Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I see only my objective – the obstacles must give way.” I’m sure we’d all like to say this and have it be true, but the fact of the matter is, so often, those obstacles loom almost larger than life. We set a goal, we make a plan, we get all excited……….and then life does what it does best: It gives us obstacles! Sometimes we find what it takes within ourselves to overcome the obstacles and proceed toward our goals, but other times, we retreat and give up on our goals altogether. We tell ourselves things like, “It just wasn’t meant to be,” or “I guess now is just not the time,” or “I’m not meant for_________,” or a million other excuses. If not now, when? If not you, then who?
All of you reading this have set goals in your life, even this year, but have gotten overwhelmed with this thing called life and have made one of the excuses above to give yourself an out. Well, I’m here to encourage you today to take out that goal/dream/plan and dust it off and try again. This time however, we’re going to be realistic and think about our obstacles BEFORE we set out to accomplish our goals.
We’re not looking at our obstacles to talk us out of our plans. We’re looking at them to be realistic and to plan for them. That’s right. We’re going to bank on the fact that as soon as we get excited and all geared up to accomplish something awesome, obstacles are going to start popping up everywhere – sickness, plumbing issues, work woes, family problems, etc. We’re going to identify potential obstacles ahead of time, and we’re going to make plans to climb over them, plow through them, or go around them. What obstacles seem to always pop up in your life every time you set a goal to quit smoking, get more sleep, exercise more, lose weight, meditate, etc?
If we look back over our past failures, we will see patterns concerning obstacles. We’ll see what sort of things derailed our plans, and if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we’ll see how we took the easy out. No more taking the easy out. It’s time to take action! Before we set out to conquer another goal, we’re going to write down the things that have thrown us off course in the past. Then we’re going to brainstorm things we can do this time to keep us on the path toward our goals. We won’t delude ourselves as we have in the past that this time it will be smooth sailing because it won’t. LIFE ALWAYS HAPPENS! This is especially true when we’re trying to make positive changes and get out of our comfort zone. Are you ready?
ASSIGNMENT #1 – Write down all the obstacles that have gotten in your way before as well as any potential obstacles that you may encounter this time. After you’ve written down the obstacles, now write down a few solutions to each one. How are you going to handle it differently this time? How will you think differently about it?
Your thinking is crucial because sometimes YOU are the obstacle. Many times, all it takes to solve a problem is to change the way we look at it. We must be willing to change our thinking.
ASSIGNMENT #2 – Write down your whys. List 5 reasons why your goal is important to you. Then write down 5 ways your life will be different when you achieve this goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 50 lbs, why is that important? Will it allow you to potentially get off prescription medications? Will you sleep better? Will you enjoy spending time with your kids or grandkids because you don’t tire so easily, or your joints no longer hurt? Put yourself in your future self’s shoes. How will you feel when your goal is accomplished? Write it down.
It’s important not only to write these things down, but you also need to look at them every day, sometimes several times a day to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. This will help you overcome the obstacles that are going to start showing up the minute you commit your goal to paper. Plan on obstacles and plan your way over, through, and around them.
ASSIGNMENT #3 – Now that you’ve identified the obstacles you’re likely to encounter, ways to overcome them, your whys, and how your life will be different once you accomplish your goal, now it’s time to also commit your goal to paper. Follow this link for a little refresher course on how to set meaningful goals.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Nothing worth having is ever easy.” If we know this is true, and we do, why do we allow ourselves to get knocked off the path toward our goals again and again because of difficulties? I think it’s because we allow ourselves to become complacent. We pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve already done, and then when new goals get too tough, we reason that we’ve done enough, and perhaps it’s someone else’s turn. We then begin to rest on our laurels. At least, I know that’s the case for me. I must constantly remind myself to never stop reaching, growing, and doing – despite life’s difficulties.
This post is for all of you who need encouragement to do the same. As long as we’re living, we should be growing. We should be seeking out new places, new people, new adventures, things that scare us, and goals that stretch us. Continue as long as you live to dream big. At the same time, expect obstacles, expect difficulties, and expect to be amazed. I love the words of Henry David Thoreau, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” I know this is true. Commit to change. Challenge mind and body. Create a new paradigm. Conquer anything!