Holding Yourself Back? Leap Forward with These 3 Mind Tricks

You have a great idea. At least you’re pretty sure it’s great.

And you’d love to pull it off…this new venture, product, direction. Although you can’t quite believe you will do it.

You dream about doing it. In a brave moment you even share it with someone, and they say “go for it!”

So what’s holding you back?

We could call it entrepreneur’s paralysis. But whatever we call it we know what’s behind it – you are. Your fear and anxiety, your perfectionism or lack of self-belief stops you in your tracks.

You long for a nudge to get you going. Some days you feel you need a shove.

Here are 3 tricks that promise to give you a push and keep you moving.  Time to leap forward!

1. Bypass Overwhelm

An architect loves the idea of a vacant piece of land on which to build whatever they wish. A blank slate is their biggest dream but also their biggest challenge.

Where do you start? How do you create something where there is nothing?

This is similar to the predicament you face when you want to develop a new product, service or business.

It’s daunting and you need to identify reference points to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by the open slather before you.

For the architect this means looking at the size and orientation of the land, the adjoining properties, any legal restrictions and so forth. Likewise for you, get clear on what is the lay of the land.  What’s currently on the market, what is in demand, what resources and restrictions do you have?

Getting started can be overwhelming. Take care not to stare into space and feel lost there. Start by mapping out what you have to work with.

2. Get Past Inaction

Procrastination comes in many guises.

  • The productive procrastinator always has too much to do to get started with a new idea. She has a very clean house and many lists.
  • The idealist tries to do everything to perfection but consequently rarely does it to completion. She sorts her recycling more carefully than the rest of us and makes her own curry paste from scratch with carefully sourced spices.
  • The conscientious procrastinator trains and researches endlessly in order to be sufficiently expert in her field. She will begin her blog as soon as she’s finished her PhD.

To get past inaction, first acknowledge the anxieties and self-limiting beliefs hiding beneath the procrastination.  Just like a small child tugging at your arm, best to give them your full attention. Listen carefully for a moment to what’s troubling them, so that you can then get on with what you need to.

Is it fear of failure or fear of success tugging at you? Is it perfectionism holding you back, ‘protecting’ you from criticism? Or you just don’t imagine yourself to be a go-getter so why try?

Strangely enough, paying some attention to these nagging thoughts and feelings that hold you back can quiet them somewhat – enough to loosen their grip to let you move forward.

Next try this bit of magic

i. Brainstorm a quick mental list of excuses for not developing your business idea today. This should be easy. I don’t have time, the house is a mess….maybe tomorrow, the kids need my help today with their homework…I’ve gotta catch up first, there’s last month’s accounts, my inbox is exploding, etc, etc. You get the idea.

ii. Now jettison all of those thoughts. Just for now. Don’t worry you’ll find them again later.

iii. And right now in an act of sheer defiance take 10 minutes (set the timer on your smartphone) and sketch or type out some thoughts for your idea—right now, go for it, then come back!

iv. That’s it. You’ve done it. You’ve mobilized yourself. Those ideas will now incubate while you do the washing, chauffeur the kids and work through your emails.

The real trick now is to keep moving. Think progress not perfection. Concern yourself only with momentum. Commit to that minimum 10 minutes a day and as long as you do so you’ll be making progress.

3. Get Comfortable Out of Your Comfort Zone

Risk is a part of business.

And yet it is human to want to avoid risk and uncertainty. Risk is scary for many of us. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. But as successful entrepreneurs discover early in their journey, what is scary and uncomfortable can become exciting and motivating.

They also learn that to fail is not the end of the world. In fact failure can be less painful than its anticipation and often it’s instructive and clarifying.

Draw on your maternal (or paternal) instincts here. Think about how you help a child who is fearful of learning to ride a bike. The best way is to acknowledge their fear, reassure them and give them a push.

“Yes you might have a fall but it’ll be ok. You’ll learn to ride and it’ll be great!”. And when they have a fall, you tend to their dashed confidence and scratched body, then urge them to have another go.

Take this approach with yourself. Often anxiety is not the problem. It is our perception of it and the way we react by backing away.

With the child, not only do you help them to learn to ride, you help them to endure a measure of anxiety. This kind of anxiety is perfectly healthy. Uncomfortable perhaps, but to be approached rather than avoided.

The more you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, the more comfortable you’ll become being there – really! Your tolerance for the icky feelings that accompany risk-taking will increase. Enduring uncertainty will help you in business and in life.

Keep at it and you can become one of those admirable people for whom risk-taking is exhilarating.

Do you know what holds you back? Let me know in the comments.  Or maybe you have some tips to share.

Jacqueline Stone

Therapist and Facilitator at Wise Stress Mastery
Jacqueline Stone is a therapist and facilitator, and the founder of Wise Stress Mastery. If you’re ready to do stress better, to feel better and live better, start by getting her free report Stress Relief Now—4 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Stress Today.




  1. Erin Baebler

    Really enjoyed this post. Simple but helpful information organized in an easy-to-digest way.


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