Recently I was a speaker at an amazing event.  The event was in conjunction with a fundraiser to bring awareness to two major challenges… cancers that affect women and domestic violence. As stories were being shared, I realized that any of these issues could have been enough to stop someone in their tracks and not be able to move forward. What can do that? Is it the experience itself or is it fear of being trapped in the past?

So many times, we hang on to our past and we even let it define us.  Other times we use our past as a reason we limit ourselves so that we can’t reach our dreams and goals. In order to reach your dreams or goals, you need to push through your limits and past your comfort zone. We would all love to have that magic bullet to make things happen quickly as we all look for instant gratification.  But, unfortunately there are no shortcuts… that is, unless you want to be mediocre at best and I know, that isn’t the case.  When you hit that wall of limiting beliefs… push a little harder and I would bet you will push right through and you will start to think why was it so challenging in the first place?

So, what do you think are the most common challenges that we face that hold us back?

The first is that inner chatter that for some reason we listen to and we continue to tell ourselves.  It’s that tape we play over and over again and start to believe… “I can’t”, “I don’t have” and “I’m not enough.”  We can probably go back into our past and remember where they came from.  Perfect example of our past being our barrier. As we repeat this over and over again, we are reinforcing our limitations and dreams and our goals are being pushed further and further away. What are we afraid of?

Start listening to what you are saying… even if it isn’t out loud and try to change your vocabulary which will in turn change your mindset. It is time to eliminate the negativity that you are creating for yourself.

Which brings me to the second challenge… are you a victim of your circumstances?  Is what is going on in your life the reason you can’t achieve your goals? While you may not have the same advantages as someone else, you can still find opportunities. If you are in a job that has no future, you can find another one. If you are surrounded with people with no ambition… find other friends.  If you think that it is your parents’ fault that you are the way you are… change it.

Time for a reality check.  Any reason that you can throw out that you aren’t as successful as you want to be or that you haven’t reached your goals… guess what? They are an excuse. It isn’t your job, your parents, your friends, your location or any other variety of reasons… it’s you and what you are allowing to take over your life. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about how someone reached a level they never thought possible and their background and circumstances would have some using it as a potential vampire… instead, they chose to take what they have and turn it into what they want.

The third is… your past. And guess what?? Everyone has one.  What you take from your past to make your future amazing… or, on the flip side, take from your past and use it as the reason why your future isn’t amazing… Is your choice. You can’t eliminate your past but you also can’t let it control you or turn you into a victim.

Finally, I know this will sound crazy but… do you really care what others think of you?  I know being popular is important but when you worry more about what others are saying, you might be cutting your chances of succeeding down.  Are you surrounding yourself with those that make you feel guilty or those that would rather see you fail than succeed or are you constantly seeking approval?  The truth is you will never make everyone happy and that will lead to your own level of disappointment. You have to decide if you are with people that lift you up and help you reach your goals or with those that have their thumb on you and are giving you advice that will keep you down.

Stop feeling guilty and stop allowing fear to control your life. Remember why you are doing what you are doing. Of course you should have those around you that can share their experience and expertise but not worrying about what others think is something we can all work on to let our past become more of our path to our potential than our road-block.

So the question is are you stuck between your past and an amazing future? Maybe it’s time to just move on. When you are stuck in the past, it keeps you from unknown and unseen opportunities. Whether it’s a self-limiting belief or a bad relationship, you will find there are circumstances that will keep those walls up rather than being open to opportunities. When you can identify what those struggles are and work on releasing them, both you and your business will have a fighting chance.  Maybe it’s time to bring in an objective third person to listen.

Is this something that you can do today?  Probably not but you’ll know when you are ready.  Sometimes what’s holding you back is a situation that you need to work through.  Other times it could be a person and that might mean a conversation. Maybe it’s as simple as stop holding a grudge. Whatever the circumstance… you will take care of it, at the right moment… just don’t wait forever.

Here’s the reality… Your past is your past and whether or not you want to hold onto it is also your choice.  You might be ready to release it and something or someone is making it too difficult to happen. It’s your choice.  As in business, the fact is, if you don’t try, the answer will always be no.  And… the best case scenario is that you make the effort and it all works out.  We all know that things happen exactly as they are supposed to so, make it happen.  When you put your past in the past, you will be ready for the present and on to the future. You’ve probably learned from your past and will take those lessons into the future. Then when someone asks you “If you knew then what you know now” you can let them know that you’ve learned your lessons and your blessings and that is what makes you… you.

Remember your past doesn’t define you… it prepares you. Just because your past didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you’ve ever imagined. Your greatest talent is so much more powerful than your biggest fear.