5 Ways To Overcome Your Assumptions

“If you hear a voice within you saying, “You are not a painter,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

~ Malcolm Forbes

5 Ways To Overcome Your Assumptions

By Andrea Novakowski

Whenever you find yourself saying, “I can’t possibly…”, that’s a good indication you’re making an assumption. Are you truly incapable of doing that thing? Or are you merely imagining all the complications that might interfere with your goal?

Here are five ways to challenge this self-defeating habit.

  1. Figure out how you arrived at the assumption. Too often, we extrapolate from one failure to conclude we’re no good at something. In my last post I mentioned how getting a D on a paper in 5th grade doomed me to years of believing I was a terrible writer. In high school, I had a happier experience as a competitor on the track team. The first time I encountered a banked track, I had no idea what the banks were for and that they were only used at the beginning of the race.  I actually ran up and down each bank, zigzagging my way to the finish line. Not surprisingly, I finished last in that race. I could have thrown my sneakers in the trash, but I didn’t. I come from a family of athletic folks and it didn’t occur to me to assume that I might be a terrible runner. I figured if I trained harder and asked questions to help prepare for the next race, my performance would improve. And it did.
  2. Experiment with your assumptions. Perhaps you’ve been told you’re not creative. Well, creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. It might involve paints and an easel; it might mean working with your hands; it might be singing or gardening or cooking. Creativity can also be found in business. People who discover new products, processes, and medicines are certainly creative. Open the door to creativity by taking a class, reading a book, or visiting a museum. Don’t just automatically accept the mantle of Not Creative. Find out what you’re drawn to explore.
  3. If an accomplishment seems impossible to you, break it into steps. Carl’s new job required him to write proposals, something he’d never done before. At first, he assumed he couldn’t possibly do it. But I showed Carl how he could tackle the assignment in small increments. He studied proposals that had been used in the past. He asked for help from his supervisors. By approaching the project one step at a time, Carl was able to achieve something he thought was beyond his ability.
  4. Revaluate your assumptions every so often. Even if a perceived limitation turns out to be real for you right now, that doesn’t mean it will remain that way forever. Tara is a mother with three young children and a full-time job. When she says she can’t possibly find the time for creative expression, she may be right. But before she knows it, her kids will be grown and she can get back to doing what she loves: writing songs, singing, and playing the guitar. In the meantime, Tara brings creative ideas and suggestions to work to help keep her “right brain” fresh.
  5. Believe in yourself. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of “that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith.” So what if you’ve never tried something, or haven’t done it very well in the past? You can’t change your results until you start believing you can.

Go ahead – dare to question your ideas of what you can and can’t do. You may be in for a pleasant surprise. Along the way, you might just discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed.

Coaching Call To Action

If assumptions are getting in the way of your success, I welcome the opportunity to share The PaperRoom™ with you. The PaperRoom™ is a process that reveals the conscious and unconscious habits that determine your success on a daily basis. Through a unique facilitated coaching process, we’ll look deeply into your behavioral patterns and find those that work and those that don’t. Armed with this powerful data, you will be able to operate at your peak. Call or email if you’d like to learn more.