You’ve finally started your creative, coaching, or online business — woohoo! Congrats!
Now you just have to succeed. And not just by mom’s standard, but real, bona fide, Taylor Swift level success. You’re doing everything right. Yet success still feels out of reach.
I can tell you why:
How Your Mindset Is Blocking Your Success
One huuuuggge mistake many people make is believing that success hinges on action alone.
You crave success and immediately start taking action designed to achieve your dreams. This is a problem if you do so without direction, and before you’ve done the inner work needed to support successful outcomes in the long run.
In the short term, the action you take seems to work, but it will eventually lead to big trouble. Your focus should be on more than growing your business quickly.
I know, I know, growth hacking is all the rage, but if your growth isn’t built on strong foundations, and backed up by your own rock solid success mentality, it’s not sustainable growth.
The obsession with reaching a large dollar amount in a small space of time can be crippling to long-term success. The much-hyped ‘six-figure business’ is a label we all want to wear proudly, but earning six figures isn’t nearly so tough as making six figures consistently.
Year in, year out.
Yes, you want to make money in your business. It’s a business after all. But a quick boost in income is just that: fast and fleeting.
That’s not T Swift success. That’s more like a one-hit wonder.
You’re worth so much more than that!
Here’s the thing: taking massive action can result in progress. It can even lead to epic growth. But it will only get you so far before you slam into the Dark Lord of all barriers: your own upper limit.
The Upper Limits
“The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.”
– Gay Hendricks
Experience taught me the upper limit lesson all too well.
I started out working as a lawyer. Despite enjoying the mental challenge of the work, and the financial success it brought, I was getting run down.
What I was craving was work I’d find fulfilling and enjoyable. Eventually, I found my passion and purpose in coaching.
Once my path became clear, I worked my tail off! I was so relieved to finally be doing something that lit me up; I hustled hard.
Pouring everything into my coaching business, I built a six-figure business in less than a year.
It was exciting and I was ready to up-level.
At least, I thought I was ready.
When I tried to take the next logical step, I smacked right into my upper limit.
It seriously felt like I’d mentally and emotionally run headlong into a cement wall.
Everything came to a complete standstill.
I was at a total loss.
After several months of soul searching I finally recovered and was ready to take action, but I’d learned my lesson: I had to do the inner work first.
The Big Leap
I’m far from alone in my experience. What happened to me is typical; when you’re making a big transition in life, and you fail to do the mindset work to support your efforts, you inevitably hit an upper limit.
It was the tremendous book, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, that first introduced me to the concept of upper limits. As the book explains, upper limits are set points we subconsciously harbor, for everything from love to wealth to happiness. If we find ourselves going beyond one of our set points, we are thrown off-balance and (either consciously or unconsciously) do everything within our power to return to our established equilibrium.
So, if your set point for money is an income of $80,000 a year, hitting a six-figure income is going to throw you off kilter. Even though earning more is a positive thing, and it’s a great achievement.
It doesn’t matter, your upper limit has been breached, and you will scrabble your way back to safety beneath it as fast as you can.
Why Lottery Winners Go Broke
Here’s a shocking statistic to demonstrate the point: According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70% of lottery winners who win huge jackpots quickly lose it again, going back to being broke.
Quite simply, the majority of people who play (and win) the lottery have never experienced anywhere near the amount of money they suddenly have when they win.
They weren’t necessarily poor before, but their set point for wealth was far lower than their bank balance instantly became.
The sudden nature of lottery wins also means that, for the most part, winners have not mentally prepared themselves for the abrupt change in fortunes. How could they? Nobody actually expects to win millions of dollars.
Most people don’t sit down and work on their mindset every time they buy a ticket.
So they’ve not done the inner work needed to adjust to the transition.
They hit an upper limit, and like anyone else hitting an upper limit, do everything they can to return the world to normal.
Humans are hardwired to flee the unfamiliar.
Whether it’s conscious or not, lottery winners often make impulsive, rash purchases, poor investments, and fail to put anything aside in savings.
