We humans are endlessly creative at finding paths to get in our own way. Even the most well-adjusted, self-aware people struggle with internal obstacles that keep them from being as effective or productive as they would like.
When you’re a self-employed professional, these challenging personal blocks can grow into frustrating business blocks. Any way you can think of that you sometimes sabotage yourself in your personal life will eventually show up in your business.
Being sensitive to rejection can cause resistance to following up with potential clients or avoidance of asking for a sale.
Perfectionism can manifest as not completing business tasks – or sometimes not even starting them – if you can’t accomplish them perfectly.
Inner critic messages about your inadequacies can stop you from taking bold steps like authoring a blog, teaching a class, or speaking to an audience.
You may feel that your business has been uniquely handicapped by your personal baggage, but trust me on this. It’s not just you. It’s every self-employed professional on the planet. The “successful” folks who look like they never suffer from blocks like these still have them. What makes the difference is that they’ve found methods to work through them or detour around them. Me included.
So how can you become one of those people? Here’s a pathway.
1. Identify the block. The real block, not just the problem caused by the block. For example, if you procrastinate about marketing tasks, the block isn’t procrastination. The block is the reason why you procrastinate. This could be fear of failure, perfectionism, lack of a plan or structure, too much distraction, feeling overwhelmed, or some other reason. Be sure you’re looking deeply (and honestly) enough to uncover the true cause.
2. Accept you have it. If the block is robust enough that it’s harming your business, it’s unlikely to go away on its own. Trying to push through it or pretend it’s not there aren’t sustainable answers either. Admit it’s a problem; then look for a solution.
3. Find a fix. Approaches to overcome internal blocks take many forms. Some focus on introspective methods like journaling or guided meditation. Others are action-oriented, such as working from a daily plan, or employing goal-reward structures. There are also healing practices like cognitive-behavioral techniques or hypnotherapy. Search out a fix that appeals to you and addresses one of your blocks, such as:
- Shyness around groups or strangers
- Distaste for selling
- Fears around self-promotion
- Tendency toward magical thinking
- Fluctuating motivation
- Undervaluing your worth
- Not asking for help
4. Apply the fix. It’s not enough to learn about a solution. You must actually apply it. If the fix you find has no action steps, it’s not a fix. This is true no matter how inward-looking the fix may be. For example, it doesn’t work to read about journaling. You have to journal. The best fixes have either multiple action steps or one step that you perform repeatedly.
5. Get ongoing support. It’s a rare individual who can overcome internal blocks without added support. You can seek people-based support, like finding an accountability buddy, hiring a coach, taking a live class, or joining a group. Or, you can employ learning-based support, such as reading books or blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or taking home-study courses. Just make sure your learning is ongoing. Don’t expect lasting change from one-time exposure.
6. Repeat as needed. As long as a block causes you trouble, keep working at it. Over time, you may need to find new fixes to try or new avenues of support. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Or with the fix. Or with the support. As you learn, stretch, and grow, the fixes and support you use will need to stretch and grow to keep up with you.
Don’t let another year go by where you struggle to make your business thrive. Turn and face whatever personal baggage you’ve been hauling around that’s holding you back.
Thriving self-employed professionals aren’t people who lack internal blocks. They are people who know what their blocks are, work to overcome them, and thrive despite them.