Have you ever set a goal that you did not start? Or Started strong and then stopped halfway? You are not alone. Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, is a pioneer of modern research on the subject. His work has found that as many as 20 percent of people may be chronic procrastinators. 

 We all know that there are external obstacles we need to face when pursuing goals. For example, we want to change careers but we are facing barriers to entry in a new professional field. Today, I am not focusing on those external circumstances, situations, or conditions. Instead, I am writing about internal barriers or invisible boundaries that keep us stuck. 

Overcoming these obstacles requires a clear vision and a high level of personal commitment. This is particularly relevant if we are at a career or life crossroads. Being in a transition requires us to be in the driver’s seat, taking ownership of our journey and going after the life or career that we envision.  

According to Marry Morrissey, there are three main barriers to goal achievement. They are Delay, Distraction, and Dissuasion. These three behavioral patterns operate as unconscious blockers to our growth. While a part of us wants to grow, another part is afraid or concern about leaving our known territory. In Marry Morrissey’s words, Delay Distraction, and Dissuasion are your dream stealers. 

“Turn down the volume on the part of you arguing to stay stuck, and turn up the volume on the part of you that wants to move forward”. Marry Morrissey

Delay is putting something off or postponing it, lingering to take action. We might have a pattern or tendency to voluntarily delay some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we will suffer as a result. You might have intentions to cut the sugar in your diet or book that doctor’s appointment, but you keep putting it off. 

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right” Napoleon Hill

 Distraction is the process of diverting the attention away from a desired area of focus. Both internal and external distractions can become sources of interference. According to Mary Morrissey, distraction is a very insidious paradigm because it steals one hour here, one hour there. If we allow it, it will keep us distracted from taking the necessary actions to achieve our goals. For example, you are ready to make that very important phone call. But you decide to check your emails first, and then, you make it to your social media feed. You have gotten distracted, 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there. You are off track from your daily goals. 

Dissuasion is to turn from something by persuasion. In the case of a hidden barrier, dissuasion shows as an internal voice that tells us that we are not enough, that we do not have what it takes to achieve what we said was important to us. This running verbal monologue seems to appear when we are ready to make an important decision and when we have a lot of stake in the action we are taking.  

“Whatever story we tell ourselves is the one that will come true”. Mary Morrissey

 Becoming aware of these three dream stealers is the first step of taking charge of your life. I also recommend the following steps:

1. Identify what self-sabotage mechanism you use the most. Is it delay, or distraction, or dissuasion? 

2. Decide that you are taking charge of your mind. You are in the driver’s seat by refusing to get stuck in these self-defeating habits. 

3. Know that you are the highest authority in your life. Be committed to your own life and career goals. 

4. Be willing to act to move you forward by consistently taking baby steps. Calendarize your actions and get them done, one by one. 

5. If you get out of focus, be willing to go back on track according to your plans. 

When procrastination comes to knock on the door of your mind, say no to delay, no to distraction, and no to dissuasion. You are going to find yourself making significant progress in the direction of the life you deserve. 

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