Our society perpetuates the belief that you must overcome numerous obstacles to succeed. These might include high levels of skill or knowledge, large amounts of time, vast quantities of money, and connections with the right people. While some of this may be true, only one real obstacle blocks the way to your success in any life arena–including writing, publishing, and authorship. If you remove it, the other hurdles become easy to overcome.
Can you identify the obstacle?
You are the only obstacle you need to overcome to succeed at anything you want to achieve, including your writing and publishing goals or career as an author. Specifically, your habitual behaviors and mindsets create internal hurdles you must constantly try to jump or remove. These include how you react to situations, your thoughts about circumstances and people, and your beliefs about writing and publishing or becoming an author.
Ultimately, you must get out of your own way if you want to succeed. To do that, change your habitual behavior and mindset.
Personal Growth Makes Authorship Easier
Suppose you ask a successful authors how they accomplished that feat. They likely will say they worked hard, acquired skills and knowledge, and were diligent, committed, and tenacious in pursuing their writing goals. Most also will tell you they “worked on themselves.” In other words, they engaged in some sort of personal growth or development.
High performers know their own behavioral and mental tendencies slow their ability to achieve success. Only if they take time for personal change can they alter those tendencies and succeed professionally or personally.
What Happens When You Get Out of the Way
Here’s an example demonstrating how getting out of your own way (changing yourself) enhances your ability to succeed.
I had a client who believed she couldn’t complete her writing projects. She would describe herself as “someone who never finishes what she starts.” That was her identity.
As a result, she found it tough to succeed at anything, including becoming an author. That makes sense since you do need to complete manuscripts (or other writing projects) to become an author.
This woman rarely started anything new, including pursuing writing ideas, for fear she would disappoint herself again. Her mind was focused on thoughts like, “Why start? I won’t finish,” or “If I start and don’t finish, I’ll just feel horrible about myself, so I won’t bother.” Thus, she looked at her life through that lens (mindset) and only saw incomplete projects.
Her behavior followed suit. She didn’t start new projects—no matter how important they were to her. She maintained a notebook filled with article and book ideas, but she never acted on them. And if she did start, she inevitably didn’t finish.
Then she decided to invest in personal growth work and became one of my coaching clients. She identified a few past book projects she had finished, which helped her realize she could and had completed things. And she used that knowledge to help her complete current and future projects.
Also, she decided to stop disappointing herself. Instead, she chose to be self-integral and keep her promises to herself. With two new ways of seeing herself—as someone who knows how to complete projects and has self-integrity, not only did her mindset shift, but her behaviors, too.
She began thinking, “I finish what I start” and “If I say I will finish something, I do because I have self-integrity.” Eventually, these became her beliefs, thus changing her mindset. She proved that this was true each time she completed a book project or achieved a writing or publishing goal.
She began working on writing projects and required herself to finish on a deadline. Her new habit was to finish something before starting a new project or goal. As a result, she began consistently finishing the writing projects she started.
As you can imagine, the changes she made in her mindset and behavior made all the difference in her ability to succeed as a writer and author.
Your Habitual Behaviors
Unhelpful habitual behaviors take many forms. For example, you might react with anger whenever someone cuts you off in traffic, hit the snooze button daily when the morning alarm rings, or spend too much time scrolling on social media (rather than writing). Or, like my client, you might habitually start writing projects you don’t finish. These habits don’t help you succeed.
Not only that, they are reactions rather than responses. Reactions are habitual or unconscious ways of behaving in certain situations. Often, something triggers you—like the jerk who cut you off or the sound of the morning alarm—and you react in the same way as always.
On the other hand, responses are intentional and conscious. For example, you decide how to behave when someone cuts you off, like taking a deep breath and feeling grateful that you didn’t get in an accident. Or you choose to get out of bed when the alarm rings to have time to write before you have to go to work or get the kids off to school.
Reactions reap negative results. They don’t help you progress toward success—and sometimes even cause you to move back a few steps. Responses have a higher probability of positive results because you choose them intentionally to help achieve a goal. Therefore, they successfully help you get from Point A to Point B or from unpublished to published.
Your Habitual Mindsets
Unhelpful habitual mindsets are created by unsupportive thoughts you think repeatedly. If you think a thought often enough, it becomes a belief. And all your beliefs influence your mindset.
