Scroll down to read my affirmational quotes, listen to interviews, and read chapter 1: "Overcoming Obstacles" from my newest book. Don't forget to check out the older posts too. Please JOIN my blog for further updates and follow me on twitter @CarolBettino. Email contact: cbettino49@gmail.com

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chapter 1

Overcoming Obstacles

“Obstacles are those frightening things that become visible when we take our eyes off our goals.”

Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

Obstacles can either be stepping stones or immovable boulders. It’s all a matter of how you perceive them. They can give you insight to help you get where you want to go. Or, they can be the reason why you are not where you want to be. If you want to achieve a goal, follow a dream, pursue a career, become a success or be happy in life, learn how to overcome obstacles. When something slows you down, move ahead with caution, but don’t stop. If it is important to you, do not let anyone or anything stand in your way. So, why would you let something important slip away? Why would you stop pursuing something that was important to you? Remember, life is about choices. Even not making a choice to do something is a choice. Life is not always easy. You may want to do something, but things get in the way. As the saying goes, “life happens.” How do you perceive obstacles in your life? You either look at them as roadblocks or temporary detours, but in any case you need to choose to get back on the road. If you let them overwhelm you, they can stop you from continuing your journey. Do not allow obstacles to become the traps that can stop you.

Here are some common traps that can prevent you from your goals, dreams and your pursuit of happiness:

· Holding onto a bad past experience.

· Making excuses for your mistakes, and why you can’t do something.

· Holding onto irrational and debilitating fears. You also worry what other people think too much.

· Lacking commitment. You want something, but you are not willing to work hard or do what it takes to achieve it.

· Feeling scattered or lacking direction. You give up, instead of looking for options or asking for help.

· Believing that you can’t achieve your goal. Not believing in yourself.

· Giving others control of your life and allowing them to sabotage your happiness.

· Being rigid or believing that there is only one way to accomplish a goal.

Now is a good time for you to think of obstacles that prevent you from going where you want to go, doing what you want to do, or being who you want to be. Make a promise to yourself to use any obstacles that are in your way as stepping stones to reach your goal.

“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”

Brian Tracy, Speaker and Author

One of the most common and debilitating obstacles that keep you from moving forward is a bad past experience. While an unpleasant experience may have a negative impact, it does not have to dictate how you live your life. If a former partner cheated on you, you may still be struggling with issues of mistrust. If you hold onto those feelings, you are giving your power to someone who hurt you. If a previous job interview did not go well, you may feel anxiety about an upcoming interview. Why let that one experience control an interview that is now important to you? The truth is that it is not unusual for a trigger to remind you of a past experience. Have you ever smelled a fragrance that made you remember someone? If the person was someone you loved, the memories brought you a smile with warm thoughts and memorable images. Conversely, if it triggered memories of a bad experience, it sparked unsolicited, depressing emotions. Don’t let an unhappy past experience keep you from being happy or pursuing your goals. Life is about moving forward, not backward.

There was a great line in the TV program, “Touched by an Angel.” The angel asked, “Do you know why God put your eyes on the front of your face instead of the back of your head?” Her answer was, “So you can see where you’re going, instead of where you’ve been.” What a simple, but profound statement. Too much time and energy is wasted on what you can’t change. Don’t let your obstacles become excessive baggage. Before it can weigh you down, let it go. If you believe your obstacles are preventing you from moving forward, look for options. Always be ethical, but don’t let obstacles have the power to stop you. They can, however, slow you down. Choose how to get around them, go over them, or go through them. Make a list of your obstacles and write about how you will overcome them. Be clear and precise. If you want to go back to school and you don’t have the money, look for options. Get your friends and family to donate their “junk” and have a garage sale. (Remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!) If you can, work overtime. Earn extra money by getting a part-time job, babysitting, or getting a roommate. Think of it as a temporary situation; you do not have to do it forever. You may need to budget your money and cut your expenses. Research if scholarships or financial aid is available. Go to school part-time until you can afford to go full time. Find a job that may help pay for your classes. If you want it bad enough, go for it!

I began college when I was 25 years old. I was married with two small children. One salary and one car made it difficult to get to school. There was no extra money in the budget, but I was determined. On the days I went to school, I drove my husband to the train station at five in the morning with two kids sleeping in the back of the car so I could have transportation. I bartered services with friends and a nursery school teacher so my kindergartener could get on the bus and my preschooler could attend nursery school three mornings a week. I took classes part time so I could be home with my family. It took me ten years, but now, I proudly display my Associate Degree, my Bachelors Degree and my Masters Degree. The obstacles slowed me down a bit, but they didn’t stop me.

