5 Tips to Achieve Your Goals Despite the Odds

“Excellence can be obtained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible.” ~Unknown

After several excruciatingly painful and profoundly frightening years of undiagnosed symptoms, I was diagnosed with a “progressive and incurable” neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS). It’s characterized by unrelenting pain that is disproportionate to the inciting event, usually an injury or trauma.

As luck would have it I was diagnosed and, shortly after, hospitalized for the first of three times, just as I was accepted into a Master’s program for clinical social work.

I always saw myself obtaining a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D., but how would I accomplish these grueling and seemingly impossible tasks if I could barely stand up long enough to brush my teeth on a cocktail of the most potent narcotics available?

I didn’t have the answer to this question, and a flood of fear and doubt rose up within me like a tsunami crashing onto the shore, drowning hope and destroying all of the life in its path.

I pushed onward despite overwhelming feelings of fear and medical professionals suggesting that I should quit graduate school and go on disability.

That was three years ago, and now I have a Master’s Degree in clinical social work (MSW) and a professional license to boot (LSW). Not to mention, I no longer take any medication for the RSD/CRPS thanks to coffee enemas, a vegan diet (heavy on the fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices), and a will and desperation to be healthy.*

At best, my traditional doctors predicted a life full of yearly or bi-yearly week-long hospitalizations, where I would receive a continuous I.V. drip of the powerful anesthetic ketamine (better known by its street name, “special K”), which can temporarily control the pain for some individuals.

I couldn’t accept that portrait of my future, so I decided to paint my own. In my version colors and health were vibrant, and smiles and possibilities were endless. “Can’t” changed to “heck yes, I can” and “incurable and progressive” weren’t part of the vocabulary, no matter what they said.

Was obtaining my Master’s Degree the biggest challenge of my young life thus far? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

In fact, my continuously improving health moves that Ph.D. out on the horizon closer and closer to the palm of my hand, and victory never tastes as sweet as when it is achieved with the odds against you.

Below are my five tips on how to succeed despite the odds.

1. Die to the past.

Forget what you know. Forget what everyone has told you. Die to the past, and while you’re at it, remember: the present is not a means to get to the future. If you think of it that way, you will be perpetually unfulfilled.

Be mindful of the present moment because the past is over, and the future doesn’t exist. The only moment is now.

Take a moment to allow yourself to be in awe of the wonders of the world and the divine intelligence that helps those ordinary miracles unfold. Your miracle is unfolding right now, and you’ll miss it if you continue to live without awareness.

2. Surrender to the unknown.

Surrendering has never been my forte because I have a tendency to want to control my environments, which means I can end up living in the future, not in the present moment. Worrying is wasted energy, and no amount of those toxic thoughts will ever change the outcome.

I believe a higher power has a plan for me, and as I look back on my life so far, I realize I have always been put in the places I needed to be to personally and professionally grow and develop. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, trust that you will never come up against more than you can handle.

Relax, and let life flow through you.

3. Dare to dream.

The limitations we perceive are put in place by us and only us. Take some time to sit in stillness and tap into your innate intuitive abilities.

Silencing the critical voices of others and that critical voice within you will allow you to get in touch with your desires and the possibilities of achieving them. It is the “impossible” that stretches you, shows you what you can become, and aids in the formation of who you are meant to be.

4. Support yourself.

A rock solid support system is essential, but you cannot overcome an obstacle if you don’t believe in yourself. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities because if you don’t, no one else will either.

The negative thoughts that you harbor about yourself will ultimately be sent out into the universe and affect how your life unfolds.

When you believe in your potential, your life will take on a whole new expression. “I can’t” turns into “I will.” Remember, you are divinity in motion, so start acting like it.

5. Go all in.

Anyone who has experienced any kind of success understands that it does not come without hard work, discipline, and dedication. When you come from behind and achieve the impossible, the triumph seems so much greater. Determination, commitment, and a burning desire to see your dreams through will help you achieve any goal your intuition guides you toward.

Now, go in the direction of your dreams, even if they seem impossible. You deserve unbounded success, and you are worthy of miracles. I have faith in you and all that you can be. Do you?

*Lori’s Note: This site is not intended to provide, and does not constitute, medical advice. If you have a medical condition, please consult with your physician before trying alternative treatments, such as those mentioned in this post.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

About Maria Mooney

Maria Mooney, MSW, LSW, ( is a licensed social worker, high raw vegan blogger diagnosed with and healing from a progressive neurological disease, RSD/CRPS. She enjoys reading, writing, yoga, the sport of long distance running, spending time in nature, and being with her loved ones, especially her Goldendoodle, Shorter.

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  • Hi Maria, I was listening to Neale Donald Walsch last night, and he said “Life has nothing to do with me, but has everything to do with the people I touch”. Now, throughout my relatively trauma free life, it has not been difficult to think of others. Your body demands your full attention, yet you embrace selfless wisdom that does indeed focus on touching the lives of others. Thank you for that, your faith in me, and your reminder that I am “Divinity in motion” and should “start acting like it”. Words that will help guide me from this day forward. Thank you again.

