“That was too easy” “You didn't work hard enough on that” “You got lucky that time. Luck never lasts.” These are the things that I believe about my work, myself, and my business. These are the words that kick me in the back of the knees as I try to move forward. These are limiting beliefs. And limiting beliefs are poison, success-limiting inner mantras that almost everybody carries with them.
How Limiting Beliefs Truly Limit Success
My dad has always been a workhorse. He sometimes wakes up at 4:00 AM and leaves for work by 4:20. He works long and hard for every dollar he earns through his business. On family vacations, he'd spend hours on the phone closing deals. Out to dinner? Answering client calls. On weekends? Advertising, selling, processing. So, growing up, I came to believe that earning money had to be hard work. It required long days, early mornings, and late nights, and that success doesn't come easily.
I didn't realize how much of that belief I carried with me, how heavy that anchor was. My limiting beliefs have caused stress and stagnation as I build my businesses. And building my website has uncovered just how limiting those beliefs are. If a post only takes me two hours to write, I don't publish it. My limiting belief is telling me I didn't work hard enough on it. It doesn't deserve to be a success because it only took two hours to write. Those things that come naturally to me are garbage – they aren't good enough.
So I write and I write and I write, and instead of measuring quality, I measure quantity – quantity of time spent toiling over a post. And if something comes easily to me, and becomes well read and popular, I feel like a fraud. Like it was luck or chance and it will never happen again, and I actually hope sometimes that it won't, so that people won't find out the truth: that I didn't slave over the piece for hours on end.
Limiting beliefs held me back from quitting my job to become a digital nomad sooner. They have held me back from getting my first freelancing client, from achieving my true potential, and ultimately from making an impact. Sounds crazy, right? But I bet you have some limiting beliefs that hold you back, too. I've listed over sixty of the most common limiting beliefs from an analysis of hundreds of comments on limiting beliefs across the internet. Do you think any of these things?
63 Limiting Beliefs that Hold You Back from Massive Success
- I'm not somebody who follows through
- I'm good at starting projects but I can't finish them
- I'm not an expert
- Nobody cares what I have to say
- I'm not perfect. Why would anybody listen to/buy from/hire me?
- I didn't work hard enough on this
- I'm not worth it
- I don't deserve [money, recognition, success]
- I don't have time
- My family isn't entrepreneurial (“Smiths don't start businesses!”)
- People will judge me
- I'm a creative
- I'm not creative
- I'm a procrastinator
- I'll sound stupid
- Somebody has thought of this before
- Other people can do it better than me
- Nobody is interested in my ideas
- My idea is weird. It's not the norm
- If I succeed, I won't be able to sustain it
- I don't have the skills
- I'll never be creative/analytical/mathematical/good at selling enough to be an entrepreneur
- People who have something to sell are evil
- Nobody would want what I have to offer
- I don't know enough
- I'm not a [numbers, business] person
- The people who are successful in this are out of your league
- You're not going to be successful so there's no point in trying
- I'm too old
- I'm too young
- I owe it to others to always work for them
- I'm beneath these people
- I'm a quitter. I don't finish things. I don't persist
- I'm lazy
- Entrepreneurs are sleazy
- I'm not original enough
- People like me don't … (build businesses, become entrepreneurs, become successful)
- People won't take me seriously because I'm..(female, male, young, old, fat, thin)
- I'll look foolish
- I don't feel like I could give enough value
- I've tried it before and failed, so I'll fail if I try again, too
- I can't because I have kids. I can't because I.
- Regardless of how hard I might work at something or how well I might do, I'll never measure up
- I will always avoid pursuing goals that matter to me
- What is meant to be will happen
- I can't ask for anything. I'll be rejected
- I don't/wouldn't know where to start
- The only way to success is to go to college, get a degree, and work your way up the corporate ladder
- I don't have the willpower
- I'm just not motivated
- I'm happy with how things are now
- I'm not smart enough
- I can't do that
- There is no point
- I don't have enough money
- I don't have enough support
- I don't have the connections
- I'm too shy
- I'm too scared
- That's just not “me”
- I'm not tech savvy
- I don't know what I want
- Now is not the time.
