Most of us start off a new year with big plans to improve our lives in significant ways: by losing weight, getting fit, growing our business, advancing our career, cultivating deeper relationships, and so on.
Yet all too often, unforeseen obstacles appear out of nowhere and threaten to derail our forward momentum before we even get started:
- You injure yourself during one of your workouts, making it impossible for you to continue exercising
- That “big new client” you thought was a sure thing decides not to hire you, and throws a serious wrench into your annual income projections
- You have to deal with an unforeseen personal issue that causes you a lot of stress and makes it impossible for you to even consider changing your eating habits
- Your hot water heater breaks or your roof starts leaking, forcing you to spend your savings on household repairs instead of the course you were planning to take
When things like this happen, it can feel like the universe is conspiring against you to keep you stuck where you are.
But don’t give up on your goals and dreams just because you’ve hit an unexpected roadblock! The fact is, there are ALWAYS going to be obstacles to overcome – and you shouldn’t let them stop you from achieving some huge personal breakthroughs this year.
It’s not the event that matters – but how you respond to it.
No matter how tough your circumstances are, you ALWAYS have the power to decide how to respond to whatever life throws your way.
That’s what life is all about: making choices.
External forces will always be part of the equation, even during the good times when the world is thriving. But YOU get to decide how you respond to those forces – and whether your choices are going to move you closer to your goals, or farther away from them.
So if you’re faced with an unexpected obstacle, don’t use it as an excuse to give up on your dreams. Rather, take the time to figure out how to respond to it in a way that will bring you close to your goals (even if it is in a more roundabout way than you had originally intended).
- If you throw your back out running, maybe yoga or Pilates is a better way for you to strengthen your body and achieve a higher level of fitness
- If that “big client” didn’t work out, maybe it’s time to do some marketing and reach out to your networks to find a different client. And who knows, maybe the next one you find will be a much better fit!
- If a household emergency has eaten up the money you were going to spend on that course, see if there are any free courses online that will teach you what you need to know.
- If stress is playing havoc with your eating habits, maybe it’s time to reach out and enlist the support of a licensed nutritionist to help you plan healthier meals and snacks.
All too often, I find that the hardest obstacles to overcome are the ones that can be found between our own ears.
The fact of the matter is, we are often our own worst enemy – and the biggest challenges we face are our own negative thoughts and habits, and our refusal to admit what’s not working.
Recognizing what’s NOT working in your life can be painful – yet it’s the key to shaping the life you want.
If there’s something in your life that you KNOW aren’t serving you, don’t try to rationalize it, make excuses for it, or pretend it doesn’t exist. This thing is preventing you from creating the life you want to be living!
You’ve got to identify the problem and face it head on if you ever want to free yourself from its power over you.
Here are some examples of what I mean…
- Do you want to be active, fit, and strong? Then you have to stop making excuses about your weight, diet choices, and lack of exercise.
- Do you want to be in a loving relationship based on friendship and respect? Then you have to stop rationalizing why your mate is so unsupportive or why you are not communicating well.
- Do you want to embrace Monday mornings and feel joyful about going to work every day? If not, it’s time to stop hiding your true passions and go after whatever it is you really want to be doing day in and day out.
- Do you want to lose the debt forever? Then you have to stop ignoring your spending habits and get real about a budget that will pull you out of debt and allow you to reach financial freedom.
- Do you want to feel more connected to the people in your life, such as your children, friends, and colleagues? Then you have to stop complaining about your poor relationships and figure out why you don’t feel as connected as you’d like to be.
Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios?
These things can be painful to look at – because the truth is, you have to DO something about them in order to change your situation for the better.
If you want to get in shape, you have to say no to the second helping of dinner and dessert – and actually get off the couch and MOVE.
If you want a better relationship, you’ll have to confront your partner about what’s not working.
If you want a career you love, you’re going to have to quit your job.
If you want to save money, you’re going to have to cut back on your spending.
If you want to change your results, you’ve got to change your behavior. It’s that simple.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Successful people don’t waste time complaining or make excuses. They face difficult situations head on, like a warrior. They look for the warning signs, they find out why things aren’t working, and they go about fixing them – even when fixing requires problem solving, hard work, risk, and a level of uncertainty.
Don’t worry if you identify a problem but don’t have the first clue how to go about solving it. That’s all part of the process. The most important part is to recognize that the problem exists and have faith that you’ll figure out a solution.
Sometimes all it takes is a quick Google search or reaching out to your network – and you’ll find someone who has gone through the same thing and is more than happy to offer you the advice you need to solve the problem.
That’s how successful people live: they keep their goals always in sight – and when things go wrong, they put on their problem-solving hat and take action, always making sure that their decisions are in alignment with their goals.
Are you ready to tackle the obstacles that are holding you back?
If you feel like your circumstances are preventing you from moving closer to creating your ideal life, make a list of the things in your life that are working against your success and ask how the situation can be improved.
Be brutally honest with yourself – and avoid making excuses or blaming others for the situation you’re in. The ONLY thing you can control is your response to the people and events in your life. If your current responses aren’t getting the results you want, now is the time to change them.
Once you have your list of things you’d like to change, be brave – and commit to tackling them head on, one by one, until every item has been crossed off your list.
Remember, by facing what is not working, you can only improve your life.
As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!
Image courtesy of unsplash.com.