7 Steps for Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Your Goals

7 Steps for Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Your Goals

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Guess what?

I’m already applauding your efforts.

If you’ve clicked on this article, it means you’ve already taken the first step to overcoming an obstacle in your life. You’ve identified that there is an issue and you’re being proactive in finding a solution. Good job.

Now, let’s back up a little.

Setting goals is step one to making progress with anything in your life. But the process of achieving those goals can get more complicated. You will face setbacks and roadblocks that may have you questioning your commitment to your goal and your ability to achieve it. Sometimes these challenges feel like giant red stop signs; but often, they’re learning experiences that will ultimately benefit you once you overcome them.

You will experience challenges that are both minor and major throughout your life, and it is up to you to decide how you’re going to react to them. If you’re able to navigate through obstacles, you will find that a goal that once seemed unattainable will start to become a reality.

In this article, we will go over how you can get past anything that is limiting you in some way so you don’t end up feeling defeated by something that you could have worked through.

But first, let’s look at some types of obstacles that you may face in life.

Personal obstacles

Social Obstacles

Environmental Obstacles

  • Time
  • Place
  • Space
  • Noise
  • Climate

Now let’s take a look at what you can do to overcome these obstacles..

7 Steps for Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Your Goals

1. Adjust Your Attitude

Some people perceive obstacles as an opportunity to problem solve and grow, while others see them as threats or signs that success isn’t possible. Your perception of barriers to meeting your goals has an impact on how you move forward with achieving them.

If you see obstacles as a sign of probable failure, you’ll feel overwhelmed with negative emotions when you face any type of challenge. Your negative attitude will weaken your motivation to work toward your goals. In fact, studies have shown that attitude associations help tailor people’s goals and outcomes. In this specific study, people who presented with a negative attitude about math earned SAT scores that were statistically significantly lower than those who had a positive attitude. This suggests that if you lose your enthusiasm in the face of obstacles, your priorities may shift, leading you to stop trying.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have a positive attitude, either. When a problem arises, leave your emotions out of it. Instead, take a step back and try to see the situation objectively and in a logical way.

When you can remain calm, you’re able to understand your situation from an intellectual point of view. Only then will you be able to identify the relevance and significance of the unforeseen events that have occurred.

Stemming off what I mentioned in the beginning of this article about the importance of simply recognizing that you’re facing an issue, I’m also confident that you have hope that you can overcome the obstacles you’re facing because you’ve gotten this far already.

With your objective attitude in tow, let’s look at what’s next.

2. Take Some Time

When you hit an obstacle, don’t panic. Give yourself time to process the situation and come to terms with the challenge. This will help prevent you from doing something that you will later regret. Make peace with the obstacle, accept it, and then work toward moving past it.

The larger the obstacle, the more time you will need to process it. During this time, take a step back so you can see the issue from a greater perspective. This will help you return to your work with a renewed sense of enthusiasm when you feel the time is right.

Think about what is challenging you. Get specific about your goals and what is keeping you from meeting them. Doing this requires self-awareness and the ability to develop a plan for moving forward.

Let’s say you’re in the job market and you just got notified that you’re not the final candidate for a job for which you recently interviewed. This can feel like a major setback. Allow yourself to feel disappointed for a bit, especially if it was a job that you believed was a really good fit.

After you’re able to move past your feelings of disappointment, you need to give yourself some time to reflect on what you could have done differently. Perhaps you need to make some tweaks to your resume or practice some more interview questions. You can’t allow one isolated failure to break down your entire job hunt. Take a day, let go of the picture you painted in your head of working at that organization, recenter yourself, and keep applying to other jobs.

3. Regain Control

Regain control of your project or task. You want to avoid feeling helpless by taking a proactive look at the actions you can take to move forward.

For example, let’s say you’ve been called out at work for submitting a project that was incomplete or not up to the usual standards in some way. Consider some concrete things you can do next time so this doesn’t happen again. Don’t make this into a list of blames or complaints, be objective about your hurdles.

For example, were you short on time? If so, reflect back on how you prioritized your time and energy leading up to this obstacle. The actual obstacle may have been procrastination, a lack of time management, or other external factors.

Or, you may cite a lack of money as being the problem. In this case, the more imminent issue may be a shortage in motivation, or you may need to learn some money management tricks so you can make more money and save what you earn.

A final probable source of an obstacle is not having all of the tools that you need to complete the task. What type of help can you ask for to be able to effectively do your job? You may lack necessary supplies, materials, or important pieces of information to complete a task. The key here is to recognize that your problem is related to a lack of resources.

Who in your network could help you work through this hurdle? Who has the resources that you need? Or, you may need to employ a fresh pair of eyes to see what you’re possibly missing if it isn’t immediately obvious.

Considering the things that are within your control to change will make you less likely to feel helpless.

So what are some factors that are in you control?

  • Your attitude
  • Your level of effort
  • Your decisions
  • Your diet, exercise, and sleep schedule

As long as you’re doing your best in these areas, you’re on the right track to meeting any goal.

4. Break Down Your Obstacles into Small Goals

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You can break down your obstacles into small and manageable parts. Identify every potential obstacle and consider any potential alternate paths to reaching your goal.

