7 Powerful Ways To Overcome Obstacles And Win In Life

Obstacles are the stumbling blocks that prevent you from reaching your goals. They are the limiting factors that hinder you from achieving your desired dreams, and you have to overcome these obstacles to move further in life.

It’s not enough to set goals; you need to actualize your goals. It is at the point of execution that life becomes unbearable as unexpected setbacks and obstacles set in.

It is not an understatement to say that every success comes with challenges. Those challenges often come as problems you need to solve. If you can solve them, you can then have the assurance that you can reach your goals.

7 Reasons Why Obstacles Are Important

So why is it important to overcome obstacles? Can you go through life without encountering any limitations?

Here are 7 reasons why obstacles are important in life.

1. Obstacles Reveal Your True Identity

Some life challenges will rip you apart. When this occurs, you get to know who you truly are. Sometimes, you don’t know your full capabilities and tendencies. Obstacles exist to test you and stretch you beyond limits.

The fact is once your limitations and inclinations have been revealed, you can begin to take steps to deal with them so you can win in life. You’ll be forced to overcome these obstacles, which will help reveal your true self.

2. Obstacles Direct Your Actions

Someone once said you could walk on water; you only need to know where the stones are placed. The stumbling blocks on your path create a new way to get to the next level or phase.

For instance, if someone continually hurts your feeling, the situation allows you to practice the art of forgiveness. Every problem comes with its solution. You only need to shift your perspective to uncover the lessons that challenges have to teach you.

No wonder Benjamin Franklin once affirmed that:

The things which hurt, instruct.

Once you receive instructions, learn, and make progress in the directions of your goals.

3. Obstacles Make You Tougher

No one comes with the natural ability to withstand challenges; you have to develop your resilience through life. And don’t you ever think everything will come to you on a platter of gold. That only happens in the grave

As long as you are here, you’d have to overcome obstacles and surmount difficulties. The essence of obstacles is to toughen you so you can be courageous. It would be best if you dared to change your circumstances – to improve yourself and the world.

And if you discover you are losing courage, obstacles can toughen you more so you can move to the next phase.

4. Obstacles Enable You to Focus on What Counts

Not everything counts in life, so you need to focus on your goals and pursue your life missions. Once you are clear about your goals and tasks, every obstacle that comes your way looks smaller and manageable.

But when you lack clues and direction, this uncertainty magnifies every limitation and makes your pursuit a massive mountain that you need to climb.

The bottom line is that you need to be clear about your goals and focus like a laser so you can surmount the few mountains that deserve your attention.

5. Obstacles Unleash Your Creativity

You don’t know how far you can run until you meet a lion in the jungle. That’s the beauty of life!

Without impediments, you may not reach the untrodden territory. It takes persisting and resisting to learn where others fail because they were impatient. Obstacles are capable of stretching your creative muscles so you can go beyond the limits.

6. Obstacles Help You Find Meaning to Your Life

Your perception of life determines your outcome. You might want to take a cue from the experience of President Abraham Lincoln. While he battled with depression all though, he led the United States through one of the most challenging times in history: The Civil War.

Lincoln discovered the art of fining meaning despite his inner turmoil by channeling his efforts outward by uniting the entire nation. He learned the art of endurance. He articulated this attitude and derived meaning from his obstacles.

He discovered purpose and found succor in a more prominent cause higher than his obstacles.

7. Obstacles Can Help You Discover Meaning Beyond Your Inner Troubles

Just like Lincoln, you can find your purpose when you cease from peering at your troubles and begin to seek how you can make others happy. You can rise above your obstacles by lifting others.

This strategy is one of the best approaches to deal with depression. It is a way of starving your problems of time so you can focus on others suffering.

Here’s the added advantage!

Focusing outward will enable you to improve inward.

7 Ways to Overcome Obstacles in Life

Now that you know the significance of obstacles, here are 7 ways you can turn them into stepping stones.

1. Find Out What’s Limiting You

Sit down and assess your limiting factors. What are the obstacles standing between you and your goals?