It’s the fastest way of getting back to a situation that is familiar, and therefore comfortable.
The Celebrity Trap
Another great example of upper limit issues are the musicians, actors, and athletes who achieve great success, far beyond their set point, and self-sabotage to regain their equilibrium.
Look at Macaulay Culkin, Lindsay Lohan, and Amanda Bynes. All child stars who rapidly shot to fame when they were accustomed to relatively humble, and considerably younger lifestyles. They hit the upper limit trifecta: wealth, success, and maturity, and buckled under the pressure.
Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, and Pete Doherty, all suddenly hit superstardom and had no idea how to cope.
Self-Sabotaging Your Success
While there are loads of ways people can react to upper limit issues, self-sabotaging is the most common.
When I hit my upper limit in my business, I self-sabotaged by disconnecting and becoming stagnant in my work.
I stopped communicating and connecting, with friends, family, and readers.
I stopped writing new content, engaging on social media, and sending emails. Worse, I turned away potential new clients, completely withdrawing. My business ground to a halt.
Your dream doesn’t work unless you do.
I wasn’t putting any energy into my business, and it didn’t have the juice to carry on without me.
Other people react by running themselves ragged, piling more and more work on themselves until they eventually get sick.
Everything still stops, but for a different reason.
Another common self-sabotaging trick is creating unnecessary drama in your life. You pick fights with your friends, overspend causing financial issues, fall into destructive behavior that can cause problems in your work and relationships, or just indulge in negative thinking. You wallow in negativity until you’re so saturated by it that it’s all you know, and everything in your life begins to reflect it. This only convinces you of the futility of things, and on and on it goes…
Self-sabotage is generally subconscious. Most people don’t willingly prevent themselves from experiencing wonderful things. But the sense of safety and security that comes with our established equilibrium is incredibly powerful. It’s often far more powerful than the lure of whatever aspect of life we’re in the process of up leveling.
Safety is a primary human need. Our brains are, above everything else, programmed to protect us. As a result, they often act in counterintuitive ways, damaging good things in our life to preserve the norm.
Beyond The Upper Limits
Upper limits exist where we have limiting self-beliefs. When you’re ready to move on up to the next level, either in your life or business, you need first to examine the beliefs you have around the change.
You may find nothing is standing in your way, but you might equally discover there are certain mindsets, concepts, and beliefs that are deeply ingrained, which contradict the change you’re looking to make.
If that’s the case, a little personal growth is needed to smash that upper limit, and clear the way to reach your next level.
Upgrading Your Beliefs About Being The Boss
Let’s say you’re starting a new business. You’re about to become your own boss for the very first time - awesome! But you’ve never been a business owner before. It’s an entirely new concept for you. Up to now, you’ve always had someone telling you what to do and when, which tasks to prioritize, and whether or not you’re doing a good job or not.
Shifting to a state that allows you to do this for yourself, and even delegate tasks to others is a big leap. It takes a whole new way of thinking and operating.
A little mental preparation is required before you attempt it. Otherwise, you’re likely to find it very uncomfortable and may self-sabotage your new business efforts to force yourself back into a position that’s familiar.
Picturing yourself in a role before you step into it is a great way to prepare yourself for the change. Step into the shoes of a business owner or CEO and ask yourself:
- How would a business owner make a decision?
- How would a business owner schedule her day?
- How would a business owner talk about herself?
Upgrading Your Beliefs About Money
In business we make money. That’s the goal. We often have other goals as well, ones that ensure our work is personally and professionally fulfilling, but at a basic level, we need to earn enough to live. At a higher level, we want to earn enough to live our dream life.
Hindsight always comes with 20/20 vision. When I look back at the upper limit I hit in my own business, it’s clear that I needed to seriously upgrade my money beliefs before I could move forward.
One month I earned more than I ever had before, and it scared me. All the fears and limiting beliefs I harbored about money reared their ugly heads. They growled and snarled and made me feel it wasn’t safe to earn that much money.
And the following month, I didn’t earn as much.
