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Mini exercise to identify what's blocking you

A visual of a woman with a big blue shirt on who has her face buried in her shirt with her hair popping out

As a designer and educator in the field of creative wellness I am always searching for ways to make the exercises I create for people as accessible as possible. When you are trying to answer questions about yourself, your (work) life and the dreams you have for yourself, I feel it’s a necessity to have the right tools + materials to guide you. Working on yourself is no easy task and it takes a lot of work and time to design your life the way it suits you best, but sometimes all you need is a mini exercise to get some clarity in the present moment. 

What I found when working with both adults and teenagers, is that we are all eager to understand what things are blocking us and stopping us from doing or pursuing something. I remember one very ambitious and competition-driven teen, who shared with me that he had never thought about his blockers before, but now that he had unraveled them he understood what to do to minimise their impact in his future endeavors. Especially when it came to making a decision for his future education, which is one very important life decision.

But even when it comes to smaller choices that have an impact on how you spend your time, when you make your blockers visible you make them tangible, which allows you to do something about them. Fears, doubts and insecurities can have a huge impact on why you don’t pursue certain interests. And what’s interesting is that a lot of the things you're too afraid to try actually show you that you are really curious about them, otherwise you wouldn’t experience any unsettling emotions. 

So today I would like to share a 3-step mini exercise to help you identify what's blocking you in pursuing the things you want to do and the influence they have on your choices and behaviour. You can go through the steps yourself or follow along with me in this video:

Step 01 - Map things you really want to do / learn someday

So, for the first step I want you to take a few minutes to answer the following question: What (new) things would you like to try / learn about /do more of, but are not pursuing right now because something is holding you back?

Grab a sheet of paper, and draw two speech bubbles. One of these is for activities in your personal life, the other for your work life. I actually use some of my own design thinking prompts here to help me trigger my thoughts and get them out of my head onto paper. But of course you can just write down what comes to mind.

Step 02 - Identify emotions and practicalities that are holding you back 

For the second step I want you to take a few minutes to answer the question: What fears or doubts and insecurities do you think are holding you back? 

Write this question on your sheet of paper and try to put into words what feelings, thoughts or practicalities are blocking you right now in pursuing some of the activities.

Step 03 - Define why you think these blockers exist within you

For the last step, try to answer this ‘Why’ question: Why do you think these emotions or practicalities have such a big impact on your (lack of) commitment to the things you want to pursue? Can you come up with a deeper reason here? 

Write this question down and try to answer it in one sentence. 

Now that you have identified the bunch of misplaced & restricting thoughts in your head - about your capabilities or comparing yourself to others - I hope you have gained some clarity about their influence on your life. And better, that you have already come up with some ideas on how to minimize their impact on your goals and dreams. 

Alright, I’m rooting for you and I hope to share another mini exercise for mind & body soon. 



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