Figure out why you are not meeting the deadline. Avoid dredging up your list of complaints as it will eventually culminate into excuses.

For instance, if you said,’ I don’t have sufficient time,’ reflect on what you spend your time and energy on. Your limiting factors could be procrastination, complacency, or external events. If you said, ‘I don’t have enough funds,’ this is most times related to priorities.

Your immediate challenge may be a lack of motivation or time, or you need to commit to learning how to earn extra income and reduce your expenses.

2. Review the Obstacle’s Timeline

How long have you been dealing with the challenge? What attitude or habit is hindering you from overcoming the obstacles? Finding answers to these questions will enable you to make the right changes.

For instance, if you changed your job, there could be something about your new job or workplace that is challenging you. It could be the fact that you need to cope with a new environment.

Reflect on the different obstacles you have faced in life. Whether you work over them or not, take a cue from your experience and apply the lessons in dealing with new challenges.

3. Determine What’s Beyond You

Some challenges are beyond you. They are so daunting that you don’t have a clue on how to overcome them. Perhaps, you are even afraid or weak to the bone.

It shouldn’t be the end of the world. Just take a deep breath and list those things you can control, such as:

  • Your habits
  • How much energy you exert
  • Your decision when you are offered an opportunity
  • Your lifestyle-exercise, diet, and relaxation, all of which affect your mood and personal disposition

Focus on what you can control. Start by cultivating all the good habits to have in life.

4. Break Your Goals Down

Giant stride is not about taking one leap to the top of the highest mountain; it is about boldness to pursue your goals in the face of oppositions. It’s reasonable to break your goals into bits and develop a checklist to figure out the obstacles hindering you from actualizing the first box.

For instance, if you aspire to be the best copywriter in the world, one impending obstacle is to enroll and follow through an online course. Thus, your new goal can be to apply for an online class on copywriting. You can surmount this obstacle by opening your Google browser right now.

5. Maintain an Active Plan

Always work with a to-do list. Begin your day with what you have to do and achieve your goal. Recognize that there will be obstacles and distractions. The lessons from facing obstacles will help you to adapt your plan in finding the best strategy to achieving your goals.

6. Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

If you tend to make decisions base on your instincts, you may try to be more analytic.

Here are some strategies you can adopt to making a decision:

Worst case scenario: If I enroll for the copywriting course and I fail, where would I end up? Design a backup plan for this eventuality.

Cost-benefit analysis: What would I gain if I complete the copywriting course. Assess if the benefits are worth the sacrifices.

7. Track Your Progress

As you pursue your goals, keep a journal of your successes and challenges. Establish milestones and compensate yourself when you complete each milestone. There are four steps you can take to track your progress.

Final Thoughts

Obstacles give life meaning. As long as you are on the face of the earth, you will keep facing challenges. It’s up to you to change your perspectives and deal with obstacles with the right mindset. It’s either they become your stepping stones or stumbling blocks.

Choose to live your life by design and apply the tips I have shared above to overcome whatever obstacle you are facing. Stay safe, and stay strong!

More Tips on How to Overcome Obstacles

Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).

The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.

And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money.

And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.

Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.

So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.

Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation

“To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”

Generally speaking, we all need motivation.

An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.

Why? It’s simple.

There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.

If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?

Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.

The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.

When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.

Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it:

“Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.

If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams

Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation

If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:

Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation.

One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.

Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point.

By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.

Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”

In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.

Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.

6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation

So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?

There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.

1. Self-Efficacy

The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do.

Find intrinsic motivation with self-efficacy.

It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills.

Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.

You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours

2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose

Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you? 

And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”

Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:

“I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”

Inspirational, isn’t it?

Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.

3. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism.

When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.

4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something

A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.

Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.

For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.

Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.

5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)

The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).

If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.

All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .

6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason

Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically.

The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.

A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.

The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.

And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.

Final Thoughts

Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:

“If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”

Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.

Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.

In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.

And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?

Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.

More Tips to Boost Motivation

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