roadblocks to progress

The four roadblocks of progress and how to overcome them

The world is a busy place, even when we’re working-from-home. We’ve got team meetings to have, projects to plan, tasks to complete – and we haven’t even mentioned the mountain of laundry eye-balling you from across the room!

When busy come out to play we can quickly find ourselves falling down the rabbit-hole of self-sabotaging behaviours that hold us back from achieving measurable progress and the oh-so-sweet groove of productivity.

Each and every one of us has run into at least one of these four roadblocks. Today we’re going to introduce you to them, talk about them and most importantly, give you the tools to step right over those roadblocks and smash your goals right out of the park.

Sounds good right? Let’s hop to it, there’s no time to waste…


The four roadblocks of progress


#1: Perfectionism

While it may seem innocent enough, perfectionism is no-where near perfect. It’s a common misconception that perfectionism is the same as having a high standard or striving for excellence – unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Perfectionism is the result of setting high and impossible standards that at the core come from a self-destructive belief system. That belief system? It stems from the way we attach our self-worth to achieving these high and impossible standards.

According to Dr Brené Brown, perfectionism is fuelled by the primary thought that ‘If I look perfect and do everything perfectly I can avoid or minimise the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame’. 


#2: Procrastination

Procrastination is putting something off that we know we should be doing. It’s the irrational delay of something for no good reason and often when action would have been preferable.

However, procrastination isn’t always about inaction. No no no… the most common form of procrastination on a task is being too busy to do it. We distract ourselves with little tasks and avoid the important things we ought to be focusing on. 


#3: Pessimism

You may have heard the saying, ‘I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist’. This is a nonsensical statement because both optimists and pessimists can take a realistic view of a given situation; the difference is in how they deal with the reality they perceive. 

Pessimism can be described as the tendency to see the worst aspects of things and events. According to American psychologist Martin Seligman, pessimism is a way of seeing problems as permanent and pervasive – that they are never going to change, and this is going to affect everything. Pessimism is also the belief that my behaviour doesn’t matter, and that I can’t have any impact on changing what is happening.


#4: People-Pleasing

People-pleasing at its core is a noble venture. It starts with the inherent belief that we are here to serve and support others. This approach is needed in our workplaces more often, but our reasons for helping people can move it along the continuum to being dysfunctional.

If our reason for people-pleasing is a strong desire to be liked, validated and accepted by others, we move into over-committing ourselves – and even potentially resenting the very people we want to be serving more. People-pleasing is when we let other people’s priorities replace our own, committing to so many things that we find ourselves stretched thin. 

While you’ve probably dabbled in all of these at some point, there’ll be one or two that are your ‘default’. The ones that sneak up on you when you’re in the throngs of busyness. You know what they are, don’t you?


Overcoming the four roadblocks to progress


How to overcome Perfectionism

The challenge here is to get real about what factors are essential and what are superfluous. Employ the 80% rule: get a task to 80% and then either ship it or check in with others. 

If you find yourself spending way too long writing emails to stakeholders, for example, write your draft and get it to what you see as 80% and then check in. You may find that your 80% is completely fine and then you can move on.


How to overcome Procrastination

When you tend to put things off, waiting for that magical moment when you have the perfection amount of information it’s important to bring yourself back to the present.

While it can be tempting to putt off making a decision and taking action, know that the chances are you’ve already got the information you need to make a reasonable plan for your next steps forward.

To kick procrastination to the kerb set aside an hour each day for a full productivity blitz. Rip into the project or task you’ve been putting off; look it square in the face and wrestle with it for an hour. Often, within 40 minutes you’ll already feel more on top of what you need to do.


How to overcome Pessimism

The antidote for pessimism is simple and incredibly effective (thank goodness). The only problem? Committing to it is hard.

If you truly want to shift your perspective you need to focus on gratitude; it’s impossible to be pessimistic and grateful at the same time.

Write down something that you are grateful for here and now. Take some time to say thanks to a family member, colleague or your virtual pen pal that you chat to on Facebook from time to time. If pessimism still rears its head, apply gratitude daily for 15 minutes until symptoms subside.


How to overcome People-Pleasing

If you’re a people-pleaser, you’re probably not going to like this recommendation, but know that it is in your best interest.

You’ve got to learn to say no with confidence.

I get it; saying no is tricky. The trouble with not saying no is that your to-do list piles up with the more yes-es you give out. And while you may not have a lot on your plate at the current moment, you’ve got to remember that just because you can say yes doesn’t mean you should.

I’ve had to learn how to say no graciously, particularly if I can’t see a compelling reason (or so I think to say no).

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself before saying yes to something:

  1. Does this excite me?
  2. Where would the time spent preparing or completing the task be better used?
  3. Is something else more important?
  4. Does this align with my goals?

Think you’re going to say no? Here’s a few things to prepare you to say no graciously.

  • Find the gratitude: outline that you are grateful for being asked, and are honoured that you were thought of.
  • Say no (or something equally as definitive): ‘I’ll see’ is not a no. ‘Let me get back to you’ is not a no. Don’t hint or hope they understand. Instead, say ‘I don’t have the time for that at the moment’. Make it clear.
  • Offer to support in other ways: Only make this offer if it feels okay to you, and be careful of shifting the load to something else.


Did you find this blog post useful? If you did, consider picking yourself up a copy of my book ‘Stand Out: A real world guide to get clear, find purpose and become the boss of busy.’