A Proven Game Plan for How to Overcome Life’s Roadblocks
“Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition — such as lifting weights — we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” — Stephen Covey
Look at you, rock star. You’re cruising along, pursuing your goals, living the dream… then BOOM! All of a sudden, adversity strikes. You’ve hit a decision point. Now what? This is when life begins to feel hard. This is why some people will tell you life is hard. It is when you don’t have a plan. So that begs the question, what does that plan look like, and what are the things that comprise this plan?
That’s where I come in!
Throughout my life, both personally and professionally, I’ve learned to cope with change, adversity, emotional highs and lows, broken relationships, loss and fear. I’ve been forced to persevere and learn. I’ve moved up and down the eastern seaboard, moved around in jobs, been in big life relationships that fell apart, thrived, nosedived and were put back together.
When we start to look at the areas of our life, a great way to think of things is through the paradigm of the four states: Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual. I’ve relied on this as a standard to help me evaluate experiences and make sense of my life. But I’d like to take things a step further. I like what UC Riverside’s Wellness program has done, taking things a step further.
They define Wellness in seven dimensions. They are:
This is a valuable way to start looking at each part of your life. It helps you break down the way you think, the way you feel and how to better program yourself for success. It’s also a brilliant way to position yourself to overcome roadblocks and keep powering through to outcomes you desire: a great job, loving partner, peace of mind and robust health.
I broke down each area in a way that hopefully better provides context for how to maximize your potential and overcome roadblocks. I use values as a foundation to help further guide you. After all, I just wrote a book on this that will be out this summer! Here you go:
Step #1: Think like a champion. Every day, you have a choice. You control your thoughts! This line always bears repeating. Why? Because we’re creatures of emotion. We undergo mood swings, highs and lows, self-doubt, anxiety and worry. It’s easy to fall into traps. Start each day thinking and believing you’re going to do great things.
This leads to a thirst for knowledge and a desire to succeed. Intellect requires anticipation! The belief that your next great idea will be one that transforms your life. Take it from me — I sat on the idea of being a writer for a long, long time. I had stops and starts, but always seemed to end up withdrawing for a while. While I never gave up, I put off my dream.
Thankfully, I mustered up the courage to keep going. I had a desire to keep learning, keep uncovering new ideas and finding out answers. I want to help people build their personal game plan. This all starts with an intellectual desire to grow. I encourage you to keep learning and building upon each day as you go. Each day there is a victory to be had.
Focus on your long-game strategy, as well. This is where persistence will power you through and keep you going on the days where you begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. Keep focusing on you. Keep learning new things. Stay open-minded and have a voracious appetite for meeting new people, taking new opportunities and learning new ideas.
You have to take care of yourself. Despite how many millions Men’s Health and the like make telling you how much you should lift weights and work out, it all begins with your diet. Any fitness specialist worth their salt will tell you that you have to eat well. Take care of your physical body. Sure, exercise and do physical activity like running and riding a bike.
But it all begins with what you put in or don’t put in your body. Eat well, take the things out of your life that you don’t need. For example, I recently decided to stop drinking alcohol. Maybe not forever. But probably for a while. It’s something I just don’t need. It’s going to strengthen my willpower and improve my physical health.
Remember: Eat well, get a good night’s sleep and refresh each morning.
Build and maintain positive, transformative relationships. Begin with the people closest to you — most likely, your family. But also, invest in the people you work and attend school with. I assure you, I write this as much for me as I do for you: don’t be shy. Let people know you care.
Go beyond your immediate circle, once you’ve built great relationships, and interact with people in your community. There are so many great ideas and opportunities to be had. Extrovert or introvert — it does not matter. We’re social people, meant to love and grow with the people in our environment.
The day you take the initiative — the first step — to show a genuine interest in others, the more you add love to your life.
Occupational wellness is about the fulfillment you get from the job you do. This is where I specialize in my coaching work and writing. I know what this is all about because for far too long, I wasn’t happy. I was disgruntled, lazy and unfocused. Let me give you the secret to improving in this area:
Take more chances — increase your risk tolerance!
The world truly gives you what you ask of it. If you want to one day open your own coffee shop, then by God, it will happen if you start working toward this dream. The same can be said for any entrepreneurial, nonprofit or corporate venture. My wife is a great example of this. She set a goal nine years ago to become an executive director in the nonprofit world.
I proudly tell you that today, she is an executive director. She worked for it, believed in it and took the necessary steps to make it become a reality. She got there because she took chances. She accepted positions that weren’t always the cushy, comfortable ones, but rather, ones that challenged her and broadened her horizons.
She took on more responsibility and it paid off. You have to be willing to risk something in order to get what you really want.
There’s a lot to cover in this topic on emotional intelligence and wellness. But let me begin here: Don’t take rejection personally (even though it’s always personal). Because, guess what? You will be rejected. You will be disappointed in life. In your personal relationships, jobs, entrepreneurial endeavors, you name it. You have to be willing to steel your resolve to overcome adversity!
If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, fear, worry or other challenging emotions, you need to get these feelings out. This might come through counseling, writing, physical exercise or discussing things with a friend. The more you make sense of the emotions you feel, the more you learn how to grow in emotional intelligence.
It’s also great to share emotions of love and joy. Take five minutes out of your day to let someone know you love them. Accept being loved! Focus on the way you feel and begin to keep a journal. This is so important for gaining equilibrium in your emotional life.
Focus on what you can control. I love how the UC Riverside Wellness center defines this: “The ability to develop congruency between values and actions and to realize a common purpose.”
I’m such a big believer in taking your values and then using those to determine your actions. The spiritual side does not necessitate a religious experience. But I do believe a strong spiritual side means cultivating faith in yourself and others — and for me, God. Faith is the foundation of my values structure. You have to believe in yourself first.
Get in touch with the things you can control. Know what you are able to do, what you can’t and come to peace with these things. Then, build your life around your values and work on your plan.
What are you legitimately doing to make the world a better place? I’m a big believer in doing things for you, that are within the rhythm of your personal DNA. But I also believe those actions should provide value to others. So, who are you looking to give back to? In other words — what are the results of your actions, which are driven by your values structure?
Care about your environment. Make decisions in the best interest of preserving the world around you. Then, make it a better place.
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