We’ve all been there.
You want it so badly, you can taste it.
You’re so close to that dream, you can touch it.
But then something happens.
You hit a speed bump.
You thought things would be easier, but now you’re confused, turned off, or scared.
You start to panic. You want to quit.
As someone who frequently comes up against speed bumps, I’m guilty of all of the above.
But there’s no road to success without the occasional setback. Here are the most common speed bumps you’ll encounter and how to get over each one…
Speed Bump #1:
You get muddled. You have too many ideas floating around. You’re getting scattered and losing focus. You can’t get anything done. You find more and more days with nothing to show because you’re spinning your wheels.
Solution: Keep a to-do list. I know. It sounds simple, but it’s vital. I’m always amazed by people who keep all their life details in their heads. “I have it all up here,” they say, pointing to their overtaxed brains. They think they’re making things easier by not being “so Type A,” but they’re actually making things harder.
Have one piece of paper you refer to each day. Don’t stick dozens of post-it notes all over your desk, car, and bed post. Let that one list be your bible. Watch how tasks become more manageable. Watch how things get done.
Speed Bump #2:
Your list grows long and intimidating. Okay, you have those daily to-do items. It’s working great but starting to get too big. What if you don’t get to everything? What if you never catch up?
Solution: Do the easiest items first. Approaching tricky to-do lists is like starting a motor. That engine needs to warm up. Those quick phone calls, that fast trip to the store, whatever’s easiest, do first. Not only will you start checking things off, but you’ll also feel confident. You’re making progress.
Once those easy items get checked off, the big machinery starts revving. Before you know it, you have energy for more challenging stuff. And if you have a huge task, put it on your to-do list every day. Chip away at it. You’ll be surprised how that huge obstacle becomes smaller.
Speed Bump #3:
You over-commit yourself. Things are going great. You’re getting things done. You’re in demand. But all of a sudden you have too many meetings, projects, and people coming at you. And you’re saying yes to everything and signing on to too many endeavors. You start panicking. You can’t do it all. But how do you decide what to keep and what to let go?
Solution: Find the Sweet Spot. As a blogger, I was happy writing one post a week. Then I read something saying unless I churned out three long posts every seven days, I was a worthless human being. For several weeks, I frantically wrote and wrote, throwing out posts like a woman having a psychotic breakdown, which of course I was.
After a while, I realized this schedule wasn’t for me. I went back to posting once a week and felt instant calm. I had found the sweet spot. Which part of your goal is most important to you? Which projects make financial sense to keep? Which ones make you happiest? Find the schedule that’s both productive but not heart-racing. And sometimes the only way to find your sweet spot is trying different approaches. Believe me; you’ll know quickly what works and what doesn’t. Stick to what works. Let go of the rest.
Speed Bump #4:
You get resentful. You have your to-do list. You’re getting things done. You found your productivity sweet spot. You’re churning out great stuff. Until you realize one day that you’re not having fun. You look at your busy desk, and instead of feeling proud, you want to set it on fire.
Solution: Selective Procrastination. Step away. Go fishing, shop, see a movie, walk in the park. Go to Thailand for two weeks, whatever. Remember, life is short. If your goal is really your calling, if it’s really your passion, you’ll hear that siren song again. Your dream will be there when you get back.
Even better, fresh ideas will start percolating. Why? Because you’ve given yourself distance. You had the break you needed to see things fresh, to fall in love again. You’ll come back charged and ready to go.
Speed Bump #5:
You start doubting yourself. Maybe it was an off-hand remark by a colleague or a friend in a bad mood. You got rejected for something you set your hopes on. Whatever it was, you start questioning yourself. Maybe you don’t have what it takes. Maybe you’re not good enough. Maybe you should call it quits.
Solution: Ask yourself if there’s any validity in what was said. Sometimes our harshest critics are our best teachers. Sometimes there’s truth in a snarky remark. Don’t go on the defensive. Don’t try and explain why they’re wrong and you’re right. Try looking at it from their side. Are they right? Then maybe they did you a favor. Maybe you can improve.
If there’s no validity to what they say, use this moment to believe in yourself. You know who you are. You know what you’re capable of, and that’s what matters.
Getting to that Finish Line…
In the end, those who succeed aren’t the ones on some special highway who never encounter speed bumps. They’re the ones who learn to drive around or over them.
You know you’re one of those people. You know you’re on the road to victory, to achieving that goal.
All you need is belief in yourself.
What are you waiting for? Get in that car, rev that engine, and drive. When you encounter a speed bump, you know what to do. Get over it, and keep heading for that dream.
Laurie Stone is a blogger, writer of fiction, and reporter. Her essays have appeared in the Connecticut Post, Connecticut Kids Magazine and In The Know Traveler Website, among many others. Laurie blogs about midlife, family, and the ups and downs that come with growing up and growing older.