“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”- Michael Jordan
Positive thinking has certainly become a term many are familiar with. People often say, just be positive and everything will work out, Or, if you have a positive mindset, all will be well.
I’ll admit that I believe we each have a choice when it comes to the thoughts we keep and the outlook we adopt in life. I’m definitely an advocate for choosing to view life through a lens that recognizes the possibilities and learning opportunities in the face of difficult situations. On many occasions, this powerful viewpoint has helped me steer away from becoming stuck or paralyzed in life.
I also believe that maintaining a positive outlook goes a little deeper than merely ‘thinking’ about happy things. Sitting back thinking about feel good stuff does actually feel good in the moment and can serve as a great way to lift our spirits. However, when we are met with disappointment, rejection and barriers to achieving our goals, thinking about happy things is not typically the first place our minds go to.
It can be discouraging when challenges show up and sometimes it feels like it would be easier to give up. There have been times when I have felt like throwing in the towel on my dreams because the rejection and stopping places were overpowering. Thankfully, during those phases I managed to dig deep inside myself to find the courage and gumption to keep moving forward.
The question I always ask myself when I come up against a stopping place is: ‘Is this goal aligned with what I’m truly passionate about and is it in keeping with what makes me happy”? If the answer is yes, I keep going despite the setback or disappointment.
Over time, I have realized that it is during the actual journey of overcoming obstacles where life’s greatest gifts and lessons transpire. Now giving up is no longer an option I give much thought or attention to.
On the road to pursuing our life’s dreams and goals, obstacles will inevitably show up and when they do it’s great to know there are things we all can do to work through the stopping places. These are my top 3 that I go to when I am presented with barriers, big or small.
Barriers and rejection can chip away at our confidence and cause us to lose momentum as we pursue our dreams and goals. I have found that when I focus on what I can do today, I restore the drive to keep going. I usually make a list of a few tasks I can do today to take my mind off of any setbacks or disappointments I’ve been presented with. I usually try to make the to do’s achievable and manageable so that I set myself up for the feeling of success.
It is our feeling and attitude that often propels us forward or sends us in a spiral downward. By focusing on what you can do right now, you help shape your attitude in a positive direction.
These tasks can relate to your bigger dream or goal. Sometimes I make the tasks completely unrelated to my goal. It may be to go for a run, meet a friend, organize paperwork or clean out the messy cupboard that has been bugging me for ages.
The point is to take charge and design your day with things that you can and will achieve. Whether you fill your day up with stuff related to home, work or play, recognize that you are someone who is bigger and better than any obstacle. You are capable and worthy of creating success in any area of your life. Know that you can make steps forward and they don’t have to be giant leaps, just keep going forward at whatever pace feels right. Whenever I spend a day accomplishing what I set out to do, I feel a sense of empowerment and the initial disappointment I felt begins to fade. My attitude shifts from feeling discouraged to being encouraged.
2) Reach out to your trusted people
Sometimes our stopping places are big and what’s at stake feels life-sized. When obstacles come up, especially the big ones that are super disappointing, it can be so disheartening. Talking through these disappointments with people we trust who know us well and want to see us win is such a gift.
I follow the belief that it is unhealthy to stuff down all of those emotions and pretend they aren’t real. In order for me to feel truly happy and adopt a positive mindset, I need to be able to air out the negative emotions in a safe place so that I’m not holding onto them. When big setbacks happen in my life, I pick up the phone or do what I can to reach out to my support system. These are the people I can have a good cry with, they are the ones who listen with an open heart to my letdowns or upsets without judgment. They will also hold me accountable and remind me of the progress I have made and why it’s important to keep going. More often than not, they will also have some brilliant ideas for moving forward or approaching my goals from a different direction I hadn’t thought of.
Support is huge! When we have a safe place to work through our disappointments it becomes so much easier to let them go and move forward with a happier and hopeful mindset.
3) Patience and Gratitude go a long way
We live in a society that moves at a quick pace and we are programmed to expect instant gratification. Often when our dreams aren’t coming true as quickly as we thought they would, there can be this false sense that perhaps they won’t ever come true or maybe we are on the wrong path.
I believe that patience is a must when we are pursuing our dreams and goals. Whether our goal is adopting a healthier lifestyle, getting that dream job, being in a happy relationship or whatever it may be, there is a level of patience that needs to be exercised. In my experience, things worth having don’t generally happen overnight. It is the process of being patient and dedicated to reaching our goal that creates our strength of character and ability to see things from a realistic and positive outlook.
Keep making steps towards your dreams and goals. Sometimes they will be big, other times they will be small. The most important thing to remember is to keep moving forward and don’t become overwhelmed by the big picture of what your dream entails. It is all the mini-steps put together that will result in actually reaching your goal. Sometimes our steps may seem insignificant on their own, but together they provide a mighty punch!
Celebrating our wins along the way and being grateful for any progress we make, is fundamental to maintaining a lasting positive attitude on the journey to reaching our dreams. When we focus on everything that has gone well, it becomes easier to believe that we will continue to experience more of this. As we re-live our wins through a practice of gratitude, we begin to feel good and truly believe that we will eventually reach our goals.
When you do reach a goal, give gratitude for reaching it. Give it to yourself, give it to others who have helped you along the way. Give gratitude to anyone and anything that you feel may have influenced you too. This feel good energy is amazing fuel that feeds a positive attitude.
Obstacles don’t have to extinguish our dreams. With the right amount of support, patience, perseverance and initiative, a positive attitude will unfold and will be the driving force to seeing our biggest dreams and passions come to life. Just keep going and believe in yourself!