Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Oftentimes we think that it is our circumstances that block us from achieving our God-given purpose in life. For instance, we might think that we don’t have the right people in our lives. Or that we are living in the wrong place. Or perhaps we believe we just aren’t getting any good opportunities. However, the biggest boulder that keeps us from achieving our goals is ourselves.

Now I’m not saying that it doesn’t help to have the right connections or to live in a cosmopolitan setting full of opportunities. Those things are helpful. But generally, not having those things won’t stop us from achieving our goals. Rather, we don’t achieve our goals because we get stuck in our own misguided thinking and behavior. Here are some areas in which you might get stuck and how to get out of your own way.

1. Worrying: I am incredibly good at worrying. If I could get paid for worrying, I would be a rich woman. Unfortunately, no one is going to pay you to worry. The problem with worrying (and fretting and obsessing) is that worrying isn’t action. And it solves nothing. Worse yet, it can make you sick, both mentally and physically.

Now there is nothing wrong with identifying potential problems. But once you’ve identified a potential problem, you have two options: (1) if you have the ability to prevent a disaster, then do it, but (2) if the situation is out of your hands, then give the problem to God and let it go. Either way, give up the habit of worrying.

2. “I Can’t” Thinking: We don’t come out of the womb thinking that we can’t do things. The “I can’t” mentality is taught to us by other people. It might be a parent, friend, or even a colleague who tells us that we lack the skills or ability to do something. We then choose to believe them because that is easier than having the courage to do something hard.

Whenever you think “I can’t” do something, replace that thought with “I won’t.” That is really what you mean to say. “I won’t try.” There is nothing wrong with deciding not to try to do something, but at least be honest with yourself that you alone are making that decision. And maybe, just maybe, you might decide that you really do want to try, regardless of the odds or what other people say.

3. Just Say “No”: Saying “no” to people is hard. We all like to do nice things for others, particularly for our family and friends. However, if at the end of the day, you’ve met everyone else’s priorities and met none of your own, you will be frustrated.

You can’t consistently sideline your needs for the needs of others and still accomplish your dreams. So be willing to believe in yourself and in your goals and tell other people “no.”

4. Giving Mental Energy to the Wrong Things: We all do this. Someone is rude to us, and we spend an hour thinking about how they wronged us, instead of just letting it go. Or we spend our time wishing that we had a better car or house, so we fret over what we don’t have instead of taking immaculate care of what we do have. Perhaps we feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities, so we focus on that feeling instead of just doing what we can.

The problem with focusing on the wrong things is that our time on this earth is finite. Our job is to use our time on this earth carefully. Therefore, the key is to train our minds to automatically turn away from thinking that is unproductive or stressful and turn toward positive thinking and acting. That is harder said than done, but it is critical to making each day count.

5. Comparing: Comparing ourselves to others is probably the worst thing that we do to undermine ourselves. I can’t think of anyone who I surpass in all ways. Every person I know has some quality or achievement that I lack. They might be smarter, have a fancier house, be more talented… the list goes on and on. If I spent my time wishing I had what they had, I wouldn’t get anywhere.

The key is to put on your blinders when it comes to other people’s achievements. Yes, we can celebrate others, compliment them and let them know that we admire them. It is important to do that! But then we need to quit competing with the rest of the world and turn our attention back to honing our unique skills. God gave us a specific set of skills and talents because he has a particular task for us in mind. If we focus on being like everyone else, we can’t achieve the purpose that He intended solely for us.

Getting out of your own way is a first step on the path to achieving your purpose in life. We cannot control the world, our families, our friends, or the opportunities that come our way. The only thing we can control is ourselves. When we take ownership of our attitudes and how we spend our time, it is amazing how what we need to achieve our goals will fall into place.

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