What To Do About Obstacles

What if you have a legitimate obstacle that’s preventing you from making progress on your big dream?

Sometimes, when we begin to dream big dreams with great personal meaning, obstacles or barriers show up.

A few examples of obstacles:

  • I’m too old/ young/ tall/ short/ broke/ rich/ busy/ tired/ hyper/ fun/ boring/ anything.
  • I don’t have a needed skill or ability.
  • No one in my situation has ever done this.
  • I don’t have enough time, money, or resources.
  • Someone is out to get me and wants me to fail.
  • No one will help me or do this with me.
  • My family/ friends/ spouse/ parents/ children/ buddy says I shouldn’t do this or can’t do this.
  • My internal critic criticizes my big dream and I freeze.

Obstacles are “Bad”

Some people in personal and professional development circles say that if you notice an obstacle, you should ignore it or think your way out of it.  Some people say that if you really wanted your big dream, you would push through that obstacle to shatter it or you wouldn’t have that obstacle in the first place.  Some people say that obstacles mean you just need to think more powerful thoughts or have more discipline and accountability or try harder.  Some people imply that if you uncover any obstacle at all, it’s a flaw in your thinking – or a flaw within you – that must be fixed.  

Obstacles are Good?

I disagree with the idea that obstacles are bad, and I’ve found something very different to be helpful:

  • I’ve found that obstacles are helpful when they are welcomed and invited to dinner as honored guests.
     
  • I’ve found that obstacles become fuel when we discover the type of engine they’re perfect for.
     
  • I’ve found that obstacles are energizing when we allow them to ignite our actions.
     
  • I’ve found that obstacles can reveal our strengths.

Although we’re taught that obstacles or barriers need to be destroyed, broken through, demolished, or thrown away, I’ve found that any obstacle standing in your way must

   absolutely,

   for sure,

   definitely,

  without question

  …be worked with.

I cannot think my way out of obstacles or they become bigger and stronger impediments.

Whatever your obstacle is, that obstacle is the key to your big dream.

How do I transform an obstacle into a helpful resource?

There are two steps to changing the way you relate to an obstacle so that it functions like a resource.  Neither of these steps is necessarily easy or simple (but hey, there are only two!) :

1) Have a big dream that’s something you really want to do.  

You must have done the work of dreaming up something with such clarity that you can see, hear, and feel what it will be like when you’ve accomplished it.  You need to know where, when, and with whom you want this big dream.  And you need to know the greater purpose it serves, for you and for others. 

Without a big, clear dream, it’s not worth it to do the work for this next step…

2) Consider how your obstacle might help you or be trying to help you.

This step might take a few minutes.  If you take the time to journal about it or ponder two of these questions while you take a walk or work out or dance, these seemingly simple questions can change your relationship to your obstacle.

A few questions to help you with this thought experiment:

  1. How is this obstacle helping me to achieving my big dream?
  2. In how many ways could the obstacle and the big dream co-exist/ exist at the same time?
  3. In 20 years, when I’ve achieved my big dream, how did that obstacle from so long ago help me?
  4. If this obstacle was actually helpful, what would have to be true?
  5. What is the positive purpose behind this obstacle?  What good thing is it trying to do for me or point out to me?
  6. To whom is this obstacle a resource or tool?
  7. How is this perfect?

Try on these questions in any order or choose two to compare/ contrast.  If you choose to try on a few of these questions, notice where each one directs your attention.  What does each question help you focus on or attend to?  Which question is your favorite?  It’s likely that one of these questions will be more helpful to you than the others.

Here’s to your big dream and the wonderful obstacles ready to assist you on your way!