Focus On This Podcast

118. Overcoming the Thinking That Holds You Back



Goal-setting season is just around the quarter. But already, you find yourself tempted to play it safe. You’re dismissing ideas as improbable. You feel reluctant to take risks. Your self-talk leaves something to be desired. In short, your thinking needs a refresh.

Verbs, Courtney, and Blake are no strangers to what we call “limiting beliefs.” In this episode, they get honest and practical about the steps you can take to confront your beliefs and improve your thinking. You’ll walk away equipped for the self-reflection that’s essential as you prepare for a new year of goal achievement.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • The two mindsets that govern your beliefs
  • Three kinds of limiting beliefs you probably hold
  • Why limiting beliefs are so hard to identify
  • The story of Verbs’ past vocation as a rapper
  • A real-time rewrite of a limiting belief


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Episode Transcript

Verbs: The holidays and the new year are just around the corner, and I’m sure many of our listeners have their minds on goal setting, just like we do. Have you ever found yourself…I’m just curious to know…stepping back from the goals you actually want to set because you feel like they just aren’t possible? Have you ever fallen into this trap?

Blake: I have. I would say, I’m not altogether immune to that even now. I think about… Every year, there are goals you hit, hopefully, but at least for me, there are always goals I miss. This isn’t to say the Full Focus System doesn’t work. This is just to say when you set risky goals, it’s about having a great gain. You’re not doing it right if you’re batting 1.000 on all of your goals, but when you are experiencing some disappointment and are like, “Oh, I fell a little shorter than I had wanted to on this goal,” for instance, at least for me, it’s kind of hard to go, “Oh, do I want to up the ante and set a big goal like that next year?”

Courtney: That’s really true. A lot of times, our thinking is our biggest obstacle. I do think it is challenging when it’s a really busy time of year or when you just have a lot happening. If you’re in this sense of overwhelm, and then you’re trying to, in a sense, set a vision for the next year, your thinking may be like, “Nothing is possible. It’s just all too much right now. I don’t have any room for dreaming about what I want for the next year.” It can kind of set you off on the wrong foot when you think about your goal setting.

In some ways, it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, in a way. If you have that overwhelm mindset and you’re like, “I can’t dream about the future; I’m maxed out,” then you get into the next year, and you just drift into the same thing because you haven’t had that time to clearly think about what you want for the next year.

Blake: In my case, it would be processing the disappointments. If you’re trying to diagnose your future by what has happened in the past, you can’t really do anything more than what you’ve already achieved, or maybe you get slight incremental improvement. That self-fulfilling prophecy thing is true. It’s like that Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Verbs: The truth is our thinking has a direct impact on the results we experience, and we know those to be what we call limiting beliefs. So, today, that’s what we’re going to talk about: these three steps you can take to overcome the thinking that’s holding you back from a better future.

Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Courtney Baker and Blake Stratton. Happy Monday to you two.

Blake: Happy Monday unto you.

Verbs: Happy Monday unto you, my friends.

Courtney: All right. Today, we’re going to be talking about limiting beliefs and how to identify those and move toward a better future. The first step of that is to assess your mindset. Often, we fail to pursue a goal that really matters to us because we just don’t believe it’s possible. It’s like our thinking stops us before we ever begin. Actually, if you take the time to sit and think about that, it’s crazy how powerful our mindset really is. It is the thing that can launch us into moving toward a goal or the thing that can keep us from ever even starting. It all comes back to our mindset.

Blake: If we can dial this in… I mean, mindset is a huge topic, but if we could categorize this for you listening, just to help you self-assess, we talk about two kinds of mindsets we can go into goal setting with. One is a scarcity mindset. In other words, there’s not enough…not enough time, not enough money, not enough opportunity.

The flip side is an abundance mindset where there’s an underlying belief that there’s more than enough to go around. I can always think of new ideas. Opportunities aren’t in short supply. I can get creative about acquiring what I need to financially or just the resources I need or the people I need to achieve that. So, scarcity versus abundance. Verbs or Courtney, what has been your experience? Have you ever caught yourself in the scarcity camp?

Verbs: Well, let me say this. One thing that has helped me in that practice of not falling into a scarcity mindset is, again, the secret sauce we refer to as the Weekly Preview in the planner. There’s that question at the top of the Weekly Preview, “Recount your wins.” Instead of what I would normally do, which is skim over that, it has caused me to pause and think about…

Even if the win didn’t seem like it was this grandiose accomplishment, what are the smaller things that are significant indicators that “Man, it was a good week. This is something that should be considered as a win, recognized, and celebrated in some sort of way”? That helps me get my thinking to a level of “There’s good stuff that has happened that’s worth paying attention to, which means there’s more stuff that could also happen in this upcoming week that I need to be paying attention to as well.”