Another common obstacle that can impact your goals and happiness is making excuses. When you want something bad enough, find a way to just do it. Use good judgment, but don’t make excuses why something can’t be done. It is okay to be cautious, because some projects are riskier than others. However, you will learn from your mistakes. Don’t let fear of making a mistake become an obstacle to try again. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, said, “I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.” Now that’s a healthy attitude! Instead of covering up your mistakes with excuses, learn from them. Find ways to improve the next time you try. Don’t pay attention to why something doesn’t work. Focus on how to make it work. Mistakes do not have to be immovable boulders. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes.

“Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

Leo Buscaglia, Well-known speaker and author

Another common obstacle that can be a trap is fear. Fear will cripple you if you let it. The fear of failure and rejection, fear of the unknown, and fear what people think creates anxiety. Many opportunities are lost by fear of taking a risk. Ask yourself, what is the worse that could happen? Even if the worse did happen, could you handle it? Would you be willing to take the risk and still face any potential consequences? Fear can be debilitating. Remember the famous quote from former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Every experience, good or bad, can be a learning experience. If you are a believer, remember the bible passage from 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV), For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” You are in charge of your life’s direction. Avoid the pitfalls of fear and step out of the box to achieve your goals and experience happiness.

Lack of commitment is another common obstacle that will keep you from your goal. Millions of dollars are spent on weight loss programs. Yet in our country alone, many suffer from obesity. The truth is, when you are ready, any weight loss program will work. Diets will never be successful unless you make a commitment. I worked with a client who spent thousands of dollars on weight loss programs, exercise equipment, diet books, and diet pills and joined numerous fitness centers that she never attended. Any time she lost a significant amount of weight, she gained it back. While waiting for her insurance to approve a gastric by-pass surgery, she came in for treatment. She soon realized that she used food to cover her pain and her problems. She admitted that she had never really made a commitment in the past. We discussed the obstacles that led her to give up and worked out a treatment plan to help her overcome them. When the insurance company sent a letter authorizing her surgery four months after treatment started, she had already lost 38 pounds. She chose not to have the surgery. She continued therapy, attended overeaters anonymous, and walked with friends every day. Almost one year after therapy began she walked a marathon for breast cancer weighing 90 pounds lighter. This time, she was committed.

“Improvement begins with I.”

Arnold H. Glasgow, Author and humorist

Some obstacles can be bad habits. Any habit can be changed. A common obstacle that can keep you from pursuing your dream is feeling scattered or lacking direction. If this is a problem for you, find a better way to organize yourself. There are many helpful books that can help you manage your time, your business and your life. When I wrote my first book, I began with all my thoughts and just started writing. I had a great deal of information to share, but I needed help to keep it from becoming too technical and free from “psychobabble ” I knew where my strengths were, but I also knew my weaknesses. I had my best friend, a colleague, and my sisters read every chapter. Eventually, I achieved my goal and my book was published. Recognize your weak areas. Seek help and direction to keep you on the right road. No one is good at everything. Find mentors, inspirational people, supportive friends, and books that keep you on the right road.

The obstacle of “I can’t.” can stop you dead in your tracks. Don’t underestimate the power of the mind. Whatever you believe you are capable of doing, you are. The mentality of “I can’t” is just as powerful. Negative thoughts create negative feelings. Pessimism in your life is not inspirational or goal oriented. If anything, you are more apt to give up, then to fight. Decide what you want, and then decide how hard you’re willing to work to get it. Pastor William Arthur Ward, a well known author wrote, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” Believe in what you can be, and what you can achieve in life. Pursue all that is important to you and you will be happy.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great.”

Mark Twain, Author

Emotionally healthy adults do not allow others to have control over their life. Do not give anyone the opportunity to sabotage your happiness. This is an obstacle that only you can place in your way. No one can do this without your permission. If you are around a person who is emotionally draining you, keep your distance. My cousin April calls them “emotional vampires.” A client of mine had a very critical sister. No matter what my client did, it was never good enough. Her sister constantly complained and was very angry and bitter about her past. My client had chosen to let go of her past and didn’t want to discuss it with her sister anymore. Although she had been assertive and set boundaries with her sister, her request was still ignored. For my client, it was best to keep her distance. When she did see her sister, she kept it short. She couldn’t change her sister, but she chose not to let her sister dampen her mood or her happiness.

