The Upside to Life’s Obstacles


This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to join a room full of like-minded people at a four-day seminar learning about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

If I had a dollar for every time my mind exploded with “Ah-Ha” moments, I probably would have been able to pay back the course.

However, the biggest realization I had hit me right in the “Fear of Failure” center of my being.  It shook me so far down to the core that I had to think about it for a few moments and missed some of the following discussion.For years and years, I have felt plagued by the notion of failing (3 Signs You’re (Probably) a Perfectionist this would be number 4, maybe I should update).

As a result, I often held myself back from the opportunity to make a change or take a risk, regardless of how much passion I had for the potential outcome (is any of this sounding familiar to you?).

At times, however, I would make it past the initial fear and I would set myself a goal for the future, or an intention to the Universe, if that resonates with you.

I would set this goal, maybe do some goal planning exercises around it to get a good picture of what I would do and how I would do it. I would see that plan unfolding and start moving along the path I had charted out.

As things tend to happen in the beginning, momentum would build, excitement would grow, and motivation levels would be through the roof.

This would continue for a little while until inevitably one of three things happens:

  • I get derailed/ out of routine
  • I lose motivation and give up on the goal all together or
  • My plan goes haywire (I hit an obstacle)

The first is all too common.

The rhythm starts moving and then as soon as something happens (you miss the gym for a week,or you go on vacation and can’t cook your meals, or you become too busy to follow your online class regularly for a week and fall behind, etc.).

Once any of these things happens, rebuilding the momentum is beyond difficult.

Motivation can be hard to maintain, especially when the outcome and overall goal seems big enough or far enough out in the future that it’s hard to “taste” success on a regular basis.

So I start doubting myself.  I’m never going to reach my goal.  Why even bother?  And there you have it folks, excuse to end all excuses and stop any goal in it’s tracks.

Finally, the big Ah Ha I promised you, relates to this last scenario.

I’m cruising along, marking things off my to do list and all of a sudden, SOMETHING stops me in my tracks.  Usually this is an unforeseen obstacle that shakes me so hard I can’t do much but stop.  The choice is either stay here forever or find an alternative.

The thing is, that SOMETHING that got in the way is usually seen in a negative “how will I ever move past this” kind of way.  I may lament about how this “always” happens and use that as an excuse for why my goal is not meant to be achieved.

The re-frame here is what caused my mind to explode.

In order to actually hit the obstacle, I had to be moving FORWARD. This means that to have actually hit something, means I’m closer to my goal in some way shape or form.

So rather than looking at this as a negative, I need to now start CELEBRATING instead. The obstacle is nothing more than a sign that I have progressed toward my intended goal.

*insert mind exploding noise here*

Why it took me so long to actually realize this, I’ll never know.  Perhaps I’m in my own little world having never come to this conclusion before, but maybe, this is actually a lesson you needed as well.

There are a few points I’d like to drive home here.

First-  obstacles are to be celebrated, not feared or judged negatively

Yes, it is still necessary to overcome the block, this realization does not make it magically go away.  It does, however, help change the relationship and our view of the bumps in the road.

Second-  Making a plan should be more of a guideline than a road map

The plans we make and the paths we take are never set a sure thing and rarely if ever a straight line from point A to point B.  We can never prepare for every possible outcome, the Universe will just send something else our way.  Instead, see the beginning and end, have some ideas for the middle, but be flexible and prepared to make changes along the way.

Finally- Life is always an adventure.

If we knew what was coming, we would be bored and life wouldn’t be any fun.


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