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How to overcome problems!

Kudos. You've already achieved the first step: facing your obstacles. Many people ignore them instead, or treat them as permanent barriers. Walk up to yours and give them a hard shove instead.

1- Figure out what's holding you back. Sit down and work out exactly what stands in the way of your goals. Get as specific as possible about what your goals are, and exactly why you are having trouble meeting them. You'll need plenty of self-awareness to chart out a course of action. Try not to dredge up your usual list of complaints, as this often falls apart into excuses.

  • If you said "I don't have enough time," think about how you prioritize your time and energy. The real obstacle could be procrastination, careerism, or external events.

  • If you said "I don't have enough money," this is also often about priorities. The more immediate obstacle might be a lack of time or a lack of motivation, or you might need to learn how to make money and save what you have.


2-Think about your history with this obstacle. 

  • How long has the obstacle been in your way? What behaviors or negative thoughts keep the obstacle alive, or prevent you from working through it?  Answering these questions may help you identify the changes you need to make.

  • For example, if you've felt "stuck" ever since you moved to a new home, there could be something in your new environment or lifestyle that's affecting you. For example, your distance from friends and family could be sapping your motivation.

3-Find similarities to previous obstacles.

  • Take a minute to think about other obstacles you've encountered in your life. Whether or not your approach worked then, learn from your experience as you approach the next challenge.

  • For example, if you previously burned out after an overambitious New Year's resolution, try to ramp up more slowly this time.


4-Determine what you control. 

Some obstacles seem beyond your control, so daunting that you have no idea how to get through them. This experience is often paired with fear or another strong emotional reaction. Take a deep breath, put pen to paper, and ask yourself what you can control.

  • You can control your attitude.

  • You can control how much effort you put in.

  • You can control your decision when an opportunity is offered to you.

  • You can control your diet, exercise, and sleep schedule, which can improve your mood and alertness.


5-Analyze interpersonal issues. 

Some of the most frustrating obstacles are the ones that involve other people. Emotions or gut reactions can cloud your judgment and make the obstacle seem more impossible than it is. Try to break the problem down and discover what actually stands in your way:

  • Often, it takes both people to contribute to the obstacle. Rein in your own reaction with mental "stoppers," such as a deep breath, or counting to ten in your head.

  • Listen to the other person's problems, or try to think of them from his perspective. Solve what the other person sees as an obstacle, and you may solve your own problems.

  • In the worst case scenario, restructure your interactions to avoid situations where disagreements arise.


6-Break your goals into smaller chunks. 

  • No one can leap to the top of Mount Everest in one step. Shrink that daunting mountain into a series of more manageable goals. Write a checklist, and then ask yourself what obstacles prevent you from achieving the first  box.

  • For instance, if your goal is to become a doctor, one looming obstacle might be getting a college education. After breaking it down, your new first goal becomes filling out a college application form. Overcome your first obstacle by picking up a pen!


7-Consider creative solutions.

  • Once you've listed your obstacles, take a moment to think of alternate paths to your goals. Is there any way to reach your goal while avoiding the obstacles entirely? These shortcuts don't happen often, but it's worth taking the time to brainstorm.

  • Speak to someone who's already attained the goal you're aiming for. She may be familiar with routes you've never heard of.

  • For example, many companies prefer job candidates from inside the company. Maybe you can get hired at your dream company for a less competitive position, and work your way up the ladder, or transfer to a different department.


8-Keep an active plan.

  • Put your plan in writing, starting with what you'll do today and ending with achieving your goal. Now recognize that your plan will change. This is just the first stage, which will set your feet on the road.   

  • As you learn, grow, and encounter new obstacles, adapt your plan to find the best path forward at each moment.


9-Track your progress.

As you work toward your goal, keep a journal or chart of your progress and your setbacks. Set yourself several milestones along the way, and make sure to reward yourself for each one.


10-Seek advice and support.

  • Find people with similar goals, or encouraging friends. Make yourself accountable by sharing your goals and milestones. Seek advice from people with more experience than you, who may have overcome the exact same obstacles.

  • There are thousands of people who share your career, hobby, bad habit, or relationship struggle. Look for local organizations and online forums where you can talk about your experiences and trade advice.


11-Break bad habits

Even if they aren't the obstacles you are trying to avoid, bad habits can set anyone back. Treat these as a whole new obstacle, overcoming the habit with goals and milestones just like any other.


12-Visualize your goal for motivation

  • When you get discouraged, close your eyes and picture yourself after you've overcome the obstacle. Remind yourself frequently why you're putting in the hard work and making the sacrifices. It will all be worth it when you shatter the last obstacle at your feet.


13-Hone your problem-solving skills

  • If you tend to make decisions based on gut instinct, try a more analytic approach. Here are a few possible approaches when you're trying to make a decision:

  • Cost-benefit analysis: Write down what you would gain from a decision, and what you would lose. Decide whether the benefits worth the drawbacks.

  • Worst case scenario: If you attempt something and it fails completely, where do you end up? Come up with a backup plan for this scenario.

  • Write a list of all your concerns, and treat each as a separate problem. Anxiety over a long-distance move might include finances, losing touch with friends, and your child transitioning schools. Solve each problem separately.


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