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Embrace Your Obstacles to Get Ahead in Life

Embrace Your Obstacles to Get Ahead in Life

Can you recall the last time you faced a set back, or an obstacle that really weighed you down?

Whether it was in your past, or you’re presently facing an obstacle, we all have to deal with them. Though, however unpleasant, these obstacles that come our way are necessary for growth. If we never had to face any adversities, blockers, setbacks or failures in life, our experiences would be cake! We’d have it so easy.

The downside? We would never be forced to adapt and mature.

So, in theory, having to face obstacles in life is actually desirable. The more obstacles you’ve faced, the greater the likelihood that you are quite mature and adaptable.

Though, not everyone tackles obstacles enthusiastically and head on. Some people go to great lengths to avoid them… or go into denial about their existence. And, others let obstacles overwhelm them, and they feel defeated.

Most think of obstacles as a negative; but, if you can maintain an opportunistic attitude when facing your obstacles or limitations, you’ll have an even more impressive result once you finally reach your goals!

Now, think about what obstacles are currently in your way.

What might you be faced with? Often, it’s time and/or money limitations.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’ve always dreamed of writing a book—you find yourself daydreaming about the possibility (and have practically written 2 chapters in your head). The problem is, after work and family obligations, you definitely don’t have enough time to write. You wish you could just quit your job to pursue writing full-time, but you also need money to pay your bills.

It’s definitely not easy having to be in such a predicament. Most of us simply cannot drop our current routine to pursue something totally different.

But, you can do both!

What I mean is, you won’t reach your goals overnight; but, you can take progressive steps towards them using your obstacles as a guide for your path.

In this case, you have to keep making income, and writing a book doesn’t pay… so, your first challenge is to find a way to make money that will get you closer to writing. Or, you can find a way to increase your time.

One option is to find a job within your field that has more writing responsibility, which will position you well for writing your book, as you’ll gain experience and better understanding of the writing world. Through your own career, you may get closer and closer to becoming a professional writer, which is excellent leverage when it comes to getting paid to publish a book.

Or, you could find just 30 minutes a day to dedicate to writing your book, and maybe get rid of something else you habitually do–such as Netflix or Video games. Those 30 minutes a day will add up and you’ll be making major progress towards your goal.

To successfully overcome adversities and reach your goals, you have to embrace the obstacles that come your way.

You certainly don’t have to celebrate or welcome them with open arms, but rather accept and believe that these obstacles will push you to be stronger, help you grow and mature, and shape you to be more resilient.

Your attitude towards setbacks will define the outcome of whether you rise from the challenge, or remain stuck in it. 

Here are some more great things to love about obstacles.

Obstacles Give You Purpose

Sometimes obstacles can reset your objectives.

You might have always had a particular way of doing things, or wanted to pursue certain goals; but when you’re faced with setbacks or difficulties, you’re forced to re-think, and re-examine your path.

And, you may end up focusing on something new and exciting–maybe something that you otherwise wouldn’t have if not for the particular set back.

Granted, your obstacle may throw you off track for a bit, but it will also help you find strength when you’re faced head-on with a challenge. By having to overcome an obstacle, you’ll be fulfilling a purpose, rather than just going through the motions.

After you’ve overcome an obstacle, you’re more likely to feel confident to overcome the next one that may come your way, and well prepared to tackle other goals ahead.

Obstacles Prepare You for the Unexpected

Even though obstacles aren’t pleasant, they don’t actually prevent us from reaching our intended goals. They serve as guides for where to go next, and–in a way–gives you time to stop and think if perhaps there is a new and better path to take.

While, of course, obstacles can bring out many negative emotions in us, such as frustration, anger, or sadness, it’s important to realize that they don’t inhibit us from reaching our destination – they only change the path we were originally expecting to take.

Obstacles Shift Your Perspective

Obstacles, whether we like it or not, are inevitable.

Life is ever changing, and so we need to constantly change and adapt to new situations.

Life will never stop throwing you new obstacles. So, the best thing to do is know how to better see and deal with these obstacles, and transform them into opportunities for self improvement.

Everybody faces different obstacles – some much more severe than others. A few lucky people float through life with relatively few obstacles, others face more difficulty.

If you think of life like a game of poker, it’s easy to see how it’s advantageous to play the cards you’re dealt to the best of your ability. While inevitably some people are dealt better hands than others, your chances of success are mostly determined by how you play the game.

The more you’re able to see obstacles as being an advantage to your life, the better you’ll be at managing them, and using the experience to propel you further.

Relish a Challenge

Your mindset is key when facing obstacles. When you practice being optimistic through adversity, you’re intentionally shifting away from negative forces that might consume you. This is the power of a positive mindset.

Accepting obstacles will give you purpose, prepare you for the unexpected, and shift your perspective, allowing you to grow into a better version of yourself.

It’s not what happens to us that determines our fate, but rather, what we do about it that makes the difference. It’s the choices we make and the actions we take along the way; it’s the thoughts we have, what we focus on and how we frame what we tell ourselves 24/7.

Here is an inspirational quote that I’d like to leave you with:

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed” – Booker T. Washington

Look at a current obstacle you’re facing, and ask yourself: “Have I accepted it with a positive mindset?”

Featured photo credit: Martin Olsen via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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