Obstacles can be of an external or internal nature. The external obstacles, which include things like rules (‘we do not do this here’ or ‘you can only get ahead if you fulfil certain criteria’) or lack of resources (money or time).
Then there are the internal obstacles. In my view, they are the more critical to us. We often do not recognise that we have them and use external obstacles as reasons or excuses to procrastinate about taking the next step or even abandon our goals. Internal obstacles include limiting beliefs or decisions about us such as our capabilities, our self-worth, what we deserve or do not deserve. Internal obstacles also include how much we subscribe to shared cultural beliefs. Do we accept that something is true for us if is the accepted norm in the environment we live and work in? For example, Roger Bannister obviously did not subscribe to culturally accepted beliefs that ‘it is humanly impossible to run a 4 minute mile’, whereas other athletes obviously did.
Both types of obstacles whether internal or external are very real to each of us. Having a good obstacle strategy helps us to not only deal with obstacles successfully but also to stay on course to achieve our goals.
So what does it mean to have an obstacle strategy? A strategy is a sequence of steps or techniques we go through to achieve a certain outcome. However, not all strategies are useful. For example if your normal obstacle strategy is to ‘overcome’ the obstacle however there is an easier way to walk around it, then why not walk around it and avoid the obstacle all together?
In order to come up with alternative obstacle strategies, it is helpful to know what you believe about the obstacle(s) that you perceive in your life right now.
So, take a few moments and consider what beliefs, rules, assumptions, decisions etc. do you have or have you created about the obstacle(s) in relations to yourself?
It is useful to write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t judge any thoughts that come up, just write them down and continue writing until you have listed everything you ‘know’ and believe about the obstacle as it applies to you. Then write down your possible actions that you can take using your normal strategy for each obstacle.
Now it’s time to be creative. Flip the obstacle or the beliefs on their heads.
I invite you to explore a number of options for each obstacle and each belief, rule, assumption and decision about the obstacle(s):
What of the opposite were true? Rephrase your obstacle and your beliefs about it so that it says the complete opposite. What action options do you have now?
Think of someone who you know of or a famous person you admire, and imagine you are them. How would they deal with that obstacle? Write down your ideas.
Imagine the obstacle was not there. That is especially useful when it comes of lack of knowledge and lack of resources. What would your next step be towards your goal, even if it was a tiny step?
Once you have written all your new options down against your perceptions of that obstacle, have a read through them again and notice how many more action options you now have. Take the one that appeals to you most at this time and put it in your diary!
Outwit the obstacle by travelling into the future
One other great way to deal with obstacles is to take a journey into the future and look back at it. Our amazing minds are able to imagine almost anything, so make use of this fantastic capability. Imagine yourself at a point when you have moved beyond that obstacle, when you have achieved your next milestone on the way to your goal of the goal itself. Make the experience real by noticing what you see, hear and feel in that experience. Then ‘figuratively’ (or if you are standing upright, physically) turn around and look back towards the present. Notice what happened that obstacle. What did you do move beyond it? Write down all your insights.
Using these techniques will help you to gain different perspectives on those obstacles you currently perceive in your life. A different perspective opens up new choices and alternatives that will help you move forward towards your goal.
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