3 Unavoidable Barriers That Prevent You From Getting What You Want

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

discouraged

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie

Have your ever felt like no matter how hard you try things don’t work at the way you planned?

Life just seems to be full of one failure after another.

It can be exhausting and a shot to our confidence when we keep getting knocked down and having to dust ourselves off.

But the fact is, no matter who you are mistakes will be made and failure will be experienced.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. We can’t expect to see immediate success. There is always a learning curve.

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t start to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

Sometimes we have to take a good honest look at what is getting in our way and reevaluate what it will take to get what we want.

What goals are you struggling to reach right now?

Make a list of these goals and take a minute to consider your main obstacles.

There could be many different barriers you are facing, but it is likely that you’re failure is resulting from one of three areas.

- Lack of focus

- Lack of effort

- Lack of skill

So what can you do to work through these obstacles?

First figure out which one applies to your situation and then make the necessary adjustments.

Is there a lack of focus?

If the answer is yes there is probably a conflict between your goals. What this means is that there are competing commitments, all of which have a sense of importance to you. You may want to get more sleep but also want to watch binge watch Breaking Bad, you may want to get in shape but also want to eat that extra cookie!

Some competing commitments are more subtle than others, but you will notice this dilemma as a lack of motivation or resistance, and a pattern of starting to avoid what needs to be done.

Get clear, really really clear on what is most important to you, and make a daily commitment to follow through with it.

Is there a lack of effort?

Sometimes we fail simply because we aren’t willing to do what it takes. No one has done anything remarkable without putting in some serious sweat, blood, and tears!

This can be hard to accept, but anything worth having is not going to come easy, otherwise we would all have exactly what we want. The idea of giving up wouldn’t even be an issue.

Be willing to put in hard work to create what you want. Go out and find opportunity and prioritize the time to dedicate to your goals.

Is there a lack of skill?

Let’s say I’m a therapist and I want to start a private practice. I am a great clinician and know how to help people solve their problems but I have no experience running a business. I don’t know the fundamentals of marketing or keeping the books. (P.S – I am speaking from my personal learning experience here).

How successful will I be? Not very until I’m willing to acknowledge where I need to grow and develop my skills.

Sometimes we simply don’t have the experience or knowledge necessary to do what we want. But don’t fret, you can learn what you need to learn and develop your skill through practice. Or, if you would rather focus on your strengths, you can connect with others who make up for your weaknesses.

Either way, if a certain skills set or lack thereof is an obstacle for you, get out there and learn what you need to learn, practice the skill you want to develop, or connect with other people who have the strengths you need.

You don’t have to give up when you run into failure.

Failure is your teacher to help you learn where you can grow and what is getting in the way.



The Four Universal Needs to Help You Live Your Best Life

By Joe Wilner • 1 min read

happy read head

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” – Abraham Maslow

There are certain basic needs we have for survival. We need water, shelter, food, and clothing.

If you’re reading this now I imagine you have those needs met. (And no the internet is not one of those needs).

But, what about beyond those basic needs? Isn’t there something we need at a much deeper but still fundamental level?

What you may not realize is that we also have basic needs when it comes to living a happy and fulfilling life.

Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as we get our basic needs met, we start to focus on other needs that are more existential in nature.

These needs are belonging, mastery, independence, and contribution.

Read about them below and see how well these needs are being met in your life.

Belonging

We are social animals. You, I, and everyone else has a need to connect with others and be accepted. Having a support network of friends and family is crucial for our well-being and success.

We can’t go at it alone. We need support, encouragement, appreciation, assistance, and a sense that we are a part of a group or community.

“Hold your true friends with both your hands.” – Nigerian proverb

Mastery

In living life we need to feel a sense of achievement and mastery in what we do. When we have mastery we feel proud and accomplished. We feel a sense of self-control and self-trust.

A belief emerges that we have what it takes to do what needs to be done in order to reach our goals. Mastery comes through practice and making mistakes, but as it emerges, new possibilities appear and we start to set our sights higher.

Independence

This is a feeling of being responsible, or finally growing up and dealing with life. On the other side of the spectrum would dependence where we are relying on others instead of living from our own self-identity.

We want to have emotional intimacy with others, but it is also important to have a clear self-identity that allows us to thrive independent of others. This involves clarifying and living from our personal values, beliefs, and convictions.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Contribution

This is about giving and sharing of yourself. We all enjoy giving to others and helping them feel happy. There are many ways to contribute. We can contribute time, money, and energy in countless ways to countless different causes.

