How To Keep Pushing Forward And Overcome Any Obstacle

How To Keep Pushing Forward And Overcome Any Obstacle

Sooner or later, all of us will face adversity that will make us feel extreme stress, disappointment, and a lot of uncertainty. As we lean into the adversity, we’ll encounter some formidable obstacles. When we face these obstacles, we must keep pushing forward.

When life gets really tough, many people get stuck or lose their momentum. They suffer from fear, self-doubt, and other negative feelings.

To get past obstacles in your way, you must fully acknowledge the problem and have a strong, motivating reason to keep moving forward. You also have to change any unrealistic expectations. Then, you have to develop a positive mindset, see the problem as an opportunity in disguise, and start taking action.

Master these six powerful ways to keep pushing past obstacles in front of you so you can reach your goals.

1. Don’t Avoid Obstacles

“Anyone can give up; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart, that’s true strength.” —Chris Bradford

The first thing to do is not avoid the obstacle in front of you. Don’t stick your head in the sand and just hope it gets better. Avoiding problems generally makes them worse because small problems now will oftentimes become bigger and unmanageable later.

Many people avoid that daunting obstacle by either denying that it’s a big problem or purposely downplaying its significance. They usually do this because they don’t believe they can solve the problem, or they realize how much work it will take to overcome it.

Other people avoid problems by distracting themselves. They do other things that take their minds away from the painful situation in front of them.

How many times have you faced an obstacle and procrastinated instead of confronting it? Procrastination is another very common reaction to a problem we don’t want to face.


To stop avoiding problems here are some solutions:

  1. Accept that there is a problem. Acknowledge it’s there. It can be painful, especially if it’s an emotional issue, but you have to realize there’s something wrong and it needs your attention.
  2. Accept that you’re responsible for solving this problem—whether you caused it or not. Don’t waste a lot of time blaming other people or dwelling on how unfair it is. Realize you have to deal with this problem now.
  3. Don’t distract yourself with things that take your mind away from the issue.
  4. If you find yourself procrastinating, remind yourself that the longer you take to confront the problem, the worse it will get.

2. Know Why You’re Doing It

Many people are unable to keep pushing past obstacles in their way because they don’t have a strong reason to keep going. It’s important you know your “why.” Your “why” should be the driving force that motivates you to keep pushing, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goal.

Identify your “why.” Why should you work extremely hard to get past these obstacles to reach your goal? Why is this goal important to you?

When I got out of prison, I faced a lot of discrimination. I was denied a lot of jobs because of my felony drug manufacturing-related conviction. This was undoubtedly one of my biggest obstacles. I was very angry. I was angry at myself for getting arrested and going to prison. I was angry at the business world for discriminating against me when I was trying to do the right thing.

There were times when I felt like giving up. I thought about becoming a drug dealer again. Then, I thought about why it was important for me to get a job. I had a few “whys.” I knew I was capable of using my skills and talents to do good things in life. I didn’t want to go back to prison. I had to create a stable work history. I knew my best days were ahead of me if I just did the right thing.

Once I realized I had some strong reasons to keep pushing forward, I stayed the course. I went to interview after interview until I found people who were willing to hear my story and give me a chance. It took a long time, but it eventually worked. I was able to find some good, compassionate people who were willing to hire me.

Why is your goal important to you?

To keep moving forward when you face obstacles, make sure you have strong reasons to stay the course. Make sure your goals are aligned with your values. Make sure that the big goal is something you love—something worth fighting for.

3. Let Go of Past Expectations

There will be a lot of times in life when you’ll expect a good outcome, hit an obstacle, and then find that you’re going to have to create a new plan.


When I was in prison, my mom died. I was devastated because I didn’t get to see her, but I took some comfort in knowing my wife was there for me. When I was released, I’d live with her and start a new chapter of my life.

Later, my wife left me. Now, I had nowhere to go. I reached the lowest point of my life.

A few months later, I contacted a couple I knew and told them about my dilemma. They graciously agreed to let me live with them when I got out of prison. I stayed with them for almost 9 months. That experience strengthened our friendship and to this day, they are in my inner circle—they’re family.

They helped me rebuild my life. They were at my university graduation and helped me celebrate other milestones on my journey to redemption. We continue to help and support each other. I was able to let go of past expectations and make the best out of a disastrous situation.

Realize that life is oftentimes unfair. Know that things can and often will change. Accept that many things are out of your control. Let go of past expectations and work positively toward making the best of bad situations.

Revise your expectations when it’s necessary. When things change, pivot to a new plan to deal with the unexpected change in the best way possible. Just keep pushing forward.

