The 4 Barriers to Success: Don’t Let Them Paralyze You

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 12 Week Year" by Brian P. Moran. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the most common barriers to success? What do you think are the main hindrances that prevent people from becoming successful in their undertakings?

There are many potential factors that can prevent people from reaching their goals and becoming successful in their pursuits. According to Brian Moran and Michael Lennigton, the most universally common barriers to success are resistance, instant gratification, old habits, and too many goals.

Here are four most common barriers to success and how to overcome them.

What Are the Most Common Barriers to Success?

You have two lives: the one you’re currently living and the one where you’ve fully engaged your unique skills and accomplished amazing results in your personal and professional lives. You’re highly productive, and the results of your efforts have lifted you above the competition. So why aren’t you living this life now?

According to Brian Moran and Michael Lennigton, the authors of The 12 Week Year, what holds most people back from achieving their full potential are these four barriers to success:

1. Resistance. Change is hard, and you’re hardwired to resist it. Resistance to change and the effort required is akin to the monster hiding under your bed as a child. When you ignore it because you’re too afraid to confront it, the power of that monster grows. But when you turn on the lights and expose the underside of your bed, you see that the monster is not as big as you thought or not there at all. Learn to face your fears in the light of day so they don’t grow to exponential proportions and paralyze your progress. 

2. Instant gratification. You are also hardwired to choose the immediate rewards over long-term benefits. Setting a clear vision of the life you’re aspiring to is the key to overcoming this barrier. When you feel yourself succumbing to the allure of instant gratification, your vision is what helps you overcome the temptation and align your actions with your long-term goals.

3. Business as usual. Your old life will still surround you as you try to reshape your behaviors for success. Your old habits will still be there to challenge the power of your new triggers. One way to thwart them is to use old triggers to activate new triggers, rather than trying to replace them. For instance, if you always read the news while drinking coffee, make coffee time your buffer block.

4. Too many goals. Studies show that the advantages gained in planning your strategy to reach your goal are weakened when there are too many strategies to manage. One goal that may seem hard but achievable on its own is suddenly drowning in a sea of debris from all the other goals. And if your goal or actions feel too big, you won’t attempt them. To overcome this barrier, set one goal and give it your all.  This reduces the magnitude of the effort, which makes it feel more manageable and keeps you motivated. 

The 4 Barriers to Success: Don’t Let Them Paralyze You

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  • How to create a structured plan to rapidly accomplish goals
  • Why annual goals don't work
  • How to create urgency by working in 12-week increments

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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