We can create something that improves peoples’ lives. Or we may contribute by raising healthy and prosocial children. Explore how you can serve and contribute to others and the world around you.

Where do you stand on these four needs? What else would you include as universal needs for happiness and fulfillment?

 



How to Live With Greater Purpose and Significance

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

stars and cross

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer

Do you ever feel like something is missing from your life? Like there is a void that isn’t being filled by your current life experience?

This feeling of dissatisfaction is not uncommon. Many people go through life without clarity on what they really want.

This makes sense considering there are so many paths we can take, and so many distractions that steal our attention from what is most meaningful.

We all need a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives however, and we play an active role in creating this.

One avenue to help us reclaim more significance and meaning is to clarify and seek out our values.

Pinpoint your values

Your values are the way your think and act that are most important to you. Determine what’s most important to you. Don’t hold back. Be honest. What are your true authentic values? Not the values presented by the media or the expectations placed upon your from your family.

Here are a few questions that might help.

What motivates me to get up in the morning?

What keeps me up at night?

When am I the happiest?

What am I doing when I’m at my best?

What are some things you have done that you feel good about?

What bothers you the most?

Having professional guidance to uncover our values can be helpful. But if you’re not willing to take that step right now, here is a values clarification worksheet to help you make some headway on your own.

Create opportunities to live from your values

Once you have awareness of your values it’s time to seek them out or incorporate them in your life. Your current habits and routine may not be supporting what is most important to you, so start considering how you can live in greater alignment with your values.

Make a list of all the possible ways you can incorporate your values into your life.

What activities, people, places, and events align with your values?

What would someone with your values do? How would they live their life?

Prioritize your values

Just because you know when and where you can live with more purpose doesn’t mean it will be easy to change your routine and habits.

If you aren’t currently living a values based life it will probably require some discipline and intention to change your habits.

In order to achieve a more purposeful life you may have to let go of what is getting in the way and make more room for what you want to let in.

You have to make the choice to shift your time and energy to the aspects of your life that really matter.

Are you ready to do that?

What can you minimize in your life that is getting in the way?

Pinpointing our values and living life accordingly in an active and ongoing process. Our values change throughout life.

This is not a one-and-done process, so don’t get discouraged if this is something you reevaluate at a later time.

For now, simply start charting your path to greater purpose and significance.

 



6 Essential Tips to Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

stressed out

“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.” – Marilu Henner

Stress and anxiety are a common experience. Even the most successful and high functioning person comes face to face with worry, fear, and uncertainty.

But like any emotion it can be productive or counterproductive depending on how we deal with it.

Stress and anxiety are totally normal and necessary for our success, but if we aren’t able to manage and temper these emotions they can get in the way of us living a healthy and meaningful life.

So how can you reduce your stress and anxiety?

Here are six essential tips to help you do so.

1. Face your fears

When we have worries and are afraid of a situation we often avoid them. However, when we avoid a situation out of fear it tends to maintain our anxiety.

When we face our fears we learn that our anxiety reduces and what we feared wasn’t as a bad as we thought. It also allows us to deal with our problems instead of avoiding them. Refer to number three for more about this idea.

2. Accept imperfection

Many people live with stress and anxiety because they have such high level expectations. Setting high standards is important but we want to make sure we aren’t setting ourselves up for disappointment.

No one is perfect and we will make mistakes. So when you make a mistake don’t be so hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes and recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Become a problem solver

When we are feeling stressed out or anxious it can block our creativity and natural resourcefulness to solve problems. Remember that many problems can be solved or some sort of resolution can be found.

So next time you are worried or concerned about something consider what you can do to find a solution. It isn’t always possible but often we can take action and make a change.

4. Make time for relaxation

Everyone needs time for rest and relaxation, but in a busy world where we have more and more responsibility it is easy to neglect this need. You may have to prioritize relaxation in your life.

Learn relaxation strategies, go lay in a hammock, or take 10 minutes to be still and silent. No matter what it is, find healthy ways to give yourself a break from tension.

5. Focus on the positive

When we are experiencing distress it is natural to get lost in self-criticism and negative thinking. We get tunnel vision on our problems and start to look at the glass as half empty. That’s why it’s important to remember there is always something we can appreciate if we are willing to shift our focus.

Practice reframing your negative thinking. Ask yourself, “How can I use this experience?” “What do I appreciate about life?” What is going well despite this challenge?”

6. Stay calm

We all have a threshold of stress we can handle before we feel overwhelmed. It is crucial to keep our stress levels below this threshold in order to cope and think clearly. Whatever your external problems currently are, remember they won’t last forever.

