How to Get out of Your Own Way: 3 In-Depth Tips to Train Your Brain

by | January 29, 2019

We’ve all heard the saying “I’m my own worst enemy.” So, how can you get things done without sabotaging your own success? Here are my 3 tips with real-life examples that will help you get out of your own way and go after the things that you want.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a video of this blog post:

1. Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior

As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, I often talk about behavioral patterns on this blog. One of the first things I advise my clients to do is to take a closer look at the habits that are preventing them from achieving their goals.

A habit consists of three things:

(1) A cue (or a trigger for an automatic behavior to start);

(2) A routine (the behavior itself);

(3) A reward (that’s how our brain learns to remember this pattern for the future).

Let’s say you want to write your first book. Every morning, you get up with the intention to write, but, instead, you end up binge-watching Netflix or chatting with friends. Why? Because you’ve trained your brain to do all these things: every time you don’t write, you’ve developed the habit to reward yourself with fun stuff.

Here’s what I’ve learned from Marisa Peer, the UK’s #1 therapist, on how to work with your brain instead of against it:

Your mind loves what is familiar. It will always try to fall back on what’s familiar.

– Marisa Peer

If you want to change your habits, you need to make what is familiar – unfamiliar… and what is unfamiliar – familiar.

Here’s how I advise you to do that:

If you identify any self-sabotaging behaviors or addictions, they are the first ones that you need to become aware of. How? By observing and acknowledging your behavior. Take notes every single day of what you spend your time on.

Once you become familiar with your habits, explore other, healthier options. If writing every day seems unfamiliar to you, try writing 10 words a day. That’s it. But you have to stick with it every single day.

What you’ll notice is that after a week or so, it won’t feel so alien to you and guess what: even if you’ve written 10 words a day, that’s 70 words more than a week before!

And if you want to watch less TV or go out with friends, make it a bit unfamiliar. Watch your favorite TV shows only on weekends or go out with friends only after work hours. Make the familiar unfamiliar and you’ll break the habit of distracting yourself instead of writing.

2. Do One Thing at a Time

Who doesn’t love multitasking, right? Well… I don’t anymore. Once I realized how much energy it cost me to do several things at once instead of focusing all of my attention on doing one thing in the best way possible, I simply couldn’t go back to multitasking.

If you’re a multitasker, here’s what you can do: start with something small that won’t put your brain into panic mode. Let’s say you’re a social media strategist and you work with clients to build up their social media presence.

You feel overwhelmed because, as part of your day, you’re used to posting on different social media apps, answering emails, getting calls, and chatting with colleagues. Try to focus your attention on one little thing at a time, such as: ‘I’m not going to do anything until I finish answering that email’ or ‘I will finish posting this picture and then, I will get to my next task’.

To develop a single-task mindset, I advise you to prioritize what you’re doing and put it on paper to give your brain a chance to process it better. Let’s take a look at one of my favorite tools: The Eisenhower Matrix:


As you can see on this picture, Eisenhower’s strategy is all about taking action based on four possibilities:

(1) Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately);

(2) Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).

(3) Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).

(4) Neither urgent, nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

But, what is the difference between urgent and important?

Urgent tasks are things that you feel like you need to react to immediately: answering a phone call or an e-mail, getting into a meeting with your boss, etc.

Important tasks are the ones that contribute to your long-term mission, values, and goals.

When using this method, take a look at your core values and decide what’s important to you and always keep it on your mind.

3. Start with the End Goal in Mind

If you’re going through some self-sabotaging behavior, it’s a sign that you’ve probably forgotten your WHY: the reason behind all the work that you’re doing. Here’s how you can change that:

The first thing you need to do is develop a clear vision for yourself. It’s a great idea to create a vision board of what you want to accomplish to have a daily reminder of what you’re working for. To create a vision board, you’ll need to create a collage of pictures of the things that you associate with your end goal.

Let’s say your end goal is to become a world-class hip-hop dancer. Think of the ideal scenario for you: Where do you live? Have you joined a crew or have you created one yourself? Who are you with? Do you go on tours? Do you dance for famous singers like Beyonce? Get creative and let your imagination run wild!

Once you’re ready with your vision board, look at it every single day. Your vision board will be that little hack that will put your focus back on track. You’ll be wasting less time once you have a daily reminder of what you want to accomplish in the end.

My next suggestion is to imagine the worst case scenario. We often don’t take action because we feel too afraid of the consequences and get stuck into our own minds instead of taking action.

So, grab a piece of paper and write down the worst case scenario if you don’t go through with your task. What’s going to happen? How are you going to feel? How are the important people in your life going to react? Write down all of it. Pause this video and come back when you’re done.

By writing down all of your fears, you will not only become aware of them, but you’ll also find out that whatever you think is going to happen is really not that bad.

What is going to be bad, though, is what’s going to happen if you don’t even try: you’re going to spend the rest of your life wondering what it could have been. And I don’t want you to fall into that trap.

If you want my professional help on developing more awareness and becoming even better at achieving your goals, click here to book a free session.

And my last suggestion on how to keep the end goal in mind is to write down one thing that you’re going to do right now to get you closer to your goal.

We all have big goals and dreams, whether we realize it or not. But every day you make series of choices that will get you either closer to, or further from your goal. So, choose wisely.

Share this blog post with someone who can benefit from this mind hacks. And let me know in the comments below, which one of these tips are you going to implement in your life.


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