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How Self-Imposed Limits Destroy Your Chances of Success

On the dangers of quitting before you even try.

Like most guys in my high school, I had a crush on one of the most popular and beautiful girls in our class for 4 years.

She ran with the “cool” kids. She was an athlete. She was on Homecoming Court.

In short, she was so far out of my league, it was like we were playing two different sports.

Never once in 4 years of high school did I even consider asking her out on a date. What would be the point?

On the last day of our senior year, she and I traded yearbooks between classes so that we could sign them. We had always been friendly, though we were never close.

Sitting there with her yearbook in my hands, I figured, “Why not?”

In my note to her, I admitted that I always had a crush on her.

Nothing would come of it. I just thought it would be fun to admit it. I wanted her to know – I’d never see her again anyway, right?

The next time I saw her in the halls, we traded back our yearbooks. Once I got to my next class, I opened it up to see what she wrote.

To my complete and utter shock, she wrote something similar: that she had had a crush on me during these high school years, too.

This floored me.

Maybe we would have been terrible together, who knows? But because I couldn’t get over my complete lack of confidence in myself, I missed out on a shot to date a great girl in high school – or at least try.

I wish the story ended there, but it doesn’t.

A couple years later, while in college, this girl and I happened to start talking. She was single. I was single.

This was my chance.

But every time we got together, every part of my brain shut down. I was so terrified of screwing it up that I never relaxed. I could never be myself. I was so awkward that I destroyed any possible chance I could have had to be with her.

I never believed that she would want to be with me. So it never happened.

Now, to be clear, I am very happily married to someone else now. My wife is amazing and I don’t wish to go back in time and change who I ended up with.

But this story is a clear illustration of a problem that so many of us suffer from: self-limiting beliefs.

You’re placing a ceiling on yourself

“No one is ready for a thing until he believes he can acquire it. The state of mind must be belief, not mere hope or wish.” – Napoleon Hill

I could look at the story above and think, Well, I never had many chances to hang out with her in high school! It wasn’t meant to be!

And maybe that’s true.

But only a fool would believe that: I had opportunities. I just got in my own way.

Yet this is how we operate in every phase of our lives. When we fall short, we blame our circumstances instead of taking accountability.

Our problems aren’t the circumstances. Our problems are the limits we place on ourselves.

It’s everywhere – and once you see it, you can’t un-see it:

  • Those broke people who blame their “bad luck” for never having any money
  • The single people who think society isn’t fair to them and that’s why nobody likes them
  • Those fat people who think they are the victim of some petri dish of unique medical situations that cause them to be overweight

Those are big, obvious examples.

But we do it, too. Every day.

We don’t start that business because we think we don’t have the acumen or the finances or the connections or the experience to make it work.

Or we assume that it’s too risky based on what we’ve heard… so we never take the leap.

Logically, we know that it’s bad to place limiting beliefs on ourselves.

But that doesn’t stop us from doing it over and over.

This isn’t harmless – it’s crippling our potential and happiness

By giving into this mindset, we’re throwing away our potential for greatness.

And I don’t mean “greatness” in a historical sense. Very few of us will ever achieve that.

I mean the type of greatness that we define for ourselves: reaching the goals we always dreamed of and building the lifestyle and career that we want.

Allowing self-limiting beliefs to drive us can impact us negatively in so many ways:

  • We have no forward motion towards our goals. Living a life without forward motion is depressing and unsatisfying, to say the least.
  • Our dreams pass us by. “I always wanted to…” How many people start sentences like that as they get older? When we place artificial limits on ourselves, we never fulfill our dreams.
  • Bitterness. There are people very close to me who have spent their entire lives vilifying anyone who has money, and complaining about how broke they are to anyone who will listen. It’s no way to live, but it’s natural when you do that to yourself.
  • Settling. Because we don’t truly believe we can achieve something, we allow ourselves to be satisfied with the consolation prize – the thing we assume we deserve because of our circumstances.

Is this what you’re willing to do to yourself?

It’s not too late to change it.

You can get out of this mindset. You can see possibilities. You can go after high-level, aggressive goals in your life.

Here are some tricks to doing that:

5 ways to crush self-limiting beliefs

  1. Surround yourself with people who are already achieving what you want. This is about copywriting, after all, so let’s talk copywriters. Maybe you don’t know any of them in your personal life, but we live in the Age of the Internet. Build a Twitter List of freelance copywriters who are living the life you want (ahem). Let yourself be influenced by how they talk, how they think, and how they work. You’ll start seeing possibilities in your life that you never realized existed before.
  2. Journal about why you feel the way you do. You’re a writer, aren’t you? Open up a Google Doc or grab a random notebook and start writing. If you don’t believe you can make it as a freelance copywriter, start writing about why that is. Dig deep into those reasons. Often, just writing them down and seeing them in front of you is enough to make you realize you’re lying to yourself.
  3. Craft the Worst Case Scenario. Lots of people bag on Dave Ramsey these days, and that’s fine. But I loved when people would call his radio show and say there was no point in trying to pay off all their debts like he recommended. He’d always say, “Okay, try it my way for a month or two and see what happens. You can always go back and get more debt later.” I like that. We’re not married to anything. Even your Worst Case Scenario probably isn’t that bad. You can recover from anything. I made $18,000 gross in 2018 while supporting my wife and two kids. I stopped paying all our debts and racked up collections calls like crazy. And yet, here we are 5 years later. I’m writing this from our dream house with no credit cards, no student loans, and no medical bills anymore. You can survive your Worst Case Scenario.
  4. Break down your goals into tiny, actionable steps. My favorite part of the 7-day “fast start” guide is that each step is so manageable, you think you’re not making any meaningful progress. But at the end of a full week, you’ve got a fully-operational copywriting business. Small steps can lead to big results. And they’re a lot easier to handle mentally. Get 1% closer to your goal every day.
  5. Develop an unshakeable belief in yourself – logic be damned. I refused to admit defeat in 2018. My wife was selling stuff around the house for cash to buy groceries. Yet I continued to believe that I could turn things around. I never gave up on myself. That’s how I got through it, and that’s how the ship started pointing in the right direction in 2019. Sometimes you have to throw logic out the window and hang onto the understanding that, “If other people have done this, then I can do this too!”

If you combine those steps with ruthless, consistent action, you can blast through whatever ceilings you’ve placed above your head… and you’ll realize how stupid it was to limit yourself all along.

You can do this.

You can invest the time and money you need to build your career.

Take the first steps.

I made the first steps free, remember? Click here and review them if you haven’t already.

Your dream life is waiting for you. Don’t let it pass you by because of your own self doubts.

Lay the groundwork for your copywriting business in just one week of work. In this free guide, I hand you all the basics to get you started fast. No catch – just the cheat sheet.

Want a profitable, sustainable copywriting career? Tap into my 15+ years of copywriting experience and build a $3,000-$10,000/month income.