“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” -Booker T. Washington
Welcome to Part 3 in my series about goal setting and achievement. Now that you have set, written down, and are reviewing your goals, it’s time to go get ’em! But that’s easier said than done. So often, when we start to work toward a goal, obstacles arise that threaten to thwart our progress. Please don’t let them stop you! These obstacles are part of the process. Just knowing ahead of time that they will pop up can help you to power over, around, or through them. Instead of seeing them as stop signs, which far too many of us do, causing us to give up or slack off, look at them as detour signs and press on. A favorite speaker and author of mine, Neal A. Maxwell, has written:
“Our goals should stretch us bit by bit. So often when we think we have encountered a ceiling, it is really a psychological or experimental barrier that we have built ourselves. We built it and we can remove it.”
Yes, we built that ceiling by thinking it, feeling it, or becoming intimidated by it. But breaking through these barriers will stretch and grow us. Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, names three categories for these obstacles: Considerations, Fears and Roadblocks.
Considerations are all the reasons why you shouldn’t attempt the goal, reasons why you may see it as impossible. Considerations are the easiest of these obstacles to move past because they are nothing more than thoughts in your mind. Becoming aware of these thoughts is a good thing, because you can only deal with and confront them once they’re in your conscious mind. Examples of considerations are:
- “I don’t have enough time.”
- “My (husband/wife/parents/children/etc.) wouldn’t like it.”
- “I’m too old to start.”
- “It’s too hard for me.”
- “I don’t know how to do it.”
Fears are a little more complicated because, although they started out just as thoughts, they have now become clothed in negative emotion. Fears can be quite debilitating, and are meant to be so, as part of an evolutionary process intended to preserve our lives. Thankfully, though, most of the threats that we fear aren’t life-threatening, and when we see them for what they really are, we can choose to feel the fear and move forward anyway. (See this post to read more about FEAR.) Eleanor Roosevelt famously stated:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Sometimes that added strength we gain from facing our fears is the very strength we need to reach our goals! Here are some examples of fears that delay our progress:
- “I’d be too embarrassed.”
- “I’m afraid he/she/they won’t like me.”
- “I might get hurt.”
- “I could lose everything.”
Roadblocks go beyond thoughts and emotions. They are the external elements of reality that presently block you from your goals. You’ll have to resolve and deal with these circumstances, but you’ll find a way. Examples of roadblocks are:
- “I don’t have connections with the right people.”
- “I’m not allowed to do that.”
- “I don’t have enough money yet.”
- “I don’t have a (car/office/team/contract/etc.)”
I know it’s not easy to develop this kind of attitude, but learn to welcome these kinds of thoughts, feelings and circumstances when they appear, because they just might be the very things that have been holding you back up until now. After you’ve dealt with them, you’ll be stronger and more prepared for your next endeavor.
“An obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity. When a man wages war against his weakness, this is the most holy war he can ever enter…and the joy of accomplishment is the most exquisite.” -Marion G. Romney
Yes, these obstacles, or our reactions to them, are often little more than weaknesses that we can make into strengths. And we really can find great joy as we press on and succeed despite them. Also, that rewarding burst of accomplishment energy can’t be beat!
In my own journey to becoming a mentor, I have encountered all sorts of fears and discouraging thoughts: that I’m not personable or confident enough; that I haven’t had a difficult enough life/sob story to inspire others; that I don’t have the skills or know enough tools; that I won’t be able to find people who want to work with me; that I’m too embarrassed or shy to open up my mouth and talk to people; that everything I want to share has already been written much more skillfully by others; that I can’t be both a successful mentor and great wife and mother; that my ideas aren’t interesting or original enough. I could go on and on, but the important thing is that I faced/am facing these fears and considerations and am carrying on anyway, because I know I can and must do this.
And if I can do it, so can you!