Expecting to roll a seven on a six-sided die.

Why setting over-estimated goals and undervaluing yourself can sink your ship before it sails.

Do you ever think about changing something in your life, reaching out for more, becoming a better version of yourself, and when you try to act upon it you face reality and that fleeting moment of motivation you had disappears?

Maybe the reality isn’t as scary as you think it is and the closed doors in front of you aren’t really locked but all you need to do is try to twist the knob and give them a little push.

I have listed some of the *closed doors* and I’ll try to persuade you to give opening them a shot. I call them killers as they assassinate ideas, plans, hopes, and dreams.

Killer #1: Believing some things cannot change because that’s just how you are or how it is

There comes a time when we start to get an idea about the things we’re good at and the things we suck at, and this belief roots deeper as we grow older. The conviction comes from our experiences, our successes, and our failures starting from the moment when we were kids and when we tried things for the first time through all stages of education and early adulthood. The stuff you haven’t done/learned by now probably also goes to the ‘I suck at it’ category just because they may feel too complicated and unachievable plus if you had the skills or talent for it you’d somehow know it already.

Problem: You could be looking to change your job, but when going through the offers of your dream position you look at the requirements and it makes you feel overwhelmed by the number of skills you’re expected to have. The knowledge gap to fill can be huge, maybe there are some technical skills needed and you consider yourself a non-techy person. Meh…

That’s it, you close the tab, the moment of your sudden courage and motivation to change, to grow, and to have a better life is dead (or at least knocked out unconscious).

Suggestions (as I don’t offer solutions): We sometimes tend to conclude before we know all the facts. We think we know the answer before we even ask the question.

The first step towards improvement would be to forget about your assumptions of yourself, there are no limits to what you can learn. The effort required can vary from person to person but the capabilities are always there in you. The second step which is probably equally hard is to stick with your decision when you chose to work on something. If you want to be better at something, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Decide to work on a skill for 3 months and don’t quit before that time, no matter how bumpy the road gets. When you look back after that period you will be surprised to see how far you’ve managed to come.

Give the assumptions in your head a proper shun.

Capture from “The Office”, a show by NBC.

Let’s say you want to draw, but you feel you don’t have the talent for it? Just take a piece of paper and proper tools, open a tutorial online and start drawing. Your initial artwork may not be a masterpiece but you will feel good about it. You’ve made progress, you’ve started. Show it to your friends and be proud, don’t be scared of criticism, think about what you’re going to draw next and do it I guarantee you each time it will be better than the last one.

The same goes for professional skills, reserve some amount of uninterrupted time, put the distractions away, sit, read, watch, try, get angry, get satisfied, get tired, rest, and repeat.

That’s how you will grow and take a step towards fulfilling your dreams, happiness will come as a side effect.

Killer # 2: When I do something I need to be the best at it

Sounds familiar? Would you invest your time in something if from the start you knew you can’t outperform everyone else? Even if you did your best? Probably you’d have to think about it.

Problem: Inequality is real and we all start at different difficulty settings when we’re born, that greatly affects how we grow up and naturally it cascades to our adult life. There are people with better education, with more money right from the start and you can get discouraged thinking: damn I am never going to catch up to them. When you start comparing yourself and what you have you may get jealous and/or angry because of the disproportion.

You drop your new business idea because you don’t focus on what you can do with what you have but instead you think about your limitations that bind you now or might do so in the future. The potential was there but on a road to 100, you wanted to jump to 10 when it would’ve been fine just going to 1. Instead of thinking of difficulties regarding step 1 or 2 you got overwhelmed by issues that weren’t even on the horizon at the time. That’s it, the premature death of a dream that could’ve turned out to be a fantastic and profitable company.

Note: When you post an idea on a forum, you will easily get a lot of replies from people pointing out flaws in your plan, but when you post a problem and expect to get a solution you’d be lucky to get a single one from the same group.

Suggestions: When there is a fight for a cake don’t be sad that you only managed to get one slice. Setting goals is important, fulfilling them is motivating and just feels good, but failing to achieve them and not giving up will earn you even more in the long run. The knowledge will come, the skills will come, the experience will come. Give yourself a chance. Looking at others and how they work might give you pointers on what you could do better but don’t compare yourself to others. When you don’t go as fast or you don’t get as many customers as your competition spend the time on analyzing future improvements instead. Be happy when you’re taking small steps forward and appreciate the fact that you are further than you were the day before.

“You don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great.” — Joe Sabah

TL;DR Don’t wait for a roll of seven when the max your die can do is six. Get a three and then work your way up to four. In time you will realize you actually enjoyed the climb and maybe six wasn’t even the best scoring result in the game you’re playing.

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