All of us have goals, ambitions, and dreams. Some of us persevere quite well when attempting to reach our goals, while some of us can use some help. Mindset is the biggest difference between these two groups. The people that reach their goals have a mind set of “can,” while others often think “can’t”.

If you are currently experiencing difficulties in achieving what you want out of life, there is hope. You can clear your mind of those thoughts that are sabotaging your progress. Even if you are relatively successful and happy, enhancing the innate ability to motivate yourself and clearing mental roadblocks can bring you to a new level.

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford, speaking on the power of the mind

Here are 5 ways to clear your mind of the “can’t” mentality.

 1. Realize you’re holding yourself back

This can certainly be a difficult pill to swallow. Most of us are prideful and can shun accountability for ourselves at times. However, when you realize that only you have the control over your life, it is a tremendously powerful motivator.

Notice the first word: “realize”. It’s there because many of us aren’t even attuned to the fact that we are the major roadblock – not co-workers, bosses, or other external factors.

According to research conducted on rationalization (i.e. “making excuses”), the internalization of perceived failure affects self-esteem; which in turn negatively affects your thoughts and behavior. In layman’s terms – we are not good at letting go.

We must let go of our perceived failures in order to succeed in this lifetime. We can only let go of these failures by being present in each and every situation – whether at work, home, or somewhere else. Focusing on what needs to be done in the present without rehashing past failures is the answer. Be present.

 2. Reverse your “cants” to “cans”

This may sound cliché, but we are the sum of our thoughts. It is important to affirm and declare your goals in order to motivate your thinking, particularly during the difficult times.

Affirmations are an incredibly powerful and effective way to do this. Essentially, affirmations are often-repeated, positive statements used to describe a desired situation until they get impressed into your subconscious mind.

Even athletes, such as Muhammad Ali, have used affirmations to enhance their performance. According to Ali, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

If the greatest boxer in history achieved his success in no small part to affirmations, we should certainly take notice.

Here’s a quick “how-to” guide on how to use affirmations.

– Identify and write down negative self-talk and beliefs (or “cants)

– Create and write down positive affirmations (or “cans”); the opposite of the items on the first list

– Begin using the new affirmations. Post the written list in an area that you visit frequently to remind yourself.

– Watch things begin to happen.

 3. Remind yourself of what you’ve overcome

It’s normal to want to be and achieve more. It’s healthy. It’s what keeps us going. That being said, we need to remind ourselves of our past successes from time to time. This is important because when we feel stuck, past accomplishments serve as a reminder of the potential inside of us to achieve success.

Your life wasn’t handed to you on a plate; you had to earn it. Give yourself some credit for overcoming obstacles as they’ve presented themselves. You’ve become a stronger person having gone through these trials. This accumulated strength makes it possible for you to move forward and continue your path in life.

Maybe you got a promotion in a past job, lost weight, graduated college or something else that made you feel inspired. Keep in mind how far you’ve come. Write a list of the things you’re proud of; then come back and read this list whenever you lack confidence to move forward in your life.

 4. Accept and love yourself

Do you accept who you are as a person? What characteristics do you love about yourself?

These are two questions that you should be able to answer without too much thought. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with you. Whatever shortcomings you may feel can be overcome with time and effort, but they don’t mean that you are deficient as a person.

Self-acceptance is a necessary component to live a fulfilling life. You must let go of the thought patterns and behaviors that are interrupting your path towards growth. Often times, these are a matter of perception. We can choose to perceive ourselves as unworthy and handicapped, or we can focus on our strengths and capabilities.

Be aware of thoughts that pop into your head that can damage your self-image. Understand that these impulses do not truly reflect who you are a person…they are just thoughts. Let them go. If you feel your behavior needs to be changed, then change them; but don’t feel that you are unworthy to live a fulfilling life.

When you embrace and accept yourself, you allow self-love to manifest. Self-love is simply the act of living while remaining true to yourself. It’s an expression of your own acceptance, allowing you to support your progression through life. This is not applicable only to your finances and career; in fact, these are not even close to being most important. Your emotional, psychological and spiritual growth is where the self-love truly occurs.

5. Take action

Here is where many of us get caught up…actually doing it. This is because we have a tendency to think way too much…we wait until we feel like taking action. The big problem with this is that we’ll never feel motivated enough to accomplish the difficult, but necessary, tasks to achieve our goals.

The solution? Just take the first step. For example, you want to get into better shape (who doesn’t)? Getting into better shape requires exercise and eating right. Now, you don’t feel like going to the gym or changing your eating habits. This is too difficult, you think to yourself.

Don’t feel like going to the gym? Okay…just put on your workout clothes. Then, just walk out the front door. Now that you are out of the house, it would be counterproductive and silly to just walk back in and do nothing, so you end up at the gym.

Don’t want to change your eating habits? Okay…just make out a grocery list. You don’t have to buy anything, but you have a list of stuff that you could if you wanted. A day or so later, you head to the grocery store with the list of healthy food. Convenient, since now you don’t have to think about what to buy. Just put your mind to it.

See how this works? Just take the first step, and you’ll notice that once you are in motion your motivation and drive will happen naturally.