Just the practice of doing that throughout however many weeks of the year, and then coming to the point where you’re going to set and frame up some new goals for the next year… It puts me in a different sort of mindset of what I’m looking toward versus what hasn’t happened or things I just missed. It gives me building blocks to get in that right mindset of “Hey, there’s more out there to grab ahold of. There’s more out there to accomplish.” It kind of pushes me into that abundance mindset zone versus the scarcity.

Courtney: I think this is a really important one to learn, and I feel like, over time… I guess I’ve been with this company for three and a half years now. As soon as I read Your Best Year Ever… That was before I even started here. I really started to look for these limiting beliefs and have had that language to be able to say, “Oh, that sounds like a limiting belief.” I think that’s the first step: being able to identify those for myself and for other people.

For Chase and me, when we talk about different things, being able to say, “That sounds like that could potentially be a limiting belief” has been really helpful. Over time, that practice of figuring out what those things are and just being able to spend the time to… I hate saying “think about my thinking,” but examining my thinking and seeing “What’s behind that? Is it truly a limiting belief? Is there scarcity there that’s all based in my thinking and not really based in opportunity or possibility?” has been really critical for me.

Verbs: That’s good, Courtney. I’m actually curious. I’m sure this is going to play into some Enneagram conversation when I pose this question. I feel like there is the scarcity mindset, and then I feel like I fall more into the category of “All right. I’m somewhat of a realist.” So, if I’m looking at something and I say, “Hey, there’s actually not enough time,” then my perception is, “No, there’s actually not enough time. Time is limited,” but I don’t always want to write that off as a scarcity posture.

Is there something where there is a threshold between “Hey, I’m just being real about the situation,” but pushing past that to the brink where it’s, “Okay. Let me pay attention to the opportunity that actually is there, even though it may be in short supply”?

Blake: The tough thing about self-identifying limiting beliefs is when you have a limiting belief, it just sounds like a fact to you, normally. You don’t first think, “Oh, well, I know I have scarcity thinking around this, but…” It’s “No. This is a fact.”

Courtney: Can I just chime in here on that one specifically?

Blake: You can chime.

Courtney: Verbs, exactly what you just said there about time… You were like, “I’m a realist. There’s only so much time in a day.” I would even say your view of time feels like… We have so much thinking about time and what is possible in time. We feel like that’s so concrete when, in actuality, that’s not really the case. There are a lot of things about what can be accomplished during a day, what things take priority over other things… Again, I don’t want to get too far into our thinking, but I think we bring a lot of perceptions even about time, like, “How much can be done here?” that may not actually be true.

Verbs: Or how do we do what we think can’t be done in regard to how we view the time? How are we thinking about the work that has to be done? I’ve got you. That’s a good word.

Blake: For me, the helpful indicator is…How do you feel, emotionally and even physically? If you’re thinking something or you’re looking at a goal and going, “Oh, well, I’m not creative enough to do that” or “I don’t have time to do that,” or whatever… For me, when I say something that ends up being a limiting belief, it’s almost like I can feel my shoulders tense up or I feel kind of down about myself. Is your opinion of yourself better or worse, like lower, when you think that thought?

Verbs: That’s important.

Blake: There may be some things that may seem to someone else like a limiting belief, but if it feels empowering to you in an emotional way, then you’re going to perform better. At the same time, you could say, “Oh, I can’t do that because X, Y, and Z.” It’s like, if you feel like a smaller, “shrinkier” version of yourself, that’s literally a limiting belief.

One of my pastors said this once. I thought it was just brilliant. (This is obviously in a Christian context.) He said, “Jesus said, ‘The truth will set you free,’ so if it’s not setting you free, what are you believing?” I thought that was awesome. So, self-assessing can be hard. It’s good to have a friend, but you can also check in with your emotions to identify “Is there a scarcity thought here?”

So, we talked about scarcity mindset and abundance mindset. It’s going to feel different, it’s going to sound different, and it’s going to lead to different results. The second step, once you consider your mindset, is to name your belief. Now we’re kind of drilling down more specifically. There’s a mindset, a sense of “There’s not enough” or a sense of “There’s more than enough.” The belief is usually about one of three things, although, if you’re like me, you have some in every category. The world would be the first category, then your beliefs about others, and then your beliefs about yourself. Those are the three main areas of limiting beliefs.

Courtney: For example, a belief we have about the world might sound something like, “It’s a terrible time to start a business.” Or “I don’t trust my boss; they only look out for themselves” is a belief about others. “I don’t have the willpower to install good habits” or “I don’t have the willpower to work out every day” are limiting beliefs about ourselves.

