I’m a firm believer in a positive attitude and attracting things into your life that you give your attention to. You might even call me an eternal optimist. This drives some people crazy and they pat me on the back and assure me that I am delusional. But I’m spending my days doing things I enjoy, on a schedule that I dictate, and surrounding myself with people that I love to spend time with.
I get frustrated with people who complain about their station in life, yet make really small safe goals for themselves and are resigned to things just being hard for eternity. It’s really one of my biggest pet peeves.
We are capable of so much more than that. so. much.
I am not here to tell you that it’s always easy, or that success happens overnight.
I agree that success looks different for everyone. I am so cool with that notion. My idea of success has morphed over the years as I focus more and more on the type of life that I want to live and the types of things I plan to be doing every day.
What I have a problem with when it comes to success and the pursuit of happiness is blaming external forces, comparing yourself to others, and complaining about your own circumstances in a way that implies that you have no control over the situation.
If you are not moving forward with your goals or are feeling like your dream life is so far away, below are a few reasons that you might be feeling stuck. I’ve done ALL of these at some point in my life and have to be constantly aware of my perspective in order to continue growing.
You’re spending too much time on social media.
Unless you are in the business of providing social media services, then social media should not be your sole focus. Social media is a fantastic marketing tool for your business. But in order to create a great body of work you have to focus on the work. Your success in business is not indicated by the number of followers you have on Instagram. It’s so important to be interactive in real life by attending events and reaching out for deeper relationships.
Building a substantial presence on social media takes a lot of effort, whether it’s creating amazing content and gorgeous photos, or being highly interactive on each platform (and usually it’s a combination of those things). Take some of that effort and focus on the What and Why in your business. And get back to work!
You’re not paying. for anything.
Saying things like “I can’t afford that”, or “But it’s just me doing everything!” to explain why you aren’t pursuing your business dreams is just plain lame. I was watching a Periscope broadcast by Chalene Johnson the other day and one of her followers said something along the lines of “I’ll never be able to afford [insert one of her coaching programs]". And you know what she said back?
"You are absolutely right, you will never be able to afford it."
Burn! Well, not really a burn, but she was pointing out that what you can and can’t afford or can and can’t do is a mindset problem. The solution? Change your mind! If you want something bad enough and you think it's a priority, you will figure it out.
You’re not talking about what you do and what you want out of life.
I remember the days when I started my Little Biz (that’s what I used to call it) and would rarely talk about it. I couldn’t bear being judged for my decision to pursue something other than the serious career I went to college for. It was painful to watch other people roll the idea of my Little Biz around in their heads and wait for their commentary. I didn’t know anything, who was I to start a business?
You know what I discovered? As soon as I stopped treating it like my dirty little secret and started talking about my Business with confidence and all the passion that I actually had for it, people were completely cool about it. In fact, most people don’t care what you do nearly as much as you care about it. Unless, of course, they want to hire you or buy from you. In those cases, you definitely want to let your confidence and passion shine through.
Talk about it every chance that you get. You never know who is listening.
You’re not talking about why you do it.
Every person has a Why. Pretending like your Why is not as important as someone else’s is no bueno.
"But all I do is __________!"
Trust me, it’s so much more than just ________.
In my case, I was willing to give up a career in architecture to pursue my creative life on my own terms. The "on-my-own-terms" part is my Why. I used to think it wasn’t strong enough.
I want to do something creative, something that feels easy to me. Something that is exciting and fun. THAT is my Why. And it pours into everything I create. I want to share that with other people.
Defining your Why doesn’t have to just be about other people. But when you define it, talk about it, and share it with others openly, I can guarantee you that someone is going to say “OMG me too!!”. And you’ve just helped someone else feel heard and appreciated. That’s where magic starts to happen. That’s when your Why is most important.
You’re not celebrating others’ success.
Have you ever seen someone in your field experience a big business breakthrough and felt instantly envious? Or jealous, like their success somehow said something about your lack of success?
It’s normal. But it’s toxic.
Get in the practice of congratulating others and choosing to feel happy for their success. Because you know what their success proves? That hard work pays off. It proves that it’s possible to have big wins. Be a cheerleader for success.
You’re surrounding yourself with others who play small and encourage you to do the same.
See note 2 above. If you surround yourself with people like that, it might rub off. Negativity is contagious. Which brings me to...
You’re blaming your family and friends for why you're not going for it.
Okay, listen. Your family and friends may never fully understand what you do (or what you want to do) and that’s okay. Seeking approval from people who can’t offer you the type of support you need is a fruitless effort, and allowing that mental and emotional struggle to dictate your happiness will get you nowhere. You’ve gotta find supportive people who get you. Tap into communities that can fill that role in your life, and allow your friends and family to remain friends and family.
I’ve also heard people blame having kids as a reason for not pursuing something that they want, mainly because doing so would mean having to sacrifice time with their family, or having to spend money that is not abundantly available. This is really about priorities and boundaries. If you really want something, you will find a way to make it happen that supports both your and your family’s needs. It may not be conventional. You may even piss someone off. But you have to decide if it’s worth it. If it’s not, then you can only put the responsibility for that decision on yourself.
You’re blaming your day job.
Trying to grow a business or switch gears in your career is really challenging when you have a full-time job. But it’s not impossible. The more you focus on the “side hustle” the easier it gets. This comes back to priorities and boundaries. You have to give attention to the things you want in your life, even when the things you don’t want are taking up most of your time. Start making little shifts over time.
Once you allow the “side hustle” to become your main hustle, it’s easier to give it priority. Let your decisions in life—and in that day job—support your dream.
You’re not allowing yourself to dream bigger.
People. Get your freaking hopes high. Dream big. Like, really big. I used to be afraid to want something that felt out of reach. What if it didn’t happen? Then I’d feel like a total dumbass! But at some point I realized that someone on the planet was out there living the life I wanted, and I just couldn’t not join them.
I have yet to feel like a big enough a-hole to stop pursuing the life I envision for myself. And you wanna know why? Because every time I dream big and take action, I’m closer to a life that I used to think was a fantasy.
Part of venturing off on your own and pursuing something big and scary and NEW is letting the fear in and telling it to take a back seat (I totally stole this analogy from Elizabeth Gilbert. Go read Big Magic). What is the worst that could happen if you let yourself believe you deserve more? You fail? So what. Try again.
I once heard Oprah speaking (on her own radio station, by the way) about how she always knew she was meant for bigger things, even as a child. One time, she was watching her grandmother hang laundry for the family she worked for and she told Oprah to watch closely because that would be her job one day. Oprah was like: Nope, I’ve got other plans. She just knew, and she never stopped pursuing the life she imagined for herself.
Sometimes we talk ourselves out of really exciting things because it might be hard, or take a long time, or might not work the first time, or might be so outside the realm of our current existence. These are all relatively minor obstacles. You are resilient enough to deal with them. Promise.
About the Author
Casey Sibley runs Casey D. Sibley Art + Design, a studio specializing in vibrant pattern design for textiles and a lifestyle brand of accessories and home goods in a happy, modern style. Her business was started out of a desire to do more of what she wanted in life (and maybe even make a buck while doing it).
Before starting her business, the idea of pursuing a career centered around her artwork was unfathomable. So she chose a stable, responsible, practical career and quickly realized that something was missing. She believed the starving artist myth, at least until she actually started selling her artwork.