Stop blocking your own way
Imagine you’re going on vacation. You start out with a positive attitude, knowing you’re headed for a week away. You’re driving down the freeway, excited to spend a week seeing the sights at your chosen destination, when you’re confronted by a barricade saying “Road Closed.”
You immediately turn your car around and go home defeated, right? Of course not. Who would do that? If you’re old school, you pull out your map and find another route. More likely you ask Google Maps to reroute you and you successfully reach your destination, though perhaps later than planned.
That’s the only logical and reasonable choice of action. Yet when confronted with roadblocks in other areas of their lives, people tend to give up, rather than find another way.
Successful people don’t let roadblocks stop them
It would be great if whenever we wanted to accomplish something all we had to do was make the decision to do so and then cruise to the finish line. I don’t know about you, but my life doesn’t go like that.
For me, it’s more like
- Decision to accomplish something
- Take a few steps
If I gave up when life put barriers in my way, I’d never accomplish anything. Quite aside from perseverance in the face of difficulty, I’d like to propose something radical.
Try to see roadblocks as gifts
Yup. You read that correctly. I’ll repeat it just so you can be sure it’s not a mistake. Try to see roadblocks as gifts.
We don’t learn or grow when life is proceeding smoothly. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a statement of fact, and one I used to teach patients at the university where I worked for most of my career as a counseling physician. Today I teach the same lesson to coaching clients.
If everything is going well, we have no reason to grow. We don’t become better people or more accomplished unless challenged to do so. That means we have to face adversity.
I’m not saying I wish difficulty on you in every endeavor you undertake. But, in the kindest way possible, I want you to experience some. I want you to hit roadblocks. I want you to wonder how you will ever accomplish your goals. Most of all I want you not to see roadblocks as a reason to give up.
Get out your metaphorical map and look for an alternate route to your destination. Brainstorm. Bring others in to help. Think outside the box. Throw the box away.
If solutions don’t come easily, take a break. A real break. Go to a movie, or play a sport or a video game. Anything to give your mind a rest. Then come back to your roadblock again. Rinse and repeat as many times as necessary.
You wouldn’t give up on your holiday. Don’t give up on your goal. Cling to it with the same tenacity. You may have to retrace your steps and make many false starts before you find a clear path, but if you persevere you’ll get there.
Don’t create your own roadblocks
While I believe we all need a few setbacks along life’s freeway to build both resilience and problem-solving abilities, life throws enough at us without our adding to the difficulties.
It’s amazing how often we create the very roadblocks we let defeat us. I know people who, for example, wait until the last minute before they tackle major projects.
With a deadline looming, they run into an extra hurdle they hadn’t figured in to their timeline. They haven’t left themselves any cushion with which to deal with the hurdle and are left scrambling. Often they fail to reach their objective.
This kind of failure is fine, and can provide opportunity for learning. Seeing our weaknesses and choosing to act differently in future can turn a failure into the impetus for success.
But that’s often not what I see, as those same people go back and make the same mistake over and over again, blaming circumstances or others for their failures.
The only permanently impassible roadblock is your own failure to learn from your mistakes
If you fail to adjust your approach when time and time again it prevents you from accomplishing your goals, you are ultimately the biggest roadblock in your own path.
This all comes down to your attitude. If you have a negative attitude, assigning blame to everything and everyone but yourself as you continue in behavioral patterns that block your success, you will never achieve all you could in life.
A positive attitude, taking responsibility for your choices and using the understanding gained from doing so will keep you from placing unnecessary roadblocks in your own path. Instead of wasting energy trying to clear those, you can look for creative solutions to the difficulties life throws your way.
Each roadblock you clear better equips you to clear the next. You become more able to problem-solve. In fact, you may become the person others come to when they can’t see a way past their own roadblocks. Instead of giving up in defeat, your positive attitude may propel you to successes you can’t yet imagine.
Positivity is the Cadillac of attitudes
Adversity will always be part of your road to success. If you see it as a gift rather than a dead end, not only will you grow as a person, you will grow as a professional. Kick your negativity out of the car before you get behind the wheel. Then put it in gear and drive!