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6 Questions That Might Be Holding You Back

06/02/2015 08:35 am ET | Updated Jun 02, 2016

Passion drives us, motivation provokes us and inspiration provides us with the will do do more. Sometimes that's not enough. Over the years, we build up habits that create our "normal." But like a train on the wrong set of tracks, those habits prevent us from being able to reach the destination our dreams take us. Until we realize that we are in control of our own future, we do not need approval from others, conditions will never be just perfect, and we move past the paralyzing fear of failure, we are destined to be stuck right where we stand, staring at our face in the mirror and seeing only our image. Imagine how much more we could do if we were to thoroughly examine what it is exactly that holds us back from sky rocketing ahead and look at the reflection and say, "I can. I will. I must."

"It hurts to let go. But sometimes it hurts more to hold on."

Take a moment and ask yourself the following six questions and see if you are being held back by the answers you give to yourself. Then follow the action items provided if the question is holding you back.

Are you living in the past?
Don't look back, you are not going that way. Rip off the rear view mirror and start to move forward. If you are living in the past, do yourself a favor and set a few short term goals and turn your brain around. Part of the issue many of us experience at one time or another in our life is that we think that yesterday is as good as it is going to get for us. Not true. Your best days are ahead. Even if you are experiencing personal problems, look beyond your troubles and focus on a bright tomorrow. You cannot bring the past back, use it as a lesson plan for a future filled with optimism, happiness and positive results.

Action item: Set three short, short-term goals that you will accomplish in the next 30 days.

Are you stretched too thin?
Life is a buffet. Take from it what you need and leave the rest. Don't go for it all, you can't possibly succeed at eating everything. Not only will you make yourself sick, but you will make everyone around you miserable as well, if you try to do too much. Additionally, it would be awfully selfish if you didn't leave something behind for the rest of us. As human beings, by nature we are people pleasers. We want so badly to be liked by everyone that we overcommit. In the end, our schedule, time and patience are stretched paper thin and it shows in our productivity, efficiency and results. Manage your time properly, learn not to overcommit and start enjoying the life you are living.

Action item: List three items on your schedule right now that you can eliminate.

Are you not smart enough to succeed?
I was a red ink kind of student and king of the "see me" note from my teacher. You have a choice, as we all have a choice, to either let the red ink define you or let the red ink motivate you. The most successful entrepreneurs are the "outside the box" thinkers. Many of us did not do well in school. Our attention was not necessarily focused on following all the rules. If you are an "A" student, congratulations, but that was not me. While you guys were studying hard, taking notes and getting good grades, I was taking apart my alarm clock and my Radio Shack TRS-80 to try and figure out how it worked. Don't let the red ink get you down. Regarding entrepreneurial spirit, success has relatively little to do with following the traditional rules and plenty to do with your creativity and positive mindset.

Action item: Find an item within arms reach right now and use it in a way that it would not traditionally be used.

Are your ideas not unique?
Throw away the concept that says you are not unique enough or special enough to be successful. Don't focus on having an idea that's one in a million. Imagine the learning curve of explaining to everyone you come in contact with about the new product or service you have designed. Success comes to those successful at taking an existing idea and helping the public understand it better. Instead of inventing something new, become a better communicator and explain an existing idea to the world. Face the reality that most people's ideas are not unique. What is unique however is their willingness to step out of the pocket, take action, spread their wings and effectively present their ideas to the world.

Action item: Write down just one idea that you would start working on if you had an unlimited budget and it was guaranteed not to fail.

Are you thinking it's too late for you?
Walt Disney was in his fifties when his idea for Disneyland became a reality. Mick Jagger is still rockin' and he is well into his AARP years. Although I do not claim to have attained their levels of success, I was 48 when I decided to work on my reinvention. It is never too late. If you are not happy in your current situation, professionally or personally, you owe it to yourself to figure out what you are passionate about. Life's too short but it's never too late. If you think that your dreams can be put off until tomorrow, think again. Stop dreaming and start doing. You will not be sorry.

Action item: If you had to offer professional advice to someone 20 years younger than you, what would that advice be? Offer yourself that same advice. Are you following it?

Are you carrying too much baggage?
Who doesn't have history. Turn your canvas duffle bag into a Louis Vuitton luxury piece. It's not the cards that life deals you, it's how you play those cards. Some of the best poker players in the world are dealt poor hands every now and then. Why should you be any different? You have the ability to ask for more cards for your hand. A positive attitude and the right mindset will absolutely carry you to a better place. If you let what happened to you in the past determine your future you may be caught in a spiral of negativity and discontent. Get excited that you can finally move on from the past, and leave it right there... in the past. It is completely up to you.

Action item: Write yourself a permission slip that begins with the sentence. "I am allowed to forgive myself and others for (fill in the blank)."

Once you ask yourself the six questions above, take a moment and think about the answers you have given. Stop letting the questions and the answers hold you back. Work on understanding the answers you have given. Discovering the answers is a great beginning and will help you move towards a life that you have always wanted to live; An AWESOME one.

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