How Do You Get Started On Pursuing Your Goals?

The mountains we make out of molehills


Open Thread: Roadblocks | APW (7)

One of the hardest things in the world for me is getting started. Once I’m in the middle of something, you can throw down nearly any roadblock and I’ll happily kill myself trying to clamber over it, but I will put off taking the first step for years. First steps give me anxiety attacks. First steps make me want to throw up. If I don’t take the first step, then the future project remains perfect in my mind, and I don’t have to risk real-life failure. (Important note: I obviously define real-life failure as mockery and rejection exactly like what I’m subjecting myself to inside my own head. Good luck throwing anything worse at me, world.)

People often say in abstract that their partner makes them a better person. But one of the specific ways David makes me a better person is that he does whatever it takes to get me started. While all the hard work is mine, both my book and this blog would not exist without David forcing me to take the first step. Almost exactly six years ago, David suggested I start a blog called, “A Practical Wedding.” I thought about it a little bit, and then decided I had a zillion ideas and I wanted to get started. But the idea of setting up a blog on Blogspot was more than I could manage. This, from the girl who now runs a back end so complicated it looks like a spaceship. But I swear to God, the idea of going to Blogspot (God what a terrible platform that was) and hitting the sign up button seemed insurmountable. So I asked David to help me, and thirty minutes later he handed me the computer, with a basic little blog template, and told me to go. I wrote and published three posts that afternoon, once I’d been helped over that first hurdle.

These days, I spend a lot of time teaching about entrepreneurship at conferences, and writing about it online. One of my goals is to help people identify what tiny step they’re turning into a huge roadblock, and then help them figure out how to hurdle it. As women, we’re raised to be cautious—to not get too big for our britches. To be the opposite of fearless. Which means that as adults, we (knowingly or not) set up roadblocks for ourselves (on top of the institutional roadblocks that are already set up for us). There’s safety in the place between having a good idea and executing it. And I find it agonizing to see so many women’s great ideas stalled because of roadblocks, while men so often run with (and succeed with) pale imitations of the same product. One of my current life goals is to help more women get up, and get going. To figure out what they need, and then be brave enough start hustling to get it. To ask for help to get over the first hurdle, if that’s what it takes (and that’s what it takes for me).

We partnered up with Squarespace on this post, because one of my personal hugest hurdles for any project has always been creating a website. Example One Zillion: I own, and is there anything on it? Noooooo, of course there isn’t. Because I’m not going to pay big money for what is essentially a resume site to get designed, branded, and professionally hosted. But as a professional in online publishing, I’m pretty sure it also shouldn’t be some sort of terrible looking Blogger hack. In fact, I got halfway through a Tumblr hack, realized the whole thing was a disaster, and quit. (I just looked at that project, and all the posts are dated January 1, 2013, so that New Years resolution clearly failed). Yes, yes, I’ve been creating online content for six years, but unless I’m paying someone to build me a website, I am literally boggled by the idea of trying to set it up myself. So I came up with a far simpler solution. Do nothing.

But it’s not just me. Lately I’ve been talking to smart successful women business owners about this. Super savvy friends. The intelligent women of Instagram. And I am blown away by the number of iterations of excuses we come up with for why we can’t get moving. By the really small things (hello, websites) that get in our way. By the large things (raising money) that we’re not willing to even try, so we don’t risk failing. Because honesty breeds more honesty, I took a flash poll of the APW staff, to see what their biggest self-created roadblocks were. I think you’re going to feel better about yourself after you read this list.


For me it’s pretending time is a barrier. I’ve said all of these things to myself in the past week alone:

“I can’t write in the morning because I’m too sleepy and running around to get out the door.”
“I can’t write on my lunch hour because I have to have a true break from work and never take one anyway.”
“I can’t write in the evenings because I’m sooooo tired from the commute and ‘need’ to watch Call The Midwife.”
“I can’t write on the commute because A) I only write in my journal, so it’s free association and not ‘pretty’ writing, and B) if I write too much my hand might cramp.” REALLY.

What they all mean at the heart of it is the same thing I battle every time I sit down, for now and for ever: I’m scared to, because what if it isn’t any good? We should rename this thread APW: 30 Seconds of Group Therapy.


A website was always my number one roadblock. In fact, the only reason our initial business got off the ground was because Monica knew a little bit of coding and could set up a skeletal site for us.

But really, my roadblock is always perfection. I have to have the PERFECT site before I launch and the perfect portfolio and the perfect logo, and it ends up paralyzing me. I realized recently: I’m never going to be as good as my own expectations, but luckily there are people who want to work with me who have slightly lower expectations than I do.


“That’s something adults do,” or “That’s something professionals do,” i.e., I can’t do that. Seeing myself as a professional, grown-ass adult was hard and I often struggled to do or try things that were totally normal and appropriate for me to do because I didn’t feel like I was allowed to yet.


For me it’s that I feel like all the prep work and creation work should be completely done before I start showing things around. Like, I can’t promote my website until it has all beautiful photos and fifty great blog posts and, and, and. So I’m slowly coming around to the idea that finished is an unattainable goal, and it’s the little pieces that should be tended and then promoted individually.

Right? It’s quite probable that you think of the APW staff as a bunch of super-do-ers. It’s quite possible that you think of me as someone who could manage launching a simple website (for God’s sake). And we are, in fact, all really capable individuals. But we’re also good at holding ourselves back, and we sometimes need a huge kick in the ass to thrive. The staff is good at giving each other that kick, but today, we thought we’d all do it together. Let’s put this down in black and white.

A. What are the biggest roadblocks in your life right now (imaginary or not)?
B. What have you done in the past to overcome some of the hurdles you’ve found most overwhelming? While this hurdle could be “survive cancer,” or something else obviously huge, it can also be something tiny sounding like “buy a URL,” or “make the first phone call.” I think most of us have dealt with both huge and tiny roadblocks. And honestly? Sometimes the tiny ones are what lay me out, because with huge you just gotta keep moving to survive.

Let’s put it down in black and white, and encourage each other. If we do this right, by the end of this thread a few businesses may be born, a few new jobs found, a few personal breakthroughs had.

If, like me, your roadblock is (now and forever) a website, check out Squarespace. It’s what I’m going to use to solve the problem. Squarespace takes out all of the guesswork of creating a website (you can even make wedding websites with them). They have 24/7 support (if you, like me, get to a roadblock and quit if you can’t fix things in five seconds). Their designs are clean, minimal, and super customizable. And you can incorporate e-commerce without having to install a single plugin. All Squarespace accounts come with a 14-day free trial, and there are no hidden fees if you sign up for one of their plans.

This is one thing you can do today. sign up for a free trial. play with it all weekend. I will too, and I’ll report back later this month.



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  • Zoo

    Well, this resonates strongly with me.

    A. My major roadblock is always, ALWAYS having to tell someone else about it. As soon as I do, I doubt everything and just give up. My fiance is an exception, but if I tell anyone else about my Big Idea then it’s a death sentence. What’s worse, then I feel like a complete flake because I never follow through.

    A.2. In a group setting, insufficient organization is my bogeyman. I HATE working with disorganized people, so I always wind up doing all the organizing. Since my day job is highly organization-based (admin), it seems like there’s no point to spending extra time doing the same damn thing I do all day but for no pay. I quit one project after I thought to myself, “Look at me go on this exciting project! Secretary by day….secretary by night. Oh.”

    B. My biggest hurdle-overcoming victories have come from just hitting the “send” button. I do my best work in writing, and I’m rarely satisfied with it. But once I hit “send,” there’s no going back. I’m invested and I have to stick up for what I’ve written. Maybe the key for me is that I need a mental “send” button to help me get started and commit to things.

    • Trinity

      I hear you on A. I get really excited about an idea, tell others about it, and then start to feel my motivation wane.

      How to break out of this?

      • Violet

        Ooo, there are studies on this. Basically, the boost you get from telling people is a mini brain-reward. Then you’re less motivated to actually DO it, because your brain already got its reward. So, actually, this one study suggests keeping it under your hat! Also, fantasizing can provide a similar brain-reward. Instead of thinking, “It’ll be so great when I’ve quit smoking,” research has shown “If-then” statements help you make actual progress. “If I crave a cigarette, then I’ll get up and drink a glass of water.” I can look for references, but the second one is definitely Gabriel Oettingen.

        • Zoo

          Oh, iiiinteresting…. Hmm. I think I need to re-phrase my entire life into “if-then” statements. The first one: “If I am dicking around on Buzzfeed, then I will do a writing exercise instead.”

          • Violet

            Hahaha, I love it!

        • Shotgun Shirley

          Totally looking up Gabriel Oettingen for some reading later.

          • Violet

            Awesome! If you combine her Mental Contrasting technique (Where do I want to be, what’s gonna get in my way) with Peter Gollwitzer’s Implementation Intention (If Then), you’ll be unstoppable!

    • Sara

      I hear you on the A2. But mine is a little more complicated – I tend to be short on patience, so when the disorganized people in my group frustrate me I throw my hands up and just take it over. It me doing my normal job while also stage managing a play for a volunteer theater, organizing 2 3-day long meetings at work and becoming the lead at my kennel shift at the animal shelter to realize that mmmmayyybbeee I should learn to delegate or let other people do stuff for themselves. (as you can tell, I like to be busy). When I was in school I always took the lead on group projects because I thought I was ‘better’ at putting it together than everyone else. But how are they suppose to learn when I’m just taking it over anyway?

    • APracticalLaura

      Just hit the ‘send’ button on a manuscript I’ve been working on for months, but sitting on for weeks. Equal parts fearful of feedback and excited to have finally taken that leap!

    • Meg Keene


      It should be a coffee mug.

      • K.

        I would totally buy that.

    • Lisa

      I have such a huge fear of the “send” button that I can’t even bring myself to post what I just wrote about road blocks in my own life.

      • omg, I think I corrected my words about 6 times and then JUST HIT SEND. and now I feel silly but…

    • I agree with the just hitting send. A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email to ask for an opportunity. It was something out of my comfort zone, but I asked, and I pressed SEND. And…..the opportunity worked out, and it is a big deal for my artistic career development.

  • Laura C

    My biggest roadblock is and always will be hustle, lack of. I can work hard, I can work well, but sell myself? Bah. The thought gives me hives. Which is actually not a huge problem in my current life (not that it’s great, but not a huge problem), but makes it hard to contemplate anything like freelancing, which otherwise might be a good option for me at some point in the foreseeable future.

    • I hear you. I really need to work on the hustle. Like, I know I’m awesome and my friends know I’m awesome but if I do something awesome at work, I’m just all “Oh well, that’s my job. Not really a big deal. Just doing regular things.” Also, I’m terrible at networking which isn’t such a big deal in my current job but may pose major problems in my next job. I need tips!

  • Grace

    “First steps give me anxiety attacks. First steps make me want to throw up. If I don’t take the first step, then the future project remains perfect in my mind, and I don’t have to risk real-life failure.”


    I am in the first steps of a big project myself. I recently became the treasurer for the nonprofit I am on the board of, and inherited a massive project to start doing our own bookkeeping (because we’ve been paying a CPA who doesn’t care about our business). To start with, I had the online platform we’d decided on using, and a basic “we should be using fund accounting…go.” To be fair, I was one of the major instigators of this whole ordeal. But now it’s been staring me in the face, and it’s up to only me to do it. Plus since it’s for my volunteer work, it’s all got to happen (gulp) on evenings and weekends from home, where I’m at my least productive. That’s a lot of seemingly huge barriers to entry for an anxious procrastinator like me (plus Game of Thrones and Dancing With the Stars are about to start. Not. Helping.). I’ve finally got some bare bones structure set up and have read a whole chapter of Nonprofit Accounting and Bookkeeping for Dummies. There’s still so much to be done, but it’s a slightly less scary moster now that I’ve actually done something.

  • In my writing, my biggest roadblock is starting, writing that first line/paragraph/section. I’m very grateful for my junior English teacher who let us skip that whole introductory paragraph and jump right to the heart of the matter. Sometimes it’s the prep work that holds us back. But we can always go back and write that intro once we have a better idea of what we are introducing.

