Have you ever coached a soccer team?

Imagine that you’re standing on the soccer field, and it’s swarming with 13-year-old girls, each sporting an identical brown ponytail. Maybe there are one or two blond ponytails, and one red one, but most of them are brown. With uniforms on, even the parents can’t always tell which girl is theirs from across the field!

From your vantage point in the middle of the field though, you can see which girls know how to run straight ahead, which know how to handle the ball well, which can keep their eye on their opponent…

You are in a very good position to see who has which talents, and where they each need to improve.

But when you pull them aside, one by one later on, to talk about getting better at particular aspects of the game, you would find that very often they’ll say to you, “But coach, I can’t do that! I’m just no good at it!”

And you, being the wise coach that you are, reply with a smile, “Yes, you absolutely can do that, if you decide to, and then go home and practice it.”

Sometimes it’s easier to notice how other people can improve, instead of noticing it about yourself, isn’t it? Honestly, that’s why I also hire a coach to work with me. Because I am not always the best person to point out where and how I can improve.

Well, imagine you are that player out on the soccer field, and I’m the coach. At the end of the game, I pull you aside and say, “I know what’s holding you back from being the best you can be. If you do [this or that thing], you’ll be a much better player.”

What do you reply to me?

“Yes coach, thanks! I’m on it!” (not very likely, is it?)


“But coach, I’m just no good at that! It’s just the way I am!”

Woah! Not to say you’re acting like a 13-year-old, but… 😉

Look, it’s not your fault. The human brain is designed to keep us “comfortable”. It likes to keep us doing the same old things, because anything new is scary. This is a natural reaction that grew out of our need to protect ourselves, millennia ago.

Unfortunately, when it comes to making positive change in your life – whether it’s losing weight, eating right, getting more sleep, learning a new skill, visiting a new country, meeting new people, starting your own business – that instinctive desire for self-preservation gets in the way of being able to do what’s best for you in the long run.

I can’t tell you how many adults – not just 13-year-olds! – I’ve heard say to me, “That’s just the way I am! I’ll never be able to change…”

Well, let me ask you, would you like to change? Is there something you’d like to work on, that, if changed, would actually make your life better?

If you answered “yes” to that question, but you’ve been saying a petrified “no!” inside your head for quite a while, then it’s time to start acknowledging your limiting beliefs. THAT is what is really holding you back.

Not your abilities. Not your intelligence. Not a lack of time. Not a lack of money. Not your family who won’t support you. Not your friends who don’t understand you.

It’s the thoughts in your head that you “can’t” do something you really want to do. And it even makes you afraid to acknowledge it. Every. Single. Time.

So here are the first few steps to taking back control of your life, and putting to rest that little Negative Nanny who keeps telling you “no” or “I can’t”…

  1. Recognize that something in your life isn’t serving you well right now. That’s it. Just start by acknowledging it. If you want some help getting to this point, I recommend journaling about it for a few days. Set the timer for six to ten minutes, once a day, and just write, honestly, and from your heart. When you do this, believe me, you’ll figure out what is really bothering you and holding you back.
  2. Identify what you want things to look like instead. Write that down. Paint a vivid picture, using all five senses. Really feel how happy it will make you when you achieve that goal.
  3. Now write down some short term steps – really small steps – you can begin to take to reach that goal. It could be removing all the junk food from the house, if you want to lose weight. Or it could be parking the car in the furthest parking spot every day at work. Whatever it is, list some small steps you can begin taking.
  4. Get support. People thrive in community. That’s why we all need friends, and groups to belong to. Find others who are going through the same thing you are, and be there for each other.
  5. Get your own “coach on the field”. Someone who can see the big picture, not just one tiny parcel of lawn. Someone who can explain how the plays are supposed to work, so you can make incremental improvements.