This is what’s really hard. Blake, you hit on this earlier. We are so used to our own thoughts that they feel normal. They feel like facts. We don’t really view them as beliefs. We believe them as “This is reality.” Like you said earlier, Blake, we’re so used to our own thought patterns they feel like facts. They feel normal. We don’t even view them as beliefs. It’s mind-blowing to stop and think about it for a second. What we think is not factual. It’s just our beliefs, and they are the lens we look through in everything. We view them as reality.

This is going to sound like it should be coming from Blake, but the best way to figure these out is to write them down on paper. It really helps you figure out what these limiting beliefs are, and that’s the first step to actually defeating them. Honestly, I feel like even that first step of writing them down can be challenging. Again, it may be good to sit down with a good friend or somebody who knows you well who can help you process through what potential limiting beliefs you have as the first step to defeating them.

Verbs: That is important, because you have to get that conversation out of your head, because to you it does feel normal. These limiting beliefs… I don’t know if we’ve said it yet in this podcast. You have to ask yourself, “Is it true?” If it’s not true, then it’s basically a whisper of deception that just keeps playing the same tune inside of your head. You’ve gotten used to that music.

So, getting that out of your head, like you mentioned, Courtney, and slaying the limiting belief by writing it down, giving it a name, gets it out of that cerebral conversation that has been going on maybe for years. Take a look at it and say, “Oh, this is what I’ve been stuck on? This is not even true. Let me get this out of my head in a new way of thinking.” It’s excellent advice, as well, to bounce this thing off of somebody who cares about you, who is able to speak sensibly into what they see and how they see you react to those sorts of thoughts as well.

Courtney: Speaking as both of your really good friend, are there some limiting beliefs we can talk through here on the podcast for either one of you? Any limiting beliefs that sneak up on you? Or would you like me to tell you what your limiting beliefs are? I’m just kidding.

Verbs: Oh, that would be awesome. That would be a next-level…

Courtney: I’ve got it, I’ve got it. Here it goes. Okay, Verbs.

Verbs: Let’s go.

Courtney: Your limiting belief is that you can’t rap on this podcast.

Blake: And my limiting belief is that I can rap on this podcast. It’s the exact opposite thing. That belief is limiting me from being an effective podcaster, actually.

Courtney: Before we go on…sidenote…because this has come up before in comments. I want people to know, Verbs, that you were a professional rapper back in the day.

Verbs: Bona fide professional. Yeah.

Courtney: And you rapped for, again… I think I said this in a podcast episode. I saw a video of you. It felt like 100,000 people. I don’t know how many people you were in front of, but it was way more than I will ever be in front of in my life.

Verbs: It was a gaggle of folks. Yeah. Yes, at one point in my life, that was the thing I did. That was my job: writing, recording, touring in the music industry. Here’s what a limiting belief could be: Because I did it years ago (late 90s, early 2000s), even though I could still write songs and rap, am I too old to do that at this stage in the game and still be relevant and effective? This is like a big conversation, not only in the music world but just anybody who has passed a certain threshold in their age. This is kind of where ageism comes in and that whole conversation.

Within hip-hop music, specifically, there’s a sense that, “Oh, once you turn this age, you’re not able to do it as well. Your music is not as relevant. It sounds old, because now it’s classic music.” At the same time, if you still have groups like the Rolling Stones on tour, Metallica, whatever the band may be, or even jazz musicians… They carry on into the later years of their life, still doing what they love.

I think that rises up for a lot of artists, specifically, maybe for even business owners, like, “Hey, there’s a threshold where I’m going to be irrelevant in this industry.” How we confront that is important: by naming it, first of all, and then even asking, “Is it true? Is this really a legitimate belief if I look out over the scope of the industry?” If there’s one person who’s still doing it and being successful at it, that kind of proves my limiting belief to be incorrect.

Courtney: Yeah, that there is other possibility. Okay. I think this is a really great example. Let’s take this one.

Verbs: Thank you for that, Courtney.

Blake: Common is 49. Kanye is 44.

Verbs: Some of the best rappers right now are pushing 50 years old and still consistent in all of that. So, just thought I’d throw that in there.

Courtney: I like this a lot. Let’s lay that down as step two, naming that belief, which leads us into step three (we’ve kind of already started doing this a little bit with that example), which is to write a new story.

Blake: Writing a new story. There’s a wonderful book I read on this this year called Personality Isn’t Permanent by Benjamin Hardy, if you want to do some further reading on this concept in particular. One of the things he says in there is some version of, “Embrace your future to change your past.”