Follow the wise words of John Wooden:

Things work out best for those who make the best out of how things work out.

4. Have a Positive Mindset

Have you ever tried to solve a problem with a negative attitude? It was most likely an uphill battle. You probably had a hard time thinking of solutions to the problem or believed you just couldn’t do it.


Having a positive mindset is one of the most important tools you can use to move past obstacles in your life. A positive attitude increases your confidence in your ability to overcome huge challenges. It keeps your mind open to new possibilities and ways of dealing with problems.

“A positive mind finds opportunity in everything. A negative mind finds fault in everything.” —Unknown

Negative thinking makes you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and afraid of taking action. On the other hand, positive thinking lowers your stress levels. It makes you more relaxed and ready to deal with problems.

It’s important to be “rationally positive,” which means you shouldn’t tell yourself you’ll be able to do everything flawlessly and everything will work out perfectly. Instead, realize you have the courage to face tough obstacles, the ability to adapt to unexpected events, and the perseverance to keep getting back up every time you get knocked down until you reach your goal.

As Robert Luongo said:

“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. The only thing that matters is how many times you get up.”

5. Look at Obstacles as Opportunities

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” —Molière

I initially thought prison was a huge obstacle. I thought it would ruin my life. I didn’t think I’d be able to get a good job later because of my criminal record. I believed people would dislike me when they found out I had been to prison, and I didn’t think I had a future.

But when I started looking at prison as an opportunity to become a better, stronger, and smarter person, my life started to quickly change. I realized that prison was the reality check I needed. If I didn’t go to prison, I could’ve ended up dead, like many of my old friends.


Prison gave me the chance to think about the purpose of my life for the first time. It gave me time to think about how I needed to change myself and my life. It started me on a positive trajectory to keep pushing forward.

When you encounter an obstacle, determine how it can make you a better, stronger, and smarter person by asking yourself these questions:

  • What lessons is life trying to teach me right now?
  • How can I use this bad situation to achieve something great?

6. Take Action

Once you’ve accepted that there’s a problem and you have to solve it, you have to take action. This sounds simple, but many people fail to get started because they don’t have an adequate action plan.

To create an action plan:

  1. List all of your options and the costs and benefits of each one. Find the best options and eliminate others.
  2. Determine how long it will take and when you need to finish.
  3. List the actions you need to take, from the first step to the last.
  4. Make sure you have the proper resources to complete the action plan (time, people, money, technology, etc.).
  5. Begin executing the plan.

Once you take action, don’t stop. Keep the momentum going. Keep pushing forward until you reach your goals.

Final Thoughts

We must develop a positive mindset and see obstacles as opportunities instead of roadblocks. When we see challenges from this perspective, we learn, grow, and develop new skills and insights. We become smarter, stronger, and better able to tackle the challenges we’ll face in the future.

When things get rough, our automatic response may be to avoid or minimize the obstacles in front of us. We have to fully acknowledge problems and know we have what it takes to overcome them. And we have to know that all of our hard work and sacrifices are for a worthy cause.

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Featured photo credit: Jonathan Chng via

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Charles Amemiya

Speaker, life/business coach, social responsibility advocate and technical writer.

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Last Updated on January 19, 2022

What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

If you’ve ever thought or said something like this, then you are using fear-based motivation:

  • “If I don’t get that promotion, I’m going to be seen as a failure so I better stay up all night to work on this proposal.”
  • “If I speak up for school reform, the internet trolls are going to get me, so I better be quiet even though I care a lot about this issue.”
  • “If I don’t exercise enough, I’m going to look like crap, so I better go to the gym six days a week, even if my body is killing me.”

Fear-based motivation is exactly what it sounds like—getting yourself and others to do things out of fear of what will happen if you don’t do it and do it well.

What you might not know is that while fear-based motivation might work in the short term, it can have long-term detrimental effects on your performance, relationships, and well-being.

Is Fear-Based Motivation Helpful?

If using fear as motivation comes naturally for you, you aren’t alone. Our brains use fear to keep us out of trouble. Normally, you want to move away from what feels harmful towards what feels safe.

This brain function is important when there is a genuine threat to your well-being, like if there is a rattlesnake on the hiking trail. Your brain will use fear to motivate you to move away from the snake as quickly as possible. But when you use fear-based motivation to accomplish your life and career goals, the constant state of fear puts unnecessary stress on your mind and body and can end up working against you.

The Darkside of Fear-Based Motivation

Take, for example, when your trainer at your gym motivates you during your workout by yelling things like, “Bikini season is coming! You don’t want your cellulite to be the star of the show!” or “Burn off that piece of birthday cake you ate last night!”


