It happens to all of us — that unsettling moment, every now and then, where you let self-doubt creep in, the same self-doubt that is holding yourself back. 

How did I get here? You might think. Where am I going? Or even, Where might I be now if I had made different choices? While speculating over should-haves is never helpful, taking an objective look at your life can be healthy — and illuminating. Because if you’re asking yourself these questions, chances are you want something more. 

Are you holding yourself back from the life you want — or, more importantly, the person you want to become? Whether it’s chasing a new career, writing a book, working on a side hustle, or chasing a change of scenery, you deserve to do what makes you happy and expands your horizons. The first step toward growth is self-reflection. 

Here’s how to know whether, as well as why, you’re getting in your own way — so you can stop holding yourself back.


Signs you’re holding yourself back

A bored office worker looking out the window.
Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Self-awareness isn’t natural to everyone — it can take time to recognise you need a change. 

But even subconsciously, the need for growth can come out in your thoughts and emotions. 

Here are a few signs you might be hesitating to take the action you need.



Routine can rub anyone the wrong way sometimes, but if you feel chronically bored with your situation, it might be a sign something else is at play. 

How long have you been feeling unstimulated? Is it something that taking up a new activity or going out more could change? 

If your daily life feels like a chore without a challenge, it could be because it’s time to move on to something better and more meaningful.



Restlessness goes beyond boredom. 

If you feel a lingering sense of dissatisfaction with life as-is, as well as an ongoing longing for something or somewhere different, your heart is probably telling you it needs more passion — and you need to listen.



Life has its ups and downs, and it’s normal for everyone to experience sadness sometimes as the result of a loss, an event, or even for no reason. 

But if that feeling doesn’t subside over time, it’s worth questioning if there’s something deeper at the root of your unhappiness.

Whether you’re not happy with your job, your relationships, your surroundings or yourself, there’s no reason to continue living in a way that doesn’t fulfil you — even if it’s hard to see where else to go.


Reasons you’re holding yourself back

A cup of tea on a bed side table.
Photo by David Mao on Unsplash

Growth takes effort — and initiative. 

Because that can be hard, and sometimes scary, we’re often the ones who stop ourselves from making a change. 

Here’s why you might be holding yourself back from taking the first step.


You’re too comfortable where you’re at (in the comfort zone)

If you’ve settled into your situation, it can be hard to muster the motivation to keep moving — but growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone

Take another look at your life or your career. 

Are you challenged and fulfilled where you are or are you just used to it?


You’re afraid of change

Even when you know you need to make a change, it can be an uncomfortable concept to face. 

What if you make the wrong choice and can’t go back? How can you know if you’re moving in the right direction? 

Remember, there’s no real right or wrong when it comes to progress — there is only progress. Letting go of the past and jumping into the unknown might be intimidating, but it’s also necessary if you want to grow. 

Don’t let fear stop you from reaching your potential.


You’re afraid of success

Sometimes, we’re so used to wondering what if things go wrong? that we fail to acknowledge a thought that might be even scarier – what if things go right? 

Whether you’ve been conditioned to hide your victories, you tend to self-sabotage or you struggle with imposter syndrome when you visualize success, don’t let your fear of doing well hold you back — not only is it possible, but you deserve it.


It’s time to stop holding yourself back

Whether you’re stuck in a rut or stuck in your own head, the only person who can change your situation is you. 

Once you’ve taken the challenging step of becoming more self-aware, moving forward is simpler than you think. These emotions may seem negative, but it’s how you use them that counts. To honestly assess where you’re at is a skill and it provides you with clarity in where you want to go.

In your gut, you know what you want — so take the first step today.


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