The Big Idea
The bumps in the road are not bumps… they are the road
Questions I Answer
- What do I do if I got off track with my goal?
- How can I do better with my New Years Resolutions?
- How do I get rid of the obstacles in my way?
- How do I pivot after get off track?
Actions to Take
- Start seeing obstacles as opportunities. Obstacles allow us to get off the same old path we’ve been on and to blaze our own trail. Embrace the power of the pivot & you can go down a new path that can ultimately lead you to succeed.
Key Topics in the Show
Utilizing the right framework for goal setting and dealing with obstacles
2 types of obstacles we are most likely to face
4 simple steps to help you overcome your obstacles
Looking at obstacles as opportunities & the power of the pivot
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes:
Welcome to season eight of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton. A podcast focused on using productivity not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most important to you. Join Tanya this season as she focuses on planning for success using proven productivity strategies. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast. And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I am your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 103. We’re continuing our season on planning for success. Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked quite a bit about goal-setting. I’ve gotten such great feedback on these episodes that I’ve decided to go ahead and host a free five day goal-setting challenge to help jumpstart your goals. I’m going to share details about that towards the end of the show. I just want to make sure and give you a heads up about that before we get started, because I really would love for you to take part.
You might remember that last week I had Mandy Harvey on the podcast. As a reminder, Mandy lost her hearing at around the age of 19. She believed her dreams of being a music teacher were over. Instead of just giving up and throwing in the towel on a music career, she turned tragedy into triumph. Some of you might have even seen her on America’s Got Talent, where she stunned the judges and she wowed the audience, and she made her way all the way to the finals. Who would have thought that a person who had lost their hearing could become a vocal phenomenon. That’s what she did. For those of you who weren’t able to listen, I would encourage you to check out that episode, episode 102.
I was really excited to share her story, because I thought she might be just the inspiration we needed to for today’s topic. Today, we are going to be focusing on our obstacles and overcoming them. I’m going to highlight some important goal-setting strategies for you to use. I believe that when you have the right framework, you’ll set yourself up for success and you’ll avoid those pitfalls that can sometimes feel like obstacles. Speaking of obstacles, we’re also going to talk about different kinds of obstacles and how they impact us. I’ll give you some simple steps to help you overcome obstacles.
Okay. Ready to get started? Yeah, me too. I’m really excited about this episode, because I believe obstacles can be opportunities. I think when we change our mindset, when we stop looking at these obstacles as a barrier and instead look at them as opportunities, it really can open up our opportunities for success. That’s what I’m excited about. Before we dive into talking about obstacles, I just want to take a quick minute to highlight some strategies that you really should consider when you’re in goal-setting mode. Having the right framework for your plan, that’s what will
©Productivity Paradox Page 1 of 7
help set you up for success, as you tackle those goals and deal with the obstacles that will come up, because you know, life. Obstacles are going to happen, no matter how well we’ve planned out, it tends to happen. We need to make sure that we’re planning in advance for them.
I think one of the reasons why people struggle is because they don’t know how to write this goals. You’ve heard me before talk about SMART goals. I don’t go too far in depth with it, because we have talked about it before. Just to remind you, when I say smart goals I don’t mean clever or intelligent. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and timed. Right now, it’s really trendy to post articles about how SMART goals don’t work. It’s really kind of a click bait tactic that a lot of people are using to gain attention, because the SMART goal framework has been around since the 1980s, and for good reason, it works. A lot of people will try to go out against it just to get a little more views on their articles.
What I’m reading, because I go through and I read a lot of these articles, is the problem that a lot of people have with this SMART framework is that it doesn’t explain why you should set your goals. I completely agree, but that’s not really what the purpose of the SMART framework is. It’s how to write your goals. Not what your goals should be. That’s the key. When we’re talking about goal-setting, we really start with that first step of reflection. That’s part of what helps you decide what your goals should be. The SMART framework tells you how to write them. I think it’s really important to make sure you’re writing your goals using this framework because it does allow you that ability to shift and be flexible. That’s the biggest catch. We need to be flexible.
