The first rule of thumb is to accept that obstacles will arise. Acceptance is a big word, and ironically, one that we often struggle with. But since the reality is that obstacles exist, we don’t need to struggle. We just need to embrace the reality that yes, they will come our way.
The second rule of thumb is to ask yourself, what will you do when the obstacles appear? Because there are many obstacles you can prepare for in advance. Think this through carefully. What do you anticipate will get in the way of achieving your goals? Write these obstacles down. If we use “loving my body” or “eating healthfully” as an example of a goal for the New Year (re-worded into a positive statement from the much more commonly used words of “losing weight”) what are some obstacles you can anticipate running into? Two possibilities are: eating out with friends who order ice cream sundaes for dessert. Or seeing your kids munch potato chips and chocolates right in your face.
If you’re part of a family, your healthy eating plan is only going to work successfully if the whole family eats healthy foods. It’s really a strain on your will power to have enticing treats around the house for everyone else but you. Sure, you can invest in those food safes we’ve all seen marketed on Shark Tank, but wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to not bring the crappy, seductive foods into the house in the first place? So the point is, plan for what can go “wrong,” or lead you astray, and be pro-active in preventing the situation from happening in the first place. Then know what your plan of action will be if your predicted scenario does happen. Just like you have an emergency exit strategy in the event of a fire, you want to have an equivalent strategy in place to cope with foreseeable difficulties that will sabotage your goals.
Now of course you can’t foresee everything, so when surprise obstacles come to pass, what are your strategies then? Here are a couple of clues. What gives you strength? What gives you genuine, lasting comfort? Is it reaching out to friends? Is it contacting a buddy who can help you keep to your commitment and hold you accountable? Is it seeking the guidance of a trusted professional coach? Is it nurturing yourself by taking a walk in the sunshine, savoring a hot cup of tea, or curling up with a great book? Is it re-reading your goal (that you wrote down and carry around in your purse or wallet and also posted on the bathroom mirror), and reminding yourself of your commitment to yourself? Is it re-connecting with your core heart’s desire – the one that’s motivating your new behavior and actions? Is it expressing your feelings of frustration through journal writing or creative expression? Is it remembering how far you’ve come and how well you’ve dealt with previous obstacles? And celebrating those mini-successes?
Whatever strategy works for you, use it over and over. That way you’ll create new grooves in your neuronal pathways that will become stronger each time you move through a new obstacle. And it will get easier to stay on your true path with each new obstacle. You might even begin to appreciate the obstacles because you’ll have become so adept that you realize each obstacle is making you stronger and more resilient and getting you that much closer to your desired goal.
Please share your comments below. I’d love to hear what obstacles you can foresee and your plan for handling them. And please share your strategies for handling unexpected obstacles.
Until next time, to your success!