    • Meg Keene

      I actually write really long rambling intros and then usually go back and delete them. My saving grace as a writer is that I’m a crack delete-er. (Ask anyone I edit. I just slash whole paragraphs and move on.)

      • That a suggestion from several of my writing professors in college. Just start writing until you figure out what you’re writing about, then go back and dig out the good stuff.

        • Caroline

          Some of my teachers insisted I just write, literally anything, to start. I often start my writing by just repeating “I don’t know what to say. What am I going to write about?….” And then it morphs into something. Sometimes it’s an actual topic, and sometimes, it was the French class assignment to write a rap about how I can’t write a rap. Which actually got some laughs and wasn’t bad.

          I also just skip the intro or the thesis, figure out what I have to say, then write the intro or thesis or bit that draws it all together.

    • rys

      I also find getting started the hardest part of writing — not necessarily the intro (though I write those last anyways) but the literal act of writing each day. I’ve found that writing in small chunks with deadlines like a meeting or a seminar or even lunch are actually most effective for me. I also write whatever section I’m most excited about that day, which helps propel forward motion, no matter the actual order of a chapter. It’s mostly worked…dissertation is due next week. Still lots to do, but working in small increments has helped push through to the (almost) end.

      • Good luck with the dissertation! We just passed the 1 year mark from when I submitted mine. I have yet to read it from cover to cover. I wrote it completely out of order and edited it as we went. And now that it’s all done and over with I’m afraid to read it and find mistakes.

        • rys

          Thanks! I’ve been told to put it aside for a while after it’s done before revising it into a manuscript (I’m in a book field) so I expect I’ll feel much like you do in a year :)

      • Oh the act of writing every day! I struggle with this so badly! (this counts as writing right?). My writing thesis adviser told us the trick of when you don’t know what to write, just start copying paragraphs of favorite writings. Just feel the act of writing without having to do the dirty work, and then of course it usually launches you into something.
        Oh if I only did this.

    • Sharon Gorbacz

      I always wrote the whole paper, and then went back to write the thesis and conclusion afterward.

  • Trinity

    I think I’m facing two roadblocks. The first is low-grade depression. I’ll get super-excited about an idea (on a good day), and then all my energy goes away (most days). I’m considering going back to school, but I feel like the only way I made it through four years of college was gallons of coffee and tons of self-inflicted stress.

    The second is fear that I won’t have enough time/energy/can’t do all the things. Husband and I want to start a family (within a year), but grad school will take 2-3 years (because I need to continue working full-time so we can save for a house).

    • I struggle a lot with fear that I won’t have the time/energy to do all the things. I’m going back to med school full time in June, we are trying to buy a house, we want to start a family… and I can’t put my life on hold b/c I’m in school… it’s all very complicated. I’m the worst (or perhaps the best, but not in a good way) of getting ahead of myself and trying to plan it all. I also suffer with depression and anxiety, and I totally feel you on that being a roadblock.

      As someone who went back and forth on going back to school… my vote is to DO IT. You and husband will find a way to make it work, and in the long run, it will probably make your life much richer and more enjoyable. Good luck!

    • jbryant6

      I have a friend that is finishing up her last year of law school this semester – she gave birth during her first semester, and has been juggling her family, work, and classes. I know it wasn’t easy, but it is possible! I know some things fall through the cracks at times (mostly housework and laundry!) but both she and her husband know that it is worth it.
      Just letting you know: you can do it if it is what you want!!

    • JenClaireM

      I have the depression thing too (with a side of sometimes crippling anxiety), and that combined with my natural tendency to procrastinate can make it really hard for me to get stuff done. What I’ve found (slowly, over time) is that I actually do better the more I do work. Granted, it’s hard for me to remember this, but it’s like the body in motion tends to stay in motion idea, or how strength training works – the more I do something, the more I can do it, and then the part of the depression that’s situational doesn’t have as much to feed on.

      As for the going back to grad school question, when I was considering that, a friend told me, “You might as well. Two to three years will pass regardless and you can either have a degree or not at the end of it.” It was such an obvious (and also reductionist) statement, but he was right. It was a lot of hard work of course, but I did have my degree 2.5 years later, and I’m glad for that. I think if it’s something you want to do, go for it – because we most regret the things we don’t do in life.

  • ““That’s something adults do,” or “That’s something professionals do,”
    i.e., I can’t do that. Seeing myself as a professional, grown-ass adult
    was hard and I often struggled to do or try things that were totally
    normal and appropriate for me to do because I didn’t feel like I was
    allowed to yet.”

    THIS THIS THIS. Ken (husband) and I are taking our first baby-steps into home buying and I’ve already had about 12 meltdowns since the phrase “house hunting” passed my lips. When we got engaged, while we were planning a wedding, the DAY we got married, the day we moved into our new condo, and I’m sure at multiple points through the rest of my life, I will say, “Who decided that I was grown up enough to do this!?”

    Answer: No one. And spoiler alert, there are no “adulting police”. If there were, they would have caught me by now.

    And that’s okay. We’re all just kind of winging it, I guess, and we’ll all be okay.

    My biggest hurdle (recently) was reapplying to med school after a traumatic leaving of med school 5 years ago. I said that I wasn’t healthy enough, wasn’t strong enough, didn’t really want to… (lies, lies, lies). Then I said it was impractical, expensive, and somehow was going to ruin my life. (Lies, truth, lies.) Talking it out with my brother actually made me realize that being a physician is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted more than anything in my life, and that if I didn’t at least TRY again, I would spend the rest of my life regretting it. It also didn’t hurt that when I presented the idea to Ken he didn’t immediately say, “ARE YOU INSANE?” and instead said, “I think you should totally go for it!” In the end, I truly had to trust myself (and “the process” whatever that means) and take the flying leap off the cliff. I’m starting classes on 6/25 and I alternate between being terrified and wildly excited. We’ll see how it goes!

    • “Spoiler alert, there are no “adulting police”. If there were, they would have caught me by now.

      And that’s okay. We’re all just kind of winging it, I guess, and we’ll all be okay.”


    • Class of 1980

      “I’m sure at multiple points through the rest of my life, I will say, “Who decided that I was grown up enough to do this!?”

      At 55, I STILL feel like that!!! Then again, life just keeps going on, going on, and going on. So we have to keep trying things we are nervous about. I have decided that eventually I want to be a landlord owning multiple houses and sometimes a house flipper in addition to our current business.

      Knowing nothing about it is no excuse. I have a brain and can read. Everyone doing it now had to start somewhere.

      • “Life just keeps going on, going on, going on.” I have spent so much time just letting life go on, I’ve got to start doing stuff already!! And I am… one baby step at a time.
        Today I decided that I should probably do a mile marker timeline for my last year so I can see the progress I’ve made. I have made progress, it just doesn’t feel like it.

    • Jules

      Huge congratulations, Alison. That is totally, 100% admirable. Good luck!

  • stella

    Yes yes yes! What Maddie and Lucy said. I had a horrible episode of anxiety at the start of 2013 and it really knocked me down. I’ve been clawing my way back since, doing really well, only to have a relapse the last couple of weeks. Probably something to do with deciding I’d had enough and was finally ready to relaunch my business…! I got the website done, and bam!
    One of my biggest problems (in life in general and anxiety) is loss of control and perfectionism – as Meg said, getting started is so hard because of that, because what’s perfect in your mind doesn’t stay that way when you expose it to the light of the world. Getting past the idea that everyone has to start somewhere and all the amazing creative people I admire didn’t get there through sheer luck/right away is hard to accept. Also that I must keep doing the things I need to stave off the anxiety even if I’m feeling better…. exercise, meditate, massage, journal, lather rinse repeat.
    I actually did use squarespace to build the new website and I really, really love it. As a huge perfectionist and control freak it allows me to have just enough control, but with well designed templates that work and the option for a developer to tweak it later.

    • exercise, meditate, journal, yep. I always feel better when I do.

  • Emma Klues

    INCREDIBLE post, topic, forum, idea. This is brilliant, absolutely one of my pitfalls. I’ve started “throwing down the gauntlet” by making bets with friends about deadlines for personal projects so I feel obligated to get started because I also have these issues. Just this month I bought my friend a “manly diaper bag” because I owed him because our neighborhood website wasn’t done by the end of the year, as I had promised it would be. I look good as a gift giver, he’s thrilled, and the website is almost done. Say things out loud, put them out there, hold yourself accountable!

  • jbryant6

    THANK YOU!!! I created a pretty crappy website a couple years ago when I started freelancing, which I figured was better than nothing (and it was, I did see some work come my way from it). But I’ve been meaning to update and it and make it all pretty and sparkly, but it is in WordPress. I’d planned to learn CSS and I had plans to do all the things myself, and it never happened. I’ve been planning on rebranding after I get married and change my name (I have big plans for my new name!!) but haven’t been sure what my next step was going to be. Now I know: it’s check out Squarespace!

    • Meg Keene

      Totally. My friends already using it have been singing Squarespace’s praises, so I’m really excited.

    • Sarah E

      I used Squarespace to manage the webpage at my last job, and I plan to use it to create a website for my mom’s personal training business. Seriously easy to use, great customer service, easy to find answers to simple and complex queries, and it looks very neat and professional.

  • Emily

    First off, I feel like this has come at the perfect time. March is so dreary (in Michigan at least) and I feel like no one wants to DO anything.
    A. Embarrassment–I am embarrassed I owe so much in student loans, I’m embarrassed that we still have a POS car, I’m embarrassed that we won’t move into the perfect ranch-style home when we get married, ad nauseum. I know that no one cares, and no one is dwelling but me.
    B. I was also embarrassed that I did not have a drivers license until I was 22. Because I was embarrassed I didn’t want anyone to know; so I made up reasons why I couldn’t drive (i.e. Joe has the car, the car is out of gas, I have a headache…). Finally my FH bought me driver’s ed for adults from our community ed center, and I went and it wasn’t so embarrassing when I was with 8 other people who for one reason or another had missed this milestone. So now I drive the car when I have to and have discovered how excellent solo-errand running is. Finding others who have the same shortcomings helps. Being honest about my anxiety helps. Just opening my mouth and saying what’s on my mind is the most helpful.

  • K.

    1) Just have to say – we’re using Squarespace for our (still in progress until the summer) wedding website and I can’t say enough great things about how easy to use and gorgeous the templates are so far. They look like you either hired someone or spent a lot of time on the site, when really they are something anyone can do when they’re drinking wine and have a bunch of Buzzfeed tabs open.

    2) I’m an entrepreneurial content/marketing consultant and I still have a hard time saying that word – “consultant.” It sounds someone who wears a severe top-bun and swoops in on Major BFD Corporate Problems, rather than someone who types up press releases and has social media strategy calls in her pajamas with uncombed hair. But the thing is, I’m damn good at press releases/writing (my lackadaisical writing on APW comments notwithstanding) and I’m damn good at branding and I’m damn good at getting shit done. I’m good at my job! But like clockwork, I always downplay my efforts rather than saying, “Hey, if I really didn’t know ANYTHING about science, maybe this science blog wouldn’t have hired me to ghostwrite for them, hm?” So I’d say my biggest road block is underestimating myself and my own experience, which is fundamentally why I have always have a difficult time reaching out to new clients.

    • How did you get into doing that? How did you get damn good at your awesome sounding job? I’m super curious.

      • K.

        Networking, a long string of internships and jobs in very specific areas, and sheer force of will. It turns out that I was someone who wilts in a traditional office setting, but thrives by doing my own thing. But I still get bad, bad, BAD impostor syndrome. I feel like I’m faking my way through everything I do even though I know that’s not exactly true. And even when it IS true (that I’m faking it until I make it), it’s actually a big part of the entrepreneurial game.

        • Heather

          Imposter Syndrome? Is that a thing? Because if it is, based on what you describe, THAT IS ME.

          HUGE roadblock- feeling like I am faking my way through work, friends, volunteering, ALL OF IT.

