Prescriptions for Life

How to attain your goals, great and small, and create a life you love.

8 Mistakes that Hold You Back from the Life You Want

Small changes in the way you think can create huge opportunities in your life

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My great passion is showing people how surprisingly easy it can be to create a fulfilling life they deeply love. You don’t necessarily have to make radical, risky changes to have a much richer, joyful experience of life, but you do have to take the steps that move you forward into new ways of doing things.

Whether your life needs some minor tweaks or you long to take huge leaps, here are some of the most common habits, beliefs and attitudes that can block you from experiencing the positive change you long for:

1) Waiting for the “perfect” time

According to Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty, you kill the dream when you kill the butterflies.

In an interview posted on the Amex Open Forum, Fields expands on this by saying:

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If you kill the butterflies in your stomach, you’ll kill the dream. Most people back away when they get that nervous, uncomfortable feeling. But that feeling signals you’re doing something that matters to you. Embrace the feeling. Lean into the discomfort. Try to understand what the feeling is telling you. Train yourself in the alchemy of fear.

Don’t wait until you’re not afraid anymore (that may never happen) or you’ve eliminated all risk (ditto). It will be way too late by then. Be brave, start small, just do something.

2) Assuming that you know how things will turn out

Many people don’t get started on something new because they’re afraid they already know how things will likely turn out: badly. Probabilities and statistics aside, you have no way of knowing what will actually happen in your case. I’ve observed time and again that life likes to reward our courage in truly amazing and surprising ways. If something is calling to you in your heart, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. Be optimistic and leave the results up to life.

3) Thinking things will never change

I can be such a Polyanna but really, it’s with good reason. I host a local “Live a Life You Love Club” for women (based on my book, Live a Life You Love), and it has been so satisfying to watch their lives change, even in just the three short months we’ve been meeting. Some were initially convinced that difficult circumstances that had been in their lives for years would forever block them from implementing real change. Yet as they took small steps to change what they could, the circumstances they had long seen as hopeless started to change as well. I’ve seen this time and again with coaching clients. Commit to your dreams and mountains will move.

4) Listening to the negative voice inside

You are not special, that voice you hear inside that discourages you, belittles you, tells you you’ll fail, tells you to give up, tells you not to bother, is inside every single person. Some of us have just learned not to listen, or how to forge ahead anyway. When you step out of your comfort zone (or even just think about it), that voice will get louder. This is so predictable it’s almost boring. Don’t let it stop you, it tries to stop everyone.

5) Worrying about money

Almost everyone worries about money. Wealthy people are often afraid of risk or change because they’re afraid they might lose what they have. The more financially challenged tell themselves they’ll wait until they have” enough” or avoid risk because they’re also afraid of losing what little they have.

I’m not saying you should put yourself or your family at significant financial risk, but don’t let money fears stop you from doing what you long to do. Odds are you can find a creative way to make it happen on some level, or at least get started, no matter what your circumstances are.

6) Listening to dream-killers

Be very careful who you share your dreams and plans with, especially if your ideas are unconventional or involve significant change. Whenever you change your own status quo - or even contemplate it – this brings up everyone else’s stuff (a.k.a. fears). Many people will get a strange sort of satisfaction in telling you why something won’t work, and will happily tell you about someone else who tried and failed spectacularly. Most worthwhile changes involve some sort of risk, and others will have failed trying. You could well be the one who succeeds. The only way to find out is to try.

7) Thinking you’ll have to do it all yourself

I will never tire of quoting the brilliant William H. Murray:

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

Your responsibility is to prepare yourself as best you can, show up, and do what you can. Many times simply getting started will unleash a domino-like cascade of unexpected help and opening doors. If you have a big dream in your heart, life will help you achieve it once you get started. For a time it may even look like nothing is happening or all is lost. Plant the seeds you can and something good will eventually come out of your efforts. Even if it’s not quite the result you expected. As they say, God laughs at our plans. And usually has an even better plan.

8) Thinking that you need to be “ready” or perfect or the best

When I tell the story of how I became a professional dancer after finishing my medical education, I always make sure I point out that I’m not actually that good a dancer. Sure, people will apparently pay me to perform, but I’m far, far, far from the best. And I mean really far. Still, I knew in my heart that this was something I had to do and went for it. The results were extraordinary and completely out of proportion to what I “deserved” based on skills and experience. Just get started already, you’ll improve as you go. Starting when you’re not quite ready is actually the best way to get better, fast.

I'd love to know: what has your experience been? Is there a fear, belief or habit that’s holding you back right now?

Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a medical doctor, health and happiness expert, life and health coach, professional speaker, flamenco dancer, and the author of Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You, dedicated to helping people worldwide get healthy, find happiness and enjoy more meaningful lives that they love. Dr. Biali is available for keynote presentations, workshops/retreats, media commentary, and private life and health coaching—contact susan@susanbiali.com or visit www.susanbiali.com for more details.

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Susan Biali, M.D., researches health and happiness. She is also a professional flamenco dancer and author.

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