My fears receded slightly, I felt safer, but I was never going to move forward in my business if I couldn’t get over the block I was facing.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
– Edmund Hillary
I had to find a way to accept that it was safe for me to earn more. Not only that, but it was also vital that I believed I deserved to make more.
Until I did that crucial inner work, I was stuck.
What I needed was a great success mindset. Part of that is embracing the climb that is inherent to building a business or achieving any goal in life. Sometimes though, the mountain you’re climbing isn’t a series of obstacles blocking your path in the real world, but an internal mountain of mindset issues and limiting self-beliefs that you need to conquer.
To succeed in your business, you need to regularly upgrade your beliefs around money. Download my free Money Workbook now to help you raise your money consciousness.
5 Blocks Holding You Back
The specific blocks standing in your way will depend on your personality, history, and beliefs. But here are five common blocks that you’re likely to experience at some point:
Believing success and abundance only come from hard work. Because you’re running a business you love, which doesn’t always feel like hard work, you are somehow conning people or earning money dishonestly.
Feeling flawed and therefore unworthy of success, wealth, and happiness.
Fearing abandonment or the perceptions of others, and therefore avoiding exposure and signing new clients.
Believing success is a burden, and avoiding it in favor of an ‘easier’ life.
Hiding your light for fear of what others will think of your true abilities, or how they will feel if you outshine them.
4 Practical Steps To Move Past Your Upper Limits
Here are four simple steps to help you take action supported by inner work, and reach for real and sustainable level success:
Step 1: Identify Your Self-Sabotaging Patterns
The first step is raising your awareness of the beliefs you hold surrounding success and making money, and pinpointing the patterns that are limiting you. Once you know your patterns, you can work towards changing them. Simply paying attention to your thoughts and beliefs surrounding success and money is incredibly powerful.
Begin by taking a few minutes every day to reflect on the thoughts you’ve had surrounding success and money. Like other bad habits, self-sabotage and negative beliefs follow a pattern that’s predictable once you’re aware of it.
Keep a journal of them so you can see what crops up repeatedly. Jot down a quick note of anything that happened to trigger your thoughts, and any negative things they resulted in.
Step 2: Face Your Fears
At its heart, self-sabotage is nothing more than fear. The irony is that it’s rooted in a very natural instinct for self-preservation.
Think of it as self-love that spectacularly backfires.
It’s driven by your fears and the only way to defuse it is to face them.
What exactly are you afraid of, and why?
Every time you come to an answer to the ‘why?’ ask again. Keep digging until you can’t go any deeper and you’re sure you’ve found the root of the fear.
How realistic is that fear? If there’s genuine cause for concern? How can you make sure the possible negative result doesn't happen? If it’s not likely to happen, what can you do to remind yourself of this when you start to become afraid?
Step 3: Do Less, Be Better
One of the first things any coach will tell you is that abundance is best created through simplicity. Focus on the things that matter most, and stop wasting time on things that don’t matter, or can easily be outsourced or delegated.
Refusing to prioritize and delegate is a form of self-sabotage, constantly keeping you in a state of overwhelm that prevents you achieving your goals.
List out your top three most important tasks (MITs) each day. Focus on these tasks. If other tasks must be completed that day, delegate.
You will spend less time working, but the quality of everything getting done (by you and others) will be better.
Step 4: Check In Regularly
Creatives, coaches, and entrepreneurs often find their work lonely, especially when they are working on growth, and doing the inner self-development work necessary to support it.
It’s so important to surround yourself with like-minded people who understand the challenges you are facing, and goals you are trying to achieve.
Every time you uplevel your business your goals and inner work will shift up a gear. Make sure you are always surrounded by people who are at the same level as you, as well as people a few steps ahead of you.
Join a mastermind group, get an accountability partner, and don’t worry if you find that, over time, you outgrow relationships and need to find new ones, in alignment with your new level of growth.
Take courses, hire a coach or mentor. Invest in yourself.
Check in with yourself (using daily affirmations, and by keeping a journal of your blocks), as well as with your mastermind group and accountability partner on a regular basis.