Successful people all have one thing in common: they know how to overcome any obstacle in their way. This is what separates the successful from the bitter and discontent. Want to find out how they do it? Check out our guide to overcoming obstacles and finding the path to success.
It is inevitable. Everybody is confronted with obstacles and hardships in their professional lives. But what separates a truly successful person from a bitter and resentful person is the ability to recognize obstacles for what they are, and to move past them with grace.
But we all know that it is never as easy as it sounds. The obstacles that stand in the way of our success are usually very difficult to recognize, analyze, and see past. For too many of us, our obstacles are often all we can see—once faced with them, we cannot see around them or find a pathway to overcome them.
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Our professional obstacles are never truly as big as we think they are.
Do you want in on a secret? Nine times out of ten. Almost always, we inflate the importance or severity of our obstacles and hardships. This is a natural psychological phenomenon, as it protects us from the fear of failure. When we do this we essentially deflect blame from ourselves onto our obstacles.
If you want to become successful and realize your dreams, you need to be able to see your obstacles for what they are: temporary roadblocks. A true winner knows how to approach them with the right mentality for success.
Ready to finally act and move past those roadblocks that have been holding you back? If so, check out our in-depth guide to overcoming obstacles and finding that pathway to success that we all need if we are to realize our professional dreams and ambitions.
Step 1: Overcoming Obstacles – Know Your Goals
Contrary to what some people assume, overcoming obstacles is not a matter of simply “committing to a vision” and “taking action”. Without purpose and planning, these phrases are nothing more than buzzwords and false hope. Instead, you need to take it step by step to ensure that you create a lasting, rock-solid action plan.
This requires a lot of introspection, and a little bit of soul-searching. You need to dedicate some time to really thinking deeply about what it is that will satisfy you most in your life. This is the all-important, critical first step to overcoming obstacles in your life.
This begins with understanding what it is you want.
We have spoken to countless entrepreneurs and business leaders who realized that their obstacles were, in fact, not worth overcoming. This is because they never truly desired to overcome them. Instead, they aspired to some artificial goal that their heart was not invested in. Once they realized this, all they had to do was turn around and choose a new goal to aim toward.
This is not true of everybody, however. Regardless, it is important to write your long-term and short-term goals down. This way, you can see what obstacles truly stand in your way and which ones can be simply disregarded. Because, after all, not all roadblocks are as obstructing as we might think. Rather, some are merely distractions along the way.
Step 2: Identifying Roadblocks
Once you have your long and short-term goals written down and internalized, you can move on to the next step. This is the all-important “Evaluation” step that most people fixate on for far too long. This involves taking an honest and value-neutral look at what it is that stands in the way of those goals you wrote down.
In order to start overcoming obstacles, you need to know exactly what those obstacles are. For most of us, they are obvious. For some of us, we refuse to acknowledge them because it helps us stay in our comfort zone and maintain the status quo. But any successful and ambitious leader knows that the status quo is never acceptable in our professional lives.
There are only two or three major roadblocks to our goals.
Make sure you write these down and keep them visible. Jot them down next to your goals, and briefly explain why they interfere with your long-term objectives.
Do not become preoccupied with minor inconveniences and other things that are not true obstacles. For example, being shy and introverted held me back for years. Overcoming my tendency to isolate and withdraw myself was the true obstacle that I had to grapple with. It had nothing to do with the quality of my work, the relationships I had, or the clothes I wore to work.
This step requires some serious critical thinking. You need to make sure that the roadblocks you decide to confront are the most important ones that you are facing. Many of us face countless small obstacles every day, but your task is to narrow them down to the top few that truly are holding you back.
Step 3: Designing Your Plan of Action
After you have thought about what obstacles you want to tackle, you need to write down your action plan. The key to designing an effective action plan is to make your plan realistic, achievement, and trackable.
Do not try to do too much at any one time. To make meaningful and visible progress, you need to dedicate yourself to no more than a couple major developments at once. Once you start piling too many responsibilities on your plate, you are bound to fail. As in business, as in life, sustainability is the critical ingredient for success.
When I designed my own plan of action to overcome shyness and my tendency to not assert myself.
I committed myself to two plans. For the first six months of my development, I only focused on them.
First, I signed up for my local Toastmasters International club. Toastmasters is a judgment-free public speaking organization that provides a platform to practice and refine your speaking and leadership skills. I made sure that I acted right away and paid the registration fee as soon as I could make it out to the first meeting.
Second, I made a daily goal of initiating at least one conversation out of the blue. On my calendar at home, I checked off every day I was able to start up a quick conversation at the office. Soon enough, I had an entire month checked off. As a result, my self-confidence and conversational skills skyrocketed.
In summary, my plan of action consisted of only two goals.
First, was a weekly commitment to attending Toastmasters. Second, I committed to stirring up small talk with someone every day. This made my plan simple, reasonable, and effective. I encourage every plan of action to be modeled after this template.
Step 4: Tracking Your Progress
It is important to design your plan of action so that your progress is trackable. Ideally, your plan of action will be quantifiable. For example, I was able to tally how many Toastmasters meeting I showed up to and spoke at, as well as how many consecutive days I was able to initiate conversation.
We recommend keeping an erasable whiteboard somewhere in your home where you can write down your progress. Unless you have an accountability mechanism you are bound to fail.
Keep an organized record of all the progress you have made so far.
For example, if your goal is to pay off your student debt, there is nothing more motivating than watching that number tick lower and lower every month.
Also, do not be afraid to make your goals public. Or, at the very least, do not shy away from telling at least one other person who you trust about this plan. That way, they can check in on your progress and hold you to account. There is nothing more motivating than having somebody who cares about your success encourage you to keep going.
Step 5: Reflection and Gratitude
The last step is to make sure you continually reflect on the progress that you have made. Every month, I always look back and consider where I was when I started this journey. Since overcoming obstacles is never easy, over time we can start to give in to the temptation to quit. However, remembering why I am on this path always keeps me in check.
Equally important is the ability to remain grateful.
Keeping a positive and healthy frame of mind is the number one predictor when it comes to determining whether someone is going to be successful. By remaining grateful, we stay emotionally healthy, motivated, and happy.
There is a growing body of psychological research that shows that gratitude is linked to many long-term career benefits. This includes better management, improved networking abilities, increased productivity, and improved decision-making. By practicing gratitude every day, we can develop a growth mentality that will keep us focused on our long-term goals.
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