Don't make life harder by struggling with self imposed barriers. Here's the three most common barriers I see - and how to break through them.

Life is hard enough without having to struggle with self imposed barriers. Yet we all face barriers in our day to day lives, and our behaviour is shaped by the thoughts and feelings we have around these barriers.

This post will walk you through the most common barriers I encounter as a Life Coach, and what you can do if you find yourself facing one (or more) of these obstacles.

The most common barriers I see clients struggling with in my coaching practice are:

  • Perfectionism
  • Fear
  • Lack of Direction

Below, we will take a look at how each of these barriers manifest, the possible root causes of each, and what you can do to overcome these barriers and live your best life.

Don't make life harder by struggling with self imposed barriers. Here's the three most common barriers I see - and how to break through them.


Perfectionism is one of the most common things I see when working with my twenty-something clients, and it’s a topic I explored while completing my Psychology Degree as well. It’s something I’ve struggled with myself – so I know first hand how far reaching the effects of perfectionism can be on your personal growth and quality of life.

To understand perfectionism, we must first define it. I think Elizabeth Lombardo the author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love describes it beautifully:

“Perfectionists have an all-or-nothing mindset that’s propelled by a crippling fear of failure. They also have what’s called conditional self-worth. They think ‘I am only a good person if I can achieve these things.'”

Don’t panic if you find yourself relating to this definition, you can break through this barrier. Awareness is the first step, but if you want to take things further – consider my free online course “Goal Setting for Perfectionists”. This online course will walk you through what perfectionism is, how it affects you, exactly how it holds you back and what you can do to break free from perfectionism. The course starts this Spring, it’s work at your own pace and it’s completely free.

If you want more details, sign up to be on the VIP Launch List here:

Don't make life harder by struggling with self imposed barriers. Here's the three most common barriers I see - and how to break through them.


Fear can be one of the most challenging barriers to overcome – because we often aren’t aware that our actions are being motivated by fear.

Psychology Today explores fear as the following:

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason.”

Although fear has served us well from an evolutionary standpoint – it’s important to re-evaluate its role in your daily life. Being fearful of walking through a deserted parking lot late a night in a rough area of town is sensible. But does being fearful of applying for that big promotion serve you or hold you back?

If you find yourself repeatedly avoiding the one action that will allow you to make big progress on your goal, you might be dealing with fear. Ask yourself if you actions are coming from a place of fear, instead of the usually excuses such as “being too busy” and “laziness”. We often come up with a huge list of excuses for not doing something before we will acknowledge that fear is at play. Look out for procrastination, self-sabotage, burnout, business, overwhelm, overachievement and avoidance – fear loves to mascarade behind these excuses.

Here’s a list of the top fears my clients have discovered:

  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of loss (people, things, life stages, time, money etc)
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of rejection

Overcoming fear is a process, and takes time. You can start by identifying exactly what you are afraid of. Try journalling to peel back the layers of your thoughts and see what is the root cause.

Once you have identified your fear, try and write it down in one sentence,

“I am afraid of __________ because __________ ”.

It’s amazing how much power you can take away from fear by simply acknowledging it and labeling it.

If you aren’t sure what you are afraid of – ask yourself “What am I scared of losing?”. The possibility of loss is often the root cause of fear.

Don't make life harder by struggling with self imposed barriers. Here's the three most common barriers I see - and how to break through them.

Lack of Direction

It’s really hard to arrive where you want to be, when you aren’t even sure where you’re going. Lack of direction is possibly the biggest barrier I see in twenty-somethings (perfectionism still holds the spot of most common!), and if it goes unchecked it can really stall the momentum you build during this transformational decade.

However, it’s also one of the easiest barriers to remove – as you are adding something (clarity, focus, purpose) instead of taking something away (fear, perfectionism). You don’t have to learn a new skill, or move to a new city to discover your purpose – you just have to get in touch with what makes you feel alive, what motivates you and what your passions are.

Ask yourself when you last felt really “awesome”. What were you doing? How does this link to your purpose?

If you’re struggling with a lack of direction here are some great posts that can help:


Once you’ve discovered what’s holding you back, it’s significantly easier to reassess and strategize to reach your goals. Take a minute to imagine your life without the barriers you currently face. What would you be able to achieve? What would you be capable of? Who would you become as a result? When things get tough – it’s great to go back to this place of visualization, and remind yourself of why you are working so hard to make changes for the future.

Another great tool is finding an accountability buddy to help you stay on track once you have identified the barriers in your life. Get a friend or partner on board to help keep an eye out for behaviours and patterns that you use to put up barriers. Sometimes having someone point out your actions can help you remain focused on reaching your goals. If you want to learn more about breaking down barriers – especially around perfectionism- don’t forget to join the VIP Launch List for my free online Course “Goal Setting for Perfectionists” coming Spring 2018! You can join the list here: