What holds you back from positive change
Goals, strategies, and big ideas. On one hand you’re motivated and excited to make positive changes. On the other hand, you’re procrastinating and avoiding.
Doesn’t make sense, does it?
When we have these ideas, we feel good about putting them in place. But instead of making them happen, we procrastinate. We do anything but the thing.
Perhaps it’s a stretch goal that you’ve set, like a money goal that will bring you the financial stability. Or a new strategy you want to implement that will lead to better clients. Or what about a boundary you desperately need for protection of your sanity.
These changes and achievements are positive, but instead of them happening seamlessly, there’s resistance somewhere.
For some reason, you just can’t do the thing – and you can’t put your finger on why.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about what’s holding you back from creating the logical and positive changes in your business. I’ll also teach you how to take steps to overcome these roadblocks.
What causes our resistance?
So, what causes the resistance that holds us back? Why do we have these ideas, yet for some reason, we can’t make things happen?
If you brush it off thinking you’re just the world’s best procrastinator then you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs feel they’re less capable than they really are for this reason. Have you ever thought:
“I’m really good at procrastinating.”
“I’m just a perfectionist.”
“I never finish things that I start.”
The thing is, procrastination, perfectionism, and avoidance are symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself. Treating the symptom, or brushing it off as a lack of skill, is not going to help you move on.
We need to dig deeper.
The problem is misalignment between what you’re trying to do and your own core needs and values as a human being.
The 6 Needs for Fulfilment
From the moment we’re born, we have a set of core needs that must be met for us, as humans, to achieve satisfaction in life. Those core needs are:
Certainty – the need for stability, safety, comfort and reassurance.
Variety – the need for change, uncertainty, and interesting experiences.
Connection – the need to feel accepted, close to, and loved by those in our circles.
Significance – the need to feel important, unique or special to others.
Growth – the need to achieve growth physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Contribution – the need to support and help others.
The theory is that if all 6 of these needs are being met in a healthy way, a person can experience a fulfilling and happy life. This applies to us in business as much as in life.
While we value all 6 core needs, everyone prioritises some of these needs above others. For instance, you might value contribution and connection over the other core needs. Your best friend, on the other hand, may value significance and variety as her primary needs.
Our Needs vs Our Doubts
The choices we make and the things we do are influenced by those core needs. Directly or indirectly, everything we do either fulfills or protects one or more of those needs.
If we experience uncomfortable or unpleasant emotions, it signals to us that a need is not being met, and we feel compelled to do something about it.
For example, if we feel anxious at the thought of posting on social media, then we’ll avoid doing it for fear of being judged by those who see it. We worry that people will disagree with us, or that people will think what we post is irrelevant, wrong, or too simple.
The triggering event
The uncomfortable emotion
The fear causing the emotion
The affected need
The resulting behaviour
Posting on social media.
People will judge me.
Avoidance of posting on social media
From this example you can see how the fear behind posting something on social media relates back to you protecting some of your core needs.
Being judged by others would make you feel like you’re not accepted by your followers or friends, and that what you’ve posted is not important. By avoiding posting on social media, you’re protecting your core need for acceptance and significance.
How it affects our strategies
So, how does all this affect our business goals and strategies?
In the course of growing our business, we learn a heck of a lot. We absorb so much information on how to market to clients, how to manage our finances, pricing, automation, niching, planning and productivity.
Pretty soon we recognize the need for putting strategies and boundaries in place, and for setting clear goals.
Those goals, strategies and boundaries will be implemented to fulfill or protect one or more of our core needs (certainty, variety, connection, significance, growth, and contribution).
Let’s look at a financial goal as an example. When running a business, we need to earn money to keep the business operating. The business also provides for our family, keeps the roof over our head, food on the table, and gives us something of our own to operate.
This fulfills our core need for certainty – which is the stability of income, provision of food and clothing, and safety and comfort of our family.
When our goal is motivated by a core need, we are driven to achieve it.
But what happens if your goal supports one core need, but also threatens one of the other needs?
Example: A Financial Goal
A financial goal can potentially damage our need for connection. If you grew up in a poor family, or you have friends who look down on wealthy people, then deep down you may worry that your friends and family will no longer accept you if you become wealthy.
You may also worry about what will change if you do become wealthy. Does wealth come with a lot of added responsibility or work? Does wealth make you a target of theft? These doubts are challenging your core need for certainty and safety.
So, with this one goal, you’re being pulled in two different directions. You need the financial stability, but you don’t want to risk the certainty and connection you currently have.
When two core needs are conflicted by one goal, your mind forces you to do nothing.
