Are You Getting in the Way of Your Success?

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Several years ago, I moved from my small hometown in Georgia where I grew up to Los Angeles after high school graduation with the hopes of pursuing an acting career.

But after attending acting classes for one academic year, I decided to try college once again and then enrolled into a two-year institution in Culver City, Calif.

It was a tough road. I was completely on my own, without the financial help of my parents, making ends meet by working at a popular L.A. shopping mall. Despite that, I managed to hold down an A-B average even in the midst of working over 40 hours a week. I didn’t have a car or a cell phone for some time. And I was living with a good friend in an apartment the size of a match box. Life had become pretty rough for this small-town country girl.

It was probably the most humbling, yet most rewarding times of my life.Yet, I was making it. And you can be sure I learned a lot about myself along the way. Most importantly, I experienced for the first time in my life the very essence of the saying: “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The good thing about the three years I spent in L.A. was during which I earned an Associate’s degree in liberal arts, and eventual acceptance into my four-year college of choice. The bad news is that I gained about 40 pounds along the way.

Yep. that’s right. How did I gain so much weight, you’re wondering? Basically, I was living on a poor college student’s diet, which consisted mostly of selected items off the McDonald’s Dollar Menu and high-sodium, microwaveable meals.

Although, later — during the summer just before making the trek to Washington, DC — I decided to lose the weight. For an entire year, I avoided all types of fast food. You couldn’t catch me posted up at a drive-thru window. Nor could you nab me snacking on the sweet treats I often craved. Indeed, I was on the road to redemption.

I hit the gym with a determination and workout ethic that rivaled a professional athlete. (Okay. Maybe not that intense, but it sure felt like it.) A year had passed and I lost every ounce of the 40 pounds I had gained, and got slim and trim.

You’re probably wondering what all this has to do with careers, and living your dreams, and becoming a success. Well, I’ll tell you.

Remember? “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

After failing miserably at pursuing a career as an aspiring actress, and becoming so disillusioned by the idea anyway, I made the bold decision to go after my academic goals and earn a college degree. Most people would’ve given up. But I chose not to.

I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. Didn’t know a lick about financial aid and whether I’d be eligible for it. Didn’t even possess good study techniques; as a matter of fact, I could barely write a decent essay. I struggled with anxiety and lost entire nights of sleep when I had to turn in assignments.

Did I want to give up?
Did I?
Of course not.
Why not?
Because I made a simple choice. To succeed.

I envisioned the end result. I became unswerving in my faith. In summary, I was determined.

Similarly, after packing on the extra weight eating fried fast-food I made a steadfast decision to lose the weight and get healthy. And I did.

We all have an ability to turn on the switch that puts us in the frame of mind to do whatever it is we want to achieve in life. But most of us choose not to. Those who don’t have settled into mediocrity. Others, have just given up.

But when you fight back, I’ve found, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. That’s not to say the road ahead will be absent of twists and turns, hard-knock challenges, and uphill battles. But it does mean that when you are strong-willed, brave, bold and courageous in your decisions, nothing will stop you — not even life’s inherent obstacles.

But let me ask you… Are you getting in the way of your own progress? Are you sabotaging your own success? Have you given up? My friend, your victory could be waiting right around the corner. I firmly believe that setbacks are simply setups for a comeback.
If you can answer ‘yes’ to at least one of the following questions, then you’re most likely erecting your own roadblocks.

* Do you focus too often on what you can’t do, rather than what you can?

* Do you obsess about how someone else seems so talented, instead of tapping into your own gifts?

* Are you driven and motivated, but lack focus and discipline?

* Do you give up too soon, setting yourself back even further?

* Do opportunities come along, but you eventually talk yourself out of accepting the chance to move ahead because you perceive it as challenging?

* Do you constantly downplay your experience or education due to insecurity?

* Do you take a back-seat and let others accept leadership roles?

* Do you compromise and make unsettling decisions in order to appease or please others?

Today is the day to turn around your thinking and, thereby, transform your actions. Start thinking more positively. And when negative thoughts start to creep in, shut them down immediately by training your mind to counter unproductive, unflattering beliefs about yourself.

What’s more, resolve to do in life only what is true to you. If something doesn’t seem right, take a moment and ask yourself “Why does this moment feel unsettling?” That gut feeling could save you from a wrong turn.

Don’t give up. Continue to fight against negativity as poor thoughts can paralyze you, and further hinder your progress. Before you know it, you’ll be barreling through life’s roadblocks with positive, faithful thinking, and discover that your success has always been within your reach.

About the Lead Author

Emily Brown is the creator and key contributor of — a motivational blog offering career advice, from relevant tips on finding more gratifying work to personal branding to eradicating fear.

She is also a full-time journalist; her work has appeared in Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. A graduate of Howard University, she is currently earning a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing at Johns Hopkins University and serves as the Career Development Chair for the Alliance for Women in Media (National Capital Area Chapter).

Emily is a recipient of the 2010 Washington, DC Power 30 Under 30 Award for her work as a journalist and founder of This innovative award, presented by the Apex Society, celebrates accomplished professionals under the age of 30 who are proven leaders in their communities.



  • Monique McDowell

    Wow! What appropriate timing of this article Emily! I am now at the cornerstone of my life where God has revealed my talents & is waiting on me to really believe that I can use those talents to provide a great & rewarding life for myself & son. There have been so many messages & phone calls this week that show me God is ready for me to act on faith & belief in His will in my life & not doubt anymore. What a great confirmation that I need to get out of the way of my success! Thanks a gazillion!

  • taylor

    just what i needed to hear, thanks keep it up!

    • Emily Brown

      @ Taylor, I hear ya! Glad you got the boost you needed.

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  • Erin


    • Emily Brown

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and reading Erin!

  • Kenya

    Wonderful and relateable inspiration, Emily. Thanks so much for diverting our focus to accomplishments instead of failures.

    • Emily Brown

      Thanks Kenya!