The First Step to Beating Your Limiting Beliefs and Empower Yourself to Accomplish More
If you're wondering how to overcome limiting beliefs, it's simple. And you've probably already taken the first step: Gain awareness. Because you can't fix a problem you don't know exists. After you've gained awareness of your limiting beliefs, you can start defying them.
That's what I'm doing right now. This post? It only took me two hours to write. It came naturally. The words flowed from my fingertips. It's not crap, just because I didn't labor over it. And for now, at least, I've come to accept that hard work is not necessarily good work, and good work doesn't have to be hard.
If you just read through that list and found even one of these beliefs resonated with you, you've taken the first step. So acknowledge these beliefs you hold with you. And when they crop up, beat them down. Prove them wrong. Flip them around. Because as Henry Ford has said, “whether you think you can, or you think you can't–you're right.”
17 thoughts on “63 Toxic Beliefs That Are Poisoning Your Potential as an Entrepreneur”
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You’re absolutely right: promoting awareness is the very first step to overcoming limiting beliefs and succeeding as an entrepreneur.
But at the same time, it’s not a bad thing to have these feelings, after all they’re natural. Getting a few positive steps in the right direction will prove to you that you can succeed in spite of those beliefs. Because eliminating them altogether is pretty unrealistic, and a waste of time.
I agree that limiting beliefs are natural and we all struggle with them. Thanks for commenting.
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“Gain awareness.” this is exactly why I started meditating, pushing up against the boundaries of my limiting beliefs inside so that I can accept them, then move past them. My friends and I also have ceremonies sometimes where we have a fire then we each write down some limiting beliefs on pieces of paper, then we read them out loud and throw them in the fire and say “Goodbye!” it gets very intimate and personal quickly.
A lot of the ones we came up with are on your list.
This is a really intensive list! Thanks for putting it together.
That’s an interesting approach to facing limiting beliefs. Where did you come up with it? Thank you for sharing!
This is soooo speaking to my life right now. I’m terrified of writing and yet for YEARS the desire to do so has not gone away….
I’m glad, Saquanda! That’s my aim 🙂 Just write!
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Yup! I read #1 and #2 and thought you were talking about me! I am a graphic designer that wants small businesses but I always felt like I need to go for the corporate businesses and realized that’s in my head. I see a lot of successful designers doing so many things and think I need to be doing so many things but then after reading another article of yours. Why do I need to go after what everyone else goes after?! I can do my own thing!
You can absolutely 100% do your own thing. You don’t have to do what other people are doing at all! Dont let those limiting beliefs suck you in 🙂
Hi Sarah! This is a very helpful article. I run across several of those limiting beliefs all the time, specially the “I don’t have enough money/support/connections”. I’m reading this as part of the 30-day challenge, thanks for helping me gain awareness 🙂
So glad it’s helpful, Liv!
Thank you so much for sharing. I also feel that I am at a turning point in my life and have realized how many blockages I have by my conscious and unconscious beliefs. Being such a positive person I believed that nothing can really block anything I honestly want to do, but that has not being the case. I had quite a few of your list 🙂 Its so important to realize and acknowledge what is limiting us so that we can finally deal with it and move on. Great work 🙂
Sarah, you just helped to recover my life, and that’s not stretching the truth! That limiting beliefs are natural don’t make them right. Growing up as an aspiring writer, I read too many great writers like Norman Mailer and Truman Capote who treated writing like a heavyweight boxing champion stepping into the ring to be bullied and bloodied. Just like you, for me, writing had to be hard for it to be good. Now as a blogger, older but certainly not wiser, I am aware that’s a limiting belief, but have not seen articulated in words like you just did. You did an unveiling,and I am free! It doesn’t have to be hard for it to be good! Thank you.
Sarah are there books that you would recommend on dealing with self limiting beliefs?
Ohh. Good question. To be honest, not really – I haven’t really read that many that deal with that. I’ll let you know if I come across any, though!
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