Lately, I’ve been inspired to write a little bit more about topics on my mind that have nothing to do with food or healthy living. As I continue to grow my business and reflect on past experiences, I am beginning to notice a trend in myself and others: getting in my own way with self-limiting beliefs that I am too fearful to challenge. Self-limiting beliefs prevent us from growing as people, from experiencing the scary yet thrilling experiences that often lead to the most success, and they keep us in a status quo.
For some of us, we live happily in our comfort zone. We are unlikely to try new foods, we visit the same vacation spots year after year, we’ve been doing the same job at the same company for a decade or more. We’re comfortable. Why would we get off the four-seated plush chaise lounge and plop ourselves on an unpadded rattan deck chair? But guess what happens when we do the thing we don’t want to do, the thing we don’t think we can do? We grow, we develop, we learn, we impact, we fail, we succeed, we are never stuck. We feel happiness, we feel sadness, we feel fear, we feel excitement, we feel alive.
Constantly challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone expands past your exercise routine, food choices, or television programming. How many people do you know though who have been going to the same gym for years, eating tacos on Tuesday and spaghetti on Thursday week after week, and watching Friends re-runs for the better part of two decades? Okay, I’ll let the last one slide. Too much Chandler Bing does not exist. Ask these people: do you feel ALIVE?
I see these self-limiting beliefs and fears of success all the time in my Beautycounter business: women who join the mission because their heart is telling them this would be a personal growth step and contribute beneficially to their family and communities. But once they take the steps to become a Consultant, it’s crickets. They are too paralyzed by the fear of exiting their comfort zone to grow their business, learn a new skill set, and to reach out to their community to educate on a mission they are actually passionate about. Why does this happen? Self-limiting beliefs and a fear of success – these things exist whether our consciousness wants us to be aware of them or not.
We believe we’re too shy, or we’re not “experts” so why would anyone care what we have to say? We believe we don’t have time, yet we don’t prioritize our schedule to make time. By the way, barring cases of single parents, caregivers of ill family members, or people with highly demanding jobs, we ALL have time. In fact, I caught myself saying on Tuesday I was “too busy to eat breakfast” but if I hadn’t scrolled Instagram for 10 minutes, I would have had at least a smoothie in my belly.
Maybe you want to change careers but you’re TERRIFIED of the financial distress it would cause. Do you know how many business ideas I’ve had that could have erupted into something life-changing that I never pursued because of this fear? Ask yourself this: how many people do you know who have taken a responsible, well thought out risk with a passion project winded up bankrupt? Not many. In fact, one of our country’s most successful female entrepreneurs started out of their apartment making women’s shapewear. Ever heard of Spanx?
Here are some instances in my life where I jumped off the cliff despite my fear of heights:
~ Quitting my job in advertising without having a back-up plan. Can you believe the audacity of leaving a good career to do NOTHING? I knew advertising was never going to be emotionally or spiritually fulfilling for me. Rather than wasting years of my life doing something I didn’t love, I left. I spent the next two months developing a plan for a vegan (I was vegan at the time) snack company. I had a full marketing plan, an investor (my dad of course), a business name, a logo. I had everything I needed to start a successful food company except ONE thing: trust in myself. I’ve always wondered “what could have been”, and I decided I’ll never allow myself to wonder that again.
~ Moving to Chicago without knowing a soul. I moved to Chicago in 2013 against my family’s wishes and because something was pulling me to that city. When I arrived, I realized I had never lived somewhere that felt more like home. Pretty wild coming from a girl who grew up in a Florida beach town of 2,000 people, huh? Unfortunately, my husband didn’t feel the same, and we left after a few years, but not a day goes by I am not grateful for the experiences I had and the people I met while living in that city.
~ Independently finding a clinical rotation in Atlanta, GA. While all my classmates trusted a lottery system to assign them their destiny for the next 6 months, I went completely outside my comfort zone and found within HOURS of the deadline to spare a spinal cord injury hospital in Atlanta who would take me. We moved there with nothing but our clothing, my dog and my Instant Pot and had to RENT dishes and silverware. While in Atlanta, I got to know Sarah Ballantyne who eventually invited me to co-author our successful cookbook with her publisher. The Healing Kitchen was a dream accomplishment for me – I had wanted to write a cookbook by the time I was 30 since I was a kid and that dream came true at age 27!
~ Asking my now-husband on our first date. We have an 11 year age difference, worked at the same advertising agency, and basically had nothing in common besides our love for boating and beer. Sure I thought he was funny and cute, but I was 21 years old. Why the heck would I even WANT to get involved with someone “so old” (oh, I can’t believe I thought 32 was old!!) 8 years later we have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter, have moved around the country together, and are still boating and enjoy many a beer (well, cider) together. I was so scared he’d say no, or we wouldn’t work out and work would be awkward, but I am so glad I didn’t allow those self-limiting beliefs to keep me quiet that day. Grace (my daughter), YOU’RE WELCOME, KID!
~ Joining Beautycounter as a Consultant. Oh boy, I toiled with this decision for almost a full year and daily for an entire 6 months before I decided to take the leap. It truly was a leap of faith and I battled self-limiting beliefs and fear of failure daily. Who am I to talk about safer skincare and makeup (even though it has been a passion of mine for years)? What if no one cares what I have to say? What if I fail? I decided to NOT go back to work in occupational therapy (for now) because I wanted to give Beautycounter a shot. Can you imagine how scary it is to, once again, abandon your career and do something new that you could very well fail at? Time after time, it is when I decide to do the thing that scares me that leads to the most success in my life. Maybe it’s universe-wired Darwinsim? Those of us willing to challenge self-limiting beliefs and the fear of failure end up being the most successful (and success means MUCH more to me than financial success – you can make $1 doing what you love and should consider yourself successful).
I consider myself a successful person BECAUSE I’ve gone against the societal status quo, against my family, friends and coworkers’ expectations, and have challenged myself to always believe I CAN. I can do anything I want to do – I truly believe that. I can be the CEO of the next Silicon Valley start-up – I don’t want to be, but I truly believe I could if I wanted it bad enough.