Many people don’t ever reach their personal or professional dreams because they limit themselves – e.g. a limiting thought like “it’s not what you know, but who you know” possibly holds you back from placing yourself in a position where you intentionally look and apply for new opportunities. Limiting thoughts produce doubt and doubt retards self-belief and confidence. It holds you back from putting your giftedness “out there” and prevents organisations from benefitting from your potential contribution.
Overcoming doubt and deliberately moving yourself out of comfort zones (tasks of which you feel most at ease doing) takes courage, which has to be in place if you are to reach your potential. An elastic band only reaches its real potential when in a stretched state – when un-stretched, it serves no purpose. The human being also needs to be stretched towards achievement. Nathan Chiroma (senior lecturer at Pan Africa Christian University) notes: “Limiting ourselves to only what feels comfortable can be self-sabotage. Pushing past our doubts is a spiritual battle. When we begin to envision our possibilities, fear is inevitable, but it is not a stop sign”. Mental fear “boundaries” are self-made, but can be dismantled. They need not stay in existence. Making excuses, staying in the safe end of the pool and finding ways to ignore anything that might challenge beliefs, however, never propel us forward – they debilitate us. Michelle Homme notes seven negative impacts of self-limitation:
- We look for failure – we expect the worst and thus don’t take risks
- We follow the crowd – we follow the “school of fish” never stopping to ask if this is really what we are wanting to do
- We play it safe – we are cautious so as never to get hurt
- We have no hope – our world is full of hatred and animosity which won’t ever go away, so we give up and lose belief
- We stop listening to our hearts – we fill our lives with possessions and other stuff. At the end, we don’t feel any more full and our hearts beg for us to listen to them
- We quit – we give up the good fight because it is hard with no guarantee of success
- We forget our “why” – our draw towards a specific goal has lost its meaning and we forget our reasons for beginning in the first place
Re-establishing your purpose, setting goals and acting on them take courage and a lot of hard work, but they also provide many benefits:
- You’ll get things done, learning new things as part of the journey
- You’ll become more confident as you start mastering new skills
- You will be more present – not living in the past, but showing up and squaring up to the challenges of today
- You will become an “ideas” person (more creative) – more ideas will flow as you get excited about the potential of your purpose
- You will become an example that others wish to follow – your purposeful action will inspire others
Stop limiting yourself. Use your giftedness appropriately and be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.