Remind yourself that you’re okay and you can get through it. Don’t give up. Keeping yourself grounded and gaining perspective of the bigger picture can be a helpful way to bounce back when life gets difficult.



5 Tips to Live With Greater Confidence

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

confident

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

When was the last time you where doubting yourself and the direction of your life?

I imagine it was a time when you failed or experienced an unexpected challenge.

Everyone’s confidence takes a shot at some point in time. We make mistakes. We get undisciplined. We don’t do what is most important to us and life starts to feel less meaningful.

When this is the case our self-respect and self-trust can dwindle. We become less confident in the choices we make and don’t feel as empowered about our life.

When this is the case it can helpful to have a plan to bounce back.

So, here are a few tips to help you stay more confident and feel at your best.

1. Use Positive Affirmations – I know what you’re thinking! “How cheesy! I’m just supposed to say positive statements and all of a sudden my problems are gone!?” Yes sort of, but not completely.

Clearly positive affirmation can be idle if we aren’t intentional and disciplined, but when it comes down to it, we all have self-talk, and that inner-voice can either lift us up or tear us down. So you might as well start telling yourself things that will boost your confidence.

Create some statements and start focusing on these every day. Here are some suggestions.

2. Do what you enjoy and stay inspired – When we have pleasure and enjoyment in life we feel better. When we aren’t feeling up to par it is easy to let our passions and interests slip out of view. Staying inspired is uplifting and helps us stay more upbeat.

Doing what you enjoy also helps you take back a sense of control that you can create what you want, and that you don’t have to be stuck sulking about your problems.

3. Take care of yourself – Do you prioritize your self-care?  When we aren’t feeling fulfilled with life it is often connected to our daily choices and habits. There are things we do that fill us help and things that drain us.

So when things aren’t going well don’t let these important habits slip away. Brian Johnson of Entheos calls these “Blissiplines“. Make sure to eat well, get enough sleep, meditate, or whatever your “Blissiplines” may be.

4. Respond instead of react – When we aren’t feeling at our best we may tend to be more reactive and moody. We may have a shorter fuse and lose a grip on our self-control.

The gap between stimulus and response is so important to help us make choices we feel good about and that keep our integrity intact. You will feel better about yourself as you start to respond intentionally.

Next time you have an urge to do or say something, pause, take a deep breath, and think about the outcome. Will it help you feel better about yourself or leave your feeling regret and guilt?

5. Always do your best – When it comes down to it, we will have good days and bad days. But even on a bad day we can focus on doing our best. That is really all that we can ask for right?

If you don’t feel great about yourself right now, simply make an agreement that you will do your best, no matter the results. Work hard, do what you can, and let go of the rest.

 



A 3 Step Process to Help You Stay Focused and Productive

By Joe Wilner • 1 min read

cross the bridge

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

If you think back to a time when you were at your best I would bet you had some important goal you were working on.

I know in my life when I have purposeful goals and am inspired by these goals I feel better and am more engaged in life.

The tricky part is anyone can set goals and create a plan to achieve them, but it’s not always so easy to stay motivated and follow through with our goals and desires.

People tend to get off track and distracted by the less important details of life. (Should I really go see that movie tonight? Is watching this television program really going to help me get what I want?… etc.)

That’s why I want to share a process to help you stay productive and focused as we roll into the New Year!

Now don’t get me wrong, we all need to take breaks and carve out time to have fun. Being a workaholic is certainly not a healthy option!

But we also need to have a way to stay productive, focus on what’s most important, and remain consistently disciplined with this.

So, here is a three step process to help you stay more productive and effective as you work toward your 2015 goals.

1. Assessment

When you wake up in the morning take time to reflect on what is most important. What is on your agenda for the day? What action steps are going to be the most productive? What are your competing commitments? Assess your situation and take time to reflect on what you want to create. Don’t get stuck over thinking, just make sure to be clear on what what is most important and what may be a distraction.

2. Attitude

Once you know the important steps to take and what to avoid it’s time to get yourself focused and prepared with a positive state of mind. Having a positive attitude is a major factor in staying focused and bouncing back from challenges as they appear. Remind yourself why you want what you want. What will it mean to you? How will it enhance your life? Be optimistic and focus on the success you want to see. Check out this post for some more specific way to elevate your attitude.

3. Action

A positive attitude alone won’t help you achieve goals or create results. We also have to take positive action on a consistent basis. After you determine the steps you can take, go out there and do what needs to be done. Move through resistance by taking immediate action. Small daily action will have a large impact over time.

