Last Summer my wife and I were heading to our favorite camping spot for a weekend of sunshine and relaxation.
I had loaded the truck, the dogs were in the back seat, and my wife was in the seat beside me. We were all ready for a much-needed weekend at the river.
But on the way, we discovered that the road was closed due to some bridge construction.
What a setback!
Now, we could have turned back and called it off, retreated to the couch, and watched re-runs all weekend, but we had already done a ton of prep work and had driven 90% of the way there.
So instead, we looked at the map and found an alternative route to our favorite camping destination, but we would have to go a long way around. We had to backtrack, use some little-known county roads, and spend an extended amount of time driving, but we arrived at our destination. WE MADE IT!
This story is a good reminder that we often encounter roadblocks, obstacles, and even setbacks in life. Sometimes they are literal roadblocks that have the potential to ruin our weekend, and sometimes they are obstacles in our lives that prevent us from achieving our goals.
Perhaps obstacles seem to be a consistent part of your life, always popping up and getting in the way. Or, maybe things typically to go well for you but you’ve suddenly had your first run-in with a significant setback, obstacle, or even a perceived failure.
Either way, setbacks are a very real part of life and overcoming obstacles is a necessary skill on the path to success.
When faced with overcoming obstacles, there are several methods I use to get myself back on track, and I’m sharing those with you right here.
1. Obstacles are Only Failures if They Cause You to Quit
If you’re currently facing a massive obstacle in your life, overcoming it may seem a little easier said than done. For many people, hitting a wall feels a lot like failure, so they immediately quit or turn in another direction.
But, if we are going to be high achievers, the first thing we have to understand is that obstacles are only failures when we accept them as failures.
In my camping story, my wife and I could have canceled our trip, and we could have turned that road closing into a failure, but we found another way to achieve our goal. When faced with an obstacle, don’t view it as a failure. Look for another way around the problem.
2. Plan for the Worst. Hope for the Best.
Setbacks are inevitable; there’s no way around it. No matter how skilled or talented you are, something will go wrong in your life at some point, especially if you’re trying something new or challenging.
Successful people didn’t become successful by avoiding obstacles; they become successful by learning to expect setbacks so that they can face them head-on.
Everything is easier to deal with if you’re expecting it and that’s why I always say “Plan for the worst but hope for the best.” This thought process isn’t meant to be pessimistic; it’s intended to help you mentally prepare for the possibility that something may go wrong so that you may better see it coming.
When you prepare for the worst, you remove the power that a bad situation has over you.
If you’re unprepared for a setback, then it’s much more likely to derail and discourage you which may cause you to quit. But being prepared allows you to more easily see that there’s almost always another way to achieve your goal.
3. Limit Your Disappointment
Not hitting your goal quickly enough, or achieving it at all, can be extremely disappointing, and the longer you’ve spent striving for a goal, the greater the disappointment is if we miss the mark.
Worst of all, disappointment is a toxic feeling.
The longer you dwell on disappointment, the more it will disrupt your ability to focus on your other goals. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings because it’s never good to bottle things up, but most experts say that we should limit the amount of time we allow ourselves to feel disappointed.
We have to accept the outcome but then begin to think about our next steps. Are you going to try again? If so, what next step do you need to take? Is that goal no longer possible for you? What are you going to pursue now?
If you want to dive deeper into how to deal with disappointment, there is a great article on Psychology Today that provides several tips for doing just that.
4. If at First You Don’t Succeed…
John Maxwell often says that “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.”which is an adaptation from the old saying “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.”
Like I mentioned before, obstacles are not failures, they are simply a setback that we need overcome. One great way to do this is to look for a lesson in the perceived failure and then apply that to your next attempt.
What can you learn from the experience? What can you improve upon so that you have a better chance for success the next time around?
Have you ever heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? I’m not sure that is the actual definition, but the point hits home.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” but first, make sure to learn something new before you do.
5. Goals Aren’t About Being Perfect; They’re About Being Better Than You Were
In an interview on my Podcast, Elyse Lyons said that “Goals aren’t about being perfect; they’are about being better than you were.” When she said that I got excited and her one-liner quickly became my new favorite quote.
When we’re looking at overcoming obstacles, setbacks, or even disappointment, we have to remember that even if we don’t achieve our goal, or if it’s taking way longer than expected, the act of trying alone is making us better than we were before.
If you’re trying to save money, but emergencies keep jumping up to deplete your savings, think about where you would be if you didn’t have your savings to use. You would probably be getting deep into debt. Sure, maybe your savings account is still low, but you don’t have massive debt.
If you are 15 pounds short of your weight loss goal but you’re eating better and working out consistently, aren’t you already healthier than you were before?
If you find yourself feeling letdown, be sure to look on the bright side. After all, attitude is everything.
Become an Overcomer
Overcoming obstacles is vital on the path to success.
Research shows that how you deal with disappointment is an accurate predictor of your ability to be successful. If you shut down every time you face a roadblock or a setback, your ability to be successful is going to be far less than if you refuse to accept defeat.
Overcoming obstacles isn’t easy, but like anything else, the only way to improve is through practice, practice, practice.