5 Ways to Stay on Track and Overcome Obstacles

5 Ways to Stay on Track and Overcome Obstacles

5 Ways to Stay on Track and Overcome Obstacles

Summary: Setbacks are a part of life, but how you respond and overcome them can make a big difference in your education and career.

Thrive in the Face of Setbacks with 5 Steps

You’ve made a handy list of goals and feel confident about your ability to achieve them. But what happens when you get off track or feel like you need to make more progress? As you work through your goals, there are bound to be delays, detours, and roadblocks. Life happens! Here are five ways to get back on track and address the barriers you might encounter.

1. Review Your Long-Term Goals

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Revisit your long-term career or educational goal. Is it still relevant to you? Are you still interested in it? If you feel disconnected from your career or academic goals, you might be dealing with a common issue like needing to be more specific with your long-term goal or changing your mind about your long-term goal altogether. Experiencing new skills or trying new interests might alter future plans or goals.

Having a vague goal makes it hard to make progress. It’s like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall—there’s not enough substance to anchor to anything. To change this, be more specific with your long-term goal. Here’s an example of reframing a long-term goal to be more specific:

  • Vague long-term career goal – “I want to help people in the future.
  • Better long-term career goal – “I want to work in the medical field so I can help people.”
  • Even better long-term career goal – “I want to assist patients as a physical therapist in the medical field.”

If you need to revise your long-term goal or go in a different direction, you may also have to rewrite your short-term goals. Remember to revise your goal timeline as well.

2. Get Out of a Slump

Everyone gets into a slump or hits a wall at some point—it might be a time when things feel off. You might lose focus or lack motivation and be unable to get anything done. You might also feel overwhelmed with the tasks you need to accomplish.

You can combat a slump by changing your perspective or mindset. Celebrate every day the things you have accomplished or completed. You can also try something new or add variety to your everyday tasks. Focus on the value of your tasks and how that might ultimately contribute to your goals. When you appreciate and are more mindful of your experiences, you can refocus on the tasks and activities most important to you in accomplishing your goals.

3. Acknowledge Frustration

Is the course too hard? Bored with your internship or volunteer gig? If you’re feeling frustrated, it’s important to take a moment and pause. Reflect on your current pursuits and determine if they are still a priority in your life or can help you accomplish your long-term goals. If they still fit with a long-term plan, find ways to make those activities more enjoyable for you, like joining a study group. Whatever your frustration, take a moment to find a workaround.

4. Go the Scenic Route

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Life is a journey, not a guided tour or a single destination. When you hit a roadblock, consider what you can do differently. Create a new plan and add action steps to complete daily, weekly, and monthly. Another tip for maintaining daily focus is to put sticky notes on your mirror for inspiration in meeting your goals or daily tasks. Some people make lists and feel happiest when they can complete or mark off an item on their list.

Find a strategy that works for you, but don’t worry if it takes you longer to achieve your goal than expected. Everyone experiences some delays or detours in attaining their desires.

5. Take a Break

Sometimes, things happen that are out of your control, and it’s ok to put plans on hold or revise them. You may need to step back and pause to regain some perspective before moving on. Take a few days or weeks off from your goals to refresh your perspective and gain new insight.

Review and Reflect

Despite the best of plans, things don’t always go smoothly but remember, setbacks are normal for everyone. Be kind to yourself above all. Review your current course of action or inaction, and when you’re ready, get back on track using some of the ideas mentioned. If you remain stuck and believe you have no way to move further, consider talking with a professional, career coach, life coach, or colleague to understand where you are in your current plans. Friends or professionals can help you gain a new perspective or find a new path forward.

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