          Wow. I feel a little loosening in my chest just knowing that you do it, too.

          Thanks, K. You just… wow. Thanks.

          • K.

            Yes! It’s a real psychological phenomenon. It’s basically when you are unable to comprehend your own accomplishments and growth. I think I read that 70%+ of people go through at some point in their lives and it’s a lot more prevalent in women.

            So you’re totally, totally not alone!!

  • R

    I am constantly looking at others and saying “well everyone out there is already so good, there isn’t any room left for me, what do I have to offer??” when I know I am perfectly good at it, I have wanted to be a wedding planner for 15 years but never had the guts to take the first step. I instead assisted with a planner for years and now own a wedding related business but not actually planning. I can doubt myself, create excuses, and hide behind fear like its a Olympic sport but maybe admitting this here is what I need to get off my behind and hustle.

    • Meg Keene

      Giiiirrrrrllllll. There is a massive gaping whole in the market for sane wedding planners with solid skills who aren’t mean people. FOR SERIOUS.

    • Meigh McPants

      DO IT. It’s not as scary as you think it is, and you’ll learn and improve with every wedding you do. I hemmed and hawed for aaaaages before I finally started my planning business, and it ultimately took me getting laid off from the worst job I’ve ever had (and a lot of encouragement and support from Mrs. McPants) for me to just go for it. It takes a lot of effort to change the status quo (even if you’re miserable, and it’s twice as hard if things are mostly fine) but I’m 87 zillion times happier with my life now.

      • Jules

        …Is there really space?!? This was like, my childhood dream career. Then I ran off and became an engineer, and one year out of college, I’m only so-so happy (read: “mostly fine”) and looking to do something else instead. Man. How do you even get started!

  • Sara

    A) I totally relate to most of the APW staff on their self-excuses, but I have to say the excuse I give myself is that I’m ‘too busy’ to do anything and I put it off. My mother refers to my brother and I as the King and Queen of procrastination. And while yes, I am a generally busy person, that is something I do by choice. I like volunteering and working overtime (I’m a huge wierdo that way), but when it comes to sitting down and writing a short story or reading a non-trashy book or even just cooking an elaborate meal (and I love cooking), I tend to say I don’t have the time or energy. And then I watch 3 episodes of Chuck on Netflix. This past weekend, I literally did nothing. Not my taxes, not my laundry, not even my dishes. Nothing. Clearly, I’m not that busy. (Too be fair, I did sleep 12 hours one night, so I was also tired).

    B) I don’t really have a solution to my issue, but I seem to find that when I jump on something the second I think of it, it tends to get done. Ironically, being busy means I have less down time to put stuff off and the procrastination gets a little better.

  • “For me it’s that I feel like all the prep work and creation work should be completely done before I start showing things around.” – This is 100% what my roadblock is. That and being completely convinced of eventual failure and that I’m not good enough. I’m not quite sure what happened, but somewhere between 22-ish and now (26), I’ve developed a total lack of faith in myself. I’ll get a good idea, then immediately start thinking all those “I Can’t” thoughts, and “I’m not ___ enough” thoughts.

    The most effective way for me to overcome this so far has been first of all recognizing what’s happening, and then just forcing myself to start before I give up. I have to make myself take that first step that puts myself out there right away, while I’m still really excited about the idea, and before all the “I Cant’s” have had too long to steep in my brain. If I don’t do that right away, there almost no chance I’ll ever do it.

    • Violet

      I have a serious case of the “I can’ts” too! They come up whenever I feel overwhelmed, I immediately jump to that thought. Lately I’ve been taking a deep, mindful breath, then saying to myself, “Okay, you don’t want to do this. You feel uncomfortable. But you can.” So hard, I’m with you on this!

      • Me too. The “I can’ts”. It definitely helps to try to be mindful and just observe what is happening. I can usually talk myself out of it, but sometimes that takes a lot of emotional energy and then it feels even harder to get started. But I love your words, “okay, you don’t want to do this. you feel uncomfortable. but you can.”

  • Emily Ardoin

    I am graduating with my MBA in December, and this talk absolutely petrifies me. It’s not so much that I set up roadblocks against achieving my goals… I’m afraid to actually acknowledge goals! I feel like if I admit that I truly want something, and I don’t go after it, I’m letting myself and my family and friends down. I’m terrified of trying and failing, because I’ve never really failed at anything in my life. (I seem to play it safe and don’t put myself out there enough).

    Anyway, this open thread makes me scared and pushes me to think and overall I hate it, because it’s so much easier to live day to day than to push yourself to try something new. I am an intelligent, driven, logical person. It amazes me how much I get in the way of myself!

  • Amanda Michele Rhaesa

    Thank you so much for this post. I am currently in a Biochemistry PhD program. I struggle on a regular basis with my own personally assembled road blocks. I find myself regularly second guessing if I even belong in this scientific world, and the answer is yes, but I have trouble accepting that I am in fact good enough. Also, I hate taking first steps. I hate calling strangers to help me do just about anything (fix my internet, find the right product/supplier, schedule a doctors appointment) I don’t know why its always so hard for me, but it really is a struggle.

    • Emily Ardoin

      I’m graduating with my MBA and I have the same feeling as you! Graduate school is scary because you’re specializing and really committing to something wholeheartedly. I feel your pain/nervousness/doubts.

  • Sonora Webster

    Isn’t it funny how saying these things out loud makes you realize how crazy they are? You can build the smallest things into these giant, scary monsters in your brain, and when you say it out loud, it’s like, why was that tiny little mouse stopping me from doing what I want to do?

    • Yes!! For me, it’s the fact that everyone else is saying them too! I mean, when you get stuck in your own head telling yourself all the reasons you can’t do something and aren’t good enough, you’re likely to believe it. But seeing that having doubts and worries is just a normal part of putting yourself out there and starting something new – and that yes, indeed, other smart, talented, creative ladies have the exact same thoughts – makes me realize that these crazy thoughts really are, in fact, crazy!

    • Cathi

      Seriously! I have this issue with finding a new, more lucrative job.

      “What if they just throw my application away? What if they don’t call me?”<–clearly, the worst thing in the entire world, skies will come crashing down, pits will open up in the earth and swallow houses whole.

      "Then they don't call? You keep working at the job you have right now? And life stays the same? Which it will anyway if you don't apply?"<– Oh. Yeah. Duh.

      • Exactly. It doesn’t hurt to try. And then you can say you tried.

    • Class of 1980

      Yes, yes, yes. Tiny little things can throw you.

      My business partner didn’t even know how to TURN ON a computer at one point in the 1990s. He ended up with an Internet business. Too funny.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Roadblock overcome: Getting treatment for PMDD. I realized that I didn’t have to follow through if the treatment was worse than the condition. I could make the appointment, and if it was too stressful, I could cancel. I could go to the appointment, and if it was too invasive, I could refuse. I could get the prescription, and not fill it. Since my mother is a doctor, I’m still stuck with a lot of “Doctor knows best,” but when I realized I was in charge of every step, that it wasn’t “whatever the doctor says” or nothing, it became easier.

    Roadblock I’m working on: Asking for things professionally. Asking for more assignments at work. Asking for connections in networking. Asking my secretary to do normal tasks. Some of it is an innate shyness. Some of it is gendered wallflower stuff and not wanting to be a nag. Some of it is outdated myths about “If you work hard and do good work, you’ll get recognized.” Also a lot of religion-based thinking about humility. I know I’ve also gotten some rude responses when I’ve asked for help in ways I thought were appropriate. It’s hard to put into words, but I really struggle with a fear that people above me socially or professionally or whatever will think I’m an idiot.

    With my new job, I’ve tried to resolve to do better, and just pick up the phone, or go to my secretary’s desk, or send the email, if that’s what the job requires. I think I’ve cut my procrastination time in half. I still have trouble with asking for more assignments and asking/demanding benefits.

    Other roadblock: Cleaning the apartment. The first thorough cleaning I did after my husband moved in took 13 hours. There was lots of yelling and crying. When I lived alone, it took 4 hours (with no yelling or crying). I never have 4 hours or 13 hours these days. It took over a year, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t do the cleaning and the apartment can’t be clean in the same way it was before. Now we set aside 2-3 hours each weekend, and 1 or 2 rooms get a thorough cleaning. I’ve accepted that the whole place will never be clean all at once the way it used to be.

  • Oddball roadblock I am working on: getting some relatives to recognize that I am an adult, not a young teen or even a tween. I struggle to keep from falling into childhood patterns with them, though the majority of other adults in my life see me as an autonomous, indepent, self-reliant adult. 90% of the time I am like “I am a grown woman, this is my life and my decision (or a decision that is for my baby family to make) and it only matters to me what I think and what I need.” I am immensely grateful for my friends who help me with brainstorming, bouncing around ideas, and pointing out to me in moments of self-doubt that I am a grown woman and get to make my own path.

  • My biggest roadblock is a lack of self-confidence. I have trouble acknowledging and convincing myself that I actually can accomplish things if I want to, even though I have done so in the past. That, and starting. The next biggest goal after the wedding is going back to school for a career-oriented degree so I can get my career on track. At the moment, that particular part of my life is stagnant.

    • Cathi

      Stagnation is our enemy, I think. I’ve been in the same sort of boat (forgetting that I can, you know, do things).

      Somewhere between going to college and doing ALL THE THINGS, and now (6 years post-graduation, bartending at the same place since college), I’ve been doing pretty much nothing, and it has to be a self-fullfilling prophecy. The less you do, the less you think you can do, since you’re not doing much.

      Hopefully the inverse is true: The more you do, the more you believe in yourself, because you’re doing things!

      • I just had to stop worrying about taking on more debt and start worrying about the fact that my resume is full of jobs between 3 and 7 months in duration since I graduated college almost 2 years ago. Now that I’m working a dead-end receptionist position under two of the worst (read: most evil) managers imaginable (a job I want to leave after just 2 months), I’m beginning to realize that taking on more debt for a degree in something like Information Systems is going to pay dividends for me in the future. Much more so than where I am now. So I just have to believe that I can do it… because yeah, stagnation sucks, as does shitty employment.

        • Sarah E

          Evil manager fist-bump. I just got out of that situation, feeling like “Oh, awesome, another short-term job to add to my credentials. Way to go, self, on choosing wrong AGAIN.”

          • I swear!! I can’t help but think it was my fault for this one. I left a temp position I’d been at for 3 months following a layoff to take this job. It seemed promising at the interview and the owners seemed nice. Then I got there and everyone told me how they really were. It’s been a complete nightmare.

          • It’s not your fault. Don’t think that. We can’t think that. I’ve been in what seems like a downward spiral for six years, but if I really look at it, the downward spiral had to do with not listening to what I needed and wanted and just accepting what I thought I “should” do. That was my fault, that was my failure. Not the part where I took a leap to find something new. That was just experience.

          • Sarah E

            Yeah, same thing happened to me. I took a position that I thought was the absolute ideal job for me. I was over the moon about it. Sure, the owner seemed a little controlling, but I can deal with it as long as I know it. Nope, that was the very top crystal of the ice berg. It culminated in me preparing to quit gracefully, and meanwhile getting fired for my reasonable actions. What. EVER. Back to square one.

          • Oh, that’s the one I tell myself all the time, “way to go for choosing wrong again.” But, we have to remember that trying to choose right is still moving forward, right?

  • Anne

    Definitely perfectionism. My husband and I have shorthand for this; we say, “Just make the “f***ing pot.”

    Have you heard the story about the two students in a ceramics class? One student spent all semester perfecting the perfect pot. The other made a new pot every week, learning from the previous week’s insights and mistakes. Who makes the better pot at the end of the semester? The woman who crafted fifteen different pots!

    • Class of 1980

      Perfectionism and fucking RESEARCH research research is my downfall. I am starting to realize where I have to put in the research and where it just doesn’t matter.

      Also, my business partner is always more gung ho that me and less likely to see the pitfalls of anything new. I’d like to think we balance each other out, but I think I’m a little too aware of how things can go pear shaped.

