Thursday, 14 November 2013

How To Overcome Obstacles in 5 Minutes A Day

Why do some people overcome obstacles with apparent ease yet others falter? 
Is it something that comes naturally? 
Are they heartless? 
Do they care? 
Is it something they learnt? 
Are they just ... better than me? 

I believe there are two differing approaches when it comes to overcoming obstacles. One is where your vision, your mantra if you will, is so powerful, so strong, that you just plough through adversity until you are on the other side. The other is far less glamorous,  it is by being prepared and training yourself. 

When it comes to your mantra for work and/or life it is something you have discover all on your own. It needs to be meaningful to you and it needs to be so strong with it's meaning that it is powerful enough to inspire you to overcome the toughest of challenges that might come your way. It doesn't matter what I or anyone else says, it has to be important to you and it really only has to make sense to you.

When it comes to preparing yourself, I can help you there. Yes that's right, I'm going to introduce a way that you can train yourself, to be prepared to overcome obstacles regardless of whether you have discovered your purpose in life or not.

So let's start with a bit of theory behind obstacles, the best I've found is this article where Kevin Daum categorises obstacles into 3 different groups:
External Obstacles -These are obstacles outside of your control such as the economy, natural disasters, physical limitations, and the political climate.             Internal Obstacles -These obstacles are generally one-time issues but you have direct control over them, such as debt, cash flow, time availability, needed   skills or  talent.                               Habitual Obstacles -These obstacles reflect how people get in their own way. They can only be removed with behavioural change.
I believe it's important to understand the type of obstacle you are facing, with understanding comes the ability to act appropriately and acting appropriately will see you back on path sooner rather than later.

Training your mind. It's just practice and you can do it quite easily. I love puzzles. All sorts of puzzles, word searches, suduko, logic puzzles. I like to solve problems and find answers. But I didn't just open a puzzle book one day and instantly solve all that was before me. It took time and practice and it takes maintenance to keep my mind tuned towards puzzle solving.  It's the same when it comes to business and life problems. 

When it comes to my life and (the point of this article) business I spend time exercising "what ifs". What if I get a made rush of clients? How will I cope? What systems do I need in place? What if I can't do it all? What if I am sick? What if my technology fails? What if my husband is home from work? (this means less office time as the children don't sleep). 

My husband really doesn't like when I do this, he thinks I'm dwelling on the negatives but what he doesn't understand is by asking myself those questions and having an answer (or at least considered an answer) it frees my mind to then concentrate on the task at hand and not worry about all the things that can go awry. It also means that faced with any situation that I have already considered I am able to act far sooner as I am not wasting time discarding unsuitable actions.
Spending time continually drilling down to the why/what until you can no longer answer helps to train your mind to coping with those situations. By thoughtfully and without emotion considering your options and actions you are developing your ability to overcome anything that stands in your way.
So, we shall assume that you don't engage in productive problem solving as a brain training exercise (if you do yay for you!) so I shall try and explain how I do it. 
Before we do this little exercise, I want you to list off your challenges. Your choice if you keep this list strictly about your business or have it be all encompassing, they just need to be your top challenges. Include actual challenges you have had in the past, perhaps have now and definitely let your worrying mind wander to possible future ones. 

On a piece of paper, write the obstacle on the top and then start asking why questions, try to get to 5 if you can. Depending on the issue sometimes the first why will feed the second and all the way down, sometimes they are completely random. When you have fleshed out your "problem" you then need to work on solutions, on how to "fix" or resolve the issue. If you take tangents great! Be that demanding little 3 year old with 400+ questions. Go until you can go no further.

It isn't easy to do this at first, sometimes it can be quite hard. I try to look at the situation from different viewpoints, emotional, analytical, factual, creatively and even spiritually sometimes. Some of your listed obstacles are going to be straight forward, some not so much. You may find that you get stumped after the first couple of solutions or whys ... that's ok, with more practice and time you can take yourself of wild tangents of impossible outcomes. It also depends on what obstacle you are considering.

Now here is my recommendation for you LIMIT HOW LONG YOU SPEND DOING THIS EXERCISE. Only do it for 5 minutes each day and stick to it. Why? Because you can get caught up in the world of what ifs and not actually get your work done AND you get better at it, soon you will do this automatically without having to set aside time for it.

For those of you who still aren't sure about what I'm talking about I'm going to give an example of how I would do this. I asked on my Facebook Page what were the obstacles you face in business and the overwhelming response was time. Time is actually quite tricky so I will do my best to illustrate an example for you that you can adapt to yourself. 
Clearly there is a LOT more that could go down for this example and I haven't even considered solutions yet (hot tip: weekly plan). I just wanted to show you how it works especially for a generic obstacle that would fit just about everyone.

But what about the more serious obstacles? What if you were seriously sick? I was going to do another example for that then I found this great article about a business owner who was diagnosed with breast cancer. This article is solutions based but you can easily see where you would identify each problem that needed a solution because of the diagnosis. Read the article here.

After some practice, you may find that you automatically go solution based and you probably won't use pen and paper.  The whole point behind this exercise is to get your mind seeing the full extent of the obstacle at hand and the solutions to remedy it. Practice, practice, practice.

Have some fun with it too.

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