Chains are usually meant to keep something tied down. Chains for dogs keep them from roaming where they aren’t supposed to go. Chains for a prisoner keep them locked in a cell. However, chains can also be something that are not physical, but still limit a person from doing something.

In business and in life, people can be controlled by certain barriers or “chains.” Most times they take years to develop, while other times they’re present right away. What chains are holding you back, slowing you down or keeping you from moving forward?  Here are some very common “chains” that can negatively affect a person’s life, both personally and professionally:

1. Lack of Control in Life
This is sometimes the biggest one!  Many people not living up to their full potential feel their life is spinning out of control.  Work, family, kids – all with different demands and various needs screaming at you for attention and time can be a little overwhelming!

2. Disorganization
If you’re not organized, you can’t be efficient. According to a recent study, the average U.S. executive wastes six weeks annually searching for important documents lost in clutter. Disorganization is wasted time, energy and resources in your life.

3. Low Productivity
Not being productive costs time and money. Sometimes a lack of productivity is the result of insufficient training, computer/business equipment or a lack of focus. Make sure that time spent on a task isn’t mistaken for the effectiveness of that task.

4. No Direction
Directions aren’t just for traveling. A life without direction is one that will most often incomplete and unsatisfying. Direction cannot happen without goals. Where do you want to be in five years?…10 years?…for retirement? Start with your goals and then work on what it will take to achieve them. Get help in establishing a realistic set of personal and professional goals that will get your life moving in a positive direction.

5. No Structure
Structure and organization go hand-in-hand. A person who is organized, keeps a calendar and is on-time and responsible will have structure in his or her life. Goals tend to be more long-term, while structure involves planning on a daily and weekly basis. A life without a plan is one that is sure to be blown off course.

6. No Accountability
We can all make excuses as to why we didn’t accomplish something – it was someone else’s fault, I didn’t have the time, another task pulled me away, etc. However, without accountability, you won’t have success personally or professionally. Another way to say accountability is “doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.”

7. Being REactive vs. Being PROactive
A reactive life means just surviving each day, week, month or year. It means just taking what comes your way and dealing with it. Is your life running you, or are you running your life? That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a far cry from being proactive. Being proactive means trying to take more control of your life and feeling like you have a say in its outcome. You can be proactive with your job and in your personal relationships. Start with a positive attitude and a proactive approach will be much more attainable.

8. Not Hitting Goals
As mentioned above, goals are important in both your personal and professional life. But what happens when you aren’t reaching those goals? Do you just chalk it up to life, or do you try to regroup and figure out a different way to meet them? Just because you don’t reach a particular goal doesn’t mean that it isn’t realistic. Changing the way you are going about reaching it can make a world of difference.

9. Low Self-Esteem / Low Confidence
Confidence is often half the battle in anything that a person does. Whether it is in sports, business or a personal relationship, believing that something is possible goes a long way in reaching a goal. Do you get up in the morning with an attitude of just making it through the day, or do you try to think about making that day the best it can be? If you don’t believe in yourself, why should others?

10. Poor Time Management
We know that “time is money” and that you can’t buy time, but what are you doing to ensure that your time is well-spent? The first step in making sure that you’re utilizing your time appropriately is to know how long tasks should take. That ties into being accountable. Establish timelines for regular tasks and keep track of whether or not you are accomplishing them in a timely manner.

11. Poor Clarity of Action Steps
While setting goals is important, establishing steps in achieving them is too. If you have a goal, but don’t know the necessary steps in order to reach it, then that goal is pretty worthless. Work from the top to bottom in order to create a clear set of steps that will help you reach your goals. If you know the steps to take, the journey won’t seem as difficult.

12. Working Hard and Not Smart
Time spent on a task doesn’t necessarily mean that it is worthwhile time. Hard work is important, but working smarter is even more important. Make sure that you have the necessary tools – software, coaching, business equipment, training, etc. – to help you complete your tasks. Spending all day on something that can be done in a few hours isn’t smart.

13. Need Work / Life Harmony
Whether you are married with a large family, or live alone with a hamster, balance in your life means the same thing. Having the proper harmony between work and the things that give your life quality is important. Make sure to take the time to invest in yourself – developing friendships, social relationships, pursuing your hobbies – so that your profession isn’t the only thing that defines who you are.

You don’t have to master all of these at once, but you can find help to create a plan to loosen these chains in your life. Start with the desire to become more than what you are right now.  Once you’re rooted in that desire, the next step is getting the tools and system you need in order to SHIFT from surviving life to actually living it


So, now that you’ve read  the article, how are you going to use this information to improve your professional and personal life this year?

Please take a moment and share your ideas in the comment section below.

Enjoy the rest of your day!  ~ Kris



Kris Cavanaugh, owner of ShiftTM, is an ICF certified Executive & Life Coach, DiSC Facilitator and Trainer who specializes in helping individuals and companies produce more consistent results and increase their effectiveness so their businesses, organizations, departments, and personal lives thrive. Her background includes over 20 years of experience. She is an expert strategist with an amazing ability to pull her clients through difficult challenges to obtain the results they truly desire. To learn more about Kris Cavanaugh and Shift, go to Kris has also authored several books including Standing Naked in the Storm and Stuck to C.E.O.

If you desire to produce more consistent results and increase your effectiveness personally or professionally, call Kris at 404-551-3601 or go to to schedule your complimentary meeting today.

To learn more about Kris’ leadership development and other corporate programs, click here: Corporate Programs.

Need a Speaker?
Kris Cavanaugh is a Professional Member of the NSA (National Speakers Association).  If you or people you know are seeking speakers, panelists, or workshop instructors for any type of association, corporate, nonprofit or industry meeting, please contact Shift, Inc., at  You can learn more about Kris’ presentations at



1 thought on “13 “Chains” Keeping You from Living Up to Your Full Potential”

  1. This is great Kris.I’ve been hindered from all of these chains at one time or another. #2 is the biggest currently. I recently cleaned out over 680 emails from my inbox. it took four days- what a relief! Next up- my inbox on my desk.

Comments are closed.