Obstacles can materialize in many different ways.
The appearance of a pink slip from your employer when your goal is to get promoted. Rejection letter from a literary agent when your goal is to get published. Divorce papers when you saw yourself living happily ever after with the man or woman of your dreams. A series of roadblocks when you are trying to finish a project or reach your goal.
Recently I was trying to get into San Francisco for a meeting at noon. On a good day, the drive takes about 20 minutes, but during rush hour or when it’s raining, it usually takes an hour. To be safe, I gave myself an hour and a half to get to the financial district, park my car, and comfortably arrive at my destination. And I even took reading material just in case I had time to spare. On this day, for some reason, the traffic going south on 101 was unusually backed up, all the way to Sausalito. As I sat in the same spot for 25 minutes, two things occurred to me: 1, I was happy I gave myself extra time and 2, there was something else I could do in the face of this obstacle. In the past, I would have been so freaked out that I couldn’t think straight. Today I felt in control of my mind, even if I had no control over my situation.
Inch by inch, as I approached the last exit before the Golden Gate Bridge, I decided to turn around, go north on 101 to the Richmond Bridge, and take the East Bay into San Francisco. With that new strategy, it took me exactly 55 minutes to reach my destination. I walked into my meeting with five minutes to spare. While I wished I had had more time to settle in, the fact is I wasn’t late. I met my goal of getting to my appointment on time.
I was able to think of options that allowed me to get around the problem to a solution that worked. Obstacles are a part of life. They are perceived barriers to reaching a goal, completing a task, or satisfying a dream. They happen when we least expect them, and they often take on life of their own – when we let them.
There are big payoffs to being stuck in a problem, benefits to allowing hurdles in our lives to become the focal point. We feel justified in feeling like a victim, we can get sympathy, we can give up without making a good faith effort, and we have an excuse to avoid dealing with the challenges in life.
However, there is a greater return on our investment when we have the courage to walk through our discomfort and face our challenges head on. When we don’t let them wear us down and force us to give up, we ultimately reach our destination – absolute shaken, a little weathered, and sometimes a little late – but we get there.
The more we practice facing challenges, the easier the process becomes. While its never really easy to overcome obstacles, because we’ve done it before, we know we can do it again. We gain real self-esteem because we stretch beyond our comfort zone in ways we never thought possible to discover a solution to the seemingly impossible.
It’s easy to do what’s easy. It’s easy to be happy, joyous, and free when life is free of challenges and complications. It’s easy to follow our dreams when every tool is readily available. But overcoming life’s difficulties often makes us emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically stronger.
Below are some suggestions to help you get over the hurdles:
- When possible, give yourself plenty of time to deal with the potential obstacles.
- When the pressure of time is removed, or lessened you can think through your options. Know you won’t die.
- Sometimes it seems that you’ll never get past the difficult situation. This too shall pass.
- Don’t resort to blaming. Blaming others keeps you stuck and unable to focus on solutions. Furthermore, you often played a part in what happens to you.
- Don’t let fear, rejection or mistakes stop you in your tracks.
I invite you to explore how do you’ve handled obstacles in the past and, in moving forward, take the opportunity to make some different choices.