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Overcoming Obstacles

Obstacles…get over them.

It’s really kind of funny how you set out to do something and then get totally stuck. And then you laugh. At the irony. Ah……life. I love writing. I love choosing what I want to write about. I do this by feeling. Feeling what just feels like the right thing to explore, and talk about. Sometimes I just write until I’m finished in one sitting. Sometimes I take many days, or sometimes weeks, to write. And then there are times like this. When I feel like ‘awesome, this is what I’m exploring now, great topic, yay me!’ So I sit down at my computer, books/magazines/online articles ready to dive into. A few days goes by. Nothing. Nada. ZERO. And then I laugh. Because I look at my topic. Overcoming obstacles. Apparently I have a big fat one preventing me from writing. Couldn’t just be that I am ridiculously too easily distracted or anything, right? I am a fantastic procrastinator. Learned that in high school. And I know many of you are right there with me, some could even hold a trophy for best procrastinator…;) I can feel the eyeball rolling already….ha ha. There really should be a course in school on how to not be a good procrastinator. Ugh. So something is in my way. What is it? Ha. I could make a list 100 miles long of things that are preventing me from working. But none would be it. I just get in my own way. It’s that simple. In my 29 years of life I’ve learned a thing or 2. Ok fine, I’m not really 29. But I have learned how to be very realistic. I’m great at getting in my own way. Most of us are. It’s how we deal with ourselves to keep moving forward. Because that’s what life is all about. Moving forward. And moving forward, there will always be road bumps, obstacles, shit that hits the fan, stops, stalls, whatever you want to call them. It’s part of what makes life so interesting and amusing. Challenges are good for us. Have you ever done an obstacle course? Tough Mudder maybe? They are awesome! (If you haven’t, you really should, seriously! If you want to try one let me know, I am IN!) So, let’s talk more about getting over these BIG HUGE OBSTACLES.

Our buddy google tells us about the word obstacle: a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress. Can you think of a time when you had something block your way or prevent or hinder your progress? Ok, rhetorical question. You likely just had a bunch of memories flood your brain….we’ve all had things block/prevent/hinder us throughout our lives. And we always will. Some teeny tiny things, some that seem colossal. It’s life. What do you do when something gets in your way? Run? Hide? Freeze? Attack? Overthink? (I get this one…) Climb over? Go around? Yes, this list goes on…Obviously it depends on the type of obstacle in front of you as to how you will respond. And your perception of it. If it’s fear you will respond one way, if it’s something unexpected and maddening then you will respond another way. Obstacles can come in many any shapes/sizes/forms.

There’s a great article in Psychology Today by Jim Taylor, and he talks about the different types of obstacles that get in our way: baggage (from childhood), habits (affecting your actions and reactions to the world), emotions (fear, anger, sadness, frustration, etc.), and environment (where you manage your baggage, habits and emotions). Letting any of these obstacles take over and control your life is what gives you that yucky feeling of being ‘stuck’. Another common theory is that there are 3 types of obstacles: external, internal, and habitual. I agree with this – I think that as above, the baggage and emotions can fit into the ‘internal’ group here, environment is ‘external’ and habits are ‘habitual’. External is the stuff that’s out of your control, such as economy or physical limitations. Internal is what you have control over, skills, time etc. And habitual is how we get in our own way. I think I’m an expert in this category. Ugh.

