Top 10 Ways to Overcome Challenges, Obstacle, and Setbacks
By Steve Goodman
Was there ever a better example of getting over hardships and obstacles than Dorothy and friends following that Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City?
In over 70 years, the Wizard of Oz has lost none of its popularity, and you know why? It’s because its underlying message still resonates, generation to generation, that the ability to overcome challenges –whatever they may be – rests within each of us!
Here a few tips to help you unleash your inner Courage, Brains, and Heart, and still always find your way back home!
- Turn the brain switch to positive. Psychologists call it “the negativity bias,” the way your brain tends to focus on real or imagined threats or dangers. Switch your focus to positive things in your world, your appreciations, just like Dorothy’s thoughts of home and Aunty Em. What you focus on is what you attract, and if you keep replaying in your mind some negative situation, wishing it were different, you won’t move ahead with solutions.
- Celebrate and reward yourself. Recognize your own achievements and make sure you reward yourself with a “greatest hits” list of your peaks, achievements, successes — any time you felt powerful and confident. Then you have something to switch your thinking to when you find yourself frozen in fear or worry over a worst-case scenario.
- Label that emotion. Catch what you’re feeling in the midst of that challenge, be it embarrassment, failure, sadness, guilt, rejection, or loss. Neuroscientists believe that labeling emotions reduces the stalemate of being in an emotional fog, and allows you to focus on solutions to move forward. It gives you a little time to separate yourself from the roadblock to taking some steps in the right direction.
- Success includes failure. Often the barrier to your moving forward is perfectionism– too high expectations rendering you afraid you won’t match up and make mistakes, even fail. Choose the level of effort you are going to put in, and look at the smallest possible steps toward your challenge. Like the baby learning to walk, he takes two steps, falls, gets up, takes three more steps, then reaches for a table to help. He learns to use mistakes, chooses a new goal, and keeps moving forward.
- Questions give you answers. So ask away: why is this task important?
What do I control, what don’t I manage, how do I get in control or in charge? Consider that you may not be seeing the situation clearly and there are always more options. It helps to take control of a situation which then builds momentum to move forward. The more options available, the more possibility in finding answers to a problem. Writing these questions and answers in a journal has shown to be a useful tool for progress.
- Passion plows through challenges. But sometimes finding your real passion is a roadblock. What to do? Take your inventory of what you love and anything you feel good at. Make a list of a few people you admire; you might spot a pattern in that list to reveal your passions. Think of your childhood fun, kids all love something, what was it for you? What was your favorite book way back then? Finally, answer this one, “If I were guaranteed success in something with no chance of failing, I would…”
- Fist clench conditioning. Think of a moment when you felt confident self- assured and clench your fist. Repeat the same thing for a few days. When you meet a challenge or set back, and you don’t feel so powerful, clench your fist, and that should bring that confident, self-assured feeling back.
- Stand tall. Psychologists affirm that posture, body language makes brain changes. Standing tall signals your brain a certain message. Even a self-identified “little person” has said she uses this technique to be “tall” and confident in her size, she “stands tall” and doesn’t compare herself to anyone.
- The other person’s shoes trick. When you are stuck or meet a roadblock, think of a person you admire and what he or she would do in your situation to take care of it. Sometimes obstacles are a misunderstanding or generalization. In viewing your position from someone’s successful perspective, you gain insight from that taste of success which empowers and motivates.
- Reframing time. In a setback situation, imagine a different future, say 5 years from now when the problem will already be solved. During a Nazi holocaust march, Viktor Frankel fell and was about to be killed. He envisioned himself giving a lecture on his survival after the war. He imagined his problems resolved and worked backward to know what he had to do in order to reach that future.
In life, we will always face challenges set-backs and obstacles, but there are still ways to get over, through or around them – if you only have a brain, a heart, and some courage!