What's the biggest obstacle you are facing right now? I asked my Twitter followers that question a few weeks ago and I received a range of responses, including:
- Paying off my debt
- Overcoming fear and self-doubt
- Balancing my various to-do lists
- Acquiring the funds to follow my dreams
- Being more disciplined
Most of my time is spent trying to overcome obstacles, similar to the one’s the listed above.
I've discovered that surmounting any obstacle means you have to look for solutions. Personally, I tend to make things too complex. So by focusing on four simple strategies I've been able to conquer a lot of problems, from small to big. I've applied the following strategies to many hurdles including writer's block, paying off debt, and overcoming my eating disorder.
1. Surround yourself with mentors.
Mentors can be trusted advisers, teachers, or close friends and the relationship can be formal or informal. Broadly mentors help mentees set important life goals, provide coaching, and listen. By doing all of these things mentors can help you overcome tremendous obstacles and establish simple priorities.
Mentors have guided me through some of the best and worst times of my life. For instance, overcoming my eating disorder was a huge obstacle and getting better didn't happen overnight. Thanks to mentors I was able to get the help I needed. They listened and prompted me to take one small step everyday.
Writing everyday is one way to let go of stress, tension, and start developing solutions to your troubles.
Reading is a powerful medium of communication because it has exposed me to new ideas. As a result, I’m always inspired to make meaningful changes in my own life. Pouring over a variety of books and blogs convinced me that downsizing might be a good idea after-all.
Revamping your life means you have to take action. Nothing will change until you take a first tentative step.
4. Focus on taking micro-actions.
Micro-actions are a huge part of my life. For example, when we were $30,000 in debt, paying it off didn't seem like an option. I remember telling Logan:
"We might as well buy a new car. We're never going to be debt free, so a little more debt won't hurt."
There are a lot of troublesome undertones to that statement. But the important point is we finally realized that there are always alternatives.
Paying off $30,000 was a big obstacle and we didn’t think it would be possible. We had to give up some comforts in the short-run. But we knew that changing our habits would benefit us tremendously in the long-run.
So we examined the problem and broke it apart into small micro-actions. Some of the micro-actions included:
- Reducing our rent by moving to a smaller apartment.
- Selling the cars.
- Making a budget.
- Canceling the cable.
- Following a $25 rule. If something costs over $25, Logan and I have a conversation about the proposed purchase.
We didn't do all of these things at once. We focused on one micro-action at a time. By doing so we were able to prevent overspending and impulse buying. If we had not gradually transitioned to a new process, paying off our debt would have become too overwhelming, and I have a feeling we would have given up instead.
Parting Words . . .
Rather than looking at an obstacle as something dreadful and horrible, be lighthearted and remember you can surmount any barrier with a little bit of time and patience.