Example: Webinars in Your Strategy
Another example would be if you wanted to include free webinars as part of your marketing strategy.
These educational webinars can increase your brand awareness, credibility, and trust with your audience, all while providing them with value.
The core needs that are being fulfilled with this strategy are contribution, significance, connection, and variety.
But at the same time, you might experience a strong fear of failure, or fear of judgement. What if you create a webinar and no one shows up? What if someone criticises you or challenges the info you share?
This threatens your core need for acceptance (which is connection), or your safety and comfort (which is certainty). Even though hosting a webinar can help you build connections, your fear of judgement means you also perceive a risk of losing friendships and credibility.
This is where the challenge comes in; your core needs are conflicting with each other and pulling you in two different directions.
You might not recognise the emotion
When we experience unpleasant emotions (like the anxiety or doubt we saw in the previous examples) we feel compelled to do something about it.
However, in some of these situations, you won’t recognise the emotion because they exist outside of our awareness – they’re in our subconscious mind.
Think back to the financial goal. You want the stability of money, and it seems perfectly logical. So, why are you procrastinating on it? Why are you jeopardising your money by spending it as soon as it comes in?
You probably have some deep-rooted memories of your parents looking down on wealthy people, or your friends calling people rich snobs. Perhaps you see on movies and tv shows that rich people are unhappy or mean. It basically told you that wealth was unacceptable to those around you.
These beliefs are triggering a response in your brain that sends messages like, “It’s dangerous to be wealthy because your family won’t love you anymore” or “If you become wealthy, you’ll be at greater risk of theft.”
In the animal kingdom, a danger response triggers the flight, fight or freeze mode. If our brains are triggered by a potential danger then we take flight (avoid doing the work, procrastination), fight (get frustrated at ourselves or others), or freeze (decision paralysis, inaction).
When we’re facing a real danger, these behaviours are helpful. But when these behaviours stop us from achieving our goals or implementing helpful strategies, it becomes frustrating. Here, we call them self-sabotaging behaviours.
How to Remove the Block
If we’re stuck at crossroads because our core needs are conflicting with each other, how do we move forward?
Firstly, we can thank our brain for trying to protect our core needs. You’re not just the world’s best procrastinator. Your subconscious brain is trying to keep you safe.
If you notice yourself procrastinating, getting stuck in decision paralysis, overplanning, or otherwise avoiding the thing you want to achieve, then it’s a good signal that you need to investigate.
Grab a journal and start writing. Grab a friend and start talking. What are you worried about? What are you afraid will happen if you achieve this goal, or implement this strategy? If you set this boundary, what bad thing are you anticipating?
Where do you think this doubt comes from? What messages have you been receiving about this topic?
Awareness is the first step to overcoming the challenge. If journaling or talking helps you uncover the underlying fear or doubt, then it may be enough to clear the air and let you move on.
Why do this?
The amygdala is a part of the brain that is responsible for triggering the fear response. Bringing your doubts into your conscious awareness helps you identify what triggered the anxiety/fear response.
Consider the scenario that you’re worried about. For example, you may be concerned that reaching a financial goal will put you at greater risk of theft in your home.
Write or talk about what you can do to prevent this from happening. For instance, you can install an alarm system or security mesh.
Now write or talk about the likelihood that your fear will come true. Has it ever happened? Are wealthy people more at risk of theft, or is this a false belief you hold?
Why do this?
When our amygdala triggers the anxiety/fear response, it’s immediate. But shortly after another part of the brain, the hippocampus, assesses the threat in context.
“A tiger is scary”, says the amygdala. “But a tiger on a tv screen is not scary,” says the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the rational part of the brain that can calm down the amygdala and return our mind and body to a less anxious state if it figures out there’s no real threat.
Assessing the likelihood of your doubt, knowing how to avoid it, or deal with it, can show your brain that there is no danger. This can release your anxiety/fear response, and reduce your self-sabotaging behaviours like procrastination, overplanning, indecision or jeopardising your progress.
Many of our actions are influenced by our will to meet or protect our 6 core needs as humans:
Sometimes, we have goals, strategies, ideas, or solutions that cause self-sabotaging behaviours because of two core needs pulling us in different directions.
The solution is to work through the underlying beliefs that are causing the self-sabotaging behaviours like procrastination and avoidance. This will allow us to achieve our goals and meet our core needs without conflict.
About the author
Michelle is a chocoholic, stationery obsessed Business Coach from the seaside town of Mandurah, WA. She specialises in working with Virtual Assistants and B2B service providers, helping them to grow a fulfilling, sustainable and profitable home-based business.
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