Guiding Career + Life Transition

Tips for Overcoming Internal Barriers to Success

By in Guiding LifeWork Transition

Tips for Overcoming Internal Barriers to Success

“Criticism and self-criticism interfere with our ability to find our life purpose and live as strongly, passionately, and effectively as we would like to live.”

– Dr Eric Maisel

Tips for Overcoming Internal Barriers to Success

One of the greatest obstacles to life/work satisfaction occur around the theme of self worth: thinking or feeling we are not quite “good enough” or deserving of the success we may have achieved and/or strive for in realizing our fullest potential. 

If we are unable to fully internalize our successes and achievements, we may be experiencing the “Impostor Syndrome”.  

Impostor Syndrome manifests as worries or feelings of anxiety that we are really not competent, smart or able, despite evidence to the contrary.  

And, while we may be experiencing success, we fear it will all be taken away when it is discovered that we have been “faking” it all along.

This fear becomes an Internal Barrier to realizing the success and satisfaction we so deeply desire and deserve.

While initially identified as a phenomenon that affects women, impostor syndrome is experienced by both successful women and men alike, who report:

  • Feeling like a fraud/impostor who does not deserve the success, accomplishment or position achieved. 

  • Fear of being “unmasked” or discovered for having faked one’s way into a role or situation where they believe they truly do not belong. 

  • Believing that success/achievement is the result of “getting lucky” rather than the result of one’s own efforts and abilities.

  • Minimizing one’s role in what has been achieved or the significance of the work itself.

If you resonate with these “impostor” thoughts, you may find it is time to do some reality checking. 

1.    Reach out: 

Support and be Supported.

Women and men can find acceptance and support by reaching out to others.  

For some, working with a counselor or coach, can help re-frame our thinking and help us get out of our own way.  Small facilitated support groups and/or success teams can offer the type of collective wisdom only found in a group. Discovering we are not alone in what we feel and how we cope, “normalizes” the experience and provides a foundation for moving forward.


2.    Inventory: 

Affirm the successes; Alchemize the failures.

Creating a list or inventory of our life/work accomplishments and successes can help ground our reality and give us affirmation of all that we achieved.

It is the rare success that comes without mistakes and failures.

Moving forward from failure allows us to utilize some of the very best in our selves: resiliency, creativity, focus, determination, and hope. Identifying these through positive inquiry allows us to self-remember our own grit.


3.    Listen to the Wisdom of Your “Wise Self” – Your True Inner Voice:

 Create a Vision.

Visualization of an ideal self and an ideal future can be a powerful tool in overcoming fears, taking charge of negative/self-critical thought patterns, and focusing us towards meaningful and fulfilling goals. 

Taking time to connect with our inner wisdom through guided visualization, allows us to silence the choir and find our own true voice. 

Many find that an image, a mantra, or an inspirational quote can be a touchstone to connect with throughout the day and to remember the best of one’s self.


Posted by: Susan Jewkes Allen, MSW, GCDF

San Francisco Bay Area Career Counselor, Career Coach at Life + Work