    • Right! Just make another pot already! Just write something and click send! Just do something and put it out there! It takes practice, the practicing. It takes practice to accept that everything won’t be perfect.

    • I am a little late on the reply, but that story is exactly what I needed to hear! I was raised in an environment where failure wasn’t acceptable and it has left me with a paralyzing fear of trying something new that I won’t automatically be wonderful at. There are so many things I want to do, but never let myself start because the practicing/learning phase is terrifying… which is ridiculous. Somehow the simple story just really resonates with the fear I have and helps me feel a little braver about starting something new.

      • Anne

        I’m so glad that story resonated for you. That little story packs a punch, doesn’t it! I completely relate to that fear of not trying new things. Keep practicing being brave — it’s like a muscle :) Make some pots!

  • I think my big overarching roadblock is insecurity-I’ve always had a hard time accepting compliments, and I now struggle to take pride in my accomplishments and feel like I’m achieving as much as I should be. I’m finishing up my Ph.D. in the next couple months, and it’s a process that I think can be pretty hard on you to begin with, plus my boss gives out very limited positive feedback, and while she’s improved over the past couple years, it used to be that you would come out of her office after a peptalk knowing that she was trying to give you a peptalk, but wanting to cry. So, while I don’t hold her responsible for my roadblocks, its…definitely not been an environment which helps to re-organize negative internal thinking. I’m very worried about figuring out the next step and feeling a combination of, am I good enough to do whatever X,Y,Z things, and what do I Want to do. The future in academia for a young investigator right now is dire, and both my fiance and I are in science, hoping to teach college, and strongly worried about whether we’ll be able to get jobs we want, and if it’s worth it, or if we should switch to an alternate career track now (and potentially be happier/less stressed/make more money and have more stability). I have definitely broken down crying at least a couple times in the past couple weeks about whether I can do Science/get a job to bring in the rent for our remaining time in Houston waiting for my fiance to finish his phd.

    • Raakele

      I hear ya – this is exactly where I’m at, too. I feel like I’m approaching a cliff. My defense is scheduled for July, but I do not have anything lined up yet for afterwards. I’ve got applications out for post doc fellowships, but they all seem like long shots. I’m worried. I don’t know what to do about it and what I really need to be doing is focusing on finishing my dissertation! Insecurity is a big, ugly roadblock.

    • EF

      I’m in a similar club, but with a different grad degree. I’ve just gotten a fairly illustrious research position at, like, my dream NGO (I’m in human rights law), but it’s unpaid. I almost didn’t apply for it because of my own doubts in my abilities, or that I’m just vaguely not good enough, but my fiance pushed me to apply anyway. Which was good!
      My dissertation is due in September, I’ll get the grade in December. I don’t know what I’ll be doing all Autumn (other than applying for a partner visa) and that scares me a lot. Like, did I need three degrees to be an unpaid researcher and maybe bring in some side income working at a coffeeshop?

  • Mezza

    Social anxiety. Ugh. I am actually quite confident in myself and my abilities, but put me in a place where I have to call someone or approach someone in person, or god forbid socialize among a group of strangers, and I freeze up. It holds me back from asking for things at work (currently I’m putting off asking my company to pay for my continuing ed credits), meeting new people, networking, maintaining connections, etc. I just have this fear of coming off as weird or overly forward, and it’s probably totally unfounded but it’s very hard to get past.

    • jashshea

      Oh this blocks me so hard in my personal life. For whatever reason it doesn’t bother me professionally (though I don’t have to do a ton of cold-calling at work), but I’m such a scaredy-cat to walk up to someone at a party and make conversation.

    • JenClaireM

      Yes! I have this too. There are so many things I’m interested in doing – even things as simple as taking a cooking class – that I trip up on because I’m like, oh but then I’ll have to talk to strangers. Most people don’t even realize I have this social anxiety because I’m GREAT once I know people. But if the room is full of strangers? It’s like a collapse on myself and barely even recognize the person I am I get so anxious.

    • Networking is terrifying to me.

      • Sarah E

        I hate networking when I’m just there as myself. When I’m there as part of a project or representing a business or introducing a new friend, I’m a rock star. Also? I like to find the networking events with booze. A. At least I get booze B. Refills are something to do/pretend to do when I’m stuck and C. I can talk about the booze (beer snob default topic) if I run out of things to say.

  • Casey

    I have a website through Squarespace and can’t say enough good things about them! I used to use Blogger and could never get it to look quite the way I wanted. Squarespace is so intuitive and they have so many beautiful templates.

  • Sarah E

    A. I’m not sure where to start with my biggest road block. I think it’s my in-a-rut thinking pattern. I have a really hard time changing the story I tell myself about myself. For example: I’ve told myself for a long time that I don’t know how to work hard, so I better not sign up for hard work. I’ve told myself over and over again that I don’t have any friends in Lincoln, so I don’t recognize the friends I have made or reach out to new friends and acquaintances. Sometimes I wonder if I really do have diagnosable mental health issues.

    Plus, I have a lot of fixed-mindset issues. I have a hard time reconciling the belief we’re all born with innate strengths and should play to them, but also we can do anything with enough practice. for example: Meg has done a lot of things I admire, but she’s born with tons of drive, so that’s probably why. I can’t do that. Maddie has started her own business as a young professional, but she had Meg to kick her butt and creative skills as a photographer. I don’t have that, so I can’t. Kathleen worked really hard through college and built an impressive graphic design career that allowed her to go solo, but I don’t have marketable skills like that. Kate took kick-ass internships through college and law school, so she got a great position at a law firm, but I didn’t do that in school, so I’m fucked now.

    I tend to believe that I don’t have the experience for any job I want, which prevents me from going out and getting the experience I want/need. I tend to believe that the people who are living the lifestyle I want are doing it in some other realm, rather than here on earth.

    B. I overcome obstacles when I act from a place that feels most like myself. All the self-doubt and insecurity don’t feel like my true self. Whether that’s taking a walk, going to write in my favorite local coffee shop, listening to all my old favorite music, when I get to a place where I take a deep breath and feel like Me, I do great work. I hit “send.” I publish the post. I come up with the ideas. I feel ready for the world. It’s hard to make myself do those things amidst non-ideal circumstances, but those are exactly the circumstances when the hard work has to be done.

    • Meg Keene

      Corrections ;) Meg has failed a lot. A LOT. Like, first career and degree a lot. You guys want sunk costs? I have a $150K degree in theatre and then I realized I hated the industry and had to quit. And on little things like, this year I’m teaching myself to style photos. OMG. The first day of styling I suggested we quit, and hire a professional because clearly this could not be learned. Maddie told me to shut up, so that was nice. (You’ll see the pictures soon, of drinks, they’re pretty ok. I’m not going to oversell it, but they’re not horrible.)

      Also, I just read this out loud to Maddie about her creative skills as a photographer and she started laughing uncontrollably. AND, I saw Maddie’s first photos and… I can do fancier stuff with the editing tools on my iPhone now (Maddie would tell you I’m being kind). And by “having Meg to kick her butt,” she means, she didn’t know me and she emailed me once to say she was starting a business and I was like “cool.” And then a few months later I emailed her and was like “I have one ad spot left, and I’ll give you a sweet deal but you have to take it now. Are you doing this or what?” And she was like “OH SHIT. FML.” And then she took it and that was that.

      Kathleen may, in fact, have had a more direct career path with less abject failure.

      • Kelly Mine-His

        This is why business partners and mentors are so great. You really do need someone to be accountable to, who will ask/tell you to do things that you can’t really say no to.

        • Ok, yes. So, how do you find a mentor when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing? There are a LOT of things I’d like to learn how to do, but I do not have the finances or the time to just start taking random classes in photo styling. In fact, I have a account so I can learn a lot of computer things I wish I knew how to do, but forcing myself to sit down and do them, for me, with no interaction with anyone else, that part is much harder for me. Actual classes, actual interactive work is so much more rewarding for me. I even did better writing when I took my thesis class where we had bi-weekly peer review. Perhaps I just need socialization, and for a shy introvert that seems crazy.

      • Sarah E

        Well, at least I gave Maddie a laugh today. . . .

        Thanks to what you’ve shared in your writing, I know you’ve failed a lot both before you started APW and since. It’s just a lot easier to contextualize them when A. they aren’t my failures and B. the person sharing them has hindsight herself.

        I’ll work on it.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          Girl, I’ve been waiting all day to respond to your comment. There are not enough WORDS to describe how terrible I was when I started. Seriously. I was the living embodiment of that Ira Glass quote about taste. (Have you heard it yet? It’s amazing. Do you know what I used to do when I first started to make myself feel better? I’d go to the blog of my favorite photographers, then scroll through their archives to their very first blog posts. And I’d compare their work when they started to my work when I started and I’d set that as my benchmark. Which was still a pretty far reach. :) The only thing any of the people you listed have in common, actually, is powering through work, powering through being shitty, powering through being not as good or as far along as we want to be, and then putting in the hours to try and remedy that.

          Plus, my photography career only came after a failed start in the entertainment industry. :)

          That said, I think we all benefit when we’re being honest about how we got here. I probably wouldn’t have been able to slog through the early days of my photography business if the “How I Got Started” stories of my favorite photographers didn’t feel so close to my own. Because then it felt like my goals were tangible. Like, “Oh you had no money or skill and you didn’t even know how to use your camera settings? FUNNY ME NEITHER. I guess it’s only five years before I’m an internationally famous wedding photographer too!” (Ok, well, honesty from others and a little bit of delusion up in your head will get you far.)

          • Louise

            YES! I LOVE this so much. I have shared this with a few people, and try to remind myself of it when I need it. It’s so true. You just have to do more work. And then you get better. 10,000 hours, says Malcom Gladwell…

    • Meigh McPants

      “I overcome obstacles when I act from a place that feels most like myself.”
      YES. Yeeees. Deciding to be my (quirky, tattooed, sassy) -self and trusting that that would find me the right clients was one of the best business decisions I ever made. Way to go for recognizing this in yourself. You have access to that place all the time, even in non-ideal settings, you just have to clear away all the noise. Which brings me to my next quote:

      “Sometimes I wonder if I really do have diagnosable mental health issues.”

      Things like excessive procrastination and feelings of extreme self criticism can absolutely be signs of a depression or anxiety disorder. If you think this might be something you’re tackling, I highly encourage you to talk to a mental health professional (or even your regular GP for a rec if that seems too difficult). The worst that happens is you spend an hour chatting with someone about yourself. The best that happens is you can address and treat something that’s holding you back. Best of luck!

  • april

    For me, it’s indecision and a fear of limiting my options. I hate the idea of choosing one path because it shuts off a lot of others. As a simple example, I didn’t declare a major in college until the last possible moment. Now – in my professional life – I still shy away from opportunities or decisions that I fear may limit my opportunities later on.
    The things that help me the most – structure and deadlines, even self-imposed ones. If I really make myself believe that a decision has to be made by a certain point, then I find it easier to ‘pull the trigger’ (so to speak).

  • Before I get into the thread (which is going to be a good one!) I just wanted to say that Squarespace is SO legit and that’s what we used to create our wedding website! Their templates are so slick and beautiful for profesh stuff too!

    • Stella

      We used it for our wedding site too! It was amazing – super easy and the templates actually looked nice!

    • MC

      We’re using it too, and we’ve gotten a TON of compliments on it!! Love Squarespace.

      • Nope.

        I know this isn’t really on topic, but does anyone have a specific reason why they chose Squarespace over another type of wedding website? We need to start making ours, and I’m just getting into the pros/cons of glosite, Squarespace, etc.

        • MC

          We didn’t really do very much research on it so I can’t offer a good comparison, but I like Squarespace because it’s super easy to use while still super easy to customize. I know some wedding website come with very wedding-y templates (pink, flowers, hearts, all that jazz). The website is mostly my fiance’s project, but with Squarespace it’s super easy for me to log on and edit things without any tips or training from him.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          Coming from the other side (Squarespace wasn’t around when we planned our wedding), they hit the magic of inexpensive, easy to customize, and no coding knowledge required. The free templates are, well, free, but you can’t do much with them (and the templates…yikes.). And other platforms require more than just plug and play knowledge to use. Squarespace is easy and cheap and really pretty.

