02/14/2012 11:54 am ET Updated Apr 15, 2012

How to Be Happy: The Top 12 Blocks To a More Joyful Life

As I deliver my coaching and professional development programs to women around the country, I continue to observe a fascinating phenomenon: an enormously large number of working women are in emotional pain about their lives and careers, but most will only make change when the pain becomes intolerable. (I experienced this reluctance to act as well, until I faced my own professional "breakdown.")

We seem to cognitively understand that we're suffering and want so much more from our lives and careers, but we don't muster the courage and commitment necessary to create a breakthrough, or a "paradigm shift" (as I call it), until we experience a true "breakdown" moment or a resounding wake-up call.

But we don't need a wake-up call to tell us change is necessary. There are strong warning signs all along the way.

My research with Women Succeeding Abundantly has revealed that there are 12 common blocks to greater joy, success and fulfillment, and until we're ready to address these blocks, we remain stuck in a situation that is definitely less than our best and happiest life - and much less than our full potential.

Here are the top 12 common blocks to greater joy and success (listed are the blocks, and how we rationalize them):

1. Fear of the unknown - "What's out there if I leave this behind?"
2. Insecurity - "I don't have what it takes."
3. Pessimism - "It won't work out for me."
4. Self-reproach - "I'm a loser/failure."
5. Energy leaks - "I don't have the energy (or time, money, support, etc.) for this."
6. Connection to struggle - "I don't feel joy very often, so why should I try to achieve it?"
7. Low self-worth - "I don't deserve great things."
8. Faulty conditioning - "Life is supposed to be unfulfilling and hard."
9. Weak boundaries - "I need to please everyone else before myself."
10. Confusion paralysis - "Where do I start?"
11. Commitment fatigue - "I tried, but it didn't work."
12. Perfectionistic Overfunctioning- "I'm exhausted and drained, but I have to keeping doing all this."

Read through this list again. Do any of these blocks resonate with you? If so, today is your lucky day -- if you can commit to taking just a small step. You can avert a breakdown experience when you realize that you don't want to continue like this, and that today IS the best day to start.

If any of the above blocks sound familiar, take this step today: Call a friend you trust and tell him/her that you've realized that you may have a real block to experiencing more joy and success, and want to do something about it. Ask them to help you become accountable to overcome this block starting today, and if they could be your mentor to do it. Then brainstorm together one action you can take to move away from being blocked in this area.

For instance, if you want a new career direction but are afraid of the unknown, do some online research and interview several people who are in this new field you're interested in, and get more familiar with what's involved to pursue it. And fill out my Career Path Self-Assessment survey to help you figure out what you really want in the next chapter of life and work.

If you feel you don't have the energy for change, commit to bringing forward one new activity in your life that will give you greater joy and energy. In turn, say "no" to doing one small thing that drains and irritates you each day.

Overcoming these blocks takes commitment, empowered action and support. You can do it! And if you could decide earlier rather than later that, "Today's is the day I want change," then joy and fulfillment will be within your reach much sooner, with a lot less struggle.

Which one of the 12 blocks resonates with you most? And what one step you can you take to get you moving towards greater joy?