjoyment, fun, triumph, victory over yourself, your fears, perceived adversity, whatever it is that means something to you. Nothing beats setting yourself a challenging goal, even one that you or others assumed was impossible, and achieving it.

  • If you don’t believe you can do something you won’t do it

  • Focus, passion and belief are essentials, but commitment is where the magic happens. Once you commit to doing something, really commit to it, you are on your way. And if you keep committing you become unstoppable

Staying out of your own way.

  • Worry doesn’t solve problems; ideas do

  • Try to stop viewing problems as bad news and consider them as opportunities. The more problems you face the more you can solve, and each problem solved takes you closer to achieving the outcome you are looking for

  • Giving up is easy. Keeping going is tough. Both statements are true in the short-term, but false in the long-term

  • Your habits become your life. Most of our decisions are not decisions at all: they are the expression of our habitual thoughts and behaviours

  • Affirmations are a way of giving your brain a new set of instructions. All you need to do is repeat those instructions often enough for your brain to realise that you mean it. It will then seek to act in accordance with those instructions. Change can then follow because you are allowing it to

  • Your affirmation is like a satnav: give it a vague instruction and you will arrive somewhere in the vicinity, give it a specific address and it will take you exactly where you want to go

  • Get out (and stay out) of your own way


What I took from it.

The world is full of people who have achieved things that we think we could also achieve but somehow don’t. We may be in the habit of comparing ourselves with those people and feeling inferior or resentful, or we may look for unfair advantages that they have and we don’t. We may bemoan fate or luck. But in the end, we are the ones who stand in our own way of success. This book provides the tools to get you started in becoming a better version of yourself.

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