“The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” ~Ralph Blum
We all face obstacles. Maybe you're unhappy in your career, but don’t know what else you’d like to do with your life. Maybe you're unfulfilled in your relationship, but don't know how to communicate this to your partner. Or maybe you're struggling to make ends meet financially, and don't know how to get out of debt.
A few years ago, my life was in complete shambles. My marriage had fallen apart, I was unfulfilled at work, I felt disconnected and misunderstood by family and friends, and I was in an all out battle with my physical body as I suffered through the aftermath of a decade’s worth of dysfunctional eating habits.
My entire life felt like one big obstacle, and unfortunately, when we feel like this it's easy to lose track of who we really are and what we really want in life.
Whether it's family, friends, career, finances, or a combination of all the above, if left ignored these obstacles can quickly grow to feel insurmountable.
We begin to feel overwhelmed, stuck, and anxious, which manifests itself as lack of motivation, procrastination, and a slew of behaviors and symptoms that represent our avoidance of facing these obstacles head on.
Well, with every day that passed, more and more pieces of my life began crumbling around me. I knew something needed to change, but what? Where would I start? What did I want?
I knew I couldn't fight the entire war at once, so I spent many hours asking myself these questions and trying to figure out which battlefield to walk onto first, if any. Eventually, I decided to tackle the obstacle I'd been battling the longest: I decided to focus on building a better relationship with my physical body.
We all have that one hurdle that rears its ugly head over and over again, and for me, that hurdle was my diet.
At the time, if you'd asked me “Why do you want to build a better relationship with your physical body?” I would have responded with something like this:
“Because I'm in physical pain.”
While this was a good enough reason to choose this as the first obstacle to tackle, it didn't hold weight for very long. Pretty soon, I found myself losing motivation, and asking myself the question, “But why?”
“But why is it important to overcome this physical pain?”
Since all the dysfunctional behaviors surrounding my eating issues were familiar, and I'd been dealing with the physical pain for so long, I actually found comfort in it.
So I knew this lack of clarity was a recipe for disaster, and a surefire way to quickly lose motivation. I needed to go deeper to uncover the real reason why I desired to change this area of my life.
Eventually, I came up with this:
“Because my eating habits are affecting all aspects of my life: My career, my physical health, my relationships and social life.”
This answer was definitely more honest, but once again, it still wasn't good enough to warrant the hard work and dedication I knew it would take to overcome this obstacle. The people in my external environment had grown to expect these strange behaviors from me, and even aspects of my career had been based around some of my dysfunction.
So once again, I found myself asking the question: “But why?”
“But why does it matter that your eating issues are affecting your career, your physical health, your relationships, and social life?”
And that's when it hit me; that's when the real motivation behind my desire to change rose to the surface: “I'm lonely, unfulfilled, scared, and I have no clue who I am anymore.”
Bingo. Just like that, I uncovered the real source of pain surrounding this obstacle in my life. All of a sudden, there was a new fire fueling my motivation and desire to change.
With this new clarity, I was able to craft a clear picture of what I actually wanted in my life: I wanted to feel connected to the people and situations around me. I wanted to feel connected to myself. And I wanted to stop living in fear.
Once I uncovered the real motivation behind my desire to change, I slowly started to realize that each and every obstacle I was facing in my life stemmed from the exact same pain! I somehow knew that by attacking this pain at its roots, I’d be able to overcome all these obstacles at once.
And this new clarity about what I didn't want was the motivation I needed to help me finally develop a clear and honest vision of what I actually did want in my life.
So now it’s your turn. Here are 5 steps to gain more clarity about why you want to change, and what you want in life:
Pull out a piece of paper and a pen.
Ask yourself the question, “What's one area of my life that I'd like to change?” Write this answer on the top of the page.
Look at your answer. Now ask yourself, “But why is this important?” Write this new answer below your previous answer.
Repeat step 3 until you uncover the real reasons motivating you to change. Keep going deeper. You’ll know when you’ve gotten to the root cause of your pain.
Based on what you uncover, develop a clear vision of what you want in your life. Use this new awareness and motivation to help you remain committed to this new path.
Remember: Saying “I’m unhappy at work” or “I feel unfulfilled in my relationship” isn’t deep enough. Keep going!
We all face obstacles in our lives, but if we’re willing to do the tough work of asking ourselves “why?” these obstacles can truly become the gateways that lead to greater clarity and new beginnings. We can use this clarity to gain a deeper understanding of what we really want in life, and to motivate us to make lasting changes.
Photo by Lel4nd