As January whipped by in a blur in this new year and decade, we continue to work on negotiating 20/20 vision for your 2020. So far in this series, we’ve tackled the power of thoughts in creating our vision and how to get clarity. In this installment, we’re going to consider the importance of identifying our obstacles – those things that may stand in our way and hold us back. I often preach about the power of intention. In designing the life we want, this is a critical skill. Knowing where you want to go is only part of the equation to successfully arriving at your destination. Considering the likely obstacles you may encounter is the secret weapon.
Some try to put their head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, choosing to ignore the possibility of adversity. Like a child who covers their eyes in a game of hide and seek – if I can’t see you, you can’t see me. It’s not an effective strategy in hide and seek and not an effective strategy in life. Obstacles will find you. Anticipating them rather than blithely ignoring the possibility will allow you to prepare, come up with solutions, not be caught off-guard and flailing.
At the other end of the spectrum, some try to bluff and bluster, denying that obstacles have any impact on them. Like the big bad wolf, they profess to be able to huff and puff and blow the obstacle house down. This denial is just another avoidance tactic.
Instead, I invite you to consider that you ought to welcome trials and tribulations. In fact, this mindset shift just may be the epiphany you’ve been waiting for. The missing link to making your dreams reality. Receive obstacles with open arms. Embrace them. Treat them as gifts. Because they are. Without obstacles we couldn’t learn and grow. Arguably virtually all great achievements are only possible through overcoming adversity. Failing. Learning from the failures. What if your biggest breakthrough lies on the other side of the obstacles in your life?
Recognize that the biggest obstacles holding us back are often the stories we tell ourselves. Not just our limiting beliefs – like not being enough, or being too much, too old, too young, too inexperienced, too experienced, too fat, too thin … you get the idea – although they’re potent obstacles if not managed. But also, our perception of events and adversity we’ve faced. Take my adversity stories by way of example. I sometimes felt held back because of where I came. Growing up in a low rental apartment in Scarborough didn’t afford the connections and influence that others had. It put me at an unfair disadvantage. Or how about my office manager and right-hand person embezzling large amounts of money from my law firm? Easy to feel sorry for myself. Lots of ‘poor me’ mileage out of that one. Or maybe my dad’s unexpected death of a heart attack at only 52 years old, just as I was about to launch my own firm? Or my daughter being diagnosed with a serious heart defect, needing open heart surgery, and spending almost three months in critical care fighting for her life?
Consider your story. Fill in the blank: “I thought I’d be further along in my life but __________.” Identify your ‘but’ blank and you’ve identified your story. Then consider, what if you flipped that story and saw it instead as one of your greatest gifts or opportunities? Because the good news to recognizing that your stories are based on your perceptions, is that your thoughts are one thing you can control. You can train yourself to flip your stories and see them as a source of empowerment, of fuel to propel you forward.
Let’s go back to one of my stories as an illustration. Instead of lamenting my low-income roots, I choose to see the gift in it. It didn’t hold me back, it gave me a leg up. That’s where I got my drive and persistence, which fueled me to greater heights. It allowed me to appreciate every gain and not take them for granted. It gave me empathy, an ability to put myself in the shoes of others and to appreciate that everyone has something valuable to contribute. It kept me grounded, curbing pretention or arrogance. It gave me street smarts that set me apart as an attorney and defined my style as an advocate. That background taught me to be resilient, to always get back up again when I got knocked down. What a difference that mindset makes. It blows up the obstacle and clears the path to my best future.
How about you? Are you ready, willing and able to face your obstacles head on? To bring intention to identifying possible roadblocks as you create your vision? Are you prepared to practice flipping your perceptions to see the gift in the obstacles? To use them to propel you forward rather than hold you back? If so, you’ll be taking a big step toward designing your life on your terms.
Check in next week as we dig in to help you find your deeper ‘why’.
If you’re interested in kick-starting 2020 to make it your best year and decade, try our new Women On Purpose Planner, designed and dedicated to helping you step into a purposeful and purpose-driven life!