In 1977, Harrison Ford gained worldwide fame for his starring role as Han Solo in the epic space opera film, Star Wars.
In the film, the phrase, “May the force be with you,” declared by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker, became the tagline of the Star Wars movie franchise.
Close to half a century later, the iconic pop culture phrase is still reverberating in our lexicon today.
It is used to wish a person, or group of people, good luck or good will. It’s another way of saying “God speed.” The phrase is used when someone is parting ways or taking on an impending challenge of some kind.
Interestingly—even ironically—this is what Harrison Ford had to say about what he thought of the legendary phrase:
“‘May the Force be with you’ is charming but [it’s] not important. What’s important is that you become the Force—for yourself and perhaps for other people.”
The secret to our success is not outside of us, it’s actually within us. In Ford’s words, we are the force.
Many people don’t realize that they themselves are getting in the way of their own success.
How are they doing this?
Here are six behaviors that people display that are working against them when it comes to reaching their potential and being successful in life.
1) They have conformed to a life that isn’t theirs
Shelley Prevost, Co-founder and CEO of Torch, says that our society has reduced success to a list of boxes to be checked: graduate from school, partner up, have kids, settle into a well-defined career path, and hang on until retirement checks can be collected.
“This well-worn path pushes people in the direction of conformity, not purpose,” Prevost explains. “We’re so busy avoiding self-induced fears of not being…smart enough, creative enough, pretty enough–that we rarely stop and ask: ‘Am I happy and fulfilled? And if not, should I go about changing things?’”
Discovering your purpose is about listening to your inner GPS. In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer says that we should let our life speak to us; not tell our life what we’re going to do with it.
How profound is that?
“A calling is passionate and impulsive,” says Prevost. “It starts with an inkling (‘I’d like to try that’), then swells into a mandate that you just can’t shake.”
2) They have a desire…but they’re also riddled by doubt
I heard someone say recently that “Doubt is the and devil is doubt” and I couldn’t agree more.
Doubt can kill your dreams even before you get your dreams and goals off the ground.
We often ask ourselves, why me? Why should I deserve this? But, as the self-help experts say: Who are you not to deserve the fruition of your dreams?
One surefire way to release the paralysis of doubt? Take active, consistent steps in the direction of your dreams. As you accomplish small goal after small goal, and then bigger goal after bigger goal, the doubt will dissipate.
That’s because you’ll have tangible evidence that doubt doesn’t have the power to stop you.
That’s a surefire way to success.
3) They are prone to procrastination
I know a thing or two about procrastination. I did it in high school when it came to studying for a test or getting to work on an essay. I did it in university when any sort of project was due. Not always, really just in subjects I didn’t like but had no choice but to take for getting a credit.
I eventually realized I was only hurting myself by doing this. Not to mention the fact that I was adding stress to my life by forcing myself to cram at the eleventh hour.
Ever since I became a journalist, and am getting paid for my words and have a lot more to lose than a good grade—my attitude has changed profoundly. Now the idea of procrastination petrifies me because it means potentially losing clients if my work isn’t well-enough researched and up to par in terms of quality. It also undermines my credibility and integrity as a journalist.
“Procrastination is a force that prevents many people, including smart high achievers, from completing important tasks,” says Jonathan Streeton, CEO of Katalyst.
“It stops us from realizing our full potential. If we procrastinate we may never want to accomplish the things we really want—our long-term goals.”
Point blank, procrastination is the enemy of success. Avoid it like the plague.
4) They talk action as opposed to take action
Have you noticed how successful people don’t really talk about their accomplishments unless they’re specifically asked, and even then they tend to downplay them?
Have you also noticed how not-so-successful people tend to talk (at length) about what goal they’re planning to conquer and then the next time you see them they seem to have lost interest in it?
That’s because there seems to be an inverse relationship between how much a person talks about what they’re doing and how much they’re actually doing it, says Jeff Goins from Medium.
“The more you see a person talking about something, the less they are probably doing it.”
That’s because talking takes time, Goins says. “It requires mental bandwidth. When you’re talking, you’re not thinking. And if you’re talking, you’re trying to get recognition. Which is not necessarily the same as doing things worth noticing.”
These are the people who talk about themselves, their families, their business and how well they’re all doing.
They also talk about “why you should be doing what they do,” says Goins. “They love dishing out advice.”
Successful people, on the other hand, allow their accomplishments to speak for themselves. If they are talking, they’re not bragging.
“They’re too busy taking action. Helping people. Creating something.”
5) They don’t relish the idea of taking strategic risks
Any successful person will tell you that risk is part and parcel of the path to success.
Over the course of the pandemic, many people—myself included—threw themselves into their side hustle and made full-time careers out of them.
They quit their day jobs to pursue their dreams because they knew it was now or never. No doubt about it: that’s a risk that may not work out.
But the point is that it is a calculated risk worth taking.
“You can’t be successful unless you take a risk,” says
“You might have to quit your job to start your own business. You might have to invest your own money into your latest creative project. Risks are scary, but they’re the only way to take big steps forward in your life.”
6) They give up the moment things get hard
We tend to hold ourselves back from going after what we truly want in life because we are attached to feeling safe and secure and are scared with concept of uncertainty and change, says Anna Marie Locke, a life coach who specializes in empowering women to live a purpose-driven life.
“It’s really freaking scary to put yourself out there and try something new, even if it’s something that’s not even a big deal in the grand scheme of things, like committing to a fitness program or personal routine,” she says.
“When it IS a big deal, like launching a business, the emotional stakes are even higher.”
I can relate to this. When I started my freelance journalism business, I was freaked out. Would I get consistent clients? Would I have to be pitching ideas to editors all the time?
If I was doing that, would there be enough time to write articles and keep clients?
I’ve learned to be calmer about it because I’ve seen how things have a way of working out. I also work hard and put away as much money as I can for those “quiet” periods.
I also have a great freelancing community on social media where I see I am not alone in my concerns.
In the end, with all the success I’ve had—and continue to have (I interview some pretty amazing people including those who are high-profile)—
it’s all worth it.
And then some.
Dream up your own definition of success…
Serendipitously, I came across a poem by @innerbutterflyy on Instagram as I was writing this article.
It’s called Purge and it’s most fitting—especially this time of year.
Here is an excerpt of the poem:
Purge your self-sabotaging ways.
Purge undervaluing yourself.
Purge the stories you tell yourself
that undermine who you are and
what you are capable of…
Purge who you were told to be,
shown to be, and shaped to be that is not
who you truly are.
Remember: success is not about making money. It’s about becoming who you were meant to be and living that life.
New year, new you. Only this time you’ll be on a path to success that is of your making.
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