Many of your repetitive thoughts stem from early programming or life experiences. For instance, someone influential—like a parent, teacher, or coach—told you something, and you chose to believe it. They “programmed” you to think you were intelligent, stupid, talented, or untalented, for instance.
Or you had an experience, like being rejected by a literary agent or magazine editor. You choose to interpret that event to mean something specific. Maybe you decided you don’t create salable ideas, you aren’t a good enough writer, or you don’t have the credentials to get published.
Such thoughts become your beliefs and then your mindset. And your mindset becomes the lens through which you see the world, including your experiences and the people you meet.
Let’s say you have published 50 or more articles in magazines. Yet, most of your life, you believed you weren’t a good writer. When you look at your clip file, you see the articles but still think, “I’m not a good enough writer. After all, I haven’t published a book, and good writers are authors.” Your mindset clouds your vision and doesn’t allow you to acknowledge that you are a good and accomplished writer. Thus, you’ll never feel confident about your writing.
However, if you believe you are a good writer—and are grateful for the publications that featured your work—you see yourself and your circumstances differently. Your mindset provides a lens that helps you see your worth and value as a writer. And that mindset will help you act in ways that make you successful…including achieving your goal of becoming an author.
Or let’s say life experiences have caused you to believe you aren’t good enough. You see everything through this lens. You won’t think you are good enough to attract a literary agent or book publishing deal. In fact, you’ll never feel good enough for anything in the writing and publishing world or in any other life arena.
A not-good-enough mindset is an obstacle to success. It keeps you stuck wondering if you are good enough to tackle any challenge successfully—including landing an agent and publisher. And you’ll likely see many signs that your belief is true—you really aren’t good enough.
Change your mindset, though, and your ability to achieve successful authorship changes. When you are good enough, you have the confidence to query an agent and send a book proposal to a publisher. In fact, you’ll know you are good enough to pursue your craziest writing dream. You’ll see yourself differently, and your results will be different.
How to Remove the One Obstacle to Success
Removing the obstacle—you—takes changing your habitual behaviors and mindsets. Both are accomplished by becoming intentional and aware of your actions and thoughts. Habits tend to be unconscious. Thus, you have to bring them into your consciousness.
Do this by identifying two life arenas first:
- an area in which you feel successful.
- an area in which you feel challenged.
Next, write down the thoughts and behaviors you have related to each.
For example, maybe you feel challenged in the life arena of your career—writing. As mentioned, you might think you are not good enough or your ideas are not appreciated. As a result, you no longer submit work to publications or to agents or publishers. Or you’ve stopped writing at all.
Perhaps you feel successful as a parent. You might think, “I’m a good parent,” or “Parenting comes naturally to me.” As a result, you do whatever it takes to care for your children without hesitation. You make decisions about their well-being and find solutions to parenting problems without doubt regarding your ability to “get it right.”
Notice that, in the areas where you succeed, you have positive thoughts and well-planned or confident responses. In the areas you feel challenged, you have negative thoughts, unplanned reactions, or lack of confidence.
Once you have gone through this exercise, your next step involves applying your “success strategies” to the areas where you find it harder to succeed. These are the behaviors and mindsets that help you succeed. For instance, your confidence as a parent could be applied to your writing challenges.
Or you can write new positive thoughts or affirmations to repeat consciously to yourself. Also, decide how to act or respond, choosing ways you feel will result in success.
Three Essentials Necessary for Getting Out of Your Way
Getting out of your own way isn’t really that hard. It just takes three essential things:
1. The willingness to take responsibility for your current behaviors and mindsets. Once you have done that, you can also be responsible for changing the ones that don’t serve you.
2. Awareness of your behaviors and mindsets. When you know what you are thinking and doing that makes you an obstacle, you can change them. This moves you out of the way.
3. The determination to succeed. As with any endeavor, determination is essential. To successfully remove the obstacle blocking your success, you must be committed to making personal changes that help you succeed.
There is no reason to overcome many hurdles on your way to success as a writer and author. Instead, overcome the one obstacle blocking your path. When you do that, all the other hurdles disappear or become easy to overcome.
How are you acting as an obstacle to your success as a writer and author? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post on social media or with a writing friend.
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