Gunk of Low-Energy Living: self-imposed obstacles

I was working with a client who has wanted to write a novel for the past decade. She’s had numerous starts and stops along the way—many times when she managed to sit down and produce a page or two, but then lost steam.

The novel had resurfaced again in our coaching, and we explored whether it was a goal she’s truly committed to or whether to take it off the radar.

Her answer: Truly committed.

But then she said this: “I really need to get a laptop if I’m finally going to write this novel. I have a company laptop, but I don’t feel comfortable using it for my writing. So I really need to get one, but just don’t have it in the budget right now. I hope it’s something I can buy in the next six months or so.”

Hmmm…truly committed versus laptop obstacle.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

I asked, What if for the time being you use pen and paper? Or buy a notebook and use that?

My client balked at both these ideas, explaining:

  • It would be easier to write her novel if she had a laptop because she can type more quickly than write by hand.
  • Editing drafts would be easier using a word processing program, allowing her to spell check, move paragraphs around, etc.

But here’s the thing: She doesn’t have a laptop, and buying one today isn’t in the budget. So all those would-be advantages are moot at this point.

But she does have access to pen and paper. She can afford to buy a notebook.

Those options are what’s possible for her now.

My client isn’t alone in this type of behavior.

Most of us put up barriers to what we say we want. We often create self-imposed obstacles that prevent us from taking action and moving forward, that stall or stop our progress.

Recognize this too: It’s relatively easy to look into someone else’s life and pinpoint their self-imposed obstacles. It’s much more difficult to survey closer to home and see where and how we might be getting in our own way.

Yeah, but…

One tell-tale sign is the quick Yeah, but… in response to someone’s suggestion about how to achieve a goal, get unstuck, or move forward.

When someone throws out an idea, are you quick to put the kibosh on it? Are you quick to launch into push back mode where you list all the reasons an idea just won’t work? It might be a great suggestion for someone else, but in your case…

I’m not suggesting you blindly implement others’ suggestions. After all, YOU are the expert on your own life. But I am suggesting you build in an intentional delay before you summarily dismiss outside ideas.

Pause and ask yourself:

  • What if the suggestion were feasible? What would that mean?
  • When I feel immediate resistance to a suggestion, what’s that about?
  • If I were to practice my willingness muscle, what opens up for me?

Be willing to sit with a new idea or outside suggestion. Be willing to brainstorm and explore what is good and is possible about an idea.

Where are you getting in your own way with self-imposed obstacles?