“To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.” Sugar Ray Robinson

We live in a world that reminds us of who we aren’t and what we cannot accomplish more than who we are and all the possibilities that comes with it. We are reminded of our flaws, struggles and odds weighing like weights on our shoulders crushing down against us more than our skills and accomplishments. Most of us are operating within a self-defeated mentality while fighting daily to believe that there is a way to success. Why? Simply because society feeds our fears and self-doubt more than courage and self-belief.
Growing up in poverty-stricken Bushwick in Brooklyn New York is where my self-defeating journey began. I’ve always been a big dreamer, I would imagine having a family in a beautiful suburban community while working my dream job as either a talk show host or radio personality. Talk about next Oprah! My desires were on major steroids and would endlessly reach another level as my confidence sky rocketed believing I was only one step away. Unfortunately my goal getting fire quickly diminished by words from opinions and statistics from gathered data in my community. I can still remember eating the words “you can’t do that”, “you aren’t capable”, “girl that’s a pipe dream” or the most passive level of insults “good luck” followed by a smirk or immediate chuckle. If you are fed self-defeating words for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eventually you will adopt a self-defeating attitude.
The world we live in thrives on judgment and hate. We frown upon success as though it threatens our own ability to win. We allow jealousy and resentment to overtake our true nature to love. To make matters worst, we allow the criticism from our peers deter us from pursuing our dreams. Our self-worth becomes tied to opinions rather than our heart. If criticism were connected to my bank account I would be a millionaire!
Once I reached college I worked hard searching for hope anywhere I could find. In people, places, books, music, movies and eventually psychics! Talk about major desperation to quench my thirst for more. I would spend my hard-earned minimum wage pennies on someone to tell me my future was brighter than the clouded version I was beginning to see. I went from psychic to psychic and pastor to pastor hoping to hear that everything would be ok, hoping to hear I am going to reach my goals and hoping to refill my hope tank once again to still believe. This is the moment I began to realize my desires weren’t an external issue but an internal issue. I was seeking help, faith and hope from outside influences than from myself. If I rely on everything and everyone else it will never be enough and will inevitably be the reason for my demise.
Like Martin Luther King, I had a dream. I dreamt of the day we would love one another unconditionally without finding fault but instead true acceptance. I dreamt of the day we would champion one another into success by encouraging our dreams while frightening fear away. The day when my winning moment no longer threatens the ego but instead motivates and drives dreams to become a reality. A perfect world may not exist but my heart craves authentic genuine support. I’ve come to the realization that every human being on this planet craves the same. Our desires are in continuous alignment yet our hope for humanity has become as lost as my broken GPS.
As a google research addict, I searched for ways I could become immune to self sabotaging thoughts and criticism. I stumbled upon vision boards and the power of goal setting along with refocusing on the “bigger picture”. A vision board is your step by step blueprint setting the stage for what’s to come. I excitedly began making a list of everything I wanted to accomplish in my life which reminded me of my wish list in my amazon cart. I searched for photos matching my vision, created a beautiful collage to represent my future to confidently serve as a constant reminder of who I am and where I am going. Little by little I noticed I sought after approval and validating hope filled words from others less. Like Alicia Keys, this girl was on fire! My life began to shift and suddenly my vision was becoming a reality.
Aside from creating my vision board, I’ve adopted 5 life changing habits that changed my life forever.

1. Turn your critics into your employees. If you are an entrepreneur, keep that job offer in your back pocket. I am not telling you to hire someone to criticize you but simply turn their lemon into lemonade. Every time you hear discouraging words such as, “you can’t, that’s not good enough, you shouldn’t do it”. I challenge you to translate those words into I can! I am more than enough! This is what I was created to do! Allow criticism to work for you instead of against you. Make criticism the logs that fuel your fire!
2. Be your own cheerleader! If you are waiting for everyone to support your vision, then get ready to wait forever. The vision you have for your life was given to you, not anyone else. We cannot expect everyone to see the bigger picture if it were not given to them. You have to believe in it for yourself! Remind yourself that you are worthy of living the life of your wildest dreams, remind yourself that you are more than capable and you will win! Challenge your inner critic, I dare you!
3. Use affirmations by proclaiming your desires as though they are already yours. This will cause a major shift in your mindset and catapult you into the next level of your goals. Instead of exercising to strengthen your body, you are exercising your mind. Here are my personal daily affirmations and my version of a shot of espresso in the morning “I am fearless, I am limitless, there is nothing I cannot accomplish, my talent will elevate me, I will love a purposeful life”. Determine your affirmations by what is necessary to motivate you.
4. Think of three people you admire and why you admire them. Maybe you believe they are courageous, wise beyond their years, successful, strong and accomplished. Write down all the characteristics you are most attracted to and use them to describe yourself. Remember, we attract who we are, and the people we admire are a reflection of ourselves. What you recognize as an asset is something you carry within. This is one of my favorite exercises designed to change how you see yourself!
5. Procrastination is a bigger enemy than your critics. It is a dream killer which is why our graveyards are worth billions of dollars. Don’t let your dream die, work towards it. It is your duty and right to live an intentional life with purpose. Set goals that absolutely scare you and challenge your growth. Create small action steps, set deadlines and find an accountability partner. When giving up begins to become an option always remember your why! Why did you start in the first place? Who needs you? The answer is me and millions of others just like me. Your gifts and skills were meant to be shared with the world.

Kimberly Gladden is a certified life purpose coach, author and motivational speaker. She is the founder of Serenity Inspires and offers life coaching services to help others discover their life purpose and become relentlessly who they are. Serenity Inspires also offers a “60 days to discover your life purpose” online course. Instagram- Serenityinspires Facebook- Serenity Inspires YouTube- Serenity Inspires Twitter- Serenityinspir1