In this issue ~~
* Handling the Obstacles in Our Path
* Creative Tip
* Wise Words
the Obstacles in Our Path
No matter how right the path you're on, there are times when
things will not go smoothly: That's just the way life is. Achieving
your goals may take persistence and resolve, so that you don't
get derailed every time something happens differently than you
planned and hoped. By anticipating and understanding the obstacles
you may encounter, you can prepare to handle them.
There are many types of obstacles that may fall in our way.
Some are personal situations that need to be dealt with, and
the methodologies will vary with the circumstances. There are
also obstacles that are common to all of us. These include:
While some fears are a normal reaction to a real or imminent
danger, fears can be an excuse for not confronting situations
in which we expect to feel inadequate or humiliated. Fear can
become a habitual, automatic reaction to uncomfortable, unfamiliar
circumstances. It is a way of keeping ourselves safe, but it
can prevent us from taking the risks that make life exciting.
We form beliefs from the time we're born. Some serve us, while
others limit us. The problem comes when we see our beliefs as
factual realities. By identifying our beliefs as such, we can
make other choices.
~ Lack of Clarity
With all the choices that life throws at us, we may not know
how to wade through them. We get confused, overwhelmed and stuck.
~ Lack of Focus
Even if we can narrow down the choices, we may have so many that
we don't know what to focus on first. We end up responding to
all the urgencies and distractions, rather than actively choosing
where we will put our attention.
~ Lack of Knowledge or Skills
When approaching something new, we may feel unprepared to deal
with the additional education that will be required of us. We
may feel inadequate to learn new skills. What we're missing may
feel unattainable, and we give up before we even start.
As you can see, these obstacles are interwoven, and one can
lead to another, until we find ourselves caught up in a downward
spiral. But we don't have to let obstacles defeat us.
How we face obstacles can leave us either empowered or hopeless.
They can stop us or motivate us. They can discourage us from
doing the things we would love to do, or like a dare, a block
can bring up our competitive drive to push through and triumph.
It's also helpful to differentiate between real and perceived
blocks. If I start ice skating at the age of 40 with the intention
of qualifying for the Olympics, that's a real block – even 25
is considered old for that arena. On the other hand, if I decide
to start a new business at that age, it may be difficult, but
it's doable. I may need to work through the 5 blocks above, but
with the proper determination, resources and support, I can do
Some other ways we can look at and face obstacles:
~ Punishment / Victim
Sometimes, we hold our obstacles as punishments from God or society,
and we feel like victims. Coming from this place will disempower
you, and feeling small and weak, you will likely give up on your
~ Lesson / Opportunity
Seeing your obstacle in this way can fuel your determination.
If everything was easy, it would all become bland, and you would
get bored and stagnate. Blocks force us to go beyond our current
capabilities, both inner and outer, and to stretch ourselves,
to push the envelope. You can use them as a chance to grow, to
become a better, stronger person, to gain coping tools that will
serve you in the future and allow you to take on even bigger
~ Blocks vs. Hurdles
I define blocks as something that completely stops you, and hurdles
as something that gets in your way, but that you can "jump."
Often, what turns a hurdle into a block is a belief that you
can't do it, for one reason or another.
As you work through your obstacles, you can learn and create
strategies to help you manage future ones:
~ Get clarity. Write, draw, speak your issues. Work with a
friend or coach to pull apart the pieces that are confusing you,
and come to a place of clarity. To begin with, make sure you're
clear on what your goals are. Fuzzy goals are hard to hit and
can leave you confused and frustrated when they don't work.
~ Prioritize and plan. Take your goals and dreams, write them
down and prioritize them. Break them down into small steps, and
schedule those steps. Take into account deadlines, but be sure
to also give priority to the things that may not be urgent, but
are important to creating the future you want.
~ Make time. If you don't handle the obstacles now or try
to ignore them, they'll just snowball into bigger ones. Better
to nip them in the bud.
~ Get help. If you're mired in overwhelm and confusion, don't
feel you have to do it alone. Ask a friend or hire a coach to
support you in getting clarity or working through fear. Take
a class or hire a tutor to learn needed skills.
~ Face your fears. Fears can stop you in your tracks or, at
best, slow you down. You can't wait for them to go away on their
own -- they won't -- and when you try to avoid them, they only
get stronger. By facing them, you learn effective strategies
and increase your own power and strength.
Deal with your fear on a daily or hourly basis if necessary.
Expand your comfort zone gradually. Create strategies. Breathe.
Meditate. Use affirmations to keep you focused. Play music that
calms or energizes you. Work with a partner. Do a reality check
to see if there's really something to be scared of or if you're
terrorizing yourself: If it's real, determine what you can do
about it; if not, let it go. Stay focused in the present moment
– most of our fears are in anticipation of a tragic future that
hardly ever happens.
~ Challenge and change your beliefs. Much of what we take
as fact is, in fact, a belief. Check your facts to see if your
belief is true -- for you. Don't rely on statistics, as they're
often skewed – and besides, you're an individual, not a statistic.
Don't buy into what "they say." If a belief is not
working for you, change it. Create new beliefs by writing affirmation
statements, and then go about proving them.
~ Give yourself permission to dream. Many times, we cut off
our dreams by expecting ourselves to know on the spot how to
reach them. Achieving a dream is a process that you'll work out
over time. All you need to figure out now is the first step,
and that will lead you to the next.
~ If you failed at overcoming a particular obstacle in the
past, be willing for it to be different this time. You're not
the same person you were then, nor are the circumstances the
same. There's no reason you can't succeed this time around. And
if not this time, the next. Many successful people have left
at least a couple of colossal failures in their wake.
As you succeed in moving through an obstacle, you build the
confidence to take the next step. You don't have to do it fast,
and you don't have to do it perfectly. You can, in fact, learn
a lot from your mistakes, so that you deal with future obstacles
with more finesse. Look at your obstacles as an opportunity to
grow stronger and more competent, and you will be able to embrace
them and make the most of them.
To get clarity on a chaotic to-do list, try using an Excel
spreadsheet or a table in Word. List your tasks and goals in
the first column, followed by a column for each coming month
(or week if you need to be more specific). For each goal, put
a deadline date or an X (or a series of X's to mark out time
for a project) in the appropriate column(s). Then, you can rearrange
and fine-tune the list as your goals become clearer over time.
"It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties
vanish when faced boldly."
~ Isaac Asimov, Foundation
"The human capacity to fight back will always astonish
doctors and philosophers. It seems, indeed, that there are no
circumstances so bad and no obstacles so big that man cannot
~ Jean Tetreau
"History has demonstrated that the most notable winners
usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed.
They won because they refused to become discouraged by their
~ B. C. Forbes
"I've been terrified every day of my life but that's
never stopped me from doing everything I wanted to do."
~ Georgia O'Keefe
(click on the book or tape graphic to
see a description at Amazon.com)
Feel the Fear and Do
It Anyway . . . Susan Jeffers
Waking Up: Overcoming
the Obstacles to Human Potential . . . Charles T. Tart,
Heart: A Self-Guided Retreat on Befriending Your Obstacles
. . . Pema Chodron (audio CD)
The Resilience Factor:
7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life's Inevitable Obstacles
. . . Karen Reivich, Andrew Shatte
Chicken Soup for the
Unsinkable Soul - Stories of Triumphing Over Life's Obstacles
. . . Jack Canfield (Editor), Mark Victor Hansen, Heather McNamara
Through the Day: A Practical Guide to Tapping Internal Resources
to Overcome Life's Obstacles Through Imaging and Guided Meditation
. . . Nancy J. Napier (audiocassette)
© 2002 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.