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Published on February 19, 2021

8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

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8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

Whether it’s planning a public speech or a kid’s birthday party, our intentions lean toward success no matter the endeavor. And whatever success we are hoping to attain, there will likely be obstacles that we must face. When these obstacles surface, we can either shy away and miss our chance or meet these challenges informed and ready.

Although obstacles can seem like the outside world is plotting against us, in reality, these external challenges are merely triggering hurdles that already exist within. They might be memories or beliefs we have about ourselves that act like mud and slow us down. We can be trapped by our own self-sabotage.

What could happen if you knew about and prepared for these obstacles beforehand?

If you knew what you were up against, perhaps you could come equipped with just the right tools to get through anything that threatens your chance at success. Perhaps you could take an obstacle that felt like a mountain and turn it instantly into a mere molehill!

Here are 8 of the greatest obstacles you must overcome on your way to success:

1. Perfection

One of the most common obstacles we face is the need for perfection. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, shared that her mother always used to say, “done is better than good.” Anyone prone to perfectionism is going to find it difficult to remain on the road to success if everything has to be “just so” all the time.

Perfection is the killer of creativity, vitality, and accidental discoveries! There are so many instances of people fortuitously discovering things that we use every day.[1] If they had been so concerned with perfection, they may never have enjoyed the success of their “mistakes!” Plus, learning from our mistakes is how we develop and grow throughout our lives. Therefore, “perfect” will never provide a straight shot to success.

How can you stop going for perfection? Just as it may have taken years of practice to “perfect” a skill you have acquired, it takes practice to undo perfectionism.

Try the following:

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  • Try new things and let go of your expectations.
  • Don’t do everything on your “To-Do” list. See what happens when you leave it for tomorrow.
  • Learn how to prioritize (no, everything isn’t equally important all the time).
  • If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, send an email with a typo in it!

Have fun with this and learn how to laugh at yourself. Welcome to the wonderful world of being human.

2. Fear

Fear is triggered when we have a thought or perception that we are not safe and secure. This is quite a useful tool when there is a real threat to our safety. However, when the threat is imaginary, fear can actually prevent us from doing the work we need to do to achieve our goals.

As with perfectionism, the best way to deal with fear is to become more mindful.

Here are some steps you can try in working through fear:

  1. Sit with the emotion of fear and notice where you feel it in your body. Notice the thoughts that accompany the feeling.
  2. Ask yourself what you are afraid will happen and write down your answers.
  3. Visualize yourself experiencing your worst fears. How did you feel imagining your worst fears coming true?
  4. Ask yourself when you have felt this way before. How did you cope with it that time? What strengths could you use in your previous visualization?
  5. Imagine yourself using your strength with the imagined worst fear. How does it feel to know that no matter what happens, you have the tools and resources to handle it?

In this exercise, we’re trying to be okay with the emotion of fear. Fear is actually trying to help by keeping you “safe.” It calls upon memories of when you were threatened in your life. But when we spend all of our energy trying to prevent the feeling of fear, we make it stronger. We also deny ourselves the memories of all the times we have faced our fears and triumphed.

Allowing the fear to be present and calling upon memories of making it through challenging times helps to convince our minds that, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, the “only thing to fear is fear itself.”

3. Lack of Clarity

Imagine that you are going on a trip and you need to pack. Your suitcase is out, but you don’t know any details of the trip. You haven’t decided where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, or what you’ll be doing. How easy will it be to pack for this trip?

If we’re trying to run our careers or lives without clarity, it can be nearly impossible to figure out what we need to be doing to get to our destination of success. So, how do we get clarity?

Author and speaker, Simon Sinek, had some excellent advice for businesses on how to get clarity, and it applies beautifully to just about any area of life. According to Sinek, when clarifying your “message,” you should start with your WHY.[2] In other words, why are you doing what you do? Once you are clear on your “why,” it will be much easier to figure out your “how” and your “what.”

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Let’s go back to the packing analogy. Perhaps your why for vacationing is to get some much-needed rest as you have been stressed out lately. That tells you that a quiet vacation might be better than one with lots of museums and crowded attractions. Your “why” tells you that you don’t want to be very active, but you do want to take care of your body, mind, and spirit, perhaps by spending a few days at a nearby spa. Less travel means less stress. Looking at the spa, you see they have a 3-day retreat. Now, you know how to pack.

See how easily those details fell into place once you got clear on your “why”? Imagine what success you could achieve once your “why” is uncovered!

