A Guide to Overcoming Obstacles In Work And Life
Story By: Amway BRANDVOICE, Lifestyle
Published March 25, 2020
A difficult co-worker, poor health habits, a toxic work environment: All obstacles that can complicate an otherwise thriving personal and professional life. But with smart strategies, self-care, a strong support system and stress-relief tools, setbacks can also serve as springboards for learning and growth. See Forbes’ interview with RISE San Diego CEO Dwayne Crenshaw to learn more.
How Managing Life Skills Leads To Success
In fact, a team of researchers at Florida State University found that while setbacks can certainly have a negative impact on emotions, they don’t necessarily interfere with actual performance results. Rather, obstacles and failures along the way are part and parcel of achieving goals.
For Dwayne Crenshaw, a longtime social justice activist, obstacles were par for the course when he cofounded a nonprofit in 2014. Crenshaw joined forces with former political rival and San Diego City Council president Tony Young to launch RISE San Diego, an organization that fosters innovative leadership and decision making among urban residents.
“What we recognized is that we both love this community, we both want it to succeed and we’ve both chosen to stay in the community,” says Crenshaw.
But like most nascent nonprofits, RISE has faced its fair share of peaks and valleys, from resource development to fundraising.
Nevertheless, RISE has generated over $2.2 million in direct economic activity and more than $7 million in new public, private and philanthropic investments through community action projects since its launch.
For Crenshaw, it’s a feat that would not have been possible without jumping over some hurdles. Here are some hard-and-fast rules for overcoming obstacles in your personal and professional life.
Establish A Strong Foundation
A strong support system is critical to surmounting personal and professional obstacles. Positive, solution-focused mentors and peers can provide invaluable advice and emotional support during tumultuous times. Case in point: At RISE, Crenshaw says that he and Young selected board members they trust and respect to provide guidance on everything from day-to-day management activities to fundraising.
Adjust Your Attitude
When faced with obstacles, it’s easy to get caught up in an emotional whirlwind. Yet negative thinking and anxiety can weaken any motivation to work toward important goals. The answer: Adopt a calm and relaxed attitude in the face of formidable challenges. “Consider [the obstacle] objectively as though you were seeing it for the first time,” said Tony Fahkry, self-empowerment expert and author of Awaken Your Authentic Self. “Use logic and sound judgment to avoid becoming emotionally enslaved to the task.”
Stop. Think. Strategize.
Forget about knee-jerk reactions. Instead, take the time to carefully assess an obstacle and understand all its aspects, from contributing factors to key players. From there, devise a plan of action with realistic goals and set deadlines. To top it off, tell others—board members, close friends, colleagues and so on—about your goals to up your own accountability and commitment.
Measure Progress To Stay Motivated
Obstacles can feel insurmountable at times. However, carefully tracking progress, even tiny victories or small steps forward, can help individuals stay motivated when a project’s challenges feel overwhelming. After each training session, RISE conducts a survey to gather important feedback from participants, for instance. Another way the nonprofit gauges program success incrementally is by relying on external evaluators, such as local university professors, to provide insight into program development.
That’s not to suggest, however, that all battles are worth your time. If repeated attempts to overcome a pain point start monopolizing your time and energy, consider readjusting your objectives. “Be willing to leave behind pursuits that do not deliver results,” Fahkry wrote in his blog. “Far too many people discount the value of redirecting their attention when all attempts are exhausted.”
Be Willing To Adapt—Fast
“Being able to adapt our coping to a specific challenge is the skill that allows us to find our footing when we’re thrown off balance by the unknown, by stress or by trauma,” wrote therapist Linda Graham in her book Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. “Responding flexibly can carry us through the ups and downs of our days.”
That’s because obstacles not only challenge us to rethink our goals and strategies but also help us discover untapped skills and new directions for our careers or lifestyles. Embracing a new job or renewed partnership requires a mental transition: parting with the past and opening up to these unexplored opportunities.
Roadblocks are a part of every journey, but they don’t have to signal defeat. Managing life with these skills will allow you to turn even the most frustrating obstacles into new opportunities and victories.
Photo credit: Forbes