The Obstacles You Face are Moving Your Story Forward

I’ve been taking Patti Digh’s Project 137 for the last few months. Project 137 has activities each day to help live your life to the fullest. This is what came up the other day:

Where are you, right now, in your journey? Be fully there.

                     Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.

                     Be fully where you are. The obstacles you face there are moving your story    

                     forward. Embrace them.

This was really enlightening. I have written about staying off someone else’s path before, but actually viewing obstacles as moving myself forward was completely new to me. It’s so easy to get discouraged by an obstacle and letting it demoralize you. Put your hands up in the air and throw in the towel.

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Here are some thoughts about how having obstacles can move you forward:

Re-frame the obstacle.  I received some life-altering bad news yesterday. I was angry. I felt deceived. I felt like I just could not catch a break. And then, as I do with many of my coachees, I re-framed it. This news was not a death sentence. It wasn’t even a health issue. It was just about money. I realized by the time I went to bed that it was just money. I didn’t lose a loved one, my health was fine and my career in tack. So it’s just a challenge I need to get past and will be stronger for it. Put the obstacle under a new frame.

Take stock.  I write in a gratitude journal every day. This is incredible helpful when life throws you a few challenges. I had a serious scare earlier this week with a loved one. I took stock in the fact that the loved one was just fine and how happy I was that they were fine. I’m happy my dog is safe when I return home from being on a business trip. I appreciate that a friend took time to speak to the class I was facilitating. I am grateful that my career is so successful. I write five things (sometimes more) that I am grateful for every day. It helps me realign the universe to having my best interest at heart. Take stock.

Take the turn.  Have you ever used the GPS to get through something like the Hampton Roads area of Virginia? I cannot make it through the Norfolk/Newport News area without taking the wrong exit, or being in the wrong lane while my exit is three lanes over. So I have a choice. I can get angry and beat myself up or I can take the next turn and get back on track. Just because it didn’t go as planned, just adapt. Be flexible and don’t let your inner critic hijack your emotions. Just relax and take the next turn.

Stay positive.  As Patti writes in Project 137, “Don’t let your struggle become your identity.” When I went through a huge life pivot point some 6 months back, I defined my entire life by the pivot point. All my worthiness was wrapped up in a decision that someone else made. I was not moving forward. In fact, I was trying my hardest to move backwards. I was living in the space of constant struggle. It took a few months, but I finally figured out that forward positive motion was the only answer. I couldn’t live in self despair. I had to see what was possible instead of wallowing in grief. Staying positive lets you see what is possible.

Understand your story.  Brene Brown writes in Rising Strong, “In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. In fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is part of our most primitive survival wiring. Mean making is in our biology, and our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense, feels familiar, and offers us insight into how best to self-protect.” Knowing that you are filling in the blanks for data that is missing is important to recognize. It’s amazing how paranoid I can get when I am missing a few data points. When I acknowledge that I am “fabricating data” for the story in my head, it brings me back to reality and helps me redraft the story with more positive data. You are the author of the story in your head, and you are allowed, actually encouraged, to rewrite the story for the happy ending.

In an era of constant change and ambiguity, it can be overwhelming when a challenge arises. It’s important for all of us to remember, including myself, that it’s our response to the obstacle that is what’s most important, rather than the challenge itself. What obstacles are you facing?

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