Essentially, what he’s talking about is think about what you’d want or the person you’d have to be to accomplish what you want to accomplish, and then you can, essentially, use your past, rather than evidence against what you want to do or what you want to become, almost seeing your past as more of a hero’s journey, like those necessary building blocks or trials or something where you were building the muscle, so to speak, to accomplish what you want to build or accomplish.

I’m probably butchering his true point, but the principle is still really true, which is when you can think of your past differently… Usually, our old limiting beliefs… If you name that new belief, it’s because you had some type of experience. It could have been an experience you had as a kid or an experience you had this year trying to achieve a goal. If you can change the narrative about what that past experience means and embrace the desired future you want, those are the beginnings of starting to write a new story for yourself. Can I share a simple trick?

Verbs: Please do.

Courtney: Yes.

Blake: Again, I don’t want to butcher this as well, because I kind of heard this one secondhand. Byron Katie talks a lot about this type of thing. Something I’ll do is I, literally, every week… Courtney, you said, “Oh, Blake, I feel like you should talk about this.” It’s like a weekend routine for me to process through limiting beliefs I’m carrying around, literally. One of the things I do… If I’m struggling with it, I’ll actually just say the opposite thing and see how that feels.

It’s not where you have to land, necessarily, but, real life… I was looking back at my journal when we pulled this podcast up. I kind of go down to the roots of things and go scuba diving all the way down. One of the ones I wrote down was “Whenever I try to become more successful, I always encounter more resistance than other people.” It’s totally bogus, but it felt really true to me. When I say that out loud even now, I can feel that cringy thing, that limiting feeling.

If you’re trying to change your story… We would use the term liberating truth. Replace that limiting belief with a liberating truth. For starters, I could say… Maybe you could help me out. How would I flip that on its head? “Whenever I try to become more successful, I always encounter…” Probably the belief behind that is that I encounter too much resistance. It’s not even that it’s more than other people, but, like, things are always going to be harder for me when I try to reach new heights.

Courtney: For me, I would want to flip it to say something along these lines: “As I pursue success, challenges are going to come, and I have everything I need to overcome those challenges” or “I have the ability to find the resources I need to overcome those challenges to be successful.”

Blake: Or “Whenever I try to become more successful, I’m great at overcoming the resistance that comes my way,” or something like that.

Courtney: I do like what that liberating truth, still acknowledging with success… I don’t know that it’s ever going to be like a walk in the park, like you’re just going to arrive. So, in that example, I like that idea of still acknowledging challenges are going to come. If I’m committed to working toward success, challenges are going to come, but to remind myself, “I have what it takes to overcome those along the way” is an important element as people are listening to this and playing it out in their own stories.

Blake: Or even if it was about resistance itself, like, “The resistance I face keeps me from being successful.” I could say, “The resistance I face is what empowers me to be successful.”

Verbs: That’s good. I would think, to help even further, just identifying how you perceive that resistance, and then reaffirming that you have the skill set to assess it, see it for what it is, and navigate through it based on who you are, how you think, how you process.

Courtney: I think this is also really helpful. Blake, if you continued to have your limiting belief, if you held that into the future, what would happen? What would the actions be that you would take because of that limiting belief?

Blake: I would shrink back from action altogether, probably.

Courtney: Right.

Blake: If I think, “Well, if I try to become more or achieve more than I’ve done before, if I try to be really successful, then it’s going to be too hard, or I won’t be able to actually break free or overcome resistance I might face.”

Courtney: By having that thinking, you are… Like we said, it’s self-fulfilling prophecy. Your actions are a result of that thinking, so, yeah, you’re not going to be successful with that limiting belief. On the flip side, if you had that liberating truth, then what are your actions?

Blake: Absolutely. If I think the resistance I face on the way to success is going to empower me to succeed, then not only would I take action, but I would take action faster. I would be more decisive, because it’s no longer a question of if I’m going to face resistance. It’s more I’ve reframed resistance to being something that empowers me, like lifting weights is empowering to build strength. Then it’s like, “Oh!” There’s not pressure on doing it right or wrong or facing resistance or trying to avoid resistance. It’s like, “No, no, no. I’m either going to win right away or I’m going to be empowered to win through resistance.”

Courtney: It’s like, when you get that resistance, it’s almost exciting, because you’re like, “Okay. Here it is. Here’s my opportunity for this next building block.” Like, “Okay. I wasn’t thinking that there was never going to be any resistance. I knew the resistance was going to come, and here’s my opportunity to grow with this resistance.” That’s a really great example of the power of this in our lives.