If your hurdle seems overwhelming, break it down as much as you can into smaller, more manageable parts. When you see it all laid out, identify every potential obstacle and consider any potential alternate paths to reaching your goal.

It is also a good idea to talk to others who have achieved your goals to see how they were able to handle similar obstacles. There maybe something that you foresee being a challenge that actually has a simple solution. Focus on the tasks one at a time rather than only thinking about meeting your ultimate milestone.

If you’re able to talk to others who have been successful, take this opportunity to make yourself accountable by telling these people about your goals and milestones and when you plan to complete them.  Encourage them to follow up with you on your progress and offer you feedback.

4. Move Forward with Commitment

Rather than aiming to “get back on track” after you hit a snag, you will want to find your new track. You faced a challenge that probably disrupted you a bit, and now you need to adjust to the new circumstances.

Going back to the example of interviewing for jobs, you probably don’t want to “get back on track” and keep doing the same things you’ve been doing in interviews. You’ll want to alter your approach a bit to see if it brings you more success. If you want different results, you need to try different things. Stay committed to landing the right job by getting a second opinion on your resume or having a mock interview with someone who is in the field.

Having a true sense of discipline and commitment is about focusing solely on your goal, regardless of external factors. Take responsibility for your actions, clear out any potential distractions, and don’t take on any new projects until you make some progress. Make the challenge your priority until it’s no longer an issue.

5. Maintain a Strong Foundation

Recovering from a setback starts before the problem even arises. The stronger your footing, the harder it will be to knock you down, and the easier it will be for you to recover. Part of building that mental strength involves maintaining proper physical health by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising. It’s also critical to have a support system and reliable resources in case you need help. Having a strong foundation will also keep any obstacles you face in perspective.

When you’re facing an obstacle, use your support system. Don’t try to figure it out alone. Surround yourself with people who can be positive, objective, and solution-focused. Talk to other people in your network who are proactive and ask them to help you overcome your obstacle. If you’re a good problem solver, you know the best answers come from groups of people when they put their heads together. Enlist a problem-solving team who is willing to think outside of the box to come up with creative new solutions.

You can also seek advice from trusted peers and mentors for how you can get going again. Search through reliable resources on the Internet and connect with relevant LinkedIn groups to get the information you need to form a plan. Sometimes, obstacles are not as serious as they appear to be at first, and sometimes they are just misunderstandings or assumptions we’ve made about our condition that are in fact clouding our judgement. To help change your perspective, recruit the thoughts of others.

6. Mitigate Future Risks

To reduce the chances of facing obstacles in the first place, take your time and accept any feedback that you receive along the way. While you might think you’re on the right track, someone may be able to provide valuable insight that will save you trouble down the road.

When big companies want to launch a product, they start by putting out a version of the product in its most basic form, which is called the “Most Viable Product”. Then they watch sales and hold market research focus groups to learn what people like and don’t like about the product. This way, the company hasn’t already put a lot of money and resources into something that needs a lot of improvement. They still have the resources to create version 2.

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Take your time and accept any feedback that you receive along the way. Someone may be able to provide valuable insight that will save you trouble down the road.

You can use this concept in your personal life by making sure you don’t take shortcuts in your work or skip ahead. “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” is a good motto for those who are trying to overcome obstacles because you don’t want to cause a problem in another area of your work by trying to fix the problem at hand too easily or quickly.

7. Keep Motivation High

One main reason why people quit before reaching their goals is that they fail to keep going once “the going gets tough”.Track your progress, reward yourself for small wins, and visualize yourself achieving your goal. There are a lot of ways you can keep your motivation high when facing hurdles to achieving your long-term goal.

First, you’ve got to make goals that you’re enthusiastic about in the first place. Without a sense of intrinsic motivation, you won’t have anything that can absolutely require you to want to succeed. Your enthusiasm for meeting your goal is what will keep you going when times get rough. That said, you also need to make sure that you’re enjoying the process. If what you’re doing to achieve your goal isn’t enjoyable, find some ways to make it better.

For example, add variety or balance. Work from home some days, take work to the park or a cafe on other days, and take the work to your office (if you have one) on others. Get out of your monotony. Also, be sure to take sufficient breaks from work so you don’t experience burnout. 

You also need to keep (and stick to) an active plan so you’re never left wondering what you should be doing next. You can stay on track because you know the purpose of what you’re currently doing and how it will set you up to do the next thing.

Final Thoughts

If you’re able to reach a goal without hitting any obstacles along the way, the goal probably wasn’t even worth making. You need peaks and valleys to keep yourself moving forward. The high points are a reminder of where you want to end up and the low points motivate you to get there.

It’s the process of getting from one point to another where you learn, grow, and build a foundation for future goals. Believing in continuous improvement and having a growth mindset will ensure that you never feel defeated. As long as you keep pushing on, overcoming any obstacles on your journey will lead to the self-improvement that you need in the long run for success. To live an exceptional life, it is critical that you take consistent action, such as those laid out in this article, despite any fears or doubts you may have about the potential outcome.

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Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.