Whether you use these ideas on a day to day basis or solely when you encounter obstacles and setbacks, they can help you stay more focused on the thinking, feelings, and behaviors that will serve your success.



How to Make the Most of 2015 By Doing a Year-End-Review

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

want to evolve

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

The New Year has officially arrived, and if you’re like most people you have some goals for the coming year.

You also probably have goals you didn’t achieve from the past year.

One of the most powerful ways to move into the New Year is to do a year-end-review.

The year-end-review can help you see what has been working well and what hasn’t been working so well.

It can help you recognize the progress you have made, as well as where there are still gaps in your desired lifestyle.

You can learn from the experience of the past year and make the necessary adjustments.

So no matter how your past year went, you can approach 2015 as a clean slate with new opportunities, as well as a more wise and knowledgeable approach to reaching your goals.

It can be helpful to focus on a few key areas to do this exercise.

For instance, I am reviewing the past year using these categories.

  • Financial
  • Career
  • Physical health
  • Spiritual
  • Relationships
  • Leadership

Within each of these categories I do a thorough review of what went well and what didn’t go well, based on what I want to create for the coming year.

First, focus on the high points and the success you experienced. Don’t overlook what is going well and what you can appreciate about the past year. Give yourself time to answer these questions. It can help you learn more about your strengths as well as the behaviors and habits that served you well in 2014.

- What went well over the past year?

- What progress did you make?

- What is currently working?

Next, take some time to acknowledge the low points of 2014. The point of this reflection isn’t to dwell on the negative, but is instead to help you learn from mistakes and create a more effective plan for the coming year.

Use your answer to these questions to help you recognize where you can put more effort or what skills and knowledge you need to gain.

- What didn’t go well over the past year?

- What isn’t working for you currently?

- What were the obstacles in the way?

- What prevented you from reaching your goals?

Lastly, determine what you want to create in the coming year and start designing a plan.

- What are some solutions for the obstacles you listed?

- What are the first steps you can take to start working toward your goals?

- What has to happen in order for you to reach your goals?

The key to improving is realizing that life is about learning and growing.

If something didn’t go well find out why before you decide to give up.

Focus on the behavior and results you have control over and create solutions.

What can you learn from last year to make this year better?

“Keep looking up! I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up. There’s nothing like a beautiful sunset to end a healthy day.” – Rachel Boston



Do More of What You’re Meant to Do and Less of What You’re “Supposed” to Do

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

jump for joy 2

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Throughout my twenties I tended to make choices based on what I was supposed to do.

I didn’t always conform to what was expected (I broke a few rules here and there), but overall the direction of my life was completely dictated by social norms.

I thought I was supposed to settle down, buy a home, and start a family. I tried this and it didn’t go so well.

Let’s just say I’m still part owner of a home I don’t live in.

It wasn’t that this life plan was inherently flawed or wrong by any means, but it just wasn’t for me.

I wasn’t listening to my heart’s desires. I wasn’t asking, “What do I really really want?”

“What am I really being called to do?”

I was doing what my background taught me I was “supposed” to do.

Do you ever find that words like “should” “must” or “ought to” are dictating your life?

How many people out there are living a life that isn’t their own? 

Many people are walking this path. It is the life society or their families tell them to live.

I certainly still do from time to time. I have responsibilities and certain standards of living I want to maintain.

I value stability and security along with adventure and excitement.

So instead of doing something because it’s supposed to be that way, I now am clear of the bigger picture. What I do is for a greater goal.

The greater goal is to create a life filled with fulfillment, passion, and peace of mind.

The greater goal is to do what I am meant to do, to follow the calling in my heart and soul.

We are all alive for a reason. We have gifts, talents, and creative expression we are meant to share with the world.

Maybe you have a dream to write a book, or to serve your community through a homeless shelter, or to sing and play music.

I implore you to do more of this – to be willing to follow the artistic and creative vision in your heart.

Why? Because if you do you will be a better person in the end. You will be happier and more engaged in life. You will feel completely alive, instead of the shell of a spirit that has been beaten down and told to be a good boy or girl.

This isn’t a diatribe encouraging you to do something reckless and irresponsible. It is a message of encouragement for you to live more fully and expressively.

It is just a simple reminder that you have something you want in life, and that you have a choice to incorporate more of this joyful expression into your day to day experience.

I think the best question to ask is from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art.

If you were the only person left on the planet, with no one to impress or answer to, what would you want to do?

Whatever it is, assuming it advances your best self and supports life, do more of it.