        • Meg Keene

          Squarespace and Glosite are totally different things. Glo is a guest management software, that is your communication hub for guests, complete with paperless invites. It also happens to have a website interface. Squarespace is your classic website, and it’s very clean and graphic and works really well if you have awesome engagement photos to play with.

          IE, I really love them both, but in my mind they’re actually totally different products that each speak to totally different consumers. So it kind of depends on what you WANT. Both are awesome for what they are. In the world of straightforward wedding websites (which is all we had), I would have KILLED for Squarespace and it’s stylish easy templates. Our blogger hack did… not look like that.

        • Caroline

          We used Easy to do, no coding needed (I think similar to square space). Definitely good for a wedding website. I’ve used them for other stuff and for professional stuff, I find their servers are sometime slower than I want, but just fine for a wedding website and it was easy.

    • Jennie

      I also used it as my first website when I started my doula business. I got lots of positive feedback from my early clients & since I have NO coding skills it was really my only option. I now have a professional website, but for someone starting a business without several thousand dollars of capital, squarespace is a fantastic platform for an easy and good looking website!

    • Meg Keene

      I’m kinda excited that part of my job next week is to play with it. It’s also going to to save my ass on my resume shot.

  • It sounds so obvious, but setting goals is the way I get past my road blocks, particularly with creative endeavors. If I WANT to do something, whatever. But I make a GOAL to do something? Then I simply MUST DO IT. It’s not logical, I know. I just feel like I can use that “be a good girl” nature that so many of us learned at a young age to my advantage and motivate myself that way. I usually tell people about my goals (like the internet, or just a friend) because that makes them real goals in my head. Like it doesn’t count unless it’s public in some way.

    One major roadblock I overcame was a lack of great photos keeping me from publishing blog posts. Last year I made a goal to learn to take better photos. It was hard and humbling and annoying but it was my big goal for the year so I did it. In the meantime, I experimented with stock photos. I also put less pressure on myself to write as often, recognizing that if a picture was worth 1,000 words, I couldn’t do a ton of photos and a ton of words (at least not at the beginning). By the end of 2014, I knew how to use my camera in manual mode and am now doing mini shoots for my job (!!). Oh and then I then finally just got myself a damn blog template that doesn’t really require a photo with each post so I could kinda have it both ways.

    Anyway, screw everyone who says no one keeps their new years resolutions…setting goals has helped me a TON!

    • JenClaireM

      Oh my goodness, photos – yes! This issue has practically killed my own little blog. Because I can see how much more I like the look of and engage in content that has pretty pictures, but I really struggle with getting them on my blog myself because by the time I’m done writing a post, I’m like, “And now a photo too?” Plus, I realize I need MUCH more professional grade photos – my hipstamatic stuff, as fun as it is to me, really isn’t cutting it. But it all just feels so overwhelming, that I’ve just gotten stuck. What did you do to learn to take better photos? Did you already have a non-phone camera, or did you have to get one?

  • Kayjayoh

    “A website was always my number one roadblock.”

    This could be me talking. I have a website. I love my website. But once I moved away from Blogger and the web moved beyond basic HTML and comment spam became a thing, the frustration of trying to make it *work* overwhelmed the joy of posting entries and photos. I stubbornly refuse to give it up, but I can’t handle the technical aspects on my own and I can’t afford to pay someone to fix it, so it languishes.

    • What platform are you using? How is the comment spam holding you back? (Sorry for the third degree, just wondering if I can help!)

      • Kayjayoh

        Super out-dated (at this point) version of Movable Type. And comment spam was meaning that I’d wake up in the morning and have to delete hundreds of spam comments that got past the captcha somehow. By the time I’d gotten that dealt with (mostly) I was so frustrated with the whole thing (templates not working right, for example) that I could barely stand to deal with it any more. And now it’s also so dated looking that I find myself thinking I need to redesign it all…and then I remember that my HTML skills are suited to the web circa 2003. And then I go find something else to do.

      • Kayjayoh

        Also frustrating is that I’ve have the blog since 2002 and the domain for almost as long, so there are a lot of archives to deal with. I remember that it was a little bit scary to move from my blogspot blog to my own domain (hosted by a friend from high school). It was super frustrating and painful when Blogger went through a flaky period and I decided to migrate to MT. So while I toy with moving to yet another platform (WordPress, for example) I get paralyzed at yet another round of “Argh! Why isn’t this working? What to they mean? Why didn’t all the archives come over…”

    • Meg Keene

      Ok, I’m trying this next week, why don’t you try it too:

      Free trial. We’ll dive in together.

    • Meg Keene


  • Cathi

    The Sunk Cost Fallacy has me in its horrible claws, in addition to the all too common fear of people thinking I’m a failure.

    I’ve spent X amount of time and money on __[painting the mediocre apartment, getting a degree, staying with this mediocre job, wearing these crappy shoes]__, so doing something different would make the previous time/money investment a HUGE MISTAKE and a WASTE. Which would signify to the world that I SUCK and am STUPID and make BAD DECISIONS.

    Nevermind the fact that, whatever. The status quo is what it is, but changing my life up could perhaps be a GOOD CHOICE and an INVESTMENT. It might even signify to the world that I’m AWESOME and am SMART and make BRAVE DECISIONS. The fear of the negative perception wins out every time.

    • Violet

      Can I just say I love that someone else out there has to fight against Sunk Cost Fallacy too?

  • Cara

    My current hurdle is not knowing where to go next. I have no problem starting something, so long as I know WHAT it is I want to start (though finishing can often be an issue), but right now I have absolutely no idea what I want to do. I’ve researched several different career options, but none of them feel like they are calling to me, and I can’t make up my mind. That was my problem writing papers in college, too, I’d struggle to pick a topic, but once I decided, I’d start cranking it out (and then take a break that I thought was much needed, get distracted, and lack motivation to finish it. Hmm. Another roadblock…).

    • Trinity

      I ended up going to a psychologist to try to make some progress on finding a new career. We eventually identified what I want: flexibility, a really good income, and no more education required than a master’s degree. Then, since I felt like I had to start ruling out options to start finding ones that might work, and since income is one of my top priorities, I downloaded a goverment spreadsheet of occupations and average/median incomes and started researching each career from the top median income downward.

  • Sarah E

    Oh, and stubbornness. In that when I get encouragement from people I know, it’s basically a stubborn knee-jerk reaction to resist positive influence. I hate people watching me be imperfect (hence, hating to practice while learning any skill, whether it be piano, basketball, or crafting), but even if said people are really kind and encouraging, I hate it.

    And feeling like a drain of resources in the household. Like “Oh, great. Now not only does partner need to earn the money and pay for all the groceries, but also he has to give me the help and support to succeed at my next endeavor. Way to go on being a good partner, Sarah.” Which is bullshit, because if he were in my position, I’d move whatever mountains he needed, and be completely un-resentful and still value him as a human being.

    • Beth R

      I could have written your first paragraph, exactly. Always, when I was growing up, when my parents would encourage me in one direction where they thought I could excel, I would immediately push back against it and refuse to even try. I didn’t know why, then, but now I know that most of that reaction was a fear of failure and of letting them/myself down. I knew I wouldn’t be as good as other people I saw doing those things, so why even bother?

      • Sarah E

        Right. It’s bad enough to be disappointed in oneself. Now I have other people to disappoint, too. Wonderful

      • Emily

        Wow, yeah, I did/do the same thing. I get scared of the pressure of measuring up to the potential others see in me. Such a frustrating pattern, so many missed opportunities… and then when I think along those lines, I berate myself for my poor life choices and my hang-ups and end up feeling like a total loser. Despite knowing (on good days and in moments of mental fortitude) that I am not in fact a loser, that I’ve actually accomplished and grown quite a bit beyond those resentful teenage years.
        I’ve never met anyone else who had this same problem, thanks for speaking up, Beth. :)

    • Jess

      “I hate people watching me be imperfect” so. much. of. this.

      And also, on a less household related situation, feeling like I deserve help.

      • Sarah E

        Yes. “Everyone else can do it, why can’t I get it done? What’s wrong with me that I’m the one who needs help?” – says my brain.

        • Jess

          Right? Despite the fact that everybody else had help once too. Despite the fact that they are saying, “Hey! I remember being super overloaded and needing somebody else to do the cooking for a while.” Despite the fact that at some point somebody had to teach them to run certain projects at the plant and they didn’t just figure it out on their own.

          My brain is like, “You should be able to do this ON YOUR OWN. If you don’t, you’re NOT ANY GOOD AT IT and SHOULD GIVE UP!” Stupid brain.

  • JenClaireM

    A: I could pretty much copy and paste what Elisabeth wrote because that’s how true it is for me too. I so get in my own way with writing, coming up with a million excuses not to do it, and what it’s all really about is the fear that I’m not good enough, it will all be crap, and I’ll fail obviously. So instead I just don’t do it because as long as I haven’t started, I haven’t failed, right?

    B. The only thing that has ever worked for me is to stop obsessing about being perfect and amazing and Just Get It Fucking Done. I have done this mostly under deadline when I had no other choice. I am only just now learning the important truth that, actually, if I never start, I will have failed in another, worse way. I’m finding that this understanding is helping chip away at my massive roadblock because whenever I think, “It won’t be good enough!” I remind myself that nothing is worse than something bad, so I can just go on about the business of creating something – even if it is bad! Because at least it is still something.

  • Anna

    I was unexpectedly and unceremoniously dumped from the safety of my crummy but comfortable job, and venturing out into the wide world to find something new is WAY scarier than I’d imagined. So right now my biggest hurdle is my self confidence. It’s so easy to say “There’s nothing out there for me.” and “I’m not ready for that.” when what I want to be saying is “Look out world, I am making this happen!”

    If I could get over feeling like I can’t do it I could move on to how to do it.

    • Stephanie B.

      THIS. This, this, this is me. Last year (2 months before I got married, in fact), my company was sold and I lost my job, and I’m terrified by the idea of looking for another job.

      I think I’ll make my story a separate post so I don’t hijack yours. But, just so you know, you are NOT alone.

    • Meg Keene

      I think the secret is that you have to start doing it WAY before you move on to feeling like you can do it. You start doing it when you feel like a total mess (UGH, you should read my book proposal. Looking back it feels like I wrote it in crayon. But hell, it sold the book, and I learned how to write a book while writing a book.)

      My trick is having someone else force me to go.

  • KW

    I’ll think on this more later, but back when I was in grad school (probably 1996?), I read a Glamour article about procrastination and the expert psychologist quoted in the article said “a procrastinator is a tired perfectionist” and went on to explain that essentially, some people would rather not start something at all than start something that won’t go perfectly right. I identified with that, and it was a quote in my email signature for years. What Meg and the others said above reminded me of it.

    • Meg Keene

      It’s funny, because once I get started I’m NOT a perfectionist, which is my saving grace. Write 10,000 words a week to get a book done in 4 months? NBD! But getting started, I am.

  • jashshea

    A.This is what I think when I’m about to start something new: I hate struggling. I don’t like learning new things.

    B. I can/have overcome that by reminding myself that it’s really more the IDEA of starting something that’s worse than doing it. Struggling does suck and I feel down on myself for a little bit, but the best feeling in the world is accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do.

    • Violet

      I hate struggling too. I think I have low tolerance for frustration. So if something seems even a little hard, my mind screams, “No! NO! This is wrong, STOP!” and I gotta gently correct it.

  • Cathi

    I forgot my other biggest faux-roadblock: Time, or my estimation of it.

    I always think things take way longer than they really do, so I postpone indefinitely. “Going to the gym? Between getting dressed, driving there, exercising, cooling down, driving back, showering, drying off and getting dressed that’s like, 4 hours! Ain’t nobody got time for that!” and cue 4 hours of sitting online. I’m always super surprised when things like “call the doctor” or “deposit a check” take less than two hours.