Rigidity can also be a roadblock. It is an obstacle that can be changed by changing your attitude. Do not hold onto a belief or a behavior that does not work. Albert Einstein originally defined insanity as: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This has become a popular quote in 12 Step Programs. When appropriate, learn to seek another avenue or option. A different perspective can give you a better vantage point to look at things. I read a story in the book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. To briefly summarize the story, it was about working smarter instead of trying harder. The story was about a fly who persistently tried to get out of a room by flying into the window pane. It had seen the window as the only option to get out of the room. The fly continued trying harder and harder until finally it hit the window for the last time and died. The moral of the story was that trying smarter is better than trying harder. Being rigid and trying harder is what killed the fly. Had it looked beyond the window pane, it would have seen an open screen door and could have flown out. When something isn’t working, try looking for other options that can be more effective. If the fly had tried smarter instead of harder, it would have succeeded in getting out of the room safely. Most of your decisions will not be about life and death. However, when you are inflexible you block options that can help you achieve your goal. You may miss a chance at your dream by being too rigid. When opportunity knocks, don’t ignore it. Don’t let this prevent you from moving in the direction you want to go.

Now is a good time for you to think about any obstructions that have impeded you on your journey to happiness. Can you think of any roadblocks that have prevented you from pursuing a dream or goal? Can you relate to the examples of obstacles that kept you from moving ahead in your life? Now is the time to take charge and do something to help you overcome them.

To help you overcome obstacles, start with a simple acronym, “ACT”:

Acknowledge and ask questions.

Confront and challenge.

Throw the obstacle out.

Acknowledge and ask questions.

Acknowledge the obstacle in your way. Money may be a legitimate reason. If your reason is legitimate, ask yourself how can you overcome it? Don’t let it stop you. Look for options and ways that can help you move forward. By asking questions, you will gain insight and learn from your experience.

Confront and challenge anything standing in your way.

Be honest with yourself. In the example of money, you may have it but be unwilling to use it for yourself or your dreams. Confront your reasons. Challenge your thinking. Eliminate focusing on obstacles so you may free your mind to think of options. If your goal is important to you, find a way to make it happen.

Throw the obstacle out.

You decide where you want to go. Remember that as an adult, wherever you are, you led yourself there. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it. Ask advice from those you trust. Make a list of ways to help yourself overcome your obstacle. Do what you must, and throw out your obstacles!

To help you with the acronym ACT, you may want to journal. Even if you are not one who likes to write, do it anyway. Without thinking about it, grab a pen and paper and start writing whatever comes up. You will gain insight. Journaling is putting your thoughts, feelings and ideas on paper. If you have reached a dead end, it will help you see why. Take everything that’s in your head and write it down. Don’t think about what to write or how to write it. Just acknowledge what the problem or the obstacle is, and keep asking questions. Confront your answers. As you write, challenge your statements. Don’t be the critic who seeks every reason why you can’t do what you want to do. Become the best friend who wants to help you achieve your goal. When you finish journaling, put it aside. Go back to it later or the next day or week and read what you wrote. You owe it to yourself to take action. Go for the knockout, the big “KO”, and take the obstacle down!

Quite a few years ago, I had a friend whose computer crashed. A rough draft of her thesis was lost. Her worse nightmare had come true. She had not backed it up and did not have a hard copy. She had a lot of scribbled notes, besides feeling discouraged, her biggest obstacle was time. That’s what got her in trouble in the first place. She realized she always had an excuse why she didn’t backup the hard drive or why she didn’t print it out. She was overwhelmed, and ready to give up. When she confronted her problem, she also learned a valuable lesson. As she began to challenge her time constraint and stopped making excuses, she was able to begin again. She went to her professor and was given an extension. She took a week off from work and started writing. Once she tossed the obstacles out, her mind was free to start over. She was amazed at how much she remembered and how easily it flowed as she began typing. Don’t underestimate how much you can accomplish once you put your mind to it. An obstacle can slow you down but it doesn’t have to stop you.

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.”

Samuel Johnson, famous essayist

No matter what the obstacle is, don’t give up. If you become discouraged or the obstacle slows you down, get back up and move ahead. Whatever you convince yourself that you are capable of, you will achieve it. Your personal happiness, your goals and dreams in life are yours if you don’t give up.

I would like to end with a poem that is attributed to be of Masonic origin, authored by Dale Wimbrow, 1895-1954.

“The Person in the Glass”

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

and the world makes us King (or Queen) for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that person has to say.

For it isn't your father, mother, husband, or wife,
whose judgment upon you must pass:
The person whose verdict counts most in your life,
is the one staring back from the glass.

He is the person to please, never mind the rest,
for he is with you right up to the end,
and you've passed your most dangerous difficult test,
if the person in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway
of years and get pats on the back as you pass,
but your final reward will be heartaches and tears,
If you've cheated the person in the Glass.