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5 Reasons You May Be Underachieving

Nothing is more depressing than feeling like you have worked hard and your efforts have gone to waste. Or that you started out in life with great hopes for success and now feel like you haven’t gotten anywhere. We all understand things like recession and businesses cutting back, but what if these are not the reasons you aren’t doing well? With my clients I have found these five reasons to be biggies getting in the way of their happiness and success.

1. Fear-This is the biggest life sucker of all. Fear of success and fear of failure can be crippling in the work setting. Getting your head on straight about both of them can propel you forward in your career like you would not believe. Fears about success usually surround matters such as having to move, having added responsibility and the possibility of succeeding then failing over time. All the “what ifs” come into play and scare you until you become immobilized. Fear of failure is just as bad as you may see every decision as the one that brings you down. You then catastrophize or make it seem worse than what it is. You envision yourself on the street, hungry and alone, no job in sight, ridiculed by others.

When clients come to me with these issues I have them go through a decision tree with me. This is not designed to make the decision in that moment but to teach them how to reduce the fear so they can move forward.

We tend to see a decision as something permanent and therefore anxiety provoking. This needn’t be the case. You can alter most decisions by troubleshooting along the way and keeping an open mind. Don’t let your ego get in the way of saying “maybe that wasn’t a great choice, I can change it”. If your decision appears to have been in error you can alter it by making another one that changes the direction of the first. Chances are this will improve the chances for your desired outcome. There are often many paths that will get you where you want to go.

Developing problem solving skills can be a great aid in reducing anxiety about decision making.

2. Depression- This can lead to underachievement by blocking energy and creativity. If you are ruminating on negative matters you are not going to be productive. Ruminating also makes you feel like crap. The cure for this can be to force yourself to tackle a project, the end result and gratification acts as a building block to reducing the symptoms of depression.

If you have been diagnosed with depression and are currently taking antidepressant medications or mood stabilizers you may find that your mind feels dull and that you lack your normal energy. You may even feel that you don’t care about anything. These are common side effects of these medications and you may benefit from discussing it with your doctor. There may be other options for you.

3. Attachment Problems- Not committing to anything can be a sign of an attachment disorder. This doesn’t just relate to personal relationships but can apply to the workplace or careers as well. You may not expect things to last or others to be around for long, therefore you don’t commit fully to most anything you do. You may not even have pictures or any personal items placed around your work area as you go through life with one foot always out the door.  Why devote yourself when whatever it isn’t going to last anyway? You may never feel fully engaged, therefore not able to achieve at the level you may otherwise. Success typically involves huge engagement and devotion.

4. Inability to Network or Get Along- Like it or not, networking and getting along with others is a critical skill in most areas of achievement. You may create the greatest product alone, but you have to get it sold. This takes some people skills. You may be a brilliant attorney, CPA or secretary but if nobody likes you your chances at success aren’t great. I am often surprised at clients who are abrasive but have no idea that this is a problem for them. They often tell me they feel like others are out to get them or jealous of them. They don’t see how their personality got in the way. Complaining, being unpleasant or demanding, one upmanship and know it all behavior are quick ways to turn others away. The reality is, if you are not concerned with the feelings of others, they will not concern themselves with yours. Interrupting, discussing negative things and being chronically angry are traits that are hard to be around. These folks often find themselves outcast from social groups, not high on the promotion lists and surrounded by colleagues who don’t care to help them succeed.

Take a look in the mirror and see if this is you. It may be time to take stock of yourself and ask “Am I a nice person?” There is a great section on personality development in Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success! The 17 Principles of Personal Achievement.

5.No Focus- If you don’t have a goal or end in place then you can’t get far as you don’t know where you are going. If you knew you wanted food but didn’t know where you were going to get it you could just wander around in your car forever hungry. Willy nilly efforts are seldom rewarded and they take a lot of energy anyway. They often have negative effects and make you anxious, depressed or angry as you feel you have worked hard. If you take your will nilly efforts and channel them you most likely reap the benefits. Whether your goal is to have a career or just finish a report by the end of the day, get it clear what you need to do and do it. Don’t waste time, the sooner you complete the tasks the sooner your time is your own anyway. Multitasking is history and never worked well. Checking your email and texting all the time also interferes with your ability to get things done.

If you are trying to build a career and you divert your energies elsewhere you may never reach your goals. Break your goals into mini goals, give yourself timelines, make lists of important tasks in order of priority and then knock them out!! It feels great to be moving along on your chosen path.