Obstacles Don’t Define You: 7 Ways To Jump That Hurdle

Lady riding a horse through an obstacle race
Overcome your obstacles

It’s convenient to think that truly successful people were simply more fortunate from the beginning, that they had the talent, the looks, and the money. Yet, there are countless examples of people who have reached unparalleled success despite significant obstacles in their lives. Very often, their limitations propelled them to strive for heights they may not have reached otherwise.

Obstacles are like hurdle races; so when you are in a hurdle race and you see a barrier approaching, what do you do?

You quicken your pace and with your entire strength jump over it. That’s exactly what you need to do right now. When you see an obstacle in your path, don’t stand in front of it and expect it to move because it’s not going to.  Pick yourself up and JUMP.

All you need is those few seconds of courage and then you’re over it.

I always hated taking tests. My palms would get sweaty, my head would spin and I would always think, “What if I failed ?” This was a personal demon that I faced throughout my formal education but guess what, I survived.

Here are a few tips that will help you overcome your obstacles:

1) Define the problem: 

Who can eat an entire pizza in one mouthful? Similarly, some problems are too big to chew all at once. So take a minute or two to understand and define the problem, segregate it into what the problem entails and what it does not. Having done that, now drill the problem and break into tiny pieces,

Once you have a set of manageable pieces, solve each individually. When a given obstacle is broken into bite-sized chunks, it is easier to see the patterns, symptoms, tools, and techniques to apply and the actions that need to be taken.

2) Positive outlook:

To overcome any obstacles in life, the first thing you need to do is keep yourself calm. We as humans are programmed to fear uncertainty. Just because you have encountered a roadblock doesn’t mean you can’t take a detour. Look at your obstacle as an opportunity to learn something new and to test your ability and wit. That is not easy to do with deadlines and pressure, but keeping a positive outlook will go a long way towards making each issue a bit less daunting.

Heard of the app called Whatsapp? We wouldn’t have that app had the creator, Brian Acton given up. In spite of having considerable experience at leading firms such as Yahoo and Apple Computer, he got turned down by Twitter and Facebook. He overcame these hurdles positively and that’s what set him apart. He then went on to create and sell Whatsapp to Facebook itself, for a whopping 19 biliion dollars!

3) Ask questions:

I remember many courses where my classmates sat in class, dumbfounded. We did not understand an important point during the lecture, yet nobody asked a single question.


Mostly it has to do with the fear of looking stupid. Often, I find that people do have the same questions as I do, but for some reason, they are too afraid to ask them. Regardless, before you can solve a problem you must first understand it. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask as many questions as you need. Don’t feel shy. You are not stupid. There are no stupid questions, only those that you do not yet have an answer for. Remember when Einstein asked, “What would happen if  I rode a beam of light?” Seemed pretty stupid then but you can you imagine your life had Einstein not asked that question and then strove to find an answer to it?

Ask more questions to overcome obstacles
Always ask

4) Change your approach:

Perspective is how you approach a problem. Analyzing an obstacle from different perspectives, helps you get a more comprehensive understanding of it. Everyone runs into obstacles along the way. If we get lost in the way, while driving a car or riding a bike, we have several choices. Either we can stop and ask someone for directions or we can pull out a map and view the landscape from where we are or we can call ahead and ask for pointers to look for to help guide us in an attempt to get back on track. It takes patience to understand the problem and how to approach it. In other words, don’t freak out. Keeping a stable and balanced view of your obstacle is a must.

5) Doubt your doubts:

So how do you make the above changes? You need to doubt your doubts and live your life with trust and faith. If you need to break out of your labyrinth of misfortunes, you also need to break out of your traditional belief systems and don’t fall victim to them. Like Descartes said,

“In order to determine whether we can know anything with certainty, we first have to doubt everything we know.”

Let’s face it: sometimes things don’t unfold the way you expect them to.But don’t worry, you can change the current and swim back upstream.

6) Set goals:

Try using the S.M.A.R.T. (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) method to set achievable yet challenging goals. Then track your progress so you can make the adjustments along the way. Here’s how you can set your goals to set yourself up for success. 

Successful people have an end in sight and they work hard to get there. Actor Jim Carrey, who had to overcome dyslexia and the trauma of being homeless as a child, wrote himself a check for $10 million for “acting services rendered,” post-dating it to ten years in the future. Keeping this check in his wallet helped him visualize his goal of becoming a successful actor one day.

7) Be realistic:

Emotions or stress can sometimes affect our thinking and judgment. Do not let these emotions cloud your mind.

In most cases, problems are best dealt with, logically. We sometimes tend to believe in a solution more than the facts revealed. It is important to beat against the current but don’t be irrational about it and look at the facts.

There are judgments to be made based upon the information you have at hand or you can readily discover and be honest with yourself. If you find you are too emotionally charged, pause for a moment and let yourself calm down first. Step back from the challenge and maybe give it another day.

Many challenges in life may seem insurmountable and limiting, but people throughout history have proven that obstacles can be overcome and even be beneficial. Remember what Walt Disney said,

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”


Divya Jalan
Divya Jalan is a freelance writer from Mumbai. She’s an avid reader and probably the biggest fan of Haruki Murakami. An aspiring teacher, who enjoys speaking and reading French. She adores French movies just as much as Hollywood.

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