Which One of These Four Things Is Keeping You From Success?

Dawn Bevier

In order to reach your goals, you'll need to find the missing piece of the puzzle.

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Think of a thousand-piece puzzle. You can spend hours carefully fitting together nine hundred and ninety-nine pieces, but without that one missing piece, none of it matters.

And I bet the missing puzzle piece to your success story is keeping you awake at night. I bet it’s making you crazy. Because you know you have what it takes to go the distance. After all, you put together nine hundred and ninety-nine pieces, and that’s a hell of a lot of progress.

So what should you do about that one missing piece that’s keeping you from what you want? I’ll tell you what. You get up and find it. Because you’ve come too far to turn back now.

The problem is where do you start looking?

You start looking at what you’re doing (or not doing) that might be sabotaging your success.

And if you find yourself guilty of any one of the four actions below, you’ve likely found the missing piece that’s keeping everything from falling into place.

Piece Number One: Refusing to Make the Necessary Sacrifices

Nothing in life comes easy. And the minute you accept that fact, life becomes a lot more simple. It’s the biggest key to getting you closer to what you want.

For example, as a teacher, I tell the starry-eyed adolescents I teach that big aspirations are wonderful, but there’s a cold hard truth they need to know if they want to make them happen. Cutting classes, skipping practices, and making excuses don’t cut in the real world. Doctors, lawyers, and NFL stars don’t get where they are by not doing the work. As a matter of fact, they don’t achieve real success unless they do more than the work required.

I inform them each time they make excuses for their poor performance at school saying it’s due to a part-time job or late-night sports event, there’s another worker or athlete out there just as tired who stays up to get the job done right. I tell them if they’re exhausted from three days of cross country practice, there’s someone just as fatigued who runs on the weekend to improve his time.

And the same holds true for us.

The only difference is we have to make greater sacrifices because we have more responsibilities. Many of us have jobs and children to care for or other huge “must do’s” that sap our time and energy. But the bottom line is this: It is what it is.

And if you want to move closer to achieving your goals, you can’t let yourself make excuses either.

For example, for every working mother who says she has no time for exercise because she’s home with her kids every day, there’s a mom that uses naptime or Disney time to get in a home workout. For every person who says their busy job keeps them from losing weight, there’s a person who takes time on the weekends to buy healthy food, pre-plan meals, pack healthy lunches, and bring low-calorie snacks to work so there’s no running to the snack machine.

Author Jordan Belfort speaks hard words we all need to hear. He says:

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

For example, take the late Kobe Bryant. Before his death in 2020, the Lakers star was one of the most talented and respected NBA players. In an INC article entitled “4 Stories About Work Ethic That Will Make You Work Harder,” they relay an example of Bryant’s dedication and sacrifice to achieve greatness.

The article states that Bryant called his trainer at 3:30 am, stating he needed his help at the gym. When his trainer entered the gym, he said he saw Kobe practicing alone. He goes on to state that Bryant was so “drenched in sweat, it looked like he just jumped in a pool,” and “it wasn’t even 5 am in the morning yet.”

Success is all about sacrifices. It’s about being willing to give up sleep, security, leisure time, or many other things that keep us from achieving our highest potential. Of course, your sacrifices have to be smart ones. You have to take care of yourself in the process. Starving yourself to lose weight, spending three hours a day working out, and living on four hours of sleep won’t do anything but burn you out.

But if you genuinely want to achieve more, you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

And one way to make the sacrifices less painful is meticulous planning.

Piece Number Two: Not Developing a Plan

Think about taking a trip somewhere new with no GPS or Google Map app to help you along. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to do, doesn’t it? Yet many people continue to drive on their highway of dreams with nothing more than a hope and a prayer. And if this is you, the madness needs to stop.

There are a number of planning strategies you can use to move closer to your goals.

You can use the “theme day” technique of Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey. This strategy involves dedicating specific days for necessary “must-dos” needed to reach an overall goal.

You can use a technique called “backward planning” or what we teachers call “Beginning with the End in Mind.” Mind Tools explains this technique:

“The idea is to start with your ultimate objective, your end goal, and then work backward from there to develop your plan. By starting at the end and looking back, you can mentally prepare yourself for success, map out the specific milestones you need to reach, and identify where in your plan you have to be particularly energetic or creative to achieve the desired results.”

James Clear, author of the bestseller Atomic Habits also offers up a planning method called “The Eisenhower Box.” It’s a method where you prioritize tasks based on three things:

  • What’s urgent and needs doing immediately.
  • What’s important but can wait until after you complete the urgent tasks.
  • What’s unimportant and needs to be eliminated.

Creating a plan helps you get the physical work done to accomplish your goals. However, very few plans will be effective unless they involve preparing for the emotional struggles that come with working towards a goal.

Piece Three: Turning Your Back on Reality

Advancing towards your goal requires prepping yourself emotionally for some ugly realities about the road to success.

What are these truths?

Attaining your goals will take longer than you think

The bottom line is time takes its time. Of course, there are a lucky few whom the clock loves. But its list of soulmates is extremely small.

And there’s something you need to keep in mind when you’re frustrated success isn’t coming as fast as we want. It deals with the adage that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” You’ve probably already heard this phrase coined by playwright John Heywood, and it’s not a game-changer. What you probably haven’t heard is the rest of his sentence:

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were busy laying bricks by the hour.”

And that means instead of being angry that your deadlines aren’t being met, you need to keep “focusing on the bricks.” You can’t control the clock, but you can keep working the plan until all the pieces fall into place.

You will fail many times on your way to success

Failure happens. Mistakes happen. Being human happens. But what determines long-term achievement is how you prepare for this harsh reality.

Plan to be a little emotionally bruised. Get ready for weeks where you’ll make one mistake after another. Get ready to fall off the wagon, give in to temptation, and turn into a hot mess. That way, when the time comes, you’ll be ready. You’ll remember that these things are all a part of the process. Then, you’ll do what you really need to do — examine your errors, readjust your plan, and experiment with new methods of attack.

Author J. R. R. Tolkien highlights the importance of preparing for those inevitable moments of failure on the way to success. He states:

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.”

And let me tell you, the dragons are everywhere. So accept the fact, and prepare for steps to rebuild and recenter when you miss the mark.

Piece Number Four: Forgetting to Focus on the Prize

As much as you need to make peace with reality, you also need to do a little dreaming.

The road to success is never easy on the emotions. So you need to remember the rewards you’ll reap when you finally achieve your aims. Because when the beauty of the dream fades, so does your motivation.

Former NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears and well-known performance strategist Matt Mayberry emphasizes why envisioning your future success is essential. He says:

“The truth is, if you can’t picture yourself achieving a goal, chances are you won’t. The more vivid you can get, the better it will work for you. Start thinking of your personal goals in life. Spend about 10 to 15 minutes picturing yourself achieving each one.”

So buy the bikini and look at it when you don’t feel like working out. Write down what a day will look like when you run your own business instead of punching a time clock. Visualize the cover of your novel and imagine how it will feel to see it on Amazon.

Fueling the dream puts gas in your physical and emotional gas tank. And that means you need to keep filling it up to reach your desired destination.

The Bottom Line:

Martial artist turned actor Bruce Lee implies that all men are capable of greatness. He proclaims that “the successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

By making peace with the fact you must fight for your dreams and heading into that fight with a plan and a vision, you’re very likely to one day wipe the blood from your face, look in the mirror with a smile, and say, “I did it.”

And I’m so hoping you do.

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My goal is to provide you with thoughtful, informative, and inspirational content that may increase your productivity, relationships, and well-being.

Sanford, NC
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