Wednesday, 10 July 2019


O is for Obstacles

Obstacles, you know, those invisible and invisible road blocks or barriers that hold us back or pose us challenges. They cause us stress, and could even cost us financially or take a toll on our health and well being.

Some examples of obstacles are:
  • financial
  • health/body related
  • time 
  • distractions
  • conflict
  • physical objects
  • environmental factors
  • fear
  • perfectionism
  • lack of patience
  • lack of focus
  • anxiety
  • lack of education/knowledge
You get the idea I am sure and probably can think of more.

Have you noticed that some people seem to have more obstacles than others, but everyone experiences them? Can you think of someone who has experienced a large obstacle and can you think of someone who experienced lots of smaller obstacles? I am sure you can. Maybe one of those people is you.

While you're thinking about the obstacles, I want you to turn your mind to how these people reacted to their obstacles and how they dealt with them? If one of the people is you, how did you react and how did you deal with the situation?

Let's say I have a friend, Sarah. She really wants a promotion to help pay off her mortgage but she's put in a couple of applications for vacancies in her department but has not received them. The feelings of rejection have been really hard for her to cope with and she's sick of seeing her more flamboyant colleagues getting more than what she thinks she deserves. Sarah's just found out she missed out on another position she applied for within her department which has added another arrow into her heart, but she's also just been told by a colleague that there is an opening in another department. She is anxious at the thought of moving from her department as she is comfortable there, and she thinks she'll probably receive another rejection which she thinks would send her over the edge of her sanity. What do you think she does?

In this scenario, the obstacle is a combination of not getting promotions, a low self-esteem and anxiety caused by rejection, and a feeling of comfort in her current workplace.

What do you think she does?

Sarah has a couple of options. One, she could stay in her job which she isn't satisfied with and won't help her accomplish her goal of paying off the mortgage more quickly. If you look at the diagram above, that would be sitting in the red spot, her comfort zone. Or second, she could apply for the new job but to do that she would have to pass through the fear zone. These are the obvious two choices she has, but if we think about it, there are probably other things Sarah could do as well. What about approaching the head of her department and having a chat with them to find out why she isn't being promoted, and if it involves personal development or professional development, then she could work on those things. She could go and study something which would improve her chances. She could work on her feelings of rejection and developing her resilience. She could start looking for other jobs while she is in the job she is doing. In the diagram above, these would be in the learning zone.

So many people stay trapped in their red comfort zone. I admit I was one of those. Suffering from anxiety and a low self-esteem I stayed in my safety box. I went for promotions but didn't get them. After getting the 'we've chosen someone else', I'd feel frustrated and rejected and my self-esteem would take a plummet, and I'd crawl back into my safety box. I didn't grow much and my mind stayed fixed. If I even thought about moving from my job to a different one in another place, severe fear and anxiety would envelope me. The psychologist Dweck, calls this a fixed mindset.

Have a watch of these videos:

The above comfort zone diagram and Dweck talk about a growth mindset. I can now proudly say that I have one of those. Since leaving my comfort zone, forced out by severe anxiety and depression, I have been challenging myself and kicking down the obstacles, or finding a way around them. I am not avoiding them, or letting other people solve them for me. Whether these obstacles are mental and psychological ones due to my anxiety and depression, or physical ones due to my visual impairment, I am facing them head on. I have been on a journey to becoming the best version of myself, free of the fears that held me hostage.

If we look at the Growth Zone, you can see it says that if you are in that zone, you have a purpose, you are out living your dreams, you have new goals and you are conquering objectives. I can fully identify with that, as now instead of not doing things because of my obstacles, I am problem-solving, and finding ways to go and do them. If things go wrong, I am trying to stay calm and make rational decisions. It hasn't been easy but each time I achieve something new, I have grown and it has shown me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. There is so much freedom outside of your comfort zone and fixed mindset!

Can you relate?

Which zone or which mindset do you have? Are you stuck in your comfort zone cage or have a fixed mindset? Or are you in the learning zone or the ultimate growth zone?

There are different ways you can approach an obstacle to overcome it. Have a read of this blog post by Jeffrey I. Moore which I found quite helpful:

7 Proven Ways to Overcoming Obstacles

I have my own three tips for you to attack, knock down and overcome your obstacles. They are:

  1. Keep calm. When you suffer with anxiety as I do, the first reaction can be a rise in adrenalin in your body causing a thumping heart, sweating and a spinning head, or a panic attack. These reactions are the opposite of calm. What I've needed to do is to stop and stand still, take some deep breaths, do some self-talk and pray. It is impossible to make a rational decision when your brain and body is not in a calm state.  
  2. Ask for help. I hate asking for help as I have social anxiety. But I've learnt that if I want to save myself more stress, than it is what I need to do when I am encountering obstacles. Whether it is ringing someone, asking someone, or calling a company who can help you, it's good to ask for help. And I've found most people are more than happy to help you.
  3. Plan and do. So you need to make a decision about what you are going to do. Sometimes you may need to do some research first before you can plan.. You may need to talk to someone. You may need to backtrack. But if you are going to overcome an, decisions have to be made and a plan of attack worked out. Once you have made your plan you then need to act upon it. Don't let fear stop you. You can do it!

I want to leave you with a challenge. I'd like you to try and do one thing that challenges you psychologically or physically in the next week. Let me know what it is and how you go. Write a comment below or email me at

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