Why Getting Uncomfortable is the Key to Personal Growth

By Joe Wilner • 2 min read

moutain climbing

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Jon Krakauer

Not everyone is open to new experiences. There was a time in my life where I wasn’t willing to step into my anxiety and push my limitations.

I only did what felt comfortable and only tried when I knew I wouldn’t fail.

Sure I felt safe and secure in my comfort zone, but I also didn’t feel fulfilled and wasn’t living up to my potential.

I was stuck in a rut and living a life on autopilot.

We all get used to doing things a certain way and have a routine that makes life more efficient. That isn’t what I’m referring to.

Having a routine and some form of structure is obviously important for many reasons. Building healthy habits and creating discipline can require some rigid routines.

However, when we stop trying new things and settle for a life of discretion and caution, we might wake up years later wondering how life past us by, and why we’re still in the exact same position we have always been in.

I believe we all need a little adventure and some intentional “growing pains” to really make the most of our life. As the saying goes, “no pain, no gain.”

The most simple and basic way to transform and change into a more powerful person is to stretch ourselves.

So, how often do you push yourself past your comfort zone?

How often are you willing to fail and do things that scare you?

This can include all sorts of things, from taking up a new hobby, learning something new and exciting, meeting unfamiliar people, or traveling somewhere that takes you out of your comfort zone.

There are two main routes to grow as a person. One route is through knowledge and learning, and the other route is through experience and practice.

Learning, reading, or taking classes can help us to gather more information but we must use the information. What do you need to learn to help you grow? What knowledge or information can help you shift perspective and expand your outlook on what is possible?

Both learning and experience are important, however experience in my opinion is the true way to make change and grow as a person.

Just like the actor who takes on a challenging role that they have never done before, we too have to stretch ourselves to do what we are afraid to do. 

We have to do some research, learn what we need to learn, and then ultimately take this knowledge and apply it in our life. The rubber has to meet the road and we must take action to make progress.

It can be scary to doing something new that will stretch our current limits.

We may feel afraid that we will fail or that other people will disprove of our decision, but when it comes down to expanding as a person stepping into this unknown territory is how we can climb past our plateaus and onto new heights!

What can you do to move out of your comfort zone?

What can you do that will really allow you to grow as a person?

As the New Year approaches it can be a powerful opportunity to start doing what you have always wanted to do, but have been afraid to try.

It can be a perfect catalyst to push past the resistance that holds you back and make the choice to start growing into your potential.



How to Use Mindful Communication and Improve Relationships

By Joe Wilner • 1 min read

speak no evil

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” – Jim Rohn

The holiday season is often a time where we are around family members we may not see that often, or that we don’t always get along with.

The dreaded family reunion doesn’t have to be such a burden however if we have ways to communicate effectively that can help us improve relationships.

The practice of mindfulness can be an essential tool for improving relationships. This may be a marriage, professional relationship, or with parent and child relationship.

Mindfulness can help us attend and concentrate more readily on the way we project and express ourselves.

It can also help us diffuse the thoughts and feelings that can lead to unhealthy interactions so we can respond more effectively instead of reacting hastily.

Let’s take a look at how mindfulness can help us communicate more intentional, sensitively, and respectfully.

Communicate with positivity

Have you ever noticed that when someone tells you something positive it can much more motivating than hearing all the negatives. It is much more effective to focus upon what we want to see, as opposed to highlighting actions that are off target.

As every parent knows, what you pay attention to is likely to occur more frequently! So learn to focus upon solutions and skills instead of problems and deficits. Express what you appreciate about others and use this as the foundation of connecting with them.

Communicate with sensitivity

It’s easy to forget that every person have distinct beliefs, values, and opinions. We get caught up in our own views and can forget to be sensitive to the differences of others. Be aware that sometimes differences exist with regard to communication styles.

If you’re someone who likes to joke around be aware of the response you get from others. If you tend to be very open be conscious of how your candor is effecting others. Mindfulness is not only about our person but is related to how others perceive us and how we relate to them.

Communicate respectfully

Communicating respectfully means considering the point of view of others, especially when there is a difference of opinion. Being respectful is recognizing that every person has a unique frame of reference that is brought to the interaction.

Respectful communication is supported by your willingness to understand the opinions and perceptions of others, without the need to be “right” or to be judgmental. Practice putting yourself is the other person’s shoes and focusing on trying to understand where they are coming from.

These are just a few suggestions to help you communicate more intentionally as you connect with your family during the holiday and beyond.

Be mindful that you communicate with positivity, sensitivity, and respect and you will find that your relationships improve in the process.



 
 

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