Overcoming Obstacles Pt. 1
I’ve learned, over time, that sometimes you must take the smallest steps to make the biggest changes. Obstacles will come at you over time and leave you with decisions to make regarding getting over them or letting them stop you in your tracks. To me, they’re a lot like hills: Steep and menacing from a distance. Once you’re at the top, however, you’ll wonder why you ever let them stop you.
Those obstacles look different for each of us. Sometimes, the way we envision them changes our perspective in terms of how we’d like to approach it. I use hills as the example because they are something I’ve struggled with all my life. In my quest for managing my weight I’ve climbed many hills and hiked steep trails. Sometimes, I can make huge strides quickly and call those hills beaten. Other times it takes smaller steps, practice, and planning to call that challenge conquered.
That last group can be the toughest thing for us to accept. At times, when taking on those types of challenges it seems like we’re making no progress at all. It took a very long time but at some point, I finally accepted that small steps forward are still moving forward. Small goals build upward. They create a strong foundation and prevent us from having to start over. It may not look like it at first, but that bit of work eventually will grow into observable results. One of the big things we must realize is that we need to stick with our goals and realize the work we’ll need to put in.
This reminds me of a quote:
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
I have used that quote to fuel much of the positive changes I’ve made in my life, especially regarding tackling some long-standing issues that have plagued me since childhood. But sometimes fuel isn’t enough, we need to know how to take that fuel and make it work for us. For some of the things we’d like to change in our lives, it requires some planning and some goal-setting to really get some work done. Over the next few blog posts, I’m going to explore how it is we can look over the changes we’d like to make and how we can form a well-structured plan to have them become a reality.
Overcoming Obstacles: The Mental Game
One of the biggest, if not the biggest block in terms of our trying to even get started towards change is our own minds. Sometimes we see an obstacle, and, through some negative self-talk, we stop ourselves from even trying! We cut ourselves off and become convinced that we can tackle those problems. I can say with confidence that this has been my experience when trying to make lasting change in my life.
One of the things I started to realize, however, is that the more I sat and thought about it, the more I found some common threads in relation to why I was stalled out from even starting. Whenever I had trouble getting over a hump there was the following:
• A lack of focus
• A lack of goals
• A lack of accountability
Of course, there are other factors that we must take into consideration, but in all honesty those three generally served as the biggest issues in my trying to make positive change happen. In my experience, you need to have two of the three going well to make sure you’ve got some forward progress going. Have all three running well, and you’re set and ready to get some things done for yourself.
Now, I can understand that this sounds much easier said than done. However, I’m happy to report that doesn’t have to be the case! If we treat the process of improving our focus, setting good goals, and creating an accountable environment for ourselves as skills we can train we can see some results quickly!
Let’s take a moment and look at a few ways we can improve this skill for ourselves.
As a musician, I know all too well that to improve a skill, nothing beats practice. So, it was with my music, so it was with my fitness, and so it stands for when we’re trying to learn a way to overcome our obstacles. Some people think a thing like focus comes easily and you’re either good at it or you aren’t. And in a world where we have people diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, it can seem like some of us are just not built to able to keep ourselves focused on any goal for long.
Despite that, I can wholeheartedly say that with some work and practice, we can learn to adapt and be able to keep ourselves on task. But the key is we need to work at it every day, even if it is only just a small amount. As I stated in the beginning, small steps will still lead to progress and results. When it comes to improving ourselves and making lasting changes nothing beats practice and working on these skills little by little to get good at achieving results.
While this usually applies more to goal setting than the other two topics, you can still look at focus and accountability and attach a scope to how you approach improving in those two areas. Typically, one of the biggest problems with something like goals can be that we look too broadly and forget to break down and really get to root of how we can get to the end. Having this big, broad overview can make it feel like there’s no end in sight and no progress being made. We need to get good at learning how to narrow or broaden our approach depending on what it is we’re trying to achieve. This helps us find that balance where we can feel like we’re accomplishing something without it being overwhelming.
Recognizing when we need support
This leads nicely to point number three for the day: Sometimes we need a little bit of help. Like with any skill, we need to know when it is we should look towards other people who seem to have a better grasp on a subject. It isn’t a weakness to seek help when something isn’t working out right or we’re struggling with trying to improve in any of the above I mentioned. Looking for support also links up with accountability in creating an environment where we’re enabled to succeed. Support is what is going to get us through those rough patches where we want to give up and risk losing the work we’ve put in towards our goals.
That’s all for part one of these series of posts. I wanted to give a brief insight into what I’ll be breaking down in terms of helping ourselves overcome some of life’s challenges. Obstacles can be overcome, and goals can be reached with some practice and a bit of internal searching. The tools to create lasting change can be found within, sometimes it just takes a bit of help and guidance. In part two, I’ll be breaking down how to train your focus and how to set reasonable goals.
Until then, remember!
Perseverance is omnipotent.