4. Making Comparisons

It’s natural for us to compare ourselves to other people. That’s how we know whether we’re doing things correctly or not and how we can continue improving. When we get into a habit of making comparisons all the time and feeling bad about not being able to “keep up with the Jones’,” this can pull our energy down. And when our energy is down, so is our motivation to keep working toward our goals.

As with perfection, it’s important to be mindful about how much importance you’re placing on “keeping up” with what you think everyone around you is doing.

Want to stop sizing yourself up to others? Try the following:

  • Notice the feelings that come up for you when you compare yourself to someone else.
  • Ask yourself, “what information am I really getting from this comparison, and what’s helpful about it?”
  • Keep the helpful bits from that line of questioning and let go of the rest.

Remember that when you compare yourself to another person, oftentimes you are seeing the potential that already resides within you.[3]

5. Untamed Inner Monologue

How do you talk to yourself? Do you tend to say uplifting and encouraging things to yourself? Or is your self-speak often negative? An untamed inner monologue can serve as a great obstacle to many people.

Many people grow up with the idea that the inner monologue is what drives us to become better people. We get “tough” on ourselves to prevent laziness or sloppiness. If unchecked, the monologuing can quickly become negative and purely critical. Despite our intentions for self-improvement, this constant habit of pointing out what’s “wrong” with what we do and who we are can become a huge energy drain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, overcoming negative self-talk is good for our health.[4] Some of the benefits of maintaining a compassionate inner voice include lower levels of depression, better immune function, and improved coping skills in stressful times.

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Activities to develop awareness about your inner monologue and make it more compassionate include:

  • Keeping a thought diary (there are so many great apps for this!).
  • Reframing negative self-statements neutrally or compassionately.
  • Asking yourself what a trusted friend might say to you.
  • Thinking about what you might say to a friend if they were in your shoes.
  • Considering EFT Tapping or saying affirmations.
  • Allowing yourself to follow the inner critic down the worst-case-scenario path (this version might have you laughing at how ridiculous your inner critic’s imagination truly is).

6. Unclear Boundaries

So far, we’ve covered several ways that internal boundaries are necessary on the road to success. These include monitoring your fear, limiting your need for perfectionism, lacking clarity about what you want, making unhealthy comparisons to others, or having a mean-spirited inner monologue.

How about those boundaries we need to clarify with other people in our lives? To be clear, boundaries are not about saying “no” to everything and cutting yourself off from everybody. Healthy external boundaries are about being communicating to others about what you want, how you want to be treated, and what your plans are.

If we have unclear boundaries with others, success will result only by accident, if at all.

People pleasers and empaths especially know how challenging it can be to set boundaries with others. The desire for harmony can be so strong for some people that they convince themselves that it is easier to let others make the decisions rather than risk creating conflict.

The problem here is that no matter how hard we try to avoid conflict with others, we will create conflict within ourselves that results in roadblocks to success. If you have trouble setting clear boundaries with others and you want to be successful, start building your muscles around this skill slowly.

Here are a few steps:

  1. Identify little things that you like and want.
  2. Tell people about what you like and want in your life.
  3. Notice what happens in your body when you say this out loud.
  4. Identify things you don’t like or want.
  5. Notice what happens in your body when you think about these things. (Your body is really smart when it comes to telling you what you don’t want!)
  6. Tell trusted people what you don’t like or want.
  7. Notice how it feels in your body to say this out loud.
  8. Practice saying “no” to something really small that you don’t want and work your way up to bigger things.

Without boundaries, it’s like being water and trying to hold a shape without being in a container. You get to create your own container and watch your success take form.

7. Unreasonable Expectations

It’s important to dream big. It’s how we allow inspiration and big ideas to come to the surface of our awareness. But if our dreams are not grounded in the reality of our current resources, we might be headed for some disappointment or even worse, the loss of our dreams!

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Setting reasonable expectations is the bread and butter of success. If you haven’t been introduced to setting SMART goals at this point in your life, it would be a good idea to try it out.

It might not always be possible to know whether or not something is reasonable, especially if you’re trying out a brand-new-to-you project. If the expectation is for a new project to work without any bumps or glitches, this is likely to be unreasonable. The consequences of this experience could be losing your drive to succeed.

If the expectations for a new project include the idea of bumps and glitches that hold seeds of learning and growth, then even the perceived “mistakes” will turn out to be a success. This has the positive benefit of fueling your motivation to keep working toward even more success.

