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How to Overcome Your Self-Imposed Boundaries

Fall is my favorite time of year to paddle board. Here in Tennessee, both the water and the weather is still warm through September and October, but there’s less humidity. Also the water is calmer and the leaves are prettier.

self-imposed boundaries

I remember one autumn when paddling with a couple who had bought their paddle boards around the same time I bought my first board. We’d gone a short distance, not quite a mile and a half, when we were about to pass the public access boat ramp.

It was at this point the husband said,

“I guess we should turn around now.”

I looked at him a little confused and asked him why. It seemed to me we were just getting started.

His response was,

“Because my wife and I have never gone further than this point before.”

My response:

“All the more reason for us to keep going!”

Eventually the couple started moving beyond their self-imposed boundaries. In doing so they discovered new scenery, and developed more stamina and confidence.

But they’re still limiting themselves in a lot of ways. They only paddle downstream in the day time. But due to the cliffs downstream, you can’t see the glory of a full moon rising during the monthly full moon group paddles in the evening. You have to go upstream to see the big orange moon coming up from the horizon.

The wife often admits to me she has a lot of fears about a lot of things, many of which she knows are irrational. It’s this fear that creates walls and unnecessary self-imposed boundaries on her life. And it causes her to miss out on some beautiful things life has to offer.

Don’t Confuse Comfort With Contentment

I’ll always remember the husband’s statement because it made me sad. There appeared to be no reason for the limit the couple was imposing on themselves other than they’d never paddled any further before. (But was that really a “reason,” or just an “excuse” for something?)

What makes me even sadder is knowing there are a lot of people who live their entire lives this way, stopping short of their full potential and the things life has to offer them. Mainly because they confuse comfort for contentment.

Have you ever put a limit on yourself for no particular reason? Or you say the reason is because you’re content but that’s really just an excuse to remain comfortable and avoid the fear of the unknown?

The best way to know if you have (or are currently doing so) is to ask yourself this question:

“Am I more afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone or more afraid of staying stuck where I am?”

If you’re more afraid of staying stuck where you are, then it’s time to push the boundaries of your goals.

Do You Have Self-Imposed Boundaries?

But let’s break this down a bit. There may be some areas of your life where you have no fear. You plow through your goals and continually push yourself in certain areas.

But in other areas you’re stuck because of your self-imposed boundaries.

One exercise you can do is to honestly evaluate the following seven categories in terms of the ones where you limit yourself the most:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Family
  3. Health
  4. Work
  5. Financial
  6. Social
  7. Educational

Feel free to add additional categories where you know you limit yourself.

In which categories do you recognize a lot of limits? Are those limits real or imagined? Are they self-imposed?

This exercise is one of the first steps in the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. The plan teaches you how to overcome your limiting beliefs in each category.

You’ll also want to check out “How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk Like an Olympian”.

negative self-talk

Only after you categorize the areas where you need improvement and address your limiting beliefs can you begin to set long-term and short-term goals.

Reaching Your Full Potential

It’s good to make sure you’re setting goals that are realistic. But it’s also important to keep pushing the boundaries of those goals so you can accomplish the things you were created to do.

Getting stuck in fear, comfort, or a particular way of doing something can prevent you from reaching your full potential. Which by the way hurts others who could benefit from your full potential. Plus it can become down right boring!

Maybe it’s time to be honest with yourself on whether you’re truly content or just comfortable. One way to do so is to start working through the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. You can download the plan for free when you subscribe to the paNASH newsletter.

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self-imposed boundaries

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