Most of our brains are hardwired with self-limiting thoughts. Think about it: you come up with a great idea and all of a sudden, your brain gets flooded with reasons it won’t work. Some of us are better at coming up with these self-limiting ideas than others. Once all of the reasons that something won’t work take over our mind, we give up on the idea and move on.

Not so fast

There are things that you can do to think bigger. I meet far too many people satisfied with the status quo. Satisfied with lousy relationships. Satisfied with poor health. Satisfied with average income. I say stop being satisfied! Recognize that without action on your part – specific action to offset our self-limiting thoughts – you may stay in an area where you are forced to settle. And do you know what is sad? Many of you have settled and you don’t even realize it. Your current state has become your norm. Your mind has also done that for you as a survival mechanism.

So how do you break the barrier to think and do bigger things?

Follow these 5 steps:

Dream…and dream BIG! To free up your mind, you first need to slow down. Chasing a dream and working 80 hours a week may seem like the right thing to do but if you never stop and calmly think about your future, you could be missing out.


Write it down. An easy way to start is to block off one morning just for some “you” time. Get some paper and pen and head to a quiet place (I find that actually writing instead of typing is more productive). You need to be away from your normal day-to-day grind. Now start writing. You could label one page “career”, one “relationships”, one “health”, one “spiritual”, and so on. Now, think about what your perfect life would look like in each area and start writing. Think about one year from now, but also think about twenty-five years from now. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t worry about figuring out how you will get there. Don’t worry if it seems unattainable or pretentious. Just write it down.


Write it down again. Dan Sullivan, Founder of Strategic Coach, is a mentor and coach for me. He says that “your mind can only achieve what it thinks is attainable.” In other words, if you don’t think something is realistic you will not do it. The first time you write something down your mind may be laughing at you. How in the world can you actually lose that weight or earn that income? You need to rewrite your thoughts in order to make things seem attainable. One thing that has worked for me is writing my goals down every quarter. I literally block off time, like in step one, pull out what I wrote last quarter and rewrite everything again. What I have found is that physically rewriting helped convince my brain that things were actually attainable. Then I found an additional benefit. After writing things down several times not only did I convince my brain that things were attainable, my brain started looking at them and saying “you can do more than that!” When this started happening I started changing my goals. They got bigger and bolder, and yours can too! Block time to make sure that you do this each quarter.


Harness the roadblocks. Remember when I shared that our minds naturally come up with reasons that we cannot do things? Here is a trick to help use those roadblocks to your benefit. Let’s say that you want to lose 25 pounds in the next year. You write it down and your brain starts working. You don’t have time to work out. You can’t afford to buy healthy food. You don’t like to cook. Your partner will never go along with this. I was born this way….and on and on. I suggest letting your brain do its work while you write down all of the reasons that you cannot achieve the goal. You now have a list of roadblocks that you can overcome. Next to each potential roadblock, write down the things you need to do to overcome those items. Let’s walk through having no time to work out. You might say that you could wake up 30 minutes early, buy a workout tape, ride your bike to work, leave work early, take a lunch, etc. Your brain is equally as good at coming up with solutions when you give it a chance.


Finally, listen to your brain when it tells you what is reasonable. One warning here: when you apply these steps and actually do what I am telling you, you will start to think of some pretty crazy things that you can accomplish. Teaching your brain to make things attainable that before, to you, were just crazy dreams, can actually lead to more dreams. Get ready for it and embrace it. Listen to your thoughts when they come up because they can be new goals that you write down next quarter.


You don’t have to be one of those people that just wanders through life taking what comes your way. Take control. Live bigger. Have deeper relationships. Be healthier. Be more spiritual. Be whatever you want to be. Just don’t settle.



Want some help with your overall financial plan?  Go to to set up your FREE, one-on-one, Confidence Booster Call. Byron W. Ellis, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPC®, is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Managing Director of United Capital Financial Advisors, LLC, a Financial Life Management firm. The information contained in this article is intended for information only is not a recommendation, and should not be considered investment advice. Please contact your financial advisor with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The opinions expressed herein are those of Byron Ellis and not necessarily those of United Capital Financial Advisors, LLC.