What are invisible fences? Good question. Invisible fences are walls in life that are holding you back, you just can’t see them (hence the whole “invisible” thing). I first came across the concept of invisible fences by way of an elementary school counselor. She was discussing the concept with children as they talked about things that hold them back. In order to help the students better understand the concept of being “held back” by something, she introduced the idea of an invisible fence through the use of cartoon drawings of fences holding children back from the playground – the place at school where they all wanted to go.
I am fascinated by this concept of fences holding us back and revisit it often. I wrote about this topic a couple of years ago as a guest blogger in the context of how personal trainers can help clients break through invisible fences. But what about those of us who don’t have a personal trainer or life coach? What are we supposed to do to break down the barriers holding us from achieving our potential?
I think we as human beings are constantly being held back for various reasons and often times we don’t even realize it. Obviously some people face much greater life challenges, hurdles, fences, and even walls than others do. Despite the hand we are dealt in life, most of us aren’t operating anywhere near our potential. I would encourage anyone and everyone to sit down and think about their priorities and goals and what they are trying to achieve. Writing these things down is an important first step to getting where we want to go in life. Developing some kind of plan to get there is essential too. But we often overlook the fences that are holding us back. We need to identify these things because we can then find ways to prevent or avoid being held back by them.
So what are some common fences holding otherwise capable people back?
- Fear. Fear is the single greatest thing that holds people back. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of failure. Let it go. Some of the happiest, creative, most successful people in life threw caution to the wind in order to get where they wanted to go. What are you afraid of? What is the worst that could happen?
- Low Self-Efficacy. Developing competency and confidence in your ability takes practice. We need to take advantages of opportunities to test our skills and make ourselves better. Too many people have an opportunity staring them in the face and they turn it down or don’t explore it. Competency builds confidence and lessens our fears.
- Lack of Knowledge. Educate yourself, there is no excuse not to. Our #1 fence (fear) can often be due to lack of knowledge or the unknown. As we become more educated, we can break down fences.
- Not Prioritizing Time. In our fast paced world, we don’t always prioritize the time to examine and reflect on our lives. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” You can’t figure out what is holding you back if you don’t take time to examine your life, priorities, and goals. Talk, journal, mediate, pray – whatever works for you. Just take a few minutes every day to be inside your own head without distractions.
- Not Believing. Believe in yourself, or at the very least, find someone who believes in you. We are all going to experience fences and roadblocks. Believe in your ability to overcome them and/or surround yourself with others who will help lift you up on those days you need a boost. We are all infinitely more capable than we realize.
- Not Being Open to New Experiences. Being closed-minded keeps us safely tucked behind the fence. We will live our whole lives there if we aren’t open to new and different people, ideas, and experiences.
- Thinking It’s Too Late. C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream”. It’s never too late – until it’s too late.