  • How swet! Thank you SO much, cary 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  • *sweet

  • liked this article alot, looks very much similar to ekhart tolle, power of now

  • ShaeC

    My father always says, “The only thing you HAVE to do is die,” and, my favourite, ” ‘Can’t’ died in a ditch!”  These philosophies have gotten me through a lot of stuff….

  • Sarah

    This is a beautiful testament to what one person can do to change their life, in spite of “professional” advice!  “Follow your intuition”, this strikes me deep in my soul!  Thank you for your inspiration and for sharing your story!  Sending you love, light, peace, joy, well-being and great abundance!

  • Redhen45

    I have 2 phrases posted directly on my pc monitor:
    -“I constantly choose to be radically free from all limitations that arise in my mind”
    (author unknown)
    -“I choose to live beyond the confines of every social belief the world presents”
    (author unknow).
    Your story deeply resonates these messages.  Thank you for sharing.
    love’n’light to you <3

  • Louise

    Wow, I needed this. I have received notice of layoff and it’s so easy to focus on worry in a circumstance like this. Thank you for the reminder that everything is going to be okay and to  make what I can of this very moment and not worry about tomorrow.

  • If you are truly present, then goals dissolve and you are left with an authentic state of being. Beautiful post, thank you.

  • Thank you for your comments! I’m thrilled you all enjoyed my post.

  • absolutely needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing your story, thoughts, wisdom and love. 

  • Jessica

    This is an amazing post. Very motivating and uplifting.

  • Patrick Donlon

    Thx for your great post – gave me hope. For that im really greatful. Great to hear that you have found a natural way to heal and become healthy again

  • This is great 🙂 I love your persistence, keep up the good work!

  • You’re very welcome! Thank you all for reading and for your kind words.

  • Ankush

    Thanks for your last paragraph

  • Sanna

    I love the 1. point. “Die to the Past”
    This is something I have to do right now. 

  • Wendy

    I have RSD also, in  my whole body, for almost 4 years now, and I am vegan (since 1990). I have a really hard time believing that being vegan and coffee enemas are what is helping you with RSD!!  I do believe the rest of what you are talking about are what are helping you and me….

  • Fayeassee

    Wonderful and extremely motivating. Thank you so much for sharing your success at leading your life exactly as all of ours are meant to be…fearless, hopeful, divine, loving and dedicated. You remind us to have faith in the process of life and that as we really don’t know what awaits us, we are best served by the Universe by being in the present moment where beauty and meaning co-exist to bring us to our hire-self at all time.

  • I am so glad I read this post in entirety! THANK YOU!

  • Sweetienena

    This post is perhaps one of my favorites to date. I teared up while reading it, because it mirrors my fears… I feel so stuck by the fear of failure.

    “Forget what you know. Forget what everyone has told you. Die to the
    past, and while you’re at it, remember: the present is not a means to
    get to the future. If you think of it that way, you will be perpetually

    priceless mantra to live by.

    Thank you for inspiring me with hope to tackle my fears.

    wish many blessings your way.

  • Dshort2010

    Love it…the only one I have problems with is the forgetting what you know.  I’m a work in progress…

  • Tinarose29

    This is the slap in the face that I needed, being living in darkness and thinking what if’s and why me and why not me instead of just being. Thanks for an amazing post!!!!!

  • Jaysonmickel

    Love this another fwd

  • How simple! Yet we make life so difficult by forgetting these thoughts. Thanks and all the best!

  • I’ve tried everything, including being hospitalized twice for inpatient ketamine. Coffee enemas lowered my pain so I could come off ALL medications. I’ve been medication free since October and getting stronger and stronger each day. They are one of the tools in my tool box that have gotten me to this point.

  • Thank you all for you beautiful comments. I’m so happy my story has touched you in some way.

  • Sushma

    Good one…..hats off for ur dedication….may god bless u with all u want to achieve in ur life…

  • bahamabeauty

    This is truly powerful and it is just what I needed. I started following your twitter page and did not really check  out the articles but from now on I will be following. I think my path and my desires with my life led me here.
    -thank you

  • Thank you! You’re very welcome 🙂

  • “Trust that you will never come up against more than you can handle.”

    That sentence packs a real punch for me. I was nodding at every word you wrote, but that sentence made me stop and go ‘oh right!’ It instantly makes me feel better about any situation in which I might find myself.

    I’m so inspired by your story. Thank you for sharing it!

  • Thanks so much, this was humbling and inspiring for me. Such a challenge to stay present and dream big! 

  • Mhicks05

    I beleive this is great advice in almost any situation, i understand the obstacle of negative inpacts opon my health and mental situation unhealthy critasisam from myself has the power to destroy me, when i look at life and my situation in my higher powers light I realize only I can keep me from accomplishing my dreams without depending on a power greater than myself, my pride destroys me and this is a lonley place depending on myself alone SUCKS  

  • It’s great to know that you don’t let CRPS defeat you. There’s no getting away from it at the present time but sufferers should not let hopelessness into their lives. If you’ve got it, you must build the strength to cope and fight back, because that’s what you have to do.

  • ASHOK mahajan


  • adrenaline junkie

    well written article
    short sweet motivational and inspiring

  • Sujay

    thanks and god bless you!!!