Over the last four years, I have overcome a number of limiting beliefs about myself.
I didn't believe I had what it takes to go back to school to get my coaching certification. But I did it and became a coach.
I didn't think people would take me seriously as a coach and I'd never get any clients. But my coaching work is the centerpiece of a thriving business.
I didn't think I could ever learn the computer skills necessary to build a blog. But I did and now have two highly successful sites.
I didn't believe my writing was good enough to merit much attention. But I have thousands of lovely followers who express gratitude for what I write and share with them every day.
Like most people, I had dozens of limiting beliefs about myself and my abilities that had held me back from my potential for years. So what changed for me? What allowed me to push past my limiting beliefs and accomplish what I've accomplished in the last four years?
What happened was this: the pain of the status quo became bigger than my negative thoughts.
At the age of 50, with the realization I likely had more years behind me than ahead, I could no longer tolerate my own limitations. The knowledge that I wasn't expressing my potential and the deep longing for more descended on me like an ever-present dark cloud. I had to do something.
I started seeking my life passion, and my efforts ultimately led me to coaching. With my heart pounding and loads of doubt, I signed up for coaching school.
But once I busted through the initial fears of going back to school, starting a new business, and becoming relatively proficient as a blogger, I felt like Superwoman. I felt like I could do just about anything I set my mind to. Seeing my own potential in action was exhilarating.
- I overcame my belief that my learning skills had atrophied since I graduated college.
- I overcame my belief that I wasn't a good enough writer.
- I overcame my belief that as a “right-brained” thinker, I didn't really need to learn computer skills and that it would be too difficult for me.
- I overcame my belief that it was impossible to build a successful online business.
- I overcame my belief that it was too challenging to write a book.
- I overcame my belief that I had already “peaked” as professional and as a person.
But there was one limiting belief that was stubborn, one that continued to plague me in spite of my knowledge it was still holding me back in many ways. It was a belief that had been simmering for years, but it came to full boil when I turned 50.
I AM TOO OLD.
With all of the other limiting beliefs I overcame, the age factor played a role in stoking my fears and doubts. I am too old to go back to school, to learn something new, to start a business, to write a book, etc. For a long time, I didn't reveal my age on my blog or with my online peers because I thought I was too old to be accepted in such a youth-dominated field.
But with every success, with every accomplishment, I was learning that age didn't hold me back, it wasn't a factor to prevent me from doing what I wanted to do.
Believe me, I don't feel the way I once perceived a 54-year-old woman should feel. On the inside, I could be in my 30's. It feels exactly the same. My experiences in life are different, but my essential self is just the same.
However, all of the messages from the media and our youth-obsessed culture, remind me daily that yep, I'm an old fart. And of course, the image looking back at me in the mirror also reminds me that I'm not in my 30's any longer.
So the “I'm too old” limiting belief remained a nagging annoyance — until recently.
How running busted my limiting beliefs
I have always been a health-conscious person. But when it came to exercise, if it started to hurt or get too uncomfortable, I could use the excuse that I was young and slender so I didn't really “need” to work at it too hard. So I'd eventually quit my exercise program.
I also told myself for years that I was not a runner. I didn't like running. Running hurt. I tried it off and on since my teens. Every time I'd try, I'd push myself to run really hard for the first couple of days. Then I'd be sore and tired and give up.
In the last few years, I took up biking and rebounding to get some exercise. I enjoyed both. But something about running was taunting me, challenging me to prove myself wrong.
Recently I started noticing more people my age or older running by the river near my house. I developed some new friendships with people who are runners and who took up running in their late 40's or 50's. I started to ask questions about running, how to begin a running program without injury or too much pain.
I learned that the pain you experience as a new runner eventually dissipates if you practice running correctly, have the proper shoes, and begin slowly.
So I made the decision to try again.
Of course, in my first week, I reverted to old patterns. I pushed myself too hard, ran up and down some hills, and injured my knees.
But this time, I didn't use my injury as an excuse to stop altogether. Once my knees healed, I started again. I ran for 2 minutes and walked for 5. I did this for 30 minutes a day for the first week to establish the habit of running.
I slowly increased my running time and decreased my walking time. I slowly increased my distance. I took a day off between long runs. I reminded myself that the pain of the first mile would dissipate. It did.
The other day I reached a milestone. I ran 5 miles without stopping. I know I can run 6 if I choose. Or 7. I am a runner, and I'm not too old.
I recently attended a group run with a running club. The director of the club is in his 70's. He could out-run just about anyone in the group. He busted through his limiting beliefs about age before they ever appeared.
I have learned I can accomplish just about anything I want to accomplish. I have learned to ignore the voices in my head. I have learned it's never too late, you are never too old. If you want something, just do it.
What about you — what are your limiting beliefs that have been holding your back from your potential? Or if you've overcome a limiting belief, how have you done it? Please share your experiences in the comments below.