Blake: Let’s move on, because I feel too vulnerable.

Verbs: So, we talked about the three steps to overcoming the thinking that so often holds us back. Step one: assess your mindset. Step two: name your belief. Step three: write a new story.

Courtney: So, today, we just scratched the surface on limiting beliefs and liberating truths. There’s a lot more to this, and we don’t have time to cover it completely in this 30-minute podcast. If you’re interested in going deeper with us, join us for Your Best Year Ever. We are going to delve into signposts for identifying limiting beliefs, strategies for writing liberating truths, and tips for living into a better story. Again, today was just a little piece of this. Even better, we’re going to show you how to use your new thinking as a foundation for setting goals you can’t wait to achieve.

We are opening registration for Your Best Year Ever later this week, if you’re listening to this on Monday, so make sure to watch your inbox for that. Every year, I struggle to summarize what a critical tool this is for people who use the Full Focus Planner. Just to give everybody a little history, Your Best Year Ever was created first. It was our goal-setting course, and over time, we were like, “You know what would be really amazing is if there was an implementation tool that helped you, on a daily basis, live out your goals,” and that’s when we created the planner.

So, really, Your Best Year Ever, every year… The three of us go through it every year. Frankly, I don’t know if I would be as successful with the planner if I didn’t take the time to do this goal‑setting work at the beginning of the year. Is that true for you too?

Blake: Absolutely. The hardest hurdle for me to make time for or get over the hump about is the actual goal setting, because it feels too much. There’s too much. There are too many life domains. There’s too much time in the year, and I’ll just default to the busyness of the day or the busyness of the week. Your Best Year Ever, even though I already know… And maybe you listening already know the content.

It’s not really about the content, at least for me at this stage. I’ve done it two or three times, at least, at this point. It’s way more about the process, and the process never gets old, because you keep growing, you keep learning. It’s always a new year, new things to do. So, to go through the process, I always feel more excited and confident about my choices around my goals, more in sync with my own desired future. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the productive year.

Courtney: So true. And we have a live event where you can do all of your goals on December 30. That’s always a really, really fun event. If you don’t want to do the course on your own, I highly recommend doing the day with us live. It’s really a blast. Okay. If you are interested in joining us this year, you can go to and join the waitlist. Again, it’s going to open up later this week. Or we also have webinars happening this week that are totally free to get some training on this as well. Again, we hope to see you there with us at Your Best Year Ever LIVE.

Verbs: The good news is you don’t have to stay stuck in thinking that holds you back. You can replace limiting beliefs with liberating truths when you assess your mindset, name your belief, and write a new story. Courtney and Blake, before we head out, do you guys have any final thoughts for our Focus on This listeners?

Courtney: I would love to come back to your limiting belief, Verbs, for a second, and see if we can do a quick liberating truth for you related to this, because I think for everybody listening, we can all benefit from this new liberating truth. I think it’s important for us to dial it in. I do have a question for you really quickly, Verbs. What would be your desire in pursuing this again possibly? What would be the outcome you would want?

Verbs: Good question. I think, for me, it has always been more of a missional sort of endeavor, as well as a creative endeavor, so I think it would be relocking into a motivation behind it that would make it enjoyable. Songwriting is always going to be a creative outlet, or just making music is a creative outlet, and I enjoy the process of doing that and the product. I think just a complete quality product at the end of the day would be enjoyable.

Blake: So, your liberating truth is “I’m better than Kanye.” That’s what I gathered from that.

Courtney: If the goal is, “Hey, I want to be creative. The process is kind of the reward. Making music is the reward, not necessarily what people evaluate about my music,” I think there’s something there that’s part of your liberating truth, both sides of that coin. If it’s like, “Can people that age actually produce good music…?”

You know, is the outcome you’re looking for for people to acknowledge your gifting? Of course that’s great. Everybody likes that. But is that really what you’re going after or is it “I want to create because I love to be a creative person. I love that process. I love that hobby. I love how it makes me feel”? If that’s the case, I think there’s maybe something there with that liberating truth.

Verbs: Agreed. We shall continue this conversation.

Blake: Yes. That’s an invitation, everybody. Weigh in in the Full Focus Planner Community, if you’re not already in there. Just some words of encouragement, some animated GIFs perhaps, pushing Verbs along the path. Maybe we can get a habit goal out of him by the end of this.

Verbs: Oh, the gauntlet has been cast. Yeah, that’s a good one, actually: a habit goal around that. So, with that, we want to say, thank you, the listener, for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so share it with your friends. Don’t forget to join our Full Focus Planner Community on Facebook. We’ll be here next week with another great episode, but until then…

All: Stay focused!