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5 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Ahead in Life and Work

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not getting ahead in life

In the times when we periodically pause to take stock of our lives, it’s been my observation that many of us feel disappointed with where we stand in life and the progress we’ve made towards our goals. We are often unhappy with the direction we are moving into, or the stagnation we are in, and how our full-of-promises dreams when we were younger have crashed and burnt in a rather non-glorious way, buried under the triviality of the everydays.

We tend to complain and blame all kinds of external forces for this check-mate position we feel we are in—unfortunate circumstances, fate, luck, the misalignment of our stars. We also, paradoxically, tend to conveniently neglect to throw ourselves into the equation. That is, we don’t want to admit that we are the main protagonist in our life story and we have a huge influence over the direction which our lives take.

It’s understandable, because once we adopt the mind-shift that we can control more than we’ve let on ourselves to believe, then the onus is on us—we can’t be the passive spectators anymore. Our actions will determine our outcomes.

So, here are my main 5 obstructors, which may be still pulling us back, despite being fueled, from having the fulfilling personal and professional lives we want:

1. You lack confidence

Unfortunately, this is a big one. A plethora of research has demonstrated that knowing our value is a major determinant of how we progress in life, and how much respect we can command form others. What’s more, lack of confidence has financial penalties—it’s shown to result in lower income flows and loss of opportunities due to fear of failure. Simply, we aren’t taken with the necessary weight to be able to influence others to invest their resources and time in us.

Overconfidence, on the other hand, when practiced within reasonable proportions, can be quite the trampoline. Aside from helping to be considered as more competent, it also gives the perception of a higher status and power. So, a bit of an inflated ego (backed by skills and knowledge, of course) can do us lots of favors—personally and professionally.

“With confidence, you have won before you have started.” – Marcus Garvey

2. No quality network

Networking gets some bad aftertaste mainly because it requires extensive time and effort. It isn’t necessarily easy to engage in either, especially for someone who is more on the quiet side. But it’s a necessary evil. Everything in this world happens with and through other people. No way around it. Even more so, for those who are self- employed and don’t have the safety net of a steady salary stream.

Of course, not every conversation with someone we don’t know qualifies for networking. It has to be relevant and done right. We have to find commonalities and make a favourable impression. There’s lots of dynamics that goes far beyond the “elevator speech.” And other times, we don’t have to unabashedly promote ourselves to be noticed and taken seriously, we just have to do remarkable work.

3. You lack “Whatever-it-takes” mentality

Remember the analogy that success is an iceberg? No one sees all the blood, sweat and tears of those who have “made it” to the top, but the sacrifices are always there. There is no way around this either. It comes with the territory.

From all my years in finance, I’ve yet to meet a self-made influencer that hasn’t put in the long hours, the taking work home, the coming on the weekends when needed, the raising of their hand for more challenges. The reality is that the work-life balance many of us feverishly pursue can only take us this far.

To push yourself a bit extra means to be prepared to do all the things that are necessary to build your iceberg. Yes, it’s personally taxing on our mental and physical health, but the oh-so-sweet feeling of accomplishment is so worth it in the end!

4. The ability to talk, be opinionated and do a bit of mirroring

Many of us are now openly aware, thanks to Susan Cain’s wonderful book, that the world has been in favor of the gregarious ideal for quite a while now. Although social opinions may be slowly shifting, we are far from striking a balance.

But an introvert or extrovert personality matters merely in relation to how we handle interactions and re-charge. The skills to influence others and to market ourselves aren’t some optional “I-like-dislike” activities for either type, but requisites for getting noticed, and often getting ahead.

We are all in the sales business, even when we engage in “no-sales” selling”—the sooner we realize this, the faster we can craft strategies for “putting ourselves out there” in way that is comfortable to each one of us.

Finally, mirroring of others, or “behavioural matching,” is not a shameful undertaking, rather it’s often pleasing to the mirrored person (even if they don’t know that we imitate their actions), and for the person doing it—it’s a shortcut to learn winning behaviors, without the sometimes-costly trial-and-error experiences.

It’s based on a simple principle; we all like people that are similar to us in some way. Familiarity breeds comfort and likeability. Abundance of research shows that it’s highly beneficial when employed as a strategy to the ends of getting someone’s attention in a bar or a restaurant, to passing a job interview successfully, to closing a deal successfully.

“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Francesca Reigler

5. You do too much

At first blush, this sounds a bit counter-intuitive to everything I mentioned above, but if you get to think about it, it’s true. In our desire to reach the finish line as quickly as humanly possible, we strain ourselves to the point that we engage in too many undertakings at the same time, thinking that they will fast-track us to success.

Simply put, the problem is that we dilute our goal by doing too many things that are peripheral to our core aspiration. Having a strategy, of course—even a whole project plan—from the get-go is a tried-and-true way to circumvent redundant activities. Revisions may be needed, but too much straying outside the lines may be detrimental to our progress.

Prioritizing our work is of no less significance. But the best thing we can do to avoid needless work is to do less. Focus on the value each activity offers to the goal, master selectivity and simplify.

In the end, we all, naturally, want to see our endeavors pay off. No one likes to work for the sake of working—it’s always to achieve something greater, to create, to leave a legacy behind.

And while things as luck, talent, abilities, even our backgrounds matter to a point, certain personality traits, which we can largely nurture, and the decisions that we make, have the greatest say in our outcomes.

