1. You acknowledge what the problem is, but you do nothing more than that.
In layman’s terms? You complain. (We all do it, and it’s usually a crucial piece in realizing what you’re dissatisfied with in your life, and what you’d like to change.) But as so many programs tell us, acknowledging the issue is only the first step. Talking about it ad nauseam isn’t going to fix it. Venting over brunch or drinks isn’t going to fix it. You know what fixes it? Doing something about it.
2. You think that because one route worked favorably for someone else, it will work for you, too.
Lightning never strikes the same place twice, so to replicate what someone else is doing exactly is a recipe for disaster. They’re not you, and you’re not them — so for someone different to do the same thing is still changing a few variables. Do what you feel will work, not because you’ve seen it work that way before, but because in your gut, you know this path is right for you.
3. You’re waiting for permission.
Rarely, if ever, are people going to hand you your dreams and say, here you go, run with it. Sure, there are times when you should (and maybe even need to) ask for the “okay” for certain pieces of your plan, but only seeing the obstacles and not the possibilities around them is just another way to stall. So a few people tell you “no” for the entry-level job to get you on track for your dream career. Think outside the box. What can you do that you don’t need another person’s approval for? Start from there.
4. You’re trying to figure out how to make other people do the work for you.
Instead of networking yourself, you ask if anyone else has any leads or knows anyone who might be able to help you. You scheme up grand plans wherein you get other people to do things in some great Ponzi triangle so that you can reap the most rewards possible. I know it seems appealing and clever to do the least work for the most reward, but really, if you’re going after what you really want, the dirty work is often where things are the most fun. You’ll feel much more accomplished and capable if you just buckle down and get started.
5. You’re not reassessing the situation as you go.
Circumstances, life, goals, dreams, ideas, and yes, even you will change as time goes on, and you could find that maybe, what you thought you wanted isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe your idea of what you wanted is very different from the reality of what that thing is, and that doesn’t sit right with you. Maybe there’s all the warning signs that this isn’t a good fit and you’ll be unhappy, but you’re ignoring them and telling your gut that you’re wrong. Maybe you’ve dreamed up different goals along the way, and you want to chase those, too. These are all perfectly normal — and even good! — things to happen. It means you’re evolving as a person. Checking in with yourself and seeing if this is still what you want is a key component in keeping motivated.
6. You don’t know if you deserve it.
Either your self-esteem could use a little boost, or you’re talking yourself out of just going whole hog at every turn, or you think that things this good don’t happen to “people like you.” This self-doubt can creep into anything and everything you do if you’re not careful, and you might end up self-sabotaging because hey, at least it’s safer if you never actually get everything you ever wanted, right? If your life continues exactly as it is, you don’t have to adjust to all the wonderful newness in your world, and don’t ever have to worry about what might happen if all the good things you worked for were to suddenly go away. (But is this really a way to live? No, my friend. No, it is not.)
7. Conversely, you feel entitled to whatever it is you’re going after.
A phrase I picked up somewhere when I was young and try to live by is that “the luckiest people are the ones who work the hardest.” There is a very fine line between feeling like you deserve good things, and feeling like you’re entitled to them. The differentiating factor at play is the willingness to do the work. (To talk nerdy to you, Viserys Targaryen felt entitled to the Iron Throne, whereas Daenerys realized she would only deserve it if she put in the work to be a good ruler. See which one has survived longer than the other? Exactly.) A lot of people want the exact same thing, and feeling bitter and disenfranchised because you believe that it’s your right to have what you want is going to create a massive stink, a poor attitude, and no one will want to help you along the way.
8. You spend all your time telling people they should back you, instead of proving it to them.
And you wind up wasting a lot of people’s time, most of all your own. Don’t dwell on why people “won’t give you a chance” — they probably give you chances all the time, you just don’t realize it and follow through. Don’t just tell them that you want it, and why you want it, and why they should believe in you. People won’t be convinced until you put in the work and prove to them why they should put their faith in you. You can have as many innovative ideas as you want, but if you don’t have the dedication to making those ideas a reality, people are going to grow tired of your “all talk” antics and find someone else who is willing to put in the actual blood-sweat-and-tears work.
9. You refuse to admit to your own mistakes.
Blaming other people is easy, and it’s safe, and people have been doing it as long as there have ever been mistakes in this world. But other people are who they are, and pointing fingers is a wasted effort because you simply cannot control anyone outside of yourself. It’s hard to admit that maybe your approach was off-base, or that you were wrong — and it is so, so very easy to think that there’s a secret conspiracy against you. Sometimes, however, we really do have to look at our choices and assess if there was anything we could have done differently or better. After all, the point of making mistakes is so that we can learn from them. You don’t have to take the fall for absolutely everyone else, but being able to admit to your own shortcomings gives you a chance to work on them, improve if you want to, and make your next attempt that much smarter.
10. You believe the road has to be hard.
It really doesn’t have to be, and making it that way just to give yourself an extra-juicy underdog story is going to be a lot of wasted effort. Don’t spend all your energy on the first few days or weeks of a plan if this is something you’re in for the long haul (or, at the very least, don’t do that without taking breaks). You’ll burn out, lose interest, grow frustrated that you’re not getting results faster, and drop the endeavor — only to derail progress you probably didn’t see. Don’t make things harder for yourself than they have to be, either. Swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it. You should be doing the bulk of the work yourself, but you absolutely do not have to go it alone.