    • This is exactly how I feel about things. When I have to do a few errands like make two short phone calls and go to the bank, that will easily kill, what, four hours? Add in the gym and the grocery store and in my head I’ll have no time to do anything else. Except that somehow I managed to do all of these things when I was busier. And now I take the bus most places instead of driving and so if I can’t just stop off at the grocery store or the gym on my way to or from work, it’s just not going to happen.
      I love the principle of setting timers to do things, like 20 minutes to clean the kitchen, 20 minutes to write in my journal, etc. If it only takes 20 minutes or even 10 of course I have time to do it. I just have to remember to set the timer…

  • linds

    My roadblocks seem to be external, which has caused internal roadblocks like negative thinking (I can’t / I’m worthless / I’ll never get out of this rut.) I’m a strong self-motivator, but when you’re looking for a job, you really can’t start it all yourself. I graduated with a master’s in public administration two years ago and then moved to Colorado for my husband’s job. I cannot seem to crack into any job whatsoever, even though I am perfectly willing to work my way up. So, it had become a spiral of, they don’t me and then I don’t think I’m useful and why would they want me. So I guess my roadblock is being positive in the face of 2 whole years of rejection. I have always graduated at the top of my class (high school / college / grad school) and I worked in between. The constant rejection is hard to stomach.

  • Stephanie B.

    Last year (2 months before I got married, in fact), my company was sold and the purchasing company only wanted our product/assets, not the employees. It was a job that paid less than it should have, but had good benefits and was safe and comfortable. But yeah, it’s not my job any more.

    I am terrified about looking for another job. Paralyzed. I haven’t had to do it for 18 years. I don’t know where to start. Don’t really even know what I want to do (do I want to stay in the same field, am I even qualified to try to change fields, do I have any useful skills or should I give up and live in a cave?). Don’t remember how to interview. Don’t even have interview-quality clothes, since my job was totally business casual.

    I’m freelancing right now, but it’s not full-time. And I need to be working full-time and bringing in a full-time paycheck, both to contribute to our baby family’s finances and paying down of debt, but also because right now I feel like I am not qualified to do ANYTHING (even though, yeah, I’m freelancing, so clearly someone thinks I’m qualified to do something, but my jerkbrain doesn’t see it that way), and I need to feel competent and skilled and useful again.

    But I don’t know where to start.

    • Kelly Mine-His

      Have you asked the people you are freelancing for to give you a performance review? This, for me, was huge. When you’re self-employed, there’s no boss with a regular check in to give you the goods on how you’re doing, and I really needed to learn to ask for feedback when I first left my job. Do you have someone you work for that you can go to and say “How am I doing? How can I do better? How can I do more of this thing I like doing for you?” They will probably say some really amazing things about you that you totally need (and deserve!) to hear, but they also will probably give you some practical advice in selling yourself and being the most-kick-ass version of yourself.

      • Stephanie B.

        Since I started in November, I hesitate to ask for a performance review too soon. It’ll be 6 months in May, which seems like a good marker to ask. (It is a regular, ongoing job, just freelance and not full-time.)

  • Bonnie

    I am the epitome of an Underpants Gnome. I feel an overwhelming compulsion to research everything to death before I do anything. But I don’t know what to do with all the data I’ve gathered!

    • Cleo

      Step 3: Profit!

    • underpants gnome!!! I have no idea what step two is. Although I can’t really say I’m diligently stealing any underpants either…

  • One of my biggest roadblocks (and I have whole highways full of them) is unrealistic timelines for proficiency. Right now I’m teaching myself to bake french macarons. And despite the fact that 1) I’ve only been baking them for a month; 2) everyone who has eaten one raves about them; and 3) I have a full time job that is in fact not as a baker, nor do I have formal training as such; I can’t help but compare mine to the french bakery’s down the street. I am super patient with other people learning new tasks but I have none for myself. It is instant awesomeness or instant failure. And I know it’s not true. It is such a battle to keep me in the game long enough to stop sucking at it.

    • JenClaireM

      Yes! This! It has taken me years to abuse myself of the notion that anything I create should come out perfect and fully formed, like Athena springing from Zeus’s head. And I still fall back into that way of thinking without even realizing it ALL THE TIME. Also, I’m super impressed that you’re teaching yourself macarons – I love and fear backing so I find that particularly inspiring.

  • Beth R

    My road block is definitely being a perfectionist about things I create. I see other people doing work that I so admire and I know I am nowhere near their level, and I can’t quite push past it to even get started. Because I know that I am not yet capable of doing the work that I want to be doing and would be proud of. Even when other people tell me I’m good at what I do, I can’t agree, because others are better. It’s absurd, because there are also a lot of people who are way worse than me who are putting themselves out there and getting paid for their work. But I don’t want to be them. I don’t want people to look at my stuff and say, “Wow, I can’t believe someone would pay money for that.”

    I also don’t have a “true calling” or “unwavering passion” about one specific thing, so it makes it hard for me to commit time, energy, and money into something that I may end up not really liking in the end. I have a lazy streak that has held me back.

    • Emily

      Um, Beth, I’m pretty sure we’re the same person. Or separated at birth.

      I, too, never begin working on my ideas or projects because I know I won’t be any good. No amount of pep talks from friends, family, fiancee, or inspirational Ira Glass quotes [], has succeeded in convincing me that I just need to START and I just need to TRY. Even if I’m not sure that it’s my True Passion In Life.

      Besides which, I absolutely have the laziness thing going on – it’s just so much easier to be dissatisfied and inactive than to be pursuing your dreams!

      Aannddd to top off the weirdness, I’ve been putting off finding a doctor for a solid six months.

      My wedding is in seven months, so here’s hoping I find some self-confidence and chutzpah along the way. (and a decent GP)

      I’m on day 3 of Gabrielle Bernstein’s “May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness” – so far it seems that it’s all about confronting and vanquishing your fears. ‘Cause I’m so damn tired of being stifled by all these long-held fears. Maybe it would help you too?

      • JenClaireM

        Oh me three with the never wanting to begin something because I’m not already just born perfect at it coupled with a healthy dose of laziness! This: “it’s just so much easier to be dissatisfied and inactive than to be pursuing your dreams!” – encapsulates like a WHOLE DECADE of my life. Also, I have also been putting off getting a doctor. So… maybe that’s a common side effect?

        I had the same experience with my wedding of just having to pick a place and start – even though it felt overwhelming – and for me too, it worked out. It’s a really good lesson that it’s all just about starting and trying, and then continuing. And I’m totally going to check out that book.

        • Beth R

          Finding a doctor is the worst. How are you supposed to decide? I wish there was a better way than just looking at 10 trillion listings and reading about what schools they went to. :

          • JenClaireM

            So much yelp too – which never works that well because no one has perfect reviews and the bad ones are often way out of proportion in how scary they sound.

      • Beth R

        Nice, I will definitely check out that book! I think I’m finally reaching a point in my life (yay 30s?) where I actually want to tackle these issues. If not now, then when?

        Good luck finding your chutzpah!

    • Audrey

      Yes to this, especially the “true calling” piece! I think in some ways it’s even worse because there are a few things I’ve found I pick up “naturally” (note this tends to be at a job or whatever so I’m still putting in a lot of time!). But then if I find I need to learn something that I find the least bit hard or that I’m not good at right away… I give up easily.

      But of course since I don’t have a “true calling” I don’t see the point of persevering, I’d much rather just go to work and then come home and chill… but then am angry at myself for not doing anything…

    • I think I could have written this entire post; it is so me. Including the need to pick a doctor, ha.

  • Jess

    My Roadblock, at work and in life: Not knowing how to get from Point A to Point B. I struggle when I don’t know the requirements, when I don’t know the process, when I don’t have an expectation. Everything seems insurmountable if I don’t have a clearly marked trail. It feels like trying to climb a mountain, but not knowing if the next step I take is on the trail or falling off the cliff… and what good am I to anybody if I fall off over and over again, wear the wrong thing to the party or do something poorly or be interested in the wrong thing. It’s paralyzing.

    I’m trying to just take a step and allow my foot to either fall or to land. But that induces a lot of panic and depression and “Oh my god, why do I even exist if I can’t do anything good in this world and am not worth anything?!”

    So… clearly my depression is having a good day.

    In order to get past this kind of roadblock, I ask a lot (no… A LOT) of questions and try to figure out what to expect or what the process would look like. This pisses a lot of people off and makes me seem uptight. I just want to calm down the anxiety and be able to act.

  • La_Venus

    My biggest roadblock is something that I have spent most of the last 9 years in denial about: my health. Yesterday I found out that due to a compromised immune system I have actually had pneumonia the whole time (in addition to hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue). And just now I am realizing that I have been really sick. I wasn’t using it as an excuse. I kept over-analyzing myself, pretending like I was just overthinking things. But the truth is I really have been too sick to do All the Things (or even Some of the Things). As I am coughing my lungs out, I am realizing that what my body needs more than anything is for me to rest and stop achieving (for now). I guess what I am saying is that sometimes it’s real. Sometimes you have to stop.
    I have things I want to achieve, but the rhetoric of always needing to do more has really impacted my ability to let myself just take care of myself.

    • Meg Keene


      You need to stop. You can’t do anything till you stop, and get your health in order. Getting your health in order IS your job. I was really sick in my early 20s, and I didn’t really get my health back in order till right before I got pregnant (good motivator). Its’ such a huge deal. The one thing I’ve had of your list is adrenal fatigue, and acupuncture TOTALLY turned me upside down and finally fixed me (though lord I felt like shit when I was being fixed). I can’t recommend alternative medicine enough with this stuff, particularly with a compromised immune system, which exists within my family.

      • La_Venus

        Yes. Alternative medicine all the way. “Western” industry doctors have completely ignored and dismissed me the entire time. It took a good NMD to order all these tests and finally get useful information. I thought that I had already hit a low point with my health in my early twenties but this just took it up a to a whole new level. Interestingly, my husband and I just got serious about preparing to conceive about a month ago so I feel really optimistic that our hopes of improving my health first can be realized.
        And thanks, Meg. It means a lot to hear from you. I thought I would just be sick forever, but maybe not!

  • Kelly Mine-His

    A. Like Rachel, I often get stuck in the “I’m not grown up enough for this. I can’t do that yet.” box. I think this is largely because I’m only 26, and yet I have almost 7 years of professional experience. I was at my first job while I was still finishing college, and I often felt treated like a kid, and that sort of stuck with me until I left.

    B. I have trained myself to just say yes. Stop thinking sometimes about what it will MEAN if I’m the Executive Director or Chief of Staff or whatever other amazing opportunity at my age (where do I go from here? Will I have to do this forever? Will everyone I manage know I’m just a kid?) and just say yes, I’ll do it, I’d love to. This has sort of led to this other problem where I bite off a bit more than I can really reasonably chew, but I do find that I’m happier in that space where I’m just doing all of the things all the time and I don’t have time to think about how I’m totally out of my league.

  • Improvised Bride

    This hit me square in the solar plexus today. I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot — about how nagging fear, insecurity, and rage (it’s just a defensive reaction to fear, I think, but whooo, it’s something) act like weights on my ankles, bogging me down. I wrote out a long response but my points have been beautifully covered already. Fear — of beginning, of finishing (compulsive researching, perfectionism), of continuing, or of ever repeating any prior accomplishment — and negative self-talk. A friend sent me this article from New York magazine (it’s from 2007 but still interesting) that sort of explained some of those behaviors and today’s post connected with it for me:

    To combat my self-created roadblocks, I do a lot of fake-it-til-you-make-it stuff, pretending to the confidence I want to feel. And I dare myself to do things — I needed to improve my public speaking and dared myself to sign up for an improv class. Which, by the way, is probably the most fun I’ve had in public ever, because the whole point is to stop thinking.

