“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” – Moliere
Has this ever happened to you? You are rolling along, getting things done, perhaps working towards a goal, and Wham! Life puts a big roadblock in your way. Maybe it’s a setback in your health. Perhaps it’s a difficult situation at work that has you feeling stuck. Whatever your situation, you are not alone! Life throws challenges at us on a consistent basis. The key to overcoming adversity is to develop the inner resources you need to face them head on and take action.
Here’s a great quote by Ray Davis: “A challenge is only an obstacle when we bow to it.” It’s amazing how changing just that one word from obstacle to challenge helps us gain strength and energy. How does that work? Think about the word obstacle. It brings a feeling of being stuck, of something immovable in our way; it takes away our power. Conversely, the word challenge has a completely different tone. It says, “Bring it on! I’m ready for you. You can’t scare me. I will defeat you!” By reframing your obstacle as a challenge, you have a new mindset to tackle what is holding you back.
Here are 5 ways to challenge your obstacles and achieve your goals, as mentioned in my book on goal setting.
1. Find the Source.
Is the problem on the inside or the outside? Is the roadblock coming from something you can control (such as your state of mind or your attitude) or something you cannot control, such as the weather? Often the act of identifying the source will help you determine what you can do. Once you find the source, you can either take direct action or reset your mindset, as discussed in my book on changing your mindset.
Direct Action is something concrete you can do to remove the obstacle.
Examples of Direct Action:
- Having a discussion with someone to solve a problem or clear the air
- Making a phone call or doing research to find information
- Writing down a step-by-step plan
Resetting Your Mindset is needed when something is out of your control. If you cannot change the situation, you can change your attitude. This takes noticing when your emotional state or attitude is keeping you stuck, and deliberately choosing to change your mindset.
Examples of Resetting Your Mindset:
- Letting go of anger when you are mad or upset at someone
- Choosing another emotion instead of the one you currently feel. “I have been feeling sad that my grandmother is sick. I choose to feel supportive and strong so I can help her”
- Using “And” to help you change your mindset. AND gives you permission to experience ambiguity and complexity. “I feel jealous of my friend because he got a promotion, AND I am very happy for him because he worked hard to advance his career.”
- Choosing humor to see the funny side of a situation. Almost anything has a humorous side! Laughing at life and at ourselves is a powerful way to change our attitudes.
Reframing is a very effective way to overcome obstacles. It changes our whole approach. To reframe, change your approach from Problem to Challenge. These are powerful words, and they affect how we perceive a situation.
Problem says, “This is a really big deal; it’s really hard. I don’t know if I can solve this.”
Challenge says, “Bring it! I’m going to take you on and I”m going to take you down. You can’t stop me – I will win!”
3. Develop the 2 Ps: Patience and Persistence
In today’s rushed lifestyle, people want things done NOW. We have gotten used to having information available instantly; bosses want projects finished by noon; everything is rush rush rush. The thing is, real problems don’t work that way. In fact, rushing to find a solution to your obstacle may not result in the best option for you. Find that place inside you that is patient. Trust yourself that you have the skills and intelligence to overcome that obstacle, and give it some time. Don’t give up! Sometimes giving it some space and time will allow your brain to find the answer. (research says so)
3. Find Inspiration.
We all need that mental, emotional and spiritual boost from time to time. What inspires you? Documentaries of powerful people? Nature? Works of art? Music? Seek out those things that fill you with awe and lift your spirits. When you spend time in that inspirational space, you will find space inside of you to give you mental energy.
4. Ditch the Comparisons.
Theodore Roosevelt gave us this famous quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparison also robs us of our power and confidence. When you are confronted with an obstacle, don’t waste any of your mental resources thinking about “how So-and So would do it.” So-and So is not you! You have been given your own unique skills and talents. Trust them, and trust in your ability to us them.
5. Seek Your Support System.
Research shows this is a very effective strategy for overcoming obstacles. Your support system can listen, encourage you, give suggestions, and be there for you every step of the say. When you have people who support you, you have a powerful obstacle-blasting tool. Some people are afraid to seek support because they believe they may be seen as weak. The opposite is true! You are taking strong action on your own behalf and harnessing the power of the human mind. Another cool thing about a group of people is that the sum is often greater than the parts. Amazing things happen when two or more people work together.
These roadblock-blasting techniques are only a small sample of ways you can overcome obstacles that stand between you and your goals. What other ideas came to you as you read this? Problems are no match for the incredible power of human creativity and determination.
Stay open to ways you can jump over, blast through, or sneak around your obstacles. You got this!