Work + Goals

The No. 1 Reason You’re Not Making Progress + How to Fix It

The No. 1 Reason You're Not Making Progress—And How to Fix It | The Bold+Balanced Life by Alex Benkast

The No. 1 Reason You're Not Making Progress—And How to Fix It | The Bold+Balanced Life by Alex Benkast

“If it’s important you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”―Ryan Blair

Time for some tough love! You probably don’t want to hear this. And I get it, I don’t like hearing it either. But if you’re tired of feeling stuck or your life isn’t the way you want it to be, here’s what’s keeping you from making progress:

It’s the things you’re telling yourself. And that’s because your thoughts create your reality!

Every time you tell yourself:

I’m not good enough.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m too thin or too fat.
I’m too young or too old.
I’m too sick or too tired.
I can’t afford this.
I don’t have time.

These thoughts are keeping you from achieving what you want. And even worse, these “reasons” for why you’re stuck are actually excuses. Yes, excuses. Because making changes in our lives is uncomfortable. And who enjoys being uncomfortable, right?

I certainly don’t. I’d rather watch Netflix, too, or eat frozen pizza instead of cooking a wholesome meal. And you know what also sucks? All the times I tried and failed. All the times someone told me I’m a dreamer because I want to be an artist and run my own business.

But do I let this stop me?

Never.

No more excuses.

I may not be good enough, or smart enough, or look and behave a certain way. But what I do have is persistence and grit. If someone tells me I can’t do something—and that includes myself—my inner rebel child comes out and says “watch me!”  

The world is full of people who didn’t let these thoughts stop them. Nor did they let their circumstances define them. In my post The 7 Habits That Changed My Life, I mentioned the story of Tasha, an immigrant teenage mom who built a 6-figure business from nothing.

And she’s not an isolated case. If you read the stories of your favorite artists, athletes, and idols, chances are they’ve all been there. “I’m not good enough” is a pretty universal fear.

So how can you fix it?

1. Take responsibility.

Life isn’t fair. You don’t get to choose where you’re born or how you look or what your natural abilities are. You can’t control the climate or other people’s actions. But you’re not powerless.

You can control your behavior! It’s your responsibility to make the best of what you’ve got. It’s your choice how you react to all the shit life throws at you. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to reclaim your power. So free yourself from the victim mentality and take the actions that propel you forward.

2. Become aware.

Negative self-talk is part of the human condition and so is fear. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference. The second step is to become aware of all the unhelpful and toxic things you keep telling yourself. I’m not going to lie, it takes practice. Especially if you’ve been playing the same tune for decades.

One way you can become more aware is by journaling. Write down what you want to achieve and then let your thoughts and your fear run wild. Try to capture it all without judging. Then…

3. …Make fear your friend.

Really listen to what it’s trying to tell you because what fear really wants is to protect you from harm. Then tell it, “I hear you, I understand this is what could happen. It’s just not a life or death situation so I’m going to take action anyway.

Lavendaire’s 2019 Artist of Life Workbook has a powerful grid exercise. For each of your fears, it prompts you to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen? And if that were to happen, what would I do to bounce back? Will I survive?”

As you get better at noticing your negative self-talk, you can take its power away in an instant. In Close Your Eyes Get Free, hypnotherapist Grace Smith mentioned how she says (out loud at times) “CANCEL, CANCEL” as soon as she becomes aware of a negative thought and then replaces it with a more helpful thought.

4. Figure it out.

Business powerhouse Marie Forleo is releasing a book this year called Everything is Figureoutable. This phrase sparks so much optimism and creativity for me I made it my mantra for the year. I invite you to try the same.

Because the truth is, there’s hardly ever a time when your circumstances are perfect. So instead of focusing on why you can’t make a move, channel your energy into your resourcefulness.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Take that big goal of yours and work backward. Write down all the things you need to do to achieve it and then break those down even further until you can answer this question: “What is the smallest step I can take right now?”

Ready? If necessary, stick a sign to your wall as a reminder: excuses don’t serve you, actions do. Now go and take it one small step at a time. You’ve got this!