    My goal for this year, and really, forever, is to let myself be more joyful. Weirdly, the wedding helped me realize how often I limit my ability to do that. When people asked what we wanted for the wedding, we said, For it to be joyful and full of laughter. And that felt like something out of the ordinary, which highlighted my reflex of repressing happiness as if I haven’t “earned” it. One example: I got a promotion a
    few years ago that I really wanted, and I shrugged off friends’ congratulations
    by pointing out that it would just involve working harder and longer
    hours. Really? I’m sad for my two-years-ago self as I type
    that. So as strange as it sounds, I’m
    working on letting myself experience joy more and savoring accomplishments when they come. It’s a challenge.

    • Heather

      “And that felt like something out of the ordinary, which highlighted my reflex of repressing happiness as if I haven’t “earned” it. ”

      Yup. I liken this to when I smile for real and realize it feels foreign- clearly, something need changing if that’s happening. The reflex of repressing happiness is something I’m constantly trying to challenge. Ugh, the things we do to ourselves!

  • hmmm one of my roadblocks is “not knowing what to do with it once its done”. So what, I write a blog? What does that do for anyone else? I’m no expert of life and I certainly don’t want to contribute to any illusions of some glossy, instagram-pictured life…I’ve struggled with finding a “niche”- it’s all the over place right now. Blogs are helpful when they are of service to others, right? And with playing music, it soothes my soul and even if I just want to sit down and write songs for myself, I stop after a few minutes because where are these songs going? What’s the point? (horrible, i know). It’s hard to be proud about my blog when it’s just baby and I’m not even sure I want to keep her. It’s that old self deprecation. Sigh.

  • Another roadblock – the finishing touches. I have so many projects that are just a step or two away from completion and I just can’t get them finished. In a lot of cases I generally dislike the last steps (weaving in ends on knitting, hand sewing the binding down on quilts, etc). Pushing that submit button stops me up every time. Saying I’m okay with the project enough for others to see it now.

  • Oh goodness…I don’t even know where to start.
    A. Biggest hurdles? Realistically, my health. In my head, fear of failure and criticism (which is why I plan everything out before I tell people anything so to them it seems like all my ideas come right out of left field when I’ve actually been thinking about them for months).
    B. Overcoming hurdles? Something that helps me a lot is telling my close friends my ideas because hearing the reassuring “No, you are not crazy” and “Yes, you can totally rock that!” gives me enough motivation to start turning the idea into a reality.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    Mine is incredibly very typical and something I only recently realized has plagued me my entire life: fear of being successful. I think about how awesome whatever it is could be and then I freak out and do nothing.

  • Jen

    1. I am a really good starter. I come up with tons of good ideas, but I can never follow through. I have a folder in my computer titled “writing” and it has about 10 short stories that are about a page long. I also took up knitting and backed down when I could not get it immediately. I have always been like this where I get frustrated when something is too difficult and I hate it. It makes me just settle for being average when I could be achieving so much more.

    2. Confidence. I have terrible confidence issues. I can talk in class, but when it comes to approaching professors after class, or asking for a job I can’t do it. I am ridiculously bad at making myself sound good because I am always so unsure. This does not bode well for my future career aspirations because I want to be an editor for a children’s book publishing company. This is a really hard field to get into and I know that I might have to carve out my own career and that is daunting. I keep going back and forth between my dream job and teaching but I know teaching is just settling for me.

    • Ashley Meredith

      Jen, you sound a lot like me. It’s almost impossible for me to ask for the things I want, too. Like the woman in my industry I really, really like and would like to keep in touch with who I can’t bring myself to write to, let alone ask if she would be my mentor… even though she really seems to like me too and always says how much she enjoys talking to me! I also get frustrated very easily and decide it “isn’t worth the hassle” – and sometimes I decide that preemptively because I think it will be hard.

      What I’ve decided to do – and I just decided to do this Sunday (seriously timely post, APW!), so I don’t know if it will work – is set, and remind myself of, a new, overarching goal: “I want to be proud of myself.” Part of that will probably be the emotional work of overcoming all the not-good-enough baggage of a perfectionist and doubt-inducing upbringing, but the main thing is that I realized I don’t DO things I can be proud of. I can’t be proud of hanging back in fear. I can’t be proud of making excuses. I can’t be proud of giving up the first moment something doesn’t come easily. But if I can act so that I can say to myself, even, “That sucked, and I’m going to stop for today and recharge and decide tomorrow if it’s worth continuing, but at least I kept pushing through and really gave it my best shot when it got hard today,” well, I could be proud of that.

      And it doesn’t always have to be big things, either. I’m not starting with the mentorship for sure! But even for small things the goal has made a difference this week. I almost always take a good lunch break, usually to watch TV, because it’s often the only real break I get and I figure I should do whatever mindless thing will recharge me the most. But I’m not really proud of turning into one of those adults who “doesn’t have time to read,” so yesterday I asked myself, “Will I be more proud of myself if I watch TV or read this new book I have from the library?” The answer was clear, so I did it, and was really pleased with myself.

      Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you not to settle for being less than yourself. It sounds like you might be younger than I am too so I can assure you, the sooner you can deal with this the happier you will be. If you are great at starting, maybe you can “trick” yourself into feeling like you’re always starting?

      • Jen

        Thank you Ashley! That is really great advice. I have never been a very good goal-setter. I learned to set goals in high school, but I never took them seriously. I think I want to now. I really need to teach myself to just push through and see if something will work (like applying to all of these internship applications I want to apply to) maybe what you’re doing can help me to. So I’m going to try setting small goals and avoiding things that I’m not proud of.

  • Meredith

    The double-barreled roadblocks of guilt and perfectionism. There are so many parts of my life (lawyer, mother, wife, person-who-makes-all-the-home-trains-run) that I feel like I’d be shortchanging if I embarked on any project or chased down any idea that was just for me or wouldn’t immediately lead to crazy success or be 100% absolutely perfect. Trying to get over the guilt seems to be my project these days.

    • Elizabeth

      YES. THIS. I’m a lawyer too so maybe this is related to the profession?

      • Meredith

        I think it’s definitely part of it, but I imagine it is true for any career that demands that level of (sometimes obsessive) commitment. I’m struggling with the idea that career success requires eliminating any other “distractions” from your life and trying to find a way to have it be an aspect of my life rather than the sole focus of my life, which, to be frank, for the first part of my legal career it was.

  • Jessica

    For me the roadblock is generally money. Once I figure out how to afford something / save for it etc. I’m usually good. But that can be limiting! I held out on applying to b-school because of this… Then applied & got scholarship money. Problem solved.

  • Ali

    I used to create my wedding website. Free and lovely templates!! I played around with it for a bit longer than I probably should have but they are really easy to use and update.
    Now if only I could get the guts to volunteer myself to write a grant for a community organisation so I can get some experience and start a grant writing business to compliment my ad hoc resume writing work that I do on the weekends around my full time job…

  • Kat

    Someone else said they don’t like people to see them being imperfect – this is so me. I don’t like learning in “public” no matter how nice people are about it and even though I’m fully supportive of other people who are learning a new skill. This means if I don’t think I’m good at something I opt out. Eg – I won’t play team sports because I have never played them (apart from gym class in school) and now don’t want to learn surrounded by people who have been playing for years.
    I try and find opportunities to practice in private to overcome this (my husband is teaching me to play tennis, but I won’t let him invite other people to join us because I’m “not good enough” yet).

    I really dislike calling people I don’t know. To do anything – make an appointment, organise insurance, anything. These jobs get put off forever. Now I remind myself that calling someone is never as bad as I think, and I write myself to-do lists because I feel accomplished when I get them done.

    A bigger imaginary roadblock is I thinking I won’t be good at, or don’t have the skills for other things. I’m good at, and like, my job and the idea of finding another one (as we want to move cities) freaks me out. The exact job I do is not that common and for some reason I feel that I won’t be good at something else. Even though I know I’m a capable person I feel like I have to already be experienced in that exact job. Which is dumb, because everyone has to have a first time. Not sure how to overcome that one yet.

    • Kat

      The more I read that last roadblock of mine the dumber it sounds. I’m a Teaching Fellow at a university. I lecture, run tutorials, write course materials, do admin, do marking etc, and I have a PhD in microbiology with all the accompanying research and writing skills required. Why do I think I couldn’t do another job?!

    • ART

      I have the same thing with calling people. And like you said, it’s never that bad! And even if it is, who cares? It’s SO hard, though. This was 95% of the reason I wanted to self-cater our wedding. When that didn’t work out, my fiance offered to deal with the caterer and I let him do it all.

    • I completely suffer from this same roadblocks. In regards to the imperfect, I have near anxiety attacks anytime I am expected to try a new skill while someone else is watching me. My husband and I recently traveled to Denver to visit some friends and while we were there we decided to rent bikes downtown. I haven’t ridden a bike in at least 15 years and even then it wasn’t one with hand brakes, but one of the kid ones where you can back-pedal to stop. Supposedly riding a bike is something you don’t forget though, right? Everyone decided I should lead because I was the least comfortable on a bike and not-even-kidding the first time we had to stop at a cross street I was 1″ from running straight into a cop! It was humiliating and hilarious all at once. As soon as I told everyone to please let me be last and just follow everyone I was riding around just fine and didn’t run into anything (or anyone) the rest of the time. Somehow the pressure of knowing people were watching me made me completely incompetent!

  • My road block has always been self-doubt. No matter what it is I want to do I have had to push myself past it: graduate school, becoming a licensed skydiver, and most recently blogging. I though about blogging for an entire YEAR before I did it (yay!). How do I push my self through it? I close my eyes, say fuck it, and jump in with both feet. When I started my blog I went all the way, self hosted website on wordpress and now I am learning as I go. When I started skydiving I went though the course to learn how to do it myself and now I have thousands of jumps! I guess when I want it bad enough I’ll jump right in, but it takes me SO long to get to get there. The point is, I have never regretted pushing myself.

  • Bee

    “And I find it agonizing to see so many women’s great ideas stalled because of roadblocks, while men so often run with (and succeed with) pale imitations of the same product.”

    THIS. I am a perfectionist and have tons of ideas, but never the gumption to get them going. And then I inevitably find out that someone else has started the same idea. Usually a man. . . and usually in a way that is vastly inferior to what I had imagined. Yet they are making it happen.. while I just sit here inventing reasons why I can’t do it. Which is why this post is amazing and just what I need. Thanks.

  • My road block has always been self-doubt. No matter what it is I want to do I have had to push myself past it: graduate school, becoming a licensed skydiver, and most recently blogging. I though about blogging for an entire YEAR before I did it (yay!). How do I push my self through it? I close my eyes, say fuck it, and jump in with both feet. When I started my blog I went all the way, self hosted website on wordpress and now I am learning as I go. When I started skydiving I went though the course to learn how to do it myself and now I have thousands of jumps! I guess when I want it bad enough I’ll jump right in, but it takes me SO long to get to get there. The point is, I have never regretted pushing myself.

  • A. Does it cost money? If so, I can’t spare it on this project for me (yet I regularly impulse buy magazines that I don’t fully read and coffee and cheese and…). Especially not if I have to sign up for the indefinite thing that costs money (why I never did migrate out of blogger) because it will prove that I will then be throwing money away because I just know I won’t follow through. Because what if I don’t feel like it, for all the reasons Elizabeth and Maddie and Lucy said above. What if I’m just not feeling it, feeling the writing flowing through me, the creativity bursting? What if it isn’t good enough (oh, it definitely isn’t, because it takes practice (which I won’t do because of all the reasons of not “feeling it”))? And what if it is good enough? What if I succeed, just this once, and then everything after is bad. And then look at how much worse I’ve become. Oh god, the reasons the reasons.

    B. Affirmations. Every day I try, I make a step forward. Every day I do one more thing, write in my journal, take a photo, put it on instagram, press SUBMIT, I have leapt forward another step.

    I just want to say that today is Selfie No. 38 of my #28daysofselfies project ( and some of these days are a huge struggle and taking another photo of me is a huge roadblock. And what makes helps me through it is all of you who have followed me and liked my posts even if they are silly, even if they aren’t any good. It is an incredible source of support, however small it seems. Just to know that someone cares, and maybe even believes in me. Thank you.

