Overcome Obstacles: Navigate Around Roadblocks First

Over the years I’ve spoken to thousands of people about realizing their dreams and accomplishing their goals. By now most of us know that putting an action plan in place with simple steps is what gets us on the path.  But, many people never get that far because of common obstacles that get in their way.  Handling these roadblocks beforehand can improve your odds for success.  Here are some of the roadblocks to avoid:

Roadblock #1 – Future Shock

Future Shock is a term I use for focusing on the end result instead of taking that all-important first step. For example, if want to change careers but worry about whether or not you’ll be able to apply your current skills to a brand new field, focusing your attention on this “potential” obstacle will most likely keep you stuck. Instead, when you focus your attention on a possible next step, like meeting with a career counselor to explore your options, you put yourself into action.

I see the same thing happen with people who want to start a business. Too often they focus on points Y and Z, without giving enough attention to points A and B. For example, if you’re a waitress (we’ll call this point A) who wants to open your own health food restaurant (point Z), focusing on how you’ll put together the right menu or find the perfect location will likely overwhelm you.  Instead, if you work on steps B or C, like visiting restaurant association websites to conduct research or finding a mentor who can help with first steps, you’re likely to make headway.

The big picture almost always looks intimidating from a beginner’s point of view. Reel your mind in and focus on the small, doable action you can take today.

Roadblock #2 – Assumptions

Making assumptions will stop a dream dead in its tracks. You’ll know you’ve come up against this roadblock when you hear yourself say things like:

  • I’d really love to get a new job, but I’ll never be able to make the kind of money I make now.
  • I’d like to be in an intimate relationship, but it’ll be too difficult to find someone at my age.
  • I’d love to start my own business, but I’ll never get the funding.

Why not give your dreams a fighting chance! When you make assumptions, you give your power away to fears and concerns that may not even turn out to be valid. I’m always amazed at how “insurmountable” dreams can turn into reality with a little faith and elbow grease. For example, when my friend Maura wanted to start her own interior design studio, she made the assumption that she couldn’t begin without a retail storefront and the proper funding. When I challenged her to focus instead on getting her first client, her business got under way. Soon after, a corporate client came along, hired her, and with the monies earned from this big job, she was able to rent a small studio.

Replace your assumptions with facts.

Roadblock #3 – Fear

It’s easy to think that the fear we feel when starting out will stay with us, or even worse, increase over time. But, with every positive step in the right direction, your courage muscles get stronger.  And, here’s something else:  excitement neutralizes fear.  As you take action to fulfill your dreams, every success you experience, big or small, will fuel your enthusiasm to forge ahead and accomplish even more challenging goals. With this enthusiasm in place, you’ll work your way through challenges with more ease. For example, if you finally decide to go back to school, you’ll probably find that your excitement about learning something that’s of interest to you will outweigh the fear of having a heavy load of homework.

Roadblock #4 – Going it alone.

When you feel frustrated or unsure of your next step, ask for help immediately. For most people this takes practice. Give your assumptions a litmus test by sharing them with someone you trust (preferably an optimist). If you’re not sure where to begin, brainstorm with a few friends.

I saw a great example of this during a workshop when a woman in her mid 50?s said that she wanted to be a ski instructor, but felt she was too old. When I asked the group to help refute this assumption by brainstorming ways in which she could fulfill this dream, she received a host of great ideas including creating a class called “Skiing for Chickens” (geared towards those over 50). The support from others moved her from a place of inaction and disbelief to a place of excitement and motivation.

Over the years I’ve been blessed to work with amazing clients who have taught me that dreams become reality when we focus on the steps just ahead of us. So get going.  Here’s some good news:  When you step out, take action and go after your dreams, a powerful Divine Force will support your efforts once you make your intentions clear!

Take Action Challenge

This week do the following:

  1. Choose one goal you’d really like to pursue.
  2. Identify any assumptions that may get in your way.
  3. Then, put these assumptions aside while you determine your next step (remember, look for step A or B).
  4. Take action on one step this week (if you get stuck, be sure to ask for help!).
  5. Create a sign that says: Excitement Neutralizes Fear!

This week’s video is an awesome six-minute story about how youth learn (it’s really how we all learn!) and it came to me from Suzy Becker – a writer, teacher, and gifted artist who uses her genius in a fun and entertaining way.  Teachers take special notice!  You can find it here.


Deeni 20th February 2013 11:32 am

Thank You Cheryl.

From a person who has been self-employed for the last 15 years, I am here to tell you, it hasn't always been easy, but it has been GREAT!

My husband and I were fed up working for someone else, and making them a pile of money, so we started our own company in a business that we had to learn from scratch.

It been very fulfilling, every day is different, and it is an outlet for our respective creative talents.

My advice to anyone considering self-employment is once you get into it, always remind yourself of your accomplishments, and be Grateful for them.

We recently visited a client, and I hadn't been there in a while, it's a College, we have worked with the Athletics department for the last 8 years. A volleyball game was on so we popped in to watch. I was overwhelmed by all of the Provincial, and National championship banners filling the walls. I remember that gym from 8 years ago, my how things have changed. It made my eyes water and my heart swell, because we were an integral part that helped make that happen. Nothing like realizing a dream!



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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including, Take Time for Your LifeLife MakeoversStand Up for Your LifeThe Unmistakable Touch of GraceThe Art of Extreme Self Care, You Can Create an Exceptional Life with Louise Hay, and her new book, Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife.

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