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Published on March 27, 2019

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 October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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