Time to get ‘unstuck’. I was reading up on overcoming obstacles at www.inc.com and read this: ‘part of the exhilarating feeling you get from achieving a goal is overcoming any obstacles that stepped in your way’. This is so true! Right? If there were no obstacles en route to your goal it just wouldn’t be the same. Sure it would be awesome to achieve your goal. But think about it for a second. Say you set out do a triathlon. You are training, doing a great job. Ok, so by training, you are running. Obstacle #1: you don’t own a bike. Obstacle #2: you haven’t actually swam (other than with a child or a cocktail in hand, so that doesn’t really count) in years, probably since you finished all the swim lessons your parents made you take as a kid….You’ve never done a triathlon before and you are so fired up about it! Nervous too. A few weeks before race day you borrow a bike and go for a long ride. Ok, feels pretty good, but, Obstacle #3: you realize you are on a mountain bike and you will be renting a road bike, which seems a bit scary. But anyway… Alright 2 out of 3 activities covered. 3 weeks before race day you decide to swim. Whoa. Obstacles #4 &5: apparently breast stroke in a triathlon is not cool and you are supposed breathe every 3rd stroke, not 2nd. What?!!!! Front crawl time. There is some serious floundering that happens in the pool, round 1. You make a phone call to a Triathlon Coach – you tell her what you are doing and need to re-learn front crawl. Coach asks you what your goal is. Is she crazy? No brainer: to not drown. Suddenly the plan of doing a triathlon is seeming somewhat insane, in that what the f*@k were you thinking kind of way. 3 lessons later you are feeling pretty ok that you will survive the swim on race day. You are somewhat concerned about friends with experience in triathlon telling you how people may swim over you. You just try to block that piece of information, telling yourself that that will never happen to you. Obstacle #6: that happens to you. For some reason the ‘elite men’ category starts shortly after your group, and being elite, they swim right over you, your goggles get knocked off and you are temporarily in shock that some dude just barrelled right over you. Regroup. And major positive self talk. Keep on swimming…You finish the swim. Phew. Bike time. Obstacle #7: 1 minute into the bike ride (on the road bike with such skinny wheels you don’t believe it’s going to survive the ride), some guy passes you but gets too close so the front wheel of his bike collides with yours momentarily and seems to lock. Somehow they detach and you are still upright on your bike. Again, phew. You survive the ride, and then the run. Happiness! Coming across the finish line you hear your name being announced and realize that you have completed a triathlon!!!! Woop woop! Exhilarating feeling right there. What goes through your mind? You revisit the sweetness of pushing through all the obstacles. You did not let any of them stop you. And THAT makes finishing the triathlon feel so freaking awesome :).

Those obstacles are a few examples (ok, well they are real life examples because that might have happened to me…) and as I said earlier, obstacles take any size, shape or form really. The point is that when you overcome one? It feels really really satisfying and great.

To be better prepared for overcoming obstacles here are a few things to get good at:

being realistic – if your goal is to write a blog, what are your priorities? What’s your time frame? What needs to happen in order to get this blog done? Check your attitude and your behaviour toward this. Keep it all real, and in alignment with your desired end result.

manage your emotions – these can be a huge timesuck. Right? Emotions can and will affect our thinking and judgement. Try to be logical. Try to stay positive and monitor any impatience. Avoid self-defeating thinking.

be open-minded – if theres something blocking you, try to understand it as clearly as possible. Keep an open mind as to what angle you can view this from in order to better understand it and overcome it.

To help strengthen your obstacle crushing muscles, here are some suggestions from www.mariashriver.com: Focus on positives, don’t ever give up, challenge yourself and try new things everyday, SMILE, everyday ask yourself if you’re happy, don’t compare yourself to others, and celebrate little accomplishments.

Some of these things seem so trivial. But remember, a little goes a long way. When you are working toward a goal, there are going to be obstacles. There just are. Some, so small you barely notice. Some not so small. Whatever is going on as you work to overcome something, or get unstuck, on your way to getting somewhere or achieving something, remember this: ENJOY THE JOURNEY. The whole time I’ve been writing this blog I am remembering the words to a Miley Cyrus song – The Climb. Some lyrics are very fitting here….

‘there’s always gonna be another mountain

I’m always gonna wanna make it move

Always gonna be an uphill battle

Somebody’s gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there

Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side

It’s the climb’

What’s your climb?

I guess I must have had some of this sink in….because I had millions of things ‘blocking’ me from finishing this blog (in the form of excuses & distractions). I got in my own way. But hey – IT’S DONE NOW! I finished. So can you. What’s making you feel stuck right now? What are you doing about it? Keep moving forward :).