“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Bob Marley – I Can See Clearly Now
“One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.”
There are three obstacles that will stop me from achieving my goals every single time. Perhaps there are more, but these three come to mind immediately. They are these:
· The lack of a purpose and thus the lack of a plan and the lack of consistent follow-through.
I want to address each one, how they have impacted me and how I have worked with or have been working with them.
First, there is fear. The list of fears is probably endless, but here are some that stopped me dead in my tracks:
· The fear of other people’s opinions
· The fear of financial failure and all that might mean including homelessness
· The fear of emotional pain or loneliness
· The fear of losing God’s love.
· The fear of failure.
It is the first fear that drove my life for so long. Because I was afraid of what others might think of me and that I would make them angry, I made some disastrous decisions, some of which I had to live with for years. Sadly and ironically, one of three things always, always, happened:
1. I wound up upsetting people anyway because my fear-based decisions had hurtful consequences that were far greater than the ones I’d imagined.
2. The people I worried about upsetting either didn’t care or got over it quickly.
3. The people I worried about upsetting suddenly or gradually left my life, through death or because they just moved on, thus making their impact negligible.
I say this next statement not so much with regret, but because I believe it to be the truth:
If I could have lived my life without letting fear determine so many of my decisions, I would have been happier, more financially prosperous and more personally successful. I would have also made a greater contribution to the world.
Again, this is not said with regret or the useless wish to do it all over again. It is simply an observation that I believe is factual. Today, I still have those same fears. They come up every day. And they don’t matter. I am moving towards my goals. And, as I told a friend yesterday, I’ve never been happier.
The second obstacle that has stopped me has been inaction. I define inaction as the unwillingness to move forward in life from a place that is undesirable. Here are three areas that most people need to review.
· Relationships. Are all my relationships healthy and mutually loving and respectful? If not I need to fix them, limit them or end them completely. Those are the only three options I see.
· Work. Is my work satisfying? Do I feel like I’m contributing to the world or to my world? Is it how I want to spend the majority of my waking hours? If the answer is no, then I need to find a way to make my job work for me or change jobs. Those are the only two options I see.
There are other areas, money, health, my spiritual life, community involvement and more. They all require the same questions:
· Do these work for me?
· If not, do I need to change them, accept them or move on?
While I am not suggesting this approach makes life easier, I think it will make life simpler in some ways. Ultimately, I need to take action. One of the greatest secrets I have discovered is the power of action. The action does not have to be huge or dramatic. It only needs two criteria:
1. My actions are in alignment with my deepest needs or desires.
2. My actions are consistent.
Every single time I took an action, any action, towards my goals, my life became richer and more interesting. Not all of my decisions gave me the results I wanted, but all of them opened my life to new possibilities. As I took action, I learned what actions were the most effective and which actions to change or drop in order to allow for different actions.
Finally, I need a purpose, a plan and consistent follow-through. These may seem like separate things, but a purpose without a plan is almost impossible and a plan without a purpose is ultimately just a way to kill time. And without follow-through, the purpose and the plan are doomed to defeat.
This is the area I am developing the most right now. It has only been in the last few weeks that a purpose and a plan have begun forming in my mind. Sometimes a plan arises as a result of taking action. The purpose and the plan begin to form themselves. At other times I have needed a very definite and tangible goal and then steps to reach that goal. Only action and overcoming fear will tell me which approach to take.
That’s it. Every time I come to an area of my life that is dissatisfying, I can look at those obstacles and see which one is stopping me. Then I can Get Started and Keep Going.