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Published on December 30, 2020

How To Keep Pushing Forward And Overcome Any Obstacle

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

More Tips on How To Push Forward in Life

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Chng via unsplash.com

More by this author

Charles Amemiya

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

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Published on September 3, 2021

6 Friday Motivation Tips to Help You Stay Motivated

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6 Friday Motivation Tips to Help You Stay Motivated

You know the feeling—that “I still have another whole work day to get through” feeling? It sucks. The worst part is knowing that you have to get up, get to work, and be productive when you feel checked out, unmotivated, and would rather go back to bed. The trickiest part about it is that even though you may know intellectually that you’re not the only person who has ever felt that way, at the moment, it can feel very lonely.

If you feel the Friday funk and want to shake it off, try these six tips to lift your Friday motivation.

1. Eat a Solid Breakfast and Plan to Eat Lunch

The first thing you can do to lift your Friday motivation is to eat a solid breakfast. We have all heard the phrase, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It turns out that it wasn’t just something our parents were telling us to get us to eat before school. Studies have shown that eating breakfast can help with improved memory, recall, mood, and visual-motor functions.[1]

However, researchers have found evidence that the benefits of the micronutrient boost provided by breakfast do wear off after a while. Just like a car with a full tank of gas that runs out after a long journey, the body needs to be refueled. Therefore, planning to eat breakfast and lunch on a day when you are not feeling your best could give you that extra boost you need to get through the day. Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, which can leave you feeling weak and tired.[2] If you are already struggling with feeling motivated, not eating is only going to make you feel more sluggish and less inspired to get anything done.

2. Prioritize What’s Urgent

I have always been a fan of the cheat sheet. No, I’m not a cheater, but I love knowing what needs to be done. No one wants to waste any precious energy trying to figure out what should be done when you are already feeling unmotivated.

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No matter who you are, there is a high probability that by Friday, on any given week, you have at least one or two items that were supposed to be completed earlier in the week but just didn’t get done. Here is my quick trick for figuring out what’s urgent.

Just ask yourself these three questions:

  • Are there any projects with deadlines that have passed already but are still due?
  • Which of those projects is the most overdue?
  • Of the overdue projects, which will take the least time to make significant progress or complete?

This should help you to easily identify at least one task that you can spend time working on diligently, knowing that you are getting something important done.

3. Tackle the Low-Hanging Fruit

Another way to refresh your Friday motivation is to tackle the low-hanging fruit. There is nothing wrong with doing the easy stuff first. Maybe you are so burned out and the urgent tasks will take too much energy. There is nothing wrong with knocking out the obvious easy things. Emails, filing, data entry, document reconciliation, follow-up calls, editing or revising written work, and research are all low-hanging fruits—these are all straightforward tasks.

Getting these easier tasks done will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can leverage this sense of accomplishment to help you tackle some harder tasks or get all the easy tasks done so the following week, you can dedicate your time to the harder projects.

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4. Give Yourself at Least Two Scheduled Breaks

Give yourself at least two scheduled breaks during the workday. Life is stressful. Feeling like you have to work when you don’t feel up to it is stressful. Let’s not compound it by forcing yourself to sit in front of the computer all day with no breaks. The days of believing that “lunch is for punks and working 80 hours a week is what you should be doing” are fading away—if not already a distant memory for some.

In fact, scientists discovered that, although “taking short breaks throughout the working day may not have as obvious an impact as taking a holiday, research has found significant benefits. Studies have found that breaks can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day.”[3]

Before you sit down in front of your desk for the workday, set three alarms—two 20-minute breaks and one lunch break. You aren’t proving anything to anyone by forcing yourself to be miserable in front of your computer. You deserve flexibility and compassion. Let these breaks be a radical act of self-care.

5. Listen to Some Upbeat Tunes

Another way to improve your Friday motivation is to listen to some upbeat tunes. Music is medicine. It is not a mystery that the vibrations of sound can affect our mood. Ancient communities knew this and embraced it through practices like chanting, the use of singing bowls, chimes, bells, and other sound instruments as tools for healing. Practices like Kirtan and Bhakti yoga use chanting to heal and shift energy. The Hindu and Buddhist religions use bells and chimes in many of their spiritual healing rituals. Throughout the modern world, we have adopted the use of signing bowls for energetic healing.

Most people could recall at least one moment in their lives when music or sound has helped shift their mood. Music has been shown to have a direct effect on the listener. Studies show that listening to music while you work can lead to an “increase in both mood and quality of work”.[4]

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If you are feeling super unmotivated, the solution to your problem may be throwing on your favorite album in the background while you try to get a few things done. If you can’t work while listening to music with words and you do not like classical music or traditional jazz, explore genres like Trip hop, house, ambient, Beach House, JamBand. You may also enjoy artists like Bonobo, Thievery Corporation, and Grammatik.

6. Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To

As a yogi, I’m all about being present in the moment. But sometimes, the present is a little too intense, and being super present is not going to help to improve your mood. In those moments, tapping into the power of positive anticipation can be your secret weapon because “knowing that something good is coming your way pushes you to accomplish those tasks you may not necessarily want to do.”[5]

We all love to be rewarded, especially when we are doing something we don’t want to do. Giving yourself something to look forward to is the way to guarantee that you will be rewarded for the hard work of getting through the day.

The reward doesn’t have to be immense. It can be something small like getting ice cream, going for a walk, spending time with friends, or vegging out with your phone on do not disturb for a few hours. I used to employ this trick a lot when I was in boarding school. The time between semesters in new England would feel so long especially in the winter that my friends and I would let ourselves get excited about little things like drinking lime rickeys at Brigham’s. Believe it or not, it worked.

Try it the next time you get the hit with the Friday funk. Think about something you can look forward to no matter how small, and notice how it shifts your energy.

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Final Thoughts

As the adage says, “this too shall pass.”

Friday is just a day like every other day before it will end. One thing you can count on is that time waits for no one, so despite how difficult it may feel to get through, know that the time is on your side.

No matter what, Friday will wind on. The best thing you can do to improve your Friday motivation is to make sure that your body has the micronutrients it needs to power through the day, identify what’s urgent, tackle low hanging fruit, give yourself time away from the desk, throw on your favorite tunes, and think about the fact that you have the entire weekend to look forward to.

You got this!

More Tips on How to Improve Your Friday Motivation

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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