Sure, you might be motivated to do ten more burpees, but what is going on in the back of your mind? You probably have an image of a group of people standing around you at the beach laughing at you in your bikini, or you feel guilty about eating that piece of cake and criticize yourself for not being able to control yourself.

Reliance on Negative Thinking

For most of us, this type of thinking causes stress and can bring down our energy levels and mood. The reliance on negative thinking is the problem with fear-based motivation. It forces us to put our attention on what is wrong or what could go wrong instead of anticipating and celebrating what is right. This, in turn, narrows our focus and prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.

When your brain senses a threat, whether it’s a rattlesnake hiding in the grass or the possibility of being laughed at in your bikini, your brain will move you into a protective stance. Your vision narrows and you prepare to fight, flee or freeze.

You can probably imagine what this looks like in the case of a rattlesnake, but how does this impact your bikini experience?

The High Cost of Fear-Based Motivation

Imagine that you plan a beach vacation with your friends three months from now. The first thing you picture is sitting on the beach with your tummy rolls and cellulite. You immediately sign up for three months of boot camp classes at the gym and banish all sugar and booze from your diet. You are determined not to make a fool of yourself on the beach!

Will the fear of not looking like a supermodel under the beach umbrella motivate you to get in shape and eat better? Possibly. But at what cost?

For three months, every time you picture yourself looking “less than perfect” in your bikini, you feel fear of being ashamed. Shame makes you want to hide, and that makes it harder to find the motivation to go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

You become so focused on how you are going to look on the beach that you lose out on all the fun and joy of life. You pass up on going shopping with your friends for new outfits because you aren’t at your goal weight yet. You stop doing the things you love to do to spend more time at the gym. You avoid family gatherings where you will be confronted with tempting food. You over-train to the point of hurting yourself.

The Healthier Alternative to Fear-Based Motivation

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in your bikini! If that’s important to you, keep your goal in mind but change the way you motivate yourself. Instead of using the fear of feeling ashamed to motivate you, try using love-based motivation.

Love-based motivation uses love instead of fear to lead and inspire you. It comes from a different part of your brain than fear-based motivation. Love-based motivation comes from the part of your brain that is responsible for joy, creativity, and passion.

5 Questions of Love-Based Motivation

There are many ways to deploy love-based motivation. The trick is to use one or all of the following to motivate you towards your goal: empathy, curiosity, innovation, vision, and heart-centered action.

Here are five questions you can use to motivate yourself using love-based motivation.


1. What Would You Say to a Friend?

Chances are that you talk to your friends in a much kinder way and with more empathy than you talk to yourself. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “you better starve yourself and hit the gym three times a day to look good in that bikini!” Instead, you would probably say something like, “I’m so excited to go on this vacation with you! I can’t wait to spend time catching up while sipping margaritas on the beach.”

Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend.

2. What Are You Curious About Learning That Might Help You Get to Your Goal?

More often than not, achieving our goals is more about the journey it took us to get there than the goal itself. Curiosity makes journeys more fun. Perhaps you are curious about doing a triathlon but you don’t know how to run. If you spend three months learning to run, you would get into better shape and learn something new.

3. How Can You Get to Your Goal in a Way That Feels Good?

Using the “Yes, And” game is a great way to come up with innovative ideas for working towards your goals. If your first instinct is to go to the gym six days a week but you aren’t jazzed about it, find something that you like about that idea and make it better.

For example, if what you like about going to the gym is that you work up a sweat, what if instead of the gym, you join a dance class where you can learn some new moves to show off on your vacation?

4. What Is Important to You About Your Goal?

When you dig into your goal, chances are that you’ll find a deeper meaning. If your goal is to “look good in a bikini,” ask yourself why that’s important to you.


For example, “I want to look good in my bikini because I want to have fun on vacation.” Then, ask yourself how much having fun on your vacation depends on how you look in your swimsuit.

5. What Heart-Centered Action Can You Take That Will Help You Reach Your Goal?

Whether your goal remains bikini-focused or changes to ways of having a good time on your vacation, choose an action that you can take that feels like it is coming from a place of love instead of fear.

For example, suggest to your friends that you take scuba diving classes as a group before vacation. It will get you moving and bring your friends together.

Long-Term Happiness and Satisfaction

Fear-based motivation may help you achieve your goals in the short term, but it won’t lead to long-term happiness and satisfaction. Fear isn’t designed to be used for long periods, and you will eventually tire of the fear and give up on your goals. Love, however, is designed for longevity.

Finding your motivation in a place of love will fuel you to reach your goals, whether your goals are about feeling good in a bikini, getting a promotion at work, or speaking up for what you believe in.

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