In its essence, it all comes down to the simple humane behavior of finding better ways to connect, communicate and materialize our thoughts and ideas into the world.

What could you be doing more of today to improve your life tomorrow? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Evelyn Marinoff is a writer and an aspiring author. She holds a degree in Finance and Marketing,  works in client consulting, and spends her free time reading, writing and researching ideas in psychology, leadership, well-being and self-improvement. On her website evelynmarinoff.com, she writes tips and pieces on self-enhancement and confidence. You can also find her on Twitter at @Evelyn_Marinoff.

Success Advice

8 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership

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Who is a leader? How do you identify and differentiate between a leader and a follower? The difference is quite obvious since a leader leads and a follower follows. However, there is more to it than this simple definition. (more…)

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How to Be Patient in Business for Long Term Success

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There’s perhaps no greater skill in business than patience. Some people have it while some people don’t. However, it can easily decide your success. Why is this? For the simple fact that everything that’s worthwhile takes years to cultivate. Name one person that’s an overnight success. There’s no such thing. It doesn’t matter if it was Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett, every successful entrepreneur hustled behind the scenes for years until they blew up. (more…)

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Coaching Yourself Into Success: 3 Mindful Points That Accelerate Results

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Coaching yourself through your day is an outstanding way to dramatically improve your results. Of course, all types of coaching are good, but getting high-power coaching from top coaches is incredibly good and can take things beyond your wildest expectations. However, having coaches like that with you, constantly checking your mindset throughout your day, is either going to be hugely inconvenient for your work and relationships. (more…)

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Why It’s So Important To Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Fear of Snakes

So I completed a Snake Handling course 6 years ago and during the final test of the course, we were asked to capture and bag 5 of Australia’s Deadliest snakes in a small confined room. The room had a Tiger Snake, Dugite, King Brown, Death Adder and a Red-Bellied Black Snake all slithering around at the same time. I couldn’t believe what I had got myself into.

Snakes were one of the biggest fears of mine. I would imagine a snake running underneath my feet from time to time and I would actually bring my feet up off the floor to avoid getting entangled or bitten by these imaginary snakes I had created in my mind. I would even have nightmares about snakes biting me and it would wake me up in sweats in the middle of the night.

I could have never imagined doing this in my life but I did it because I knew that I had to get passed this ridiculous fear I had of snakes, and I am grateful I was able to show up for it.

Checkout this podcast episode where I share how You can Master your Sub Conscious Programming around your fears in 2 Steps:

While attending this course, the subject of Fear was brought up and the presenter asked a number of people:

 

“What Are Your Top 5 Fears?”

– Public Speaking

– Cancer

– Sharks

– Snakes

– Heights

Were at the top of the list for most people.

 

The instructor carried on with a story of how he had just arrived back from a trip to the Northern Territory of Australia to visit an aboriginal community where he had met a 7-year-old boy who was absolutely scared to death of spiders and the dark.

Killer crocodile fearIt did not matter what kind of spider it is, he was scared and that was that. This boy would hunt crocodiles and lizards but was scared of even the non-venomous spiders.

All he had learned from a very young age was that spiders are dangerous and that they WILL kill you, yet the crocodiles and snakes that the boy would play with and hunt for are by far more deadly than most spiders that your everyday human would come across.

He was taught between the crucial years of 1-6 yrs old that the dark is full of evil happenings and that spiders are incredibly deadly and will kill him if he goes anywhere near them. So he was devastated to sleep in the dark and would jump on near by people just to get away from a spider nearby.

I’m not here to say that spiders aren’t dangerous, they are, and some out there have the potential to kill you. This boy was right to be cautious around spiders but where he lacked knowledge, or the right information about these creatures, eventually left him fearful of something he had never really understood.

This boy is just an example of many other people out there that are limited by their fears because of the little that they know. The less you know, the more fearful you are. This is only human and we are naturally scared of the unknown.

So the key thing here is we need more “KNOWLEDGE!” and it is in our best interest to want to understand how things work if we want to become less fearful of what the wild and wonderful world we live in has to offer.

You have to “EXPERIENCE” things to have a better understanding of the activity or whatever it is you are most scared of.

Joel Brown Snakes Fear

Joel Brown – Certified Snake Handler

When you increase your knowledge you can grow to the level where your fear is set at, so when the two meet it creates a level called “RESPECT”.

This is the perfect level to be on because you will now have a respect for what you fear which will allow you to then work with it rather than being submissive and missing out on the wonderful feeling of successfully OWNING! the outer areas of your comfort zone.

Everybody has a fear of some sort and learning more about what you fear and even voyaging through your ‘un-comfortable zone‘ will prepare you for the hard knocks in life on your road to success.

 

I have a few more fears to conquer myself and I am happy to say that I have crossed ‘Snakes’ and a number of other top things off my list. I’m sharing this story with you in hopes that you too will face at least one or two of your fears. Not to say that “you did it“, but to prove that you can outgrow your own personal limitations.

Your fears could be holding you back, they could even be the final piece you need to experience a brand new lifestyle or a brave new world of fun.

 

So get out there, learn more and grow!

 

No matter the storm, may your Faith be stronger than your Fears – Joel Brown

 

 

Feature Image Original Source: Indiana Jones – Raiders Of The Lost Ark

 

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