Be mindful of where you set the bar—neither too high nor too low.

8. Unreasonable Definition of Success

What is your definition of success? Asked in another way, from what perspective are you seeking success?

It’s easy to think that success means achieving the goal(s) you set for yourself. But there are so many ways to look at success. You might be missing out on some opportunities to really feel like you are shining in your life.

An unreasonable definition of success might be one that only allows for one specific outcome. If that outcome is not reached, then success is not the result. But if we allow for multiple definitions of success, we might find that success is much easier to come by than we previously thought!

To expand your definition of success, ask yourself the following:

  • What would need to happen to make me feel successful?
  • What else could happen to make me feel successful?

Keep brainstorming all the outcomes you could experience to create a feeling of success.

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Final Thoughts

Being successful requires overcoming a lot of obstacles, and many people will fail at some point. The key is to tackle these obstacles one step at a time. In the words of Joyce Brothers, “Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

More Tips on How to Overcome Obstacles

Featured photo credit: asoggetti via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Tess Miller

Life transition coach who helps professionals who love what they do but aren't sure where it's going

How to Face Emotional Triggers: A 5-Step Process Small Victories: 4 Reasons to Celebrate Small Wins How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips) 8 Greatest Obstacles In Life You Must Overcome To Be Successful

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Published on October 26, 2021

10 Things To Do When You’re Angry At Yourself (For Your Mistakes)

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10 Things To Do When You’re Angry At Yourself (For Your Mistakes)

When you make a mistake, you quickly forget all the wins and praise lauded on you over the years. Make one measly mistake and it’s all you can think about. And, unfortunately, you may carry it with you for a lifetime. This is normal, but not healthy.

Mistakes happen, and the wise know that that’s how you learn. Stumble and fall, and get up again—it’s the cycle of human development from toddlerhood. Still, when you make mistakes, this experiential wisdom can fly out the door. Your first reaction may be, “I’m angry at myself.” This may also be the exact phrase you use in your Internet search for answers. First, know that you’re not alone. Second, there are numerous ways to cool this heated emotion and get yourself back on track.

So, sit back, take a deep breath, and consider these ten things you can do when you’re angry at yourself for your mistakes

1. Remember, You’re Human

Everyone makes mistakes, and you will, too. Once you’ve realized that you are a part of this imperfect group called humans, you’ll feel better about your journey. In fact, when you’re angry for making mistakes, consider it a rite of passage. You’ll inevitably fail at times, say things that you shouldn’t, or fall short of expectations. Not to be glib, but rather honest—this is life. It’s being human. So, whatever mistakes you’ve made before and whatever ones you will make in the future, they’ll help you grow as a professional and as a human.

2. Get Your Anger in Check

Anger is a troubling emotion because it clouds your judgment and logical decision-making process. It’s also incredibly unhealthy. Anger fuels a spike in your blood pressure, increases stress and risk of cardiovascular disease, and suppresses your immune system. Additionally, unmitigated anger can fuel dangerous outcomes including violence and addicted behaviors.

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You need to learn how to manage your anger. By admitting aloud, “I’m angry at myself,” you own your state of mind. Now, check it. Don’t let it fester and grow. Remember, mistakes are manageable, but untethered anger is not. If you don’t get your anger in check, it can have a negative impact on the rest of your life.

3. Vent and Get It Off Your Chest

One way to get your anger diffused is to vent. There’s nothing more liberating than sharing how you feel with the world. But take note—venting on social media isn’t a wise idea. It can derail your personal and professional life if you go off on someone or indulge in a self-deprecating rant.

Instead, find a trusted source to vent to. This could be anyone from a friend to your pet. Just tell them, “I’m angry at myself.” Get off your chest all the bottled-up emotions weighing you down. The company of a trusted group of friends or even a support group is a great place to vent. These collectives are designed to listen to whatever is weighing you down.

You might even find the best place for you to vent is a journal. Writing down how you feel and what you’ve learned from this experience is not only a great way to vent but also gives you a place to park your thoughts and emotions for later reflection.

4. Get Up and Get Moving

Exercise and activity are great ways to exhaust the “I’m angry at myself” emotion bubbling within. Take a brisk walk or attack the weight bag or consider cleaning out the closet or garage. Occupying your mind, body, and soul with productive physical activity is the next logical step in freeing yourself from this burden.

