Originally published 19 June 2019. Updated 9 June 2022 for accuracy and relevance.
Find out how to achieve your goals and reach the finish line. Discover five reasons why we stop moving forward when we’re feeling blocked.
Do you find it hard to complete things?
It may be a DIY project you started or another creative endeavor that you were super excited about. It can even be something that needs doing like your business accounts or a project with an immovable deadline.
We have all been there! Something needs to be finished but instead of completing it, you feel blocked. Below I discuss five of the key reasons we feel stuck.
I have encountered them in my life and working with clients as their coach. I also offer practical ideas for how to handle them.
Five barriers to success
1. Success is terrifying!
Sometimes getting to the finish line activates your deep-seated fear of success.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Afraid of success”? Many of the very things we want in life actually scare us. Love, intimacy, success, fame, wealth, great looking bodies, being #1, making it big!
Each of these aspirations and many others has the capacity to send our nervous system into a panic. Such unconscious activation will feel deeply uncomfortable in our bodies and psyche. It can come from:
- Fear of things changing which creates anxiety.
- Lack of skills to handle and respond to the change effectively.
- Fear of potential disappointment.
Close your eyes for a moment and visualise your “Finish Line”. Pay particular attention to your Body and what you can sense. Are you feeling tense, queasy, or weakened by what you see. If so, then something in your goal or intention is not serving you as well as you thought. A useful question to ask yourself or your Body may be: What would need to be true to help us cover the last stretch safely?
2. Missing critical resources
Often people can’t make progress or get stuck because they are missing critical resources. For example, I may avoid applying for a job because I don’t know how to maximise my chances of landing an interview. If I only knew how to sell myself well, I would go for it. In this case, the key missing resource is information. I may not complete work because I lack the time or a specific skill. Here the missing resource is time or skills. I may avoid seeing a family member or a friend because I don’t enjoy how they make me feel. Missing resource, in this case, is a healthy connection.
Ask yourself this question: What do I need to help me complete what I want to do?
3. Being afraid of what happens next
Frequently we focus on goal-setting and goal achievement without considering what’s next. Our minds, however, are far more clever. They simulate the most likely future scenario. To do that, the brain uses past memories and our worst fears. Sometimes the picture our mind constructs is one we don’t want. Let’s make this more tangible with a real example.
A person wants to attract a partner because they don’t want to be alone. As soon as they find one, however, he or she does something to sabotage the relationship. When asked about it, they can’t explain it. It makes no sense. They want to love and be loved. Except, deep in their psyche this individual carries a big fear of abandonment.
Their mind connects long-term commitment with high chances of sad endings. If one is fundamentally afraid of becoming left behind, being bored or miserable in a long-term relationship, one will find ways to end things prematurely. This way one can avoid the disappointment/discomfort one expects to find once the novelty wears off.
As you can see some of these expectations may well be rooted in faulty assumptions or negative bias because the mind is wired for it.
Perform the following thought experiment: At the top of an A4 paper write your desired goal as if you already got there. For example: “I’m a famous author or My partner and I got married.
Then write down a list of what you expect will happen next. Don’t overthink it. Simply allow your mind to empty out onto the page. When finished check whether any of the things you are expecting scare or intimidate you in any way. This will help you uncover any limiting beliefs or assumptions you may have that need further unpacking.
4. Energy depletion
Our productivity is intimately linked to our energy levels. All action takes energy. In my first book – Get Productive! – I included a couple of exercises to help readers understand how energy and lack of it impact what we achieve. We can will ourselves forward or push through difficulty for a while.
However, if we’re feeling emotionally depleted towards one of our goals we may find it hard to complete. Working with clients who are highly creative I have seen a fair share of people who fall out of love with their goals. In fact, this is natural. While part of the mind is busy experiencing this, another part is berating the person for stalling.
Such inner conflicts drain energy even more. Where I see clients struggle the most when it comes to completion is when they fail to realise how physically exhausted they actually are. They have been pushing and striving to get results for too long at the expense of their bodies. They are often too exhausted. Trying to complete under such circumstances is like trying to sail a boat with no wind.
If you suspect energy depletion may be your key issue, ask yourself these three questions:
- How much mental, emotional, physical and spiritual energy have I got at the moment?
- How much of each energy does the task I want to complete require?
- What would help me close any energy gaps?
5. Not the right time or place
The world operates by very simple and incredibly powerful principles. They can be summarised as follows.
- Everything happens at the right time.
- Everything needs its right place.
- To function well, energy needs to flow and exchange in a fair and bidirectional manner.
When you find yourself unable to pinpoint why you’re not making progress the answer may just turn out to be Cosmic protection. This is especially true when rationally there is nothing in the way and yet you feel stuck. We are all meant to be and do certain things.
We’re also meant to learn and master specific things in our lives. We even have a name for it: karma, destiny, fate. When things don’t flow and the above-mentioned blocks are not in play, a good place to look is here.
Perform the following thought experiment: What would happen if I relaxed a little in relation to this goal and instead trusted the Universe protects and loves me far more than I realise?
You may also wish to adopt the following affirmation: All is well. I am safe and everything is as it should be for my highest good.
Our integration retreats help people achieve goals and create healthy and thriving lives
There are many reasons why we don’t move forward even when we want to. Looking into Mind, Heart, Body, and Spirit alignment is really key and it’s a way of working that I’m pioneering. If this is something that speaks to you, then check out our retreat events.
Showing up to a group where people don’t know your history often allows you to simply be with what is true for you. We create a safe space to explore things in more depth and help you reconnect with your path.
My work shows that Mind, Heart, Body and Spirit alignment brings stability and grounding. It creates flow and brilliance because there is little internal conflict.
Our retreats work gently yet deeply to help these four critical parts realign with each other for a stronger, more integrated total you. You can opt for internal work with our Align retreat or start by working on your life, work, self-care, and career first on our Grid retreats. Whichever way you decide to get into this work, the benefits are super powerful and long-lasting.
While people love returning to the work multiple times, just one day will help you
- gain clarity, confidence, and calm
- gain vital skills for keeping your mind at peace, your heart in joy, your body in good health and your spirit alive
- develop lasting friendships with people committed to self-development and growth.