  • Guest

    My big roadblock right now is fear of change.

  • crispy

    A. My biggest roadblock is the schism between the fearless, joyful, cranky, hungry, sexy, brilliant person I am alone and the meek, toned-down, socially-acceptable, careful person I have convinced myself I always need to seem like in public. I don’t know when I decided I needed to hold my more awesome self back, but it sucks. It drains my energy and makes me ineffective, and I am consciously working on letting my real self out to play (and work) more often.

    B. I have a trick where I commit to difficult conversations / presentations / etc that I am in no way prepared for. I send an email saying, “Yes, of course, let’s discuss XYZ / give that talk / have that meeting next Tuesday at 2 pm,” without giving any advance thought to how I want the thing to go and what I need to do to make it happen. If I gave it any thought before I sent the email I’d put off the email forever, but once I’ve committed the wheels are turning. Sometimes after sending the email I’ll prepare properly, and sometimes I’ll go into the meeting still unprepared and wing it. Generally it works either way, and things get done.

  • Caroline

    “I’m too busy”. I genuinely am insanely busy and have a lot on my plate, but I also spend a lot of one being overwhelmed by how much I have to do so I don’t start it. And then, since I mostly get everything done anyways in less time ( not always, but often), I could have gotten so much more done if I had started right away.

    Another was thinking of myself as an artist instead of a dabbler. That was a BIG roadblock. Once I broke through, my paintings got so much better quickly! Because I didn’t expect them to be crappy! And because I was an artist so I could buy decent supplies, and holy crap, that cadmium yellow paint is so beautiful I just want to use it all the time and paint a ton. It let me say, hey, I’m an artist, so I can/should do art in public. If I want to sketch a scene, well, I’m an artist. If I’m running around trying to get the best angle for a refernence photo and people are staring, I’m an artist, people thinking I’m odd is normal. It also let me let go of the cost of supplies, and buy what I need to. I may never sell art for money, that’s not my goal, it’s a do-it-for-me thing, but even though it may not be my full-time job, I’m an artist.

    I’m studying math, and also taking classes in programming. I have some real experience but starting to apply for internships and summer jobs has been a big blockade thing for me. “But surely I’m way less qualified with my math major from a small liberal arts school than the boys who’ve been coding since 12 at major, top universities.” Not necessarily. I’m good, really good, and I have actual, real life experience, and my math training gives me awesome problem solving and logic skills. I’ve had a very solid education in how to think. Also, I can not only code, but have strong social skills and strong liberal arts-y writing skills. But it’s so hard not to beleive, in an industry full of bravado and self-confidence and talking about yourself as the most skilled ever, that I’m really as good as the boys, that I really deserve to be in the room. And if I don’t beleive I deserve to be in the room, it’s hard to submit the application. I’ve done a few, but I need some work on believing I’m good enough. It comes and goes.

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  • lizperk23

    Thank you for this. Yes, for me it’s inertia – I.e. I could be more productive and do more of the things, in my personal life, but since I’m super productive in job/artist life (out of necessity and the fulfillment those things bring) at the end of the day/week all I really want to do is open a drink and catch up on Scandal (and all the other tv). So overcoming inertia and being intentional is tricky for me.

  • Louise

    Late to the party, but this post rang so true to me I had to jump in.

    A little over a year ago, the principal of a school in India — sister school to the school where I was working at the time– was visiting my school and emailed the entire faculty saying, “if you’re interested in joining our project, please email me to set up a time to chat.” I was interested, but I was convinced that when she sent that email, she didn’t mean me. She meant someone more qualified. Who was I to think I could get that job?!? It took me DAYS of seeing her around school (and this is someone whom I had worked with for a year!) and several conversations with my husband to even say to her, “um, I might be interested.” Once I said it, the interview, etc., was easy!

    And now, here I am, more than halfway through the school year, teaching first and second grade at an amazing new international school in India. Once I got over the fear of putting myself out there, the rest was…well, not easy, but it felt more doable. Literally initiating the conversation was the thing that almost stopped me from moving to India. Not the expense or the visa or the unknown… but asking for the job.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I just wanted to reply to say that this is really rad, and I’m so glad you went for it. (Also, APW readers, man. Y’all are the coolest.)

      • Louise

        Aw, thanks, Maddie!

  • Leslie

    How timely. This week for me has been filled with what I have been calling early-onset mid-life crisis, which may be prompted by getting married in December/turning 30 in February/the longest winter ever recorded in the history of man/general exhaustion. Before my wedding I took up a second job waiting tables to make some extra cash. Since then I have realized how much I miss having regular social interaction as a part of my job, something I do not have now (cubicle dweller). I am thinking about quitting my job and going full-time at the restaurant where I work, while offering to do their social media in exchange for a title (it’s a new restaurant, they can’t afford a salary) so I don’t have a gap in my salary.

    But my roadblock: Worrying too much about the future.

    I would be giving up a good salary, great benefits, 401(k) with a match and profit sharing, paid vacation, future maternity leave etc. My boss now is amazing, and tries endlessly to give me new enriching projects, but I still find myself bored beyond belief.

    And as much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m scared about what people will think. Especially my parents, who helped me through college so I could get a stable, well-paying job.

    • Leslie

      *gap in my resume, not salary

  • Sharon Gorbacz

    My inner toddler says “ME DO!!!” So my roadblocks are 1A: Trusting others to follow through with their part of the project and 1B: that they will be competent enough do their part of the project and 1C: that I have to deal with it if they don’t do it the same way I would, as long as a satisfactory end result is reached. A correlary is that I may have to define “satisfactory” as something less than “perfection.”

    We will find out how well I’ve got the ball rolling and whether or not it’ll get dropped by others after my wedding in a few weeks.

  • Jules

    A1. Finding the guts to quit my job next year, go back to school, pick up the prereqs I am missing for PA school, apply, get accepted, go. This is putting a lot on the line and will drain the amount I had saved in my 529 by going to undergrad on scholarship.

    A2. Finding someone to shadow. It’s HARD to find people who work on the weekends that I can follow around.

    B1. Completing A2 will push me to do A1.

    B2. I finally realized how much I badly wanted to be in a profession that dealt with helping and healing people. I have plenty of medical connections from my undergrad days, so I kicked myself and started casting a net…and I found someone (a third degree connection)! Now I’m just waiting to hear back and see what this PA’s regular weekend schedule is.

  • Kirstin

    For me it’s writing my dissertation proposal. I sit down to write, and have this HUGE sense of “Who am I to think that I am qualified to do this?” Good old imposter syndrome. It has become easier to avoid working on it, then to sit in anguish, often in tears, struggling to get just one sentence on the page. And the perfectionist in me struggles to think it will ever be “Good Enough” to be done. Ugh.

    I’ve tried to have another person serve as a coach/motivator/accountability partner to keep me going. For awhile, I had to submit my weekly progress to my supervisor, who would push me to keep going. I need to get back into it, and I’m hoping he’ll do this again.

  • ediblesprysky

    God, THIS. So much this:

    ” As women, we’re raised to be cautious—to not get too big for our
    britches. To be the opposite of fearless. Which means that as adults, we
    (knowingly or not) set up roadblocks for ourselves (on top of the
    institutional roadblocks that are already set up for us). There’s safety
    in the place between having a good idea and executing it.”

  • ferrous

    Wow, this seems to be hitting a lot of us in the gut. Great topic.

    My primary roadblock is perfectionism. I have a few business ideas in rotation; I’ll do a ton of research and figuring for one, then drop it for a while. (My husband called me out on this recently, which was helpful.) There is one idea in particular that I’ve been mulling over for YEARS; it fits into my education and professional experience, there is a public need, and I only need minimal further training to get started… OR DO I? Am I just saying that to put off actually getting started? Part of me is squeaking that all I actually need is to get on squarespace (thanks for the rec) and get the hell out there.

    Minor roadblock, related: overachieving, and now I have all these balls in the air. I make a list of goals every year: last year we bought a house; got married; I got a job I love that will also allow me to pursue my own business on the side. This year my only goal was to get better at arts, so I’m taking a great art class and knitting blankets for several expectant friends, along with my regular work and racing schedule (athlete). Yet I feel this NEED TO DO MOAR THINGS. Be successful! Start the business! More things! All things! I’m not sure this is actually helpful. I think I’ll step back and take another look at the list. Maybe that’s my first step, just budgeting my darned time.

  • A. My major roadblock is usually looking at a project and feeling overwhelmed by its magnitude. So I put off working on it and worry about it instead.

    B. I’ve found that breaking a project/goal down into each ACTUAL individual steps and putting it all into (which is a list-organizing thing I love) really helps me. If I can tell myself I don’t have to do the WHOLE project right now, all I need to do is this one little step that moves me a little bit closer to my goal, that really helps me. And, like I said above somewhere, I think that sometimes just asking for an opportunity can bring about AMAZING results. I have asked for opportunities to work with top people in my field that I think most people might not ask for because they assume it’s impossible. But by taking the risk (because really, what do I have to lose? If I don’t ask, I certainly won’t have the opportunity!), I have actually ended up with a number of the things I pursued. I think the key is often to have the courage to ask. But the hard part is that means having the courage to hear “no” as well….and that’s hatrd. I have heard a lot of “No’s” too. Rejection is never fun. But the Yes’s more than make up for the No’s for me. Qui ne risque rien, n’a rien…

  • brieanna boyce

    A. There are two things that hold me back, one is my self esteem, and two my social anxiety (which may be a result of low self esteem.) A lot of the time I simply think I can’t do what I want to do because I’m a spacey shibadrift who forgets everything and can’t do anything right. Then when I DO complete something, or have something in the works the idea of sharing that with anyone else is terrifying, suddenly this thing I’m working on seems incompletely flawed. “How could I possibly think I could pull off anything? Why did I even try?”

    B. Believe it or not the idea of having low self esteem is kind of new to me so in a way I’m still very much in the dark of how to deal with it. I always thought I was a confident person until I realized how much I hold myself back, how much anxiety I actually (again news to me) have, and how I’ll do just about anything to avoid feeling any of it. I suppose this isn’t really a solution, or a “how to get over it thing” I just figured someone else would feel similarly.

  • R.

    I fantasize about being a freelancer, but am very scared of it, too. I have a somewhat cushy, stable staff editor job at a magazine, which is a rare thing in journalism these days. It has nice benefits and travel opportunities. But I also feel bored with it and hate working in a cube, and fantasize about the freedom and flexibility that freelancing would offer. It seems really hard to make a living at it, though.

  • future mrs. u

    This post really hit home. I am a workaholic, a perfectionist, and have made procrastination into a fine art. My biggest roadblock if I searched deep down is that I don’t give myself permission to do what I want to do until I finish what I have to do, which I then resent so much that I procrastinate and avoid doing what I have to do as well, leaving me neither doing what I want to do nor what I have to do and when the thought occurs that I might as well do what I want to do since i’m not doing what I have to do anyway, I feel too guilty and still won’t give myself permission. It’s completely paralyzing. I’ve wanted to be a writing for as long as I can remember (I started reading at 3 and writing stories when I was 5), in fact besides my fiance, it’s the only other thing in my life I’m sure about. But it was a want to do not a have to do. So I went to college and majored in English with the intention of… well going to law school of course… but I somehow dodged that bullet and went back to school to… be a teacher (it seemed practical with great job security) but then ironically, while unemployed after being laid off and in a brief uncharacteristic moment of doing what I want, I decided to go back to school again (degree number three) to get my MFA in Creative Writing. While in school, what I wanted to do and what I had to do finally intersected. I wrote hundreds of pages and read a bunch of books and spent 2 years talking about writing. I wrote 200 pages of my first novel for my thesis. It was incredibly difficult but I loved it. It was accepted. I graduated. I went back to work as a teacher because I couldn’t find a writing job. I haven’t written a word of my novel since I submitted my thesis. I’m back where I started. Writing is no longer what I have to do even though I know it’s what I’ll always want to do.

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