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There is nothing more liberating than working up a healthy sweat. You’ll find that physical activity will instantly diffuse your anger and that a spike of endorphins gives you clarity. Once you’ve found a healthy way to exercise your adrenaline, you’re ready to step into a logical space and examine what went wrong and how can you manage things better next time.

5. Seek Counsel From Others

When you’re angry or dealing with any heightened emotion, your judgment is clouded. It’s hard to find your way out of the forest. Seek counsel—whether it’s in the form of a friend, family member, or professional—and tell them, “I’m angry at myself,” and layout why. They’ll listen and will help you sort through your anger. They may also offer advice on what you could change moving forward or how you could get past self-berating. Their authentic positive affirmations and willingness to listen will be the best antidote for your anger.

Keep in mind, it’s not a sign of weakness to seek out professional help, especially if anger is an ongoing reaction you experience to setbacks. A counselor or clinician is trained to help you unearth the root of such emotions and help you explore why they are triggered. Moving forward, you’ll have the skills to better manage your emotions and explore alternate and more thoughtful paths when mistakes occur.

6. Tamper Down Your Inner Critic

Don’t let mistakes flair up that inner voice that says, “I’m not good enough.” While you’ll wonder if it’s true and for a moment (or two) believe your inner critic, stop yourself from heading down that victim slippery slope. Giving in to your inner critic can halt your progress. You’ll succumb to the doubt and always wonder, “if I tried again, would the same results occur?”

That kind of paralyzing fear will get you nowhere. Instead, recall the words of your counsel and your inner wisdom—mistakes will happen. So, announce aloud, “I made a mistake. I’m angry at myself.” Then park it there, shut off the engine, and walk away. The next day, get up and get back to life, and don’t let wasteful, inaccurate, and self-sabotaging inner dialogue slow you down.

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7. Learn From Your Mistakes

I’d like you to go back to the idea that mistakes happen and that they happen for a reason so that you can learn what not to do. “I’m angry at myself” should be the motivator to get it right. Stop and explore where the lesson is here. What is one thing you won’t do moving forward? What else did you take away? Perhaps there are people you need to speak with to smooth things over. There may be some course corrections that you need to make to move forward in a more positive direction.

Recently, I participated in a pivotal career conversation that didn’t go well at all. “I’m angry at myself,” I thought, for speaking too much in the moment to try and make things right, where silence would have been the best alternative. I learned from this mistake. Instead of overtalking, sometimes just pausing and listening is all that is needed. Moving forward, I’ve practiced more restraint when needed and have walked away from my professional conversations with better results and more confidence.

8. Take Time for Yourself

“I’m angry at myself” is one of the better motivators to get happy with yourself again. How? Exercise, reset, relaxation, and healthy distractions are just some of your gateways into a better headspace. Too often, people believe that the best way to get over something is to jump right back into it—whatever it is—or wherever your mistake is rooted. While this does work for many, some need a little time and space to sort it all out—and that’s okay. Separating yourself from the situation for a while and taking a mental health break can do wonders to cleanse your spirit. It may also give you some greater clarity.

Right now, you may be too close to the mistake(s) to gain a clear perspective. Remember, it’s okay to step back for a while and clear your head without feeling guilty about taking time for yourself. This mental reset will put some space between you and the mistakes so that you can come back refreshed and in a better state to step up and move forward.

9. Practice Relaxation Skills

Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can do wonders to help you relax and reduce your heightened emotions. Just like exercise, you may discover that this form of release and restoration will not only help you work through your anger but also help you clear your head and restore your confidence. This may also be the time to build your own personal relaxation practice so the next time you make a mistake, you can step into your healing and restorative practice space and quiet your mind, body, and soul.

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10. Forgive Yourself

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” We know this to be true, but don’t always practice it. Forgiveness is the true path to healing. You’ve probably have heard many stories about how this process has helped people come back from a very dark place including recovering from illness.

Forgiveness is powerful and is the only way to move forward. So, I’m going to leave you with this final challenge: how can you transition “I’m angry at myself” to “I forgive myself?”

Final Thoughts

When you find yourself stewing about all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas” that accompany the overarching thought “I’m angry at myself,” you have no more excuses to wallow in the derailing emotion of anger. Experimenting with one or all of the above strategies can help you shorten the period between making a mistake and having a moment of enlightenment. The reckoning that you’re human, you have people that believe in you, you have resources to support you, and you have a golden opportunity to learn and move forward should be all you need to make tomorrow better and your future better.

More Tips on How To Handle Your Mistakes

Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

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