Turning Obstacles to Opportunities: 5 foolproof strategies

Overcoming Obstacles

“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” ~ Ben Carson

NOTE: This is a guest post from the wonderful Linda Hewett who blogs at Positive Spin Blog.

Why do we expect life to be obstacle free?

In our imagined ideal world we don’t expect difficult situations to get in our way. We should be able to sail through life ‘s seas without any storms. Problems and obstacles only taunt other people.

Who are we kidding?

I’m here to reassure you that whatever obstacles life dares to dump in your way, you can deal with them.

Here are my 5 Foolproof Strategies To Deal With Life’s Obstacles

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” ~ W. Bagehot

1. If you can’t change the obstacle, change your mindset.

A true story:

My lovely neighbours share the boundary to our garden. But their conifer ‘hedge’ grew so tall that it created a dry and shady border in my garden. All my plants died.

Ok, I could have had a hissy fit, got cross, jumped up and down about it, but instead I chose to change my mindset.

I consulted my trusty gardening books to discover which plants would enjoy a dry, shady home. I made my list, drove to the garden centre and started work on my new, shady border. I no longer had an obstacle! I had a new feature in my garden! I accepted the situation and turned it around to my advantage.

You can do the same.

If you can’t change the obstacle in your life, you can still change your mindset. You can choose to react in a different way and the obstacle will begin to shrink. What starts as an immovable obstacle becomes an opportunity instead.

2. Be ‘grown up’ about it.

When you came up against obstacles as a child, it was so simple to burst into tears. You may even have stamped your feet until someone rescued you.

But now you’re all grown up, (I keep waiting for that to happen, by the way…) and you have to deal with it yourself now. You have all the skills you need, all you have to do is use them.

Let’s say your obstacle is that you have to find a new job.

OK, you could burst into tears and stamp your feet, of course. That’s an option.

Or you can sit yourself down and deal with it. You can update your resume, start a daily scan of vacancies, talk to past employers about possible openings, take a course to update your skills, take a volunteer role in your field, which might become a paid post.

The possibilities are endless.

I’m not pretending you’ll find that elusive new job overnight but at least you’re shrinking that obstacle.

Once you make yourself face the obstacle, you’re on your way.

3. Brainstorm your track history and learn from it.

Think carefully about all the obstacles – large or small- that you’ve overcome so far in your life. For each of these, you employed at least one skill or strength. Think about how you viewed the situation before and after. Work out why you were able to overcome each one.

If you’ve visited my blog, you’ll know that I suffered a serious stammer in my teens. I hated it. I thought I’d never be able to realize my goal of becoming a teacher if I had to think about every word before I said it. My self-esteem plummeted and I had no faith in my ability to overcome this emotional and social obstacle.

Today I very rarely stammer.

In fact, I can hardly remember when I last did. I conquered it with the help of a speech therapist who helped me believe in my strength of will to chase the stammer away. It took time and patience. I used strengths and skills that I didn’t know I had until I needed them.

You’re capable of so much more than you know. All you have to do is believe it!

4. Is your road blocked? Take the diversion.

We all know how it feels when we make a new plan. Excitement fills our mind, we smile all the time, we can’t wait to get started. As we wait at the starting line, full of purpose and intention, someone changes the rules. We freeze. This is not how it’s meant to be. The road is supposed to be clear.

That’s what happened to me.

We were on our way to Devon to visit my brother and his wife. About an hour and three quarters away. Everything was good – the sun shone, not too much traffic and we sang along to our music.

Until we saw the backed up line of cars up ahead.

Road works. Yellow diversion signs everywhere. This would mean we’d take longer to get there. What if we got lost? What if we ran out of petrol (gas, for the Yanks in the house)? Suddenly everything changed. We were both in a bad mood and the sunshine disappeared from our world. The trip seemed doomed.

How wrong we were!

Following the unexpected detour, we drove through achingly beautiful villages, down farm lanes edged with wild flowers, past fields of ripening corn, edged with poppies. We saw so much that we’d have missed had it not been for the detour. The diversion enhanced our journey.

So you’re all set with your holiday plan? Excited about it? Waiting at the airport? And then… your flight’s delayed. By five hours. Time for that diversion!

So you buy that just-published paperback from the book shop and find a quiet place to sit and read. Or you take a seat in the cafe and watch people, making notes for your next blog post (well, that’s what I’d do). Or you chat to the person next to you and discover how much you have in common.

When obstacles arrive there’s always a detour. You just have to look for it. And enjoy the unexpected route you take.

Obstacles can be scary. They catch you unaware. You feel overwhelmed.

That is until you take a different view and realize that you’re far more resourceful than you thought you were.

Obstacles? Don’t be silly … only opportunities in disguise.

Over to you:

• What obstacles have you had to face?
• What helped you overcome those challenges?
• Did a detour pop up? Did you take it? Did it lead to something better?
• We would love to hear about it in the comments below!


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Linda Hewett is a writer, confidence coach and blogger. She blogs at Positive Spin Blog where she provides Practical Confidence Solutions for her readers. Writing is her passion and she loves the connections that blogging brings. She was delighted to be asked to contribute an article about happiness to Ken’s eBook. (Editor’s Note: The eBook is taking much longer than anticipated, but it is still coming! I promise! No, really!)

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Photo by The U.S. Army