Sooner or later, all of us will face adversity that will make us feel extreme stress, disappointment, and a lot of uncertainty. As we lean into the adversity, we’ll encounter some formidable obstacles. When we face these obstacles, we must keep pushing forward.
When life gets really tough, many people get stuck or lose their momentum. They suffer from fear, self-doubt, and other negative feelings.
To get past obstacles in your way, you must fully acknowledge the problem and have a strong, motivating reason to keep moving forward. You also have to change any unrealistic expectations. Then, you have to develop a positive mindset, see the problem as an opportunity in disguise, and start taking action.
Master these six powerful ways to keep pushing past obstacles in front of you so you can reach your goals.
1. Don’t Avoid Obstacles
“Anyone can give up; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart, that’s true strength.” —Chris Bradford
The first thing to do is not avoid the obstacle in front of you. Don’t stick your head in the sand and just hope it gets better. Avoiding problems generally makes them worse because small problems now will oftentimes become bigger and unmanageable later.
Many people avoid that daunting obstacle by either denying that it’s a big problem or purposely downplaying its significance. They usually do this because they don’t believe they can solve the problem, or they realize how much work it will take to overcome it.
Other people avoid problems by distracting themselves. They do other things that take their minds away from the painful situation in front of them.
How many times have you faced an obstacle and procrastinated instead of confronting it? Procrastination is another very common reaction to a problem we don’t want to face.
To stop avoiding problems here are some solutions:
- Accept that there is a problem. Acknowledge it’s there. It can be painful, especially if it’s an emotional issue, but you have to realize there’s something wrong and it needs your attention.
- Accept that you’re responsible for solving this problem—whether you caused it or not. Don’t waste a lot of time blaming other people or dwelling on how unfair it is. Realize you have to deal with this problem now.
- Don’t distract yourself with things that take your mind away from the issue.
- If you find yourself procrastinating, remind yourself that the longer you take to confront the problem, the worse it will get.
2. Know Why You’re Doing It
Many people are unable to keep pushing past obstacles in their way because they don’t have a strong reason to keep going. It’s important you know your “why.” Your “why” should be the driving force that motivates you to keep pushing, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goal.
Identify your “why.” Why should you work extremely hard to get past these obstacles to reach your goal? Why is this goal important to you?
When I got out of prison, I faced a lot of discrimination. I was denied a lot of jobs because of my felony drug manufacturing-related conviction. This was undoubtedly one of my biggest obstacles. I was very angry. I was angry at myself for getting arrested and going to prison. I was angry at the business world for discriminating against me when I was trying to do the right thing.
There were times when I felt like giving up. I thought about becoming a drug dealer again. Then, I thought about why it was important for me to get a job. I had a few “whys.” I knew I was capable of using my skills and talents to do good things in life. I didn’t want to go back to prison. I had to create a stable work history. I knew my best days were ahead of me if I just did the right thing.
Once I realized I had some strong reasons to keep pushing forward, I stayed the course. I went to interview after interview until I found people who were willing to hear my story and give me a chance. It took a long time, but it eventually worked. I was able to find some good, compassionate people who were willing to hire me.
Why is your goal important to you?
To keep moving forward when you face obstacles, make sure you have strong reasons to stay the course. Make sure your goals are aligned with your values. Make sure that the big goal is something you love—something worth fighting for.
3. Let Go of Past Expectations
There will be a lot of times in life when you’ll expect a good outcome, hit an obstacle, and then find that you’re going to have to create a new plan.
When I was in prison, my mom died. I was devastated because I didn’t get to see her, but I took some comfort in knowing my wife was there for me. When I was released, I’d live with her and start a new chapter of my life.
Later, my wife left me. Now, I had nowhere to go. I reached the lowest point of my life.
A few months later, I contacted a couple I knew and told them about my dilemma. They graciously agreed to let me live with them when I got out of prison. I stayed with them for almost 9 months. That experience strengthened our friendship and to this day, they are in my inner circle—they’re family.
They helped me rebuild my life. They were at my university graduation and helped me celebrate other milestones on my journey to redemption. We continue to help and support each other. I was able to let go of past expectations and make the best out of a disastrous situation.
Realize that life is oftentimes unfair. Know that things can and often will change. Accept that many things are out of your control. Let go of past expectations and work positively toward making the best of bad situations.
Revise your expectations when it’s necessary. When things change, pivot to a new plan to deal with the unexpected change in the best way possible. Just keep pushing forward.
Follow the wise words of John Wooden:
Things work out best for those who make the best out of how things work out.
4. Have a Positive Mindset
Have you ever tried to solve a problem with a negative attitude? It was most likely an uphill battle. You probably had a hard time thinking of solutions to the problem or believed you just couldn’t do it.
Having a positive mindset is one of the most important tools you can use to move past obstacles in your life. A positive attitude increases your confidence in your ability to overcome huge challenges. It keeps your mind open to new possibilities and ways of dealing with problems.
“A positive mind finds opportunity in everything. A negative mind finds fault in everything.” —Unknown
Negative thinking makes you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and afraid of taking action. On the other hand, positive thinking lowers your stress levels. It makes you more relaxed and ready to deal with problems.
It’s important to be “rationally positive,” which means you shouldn’t tell yourself you’ll be able to do everything flawlessly and everything will work out perfectly. Instead, realize you have the courage to face tough obstacles, the ability to adapt to unexpected events, and the perseverance to keep getting back up every time you get knocked down until you reach your goal.
As Robert Luongo said:
“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. The only thing that matters is how many times you get up.”
5. Look at Obstacles as Opportunities
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” —Molière
I initially thought prison was a huge obstacle. I thought it would ruin my life. I didn’t think I’d be able to get a good job later because of my criminal record. I believed people would dislike me when they found out I had been to prison, and I didn’t think I had a future.
But when I started looking at prison as an opportunity to become a better, stronger, and smarter person, my life started to quickly change. I realized that prison was the reality check I needed. If I didn’t go to prison, I could’ve ended up dead, like many of my old friends.
Prison gave me the chance to think about the purpose of my life for the first time. It gave me time to think about how I needed to change myself and my life. It started me on a positive trajectory to keep pushing forward.
When you encounter an obstacle, determine how it can make you a better, stronger, and smarter person by asking yourself these questions:
- What lessons is life trying to teach me right now?
- How can I use this bad situation to achieve something great?
6. Take Action
Once you’ve accepted that there’s a problem and you have to solve it, you have to take action. This sounds simple, but many people fail to get started because they don’t have an adequate action plan.
To create an action plan:
- List all of your options and the costs and benefits of each one. Find the best options and eliminate others.
- Determine how long it will take and when you need to finish.
- List the actions you need to take, from the first step to the last.
- Make sure you have the proper resources to complete the action plan (time, people, money, technology, etc.).
- Begin executing the plan.
Once you take action, don’t stop. Keep the momentum going. Keep pushing forward until you reach your goals.
We must develop a positive mindset and see obstacles as opportunities instead of roadblocks. When we see challenges from this perspective, we learn, grow, and develop new skills and insights. We become smarter, stronger, and better able to tackle the challenges we’ll face in the future.
When things get rough, our automatic response may be to avoid or minimize the obstacles in front of us. We have to fully acknowledge problems and know we have what it takes to overcome them. And we have to know that all of our hard work and sacrifices are for a worthy cause.
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Featured photo credit: Jonathan Chng via unsplash.com