I think that’s the biggest secret in goal-setting is that flexible mindset. This is what allows you not to feel defeated when you’re faced with obstacles. My family and I, we like to watch the TV show, The Flash. In one episode, as they were talking about how to battle a villain on the show, this character named Leonard Snart looked at the Flash and said, “There are only four rules. Make the plan, execute the plan, expect the plan to go off the rails, throw away the plan.” It gave me a good laugh, because there’s some truth in that, right? I don’t really want you to throw away the plan, but I want you to be flexible and ready for obstacles when the time comes up.
The bottom line is, if we expect to encounter obstacles at some point along our journey, which we should all be expecting obstacles from time to time, we won’t be so rigid if we’re planning ahead for them. We won’t go out of sorts when our plan goes off the rails, as Leonard puts it. Remember, life is full of ups and downs, and all kinds of curve balls. The more we shift our mindset to be flexible, the more successful we’ll be when we’re faced with adversity.
One of my favorite methods to do this is called the MTO method. You’ve probably heard me talk about it before. The MTO stands for minimum, target, and outrageous. The idea is that you set a minimum goal, a target goal, and then an outrageous goal that is a really big stretch. The minimum goal is the minimum goal that you’re going to be happy with. If you hit that minimum, it’s still cause to celebrate. The target goal is really like, “Oh this will be great. This will be what really makes me happy.” The outrageous is what is going to be amazing and what will
©Productivity Paradox Page 2 of 7
definitely require a celebration. The idea behind the MTO method is you’re setting yourself up for success no matter which goal you reach.
What I love about this method is it allows you to push yourself a little bit more. If you just set one goal, there is no real incentive to keep pushing for a bigger win, right? But if you have that outrageous goal ahead of you, that gives you a little brass ring to reach for. Let’s say, for example, your goal is to clean out the garage over the summer. Maybe your minimum goal is to take the old paint cans out and dispose of them properly by the end of this month. Your target goal could be to take out that paint and get rid of two giant trash bags at the same time, or your outrageous goal could be to take out the paint, and get rid of six giant trash bags, and put up some shelving to organize your tools. You see how each one ramps you up a little bit further, and pushes you, and stretches you?
What’s great about this is some weeks you might be hard-pressed to meet that minimum goal, but if you meet that minimum, it’s still a success. What I see is sometimes we have an obstacle, and we fail for a week, we throw the entire goal out the window. Having that minimum there allows you to have a little bit of success, but it encourages you to keep pushing further, because other weeks you might successfully reach your outrageous goal because you have more time lot more energy. Overall, no matter which goal you reach, you experience some success and that motivates you. It’s the momentum that we want to have here. I think that’s really important when we’re writing our goals.
Once you’ve written out your goals, it’s time to start talking about those obstacles that we’re going to experience. Even the best laid plans will have unexpected obstacles. It’s important to go into your goals with eyes wide open. There are basically two types of obstacles that we’re going to face most likely if we’re working towards reaching any sort of goal, or tackling a project, or whatever it may be. Those that we can control and those that we can’t. I like to think of uncontrollable obstacles as things that are beyond our power, and controllable obstacles are things that get in our way that we have the ability to manage or change or overcome.
Let’s start with those uncontrollable obstacles. These are really annoying curve balls that are thrown at us from time to time that we absolutely cannot control. Usually, these are situations that we have no power over, like a force majeure. A force majeure is just a fancy word that basically means an unforeseeable circumstance that prevents you from being able to fulfill your obligations. Many times, it’s something that’s also unavoidable. It’s unforeseeable and unavoidable. Typically, people think of these things like an event related to nature, or “acts of god” they don’t have to be related to nature, but they’re generally unexpected and uncontrollable. For example, let’s say I’m supposed to get on an airplane to travel to another city to meet a business colleague, and a blizzard comes through town dumping 18 inches of snow throughout the entire state.
In that situation, I would not be able to get on the plane, because conditions don’t allow for air travel, and obviously the airline probably has canceled my flight. All of these things in that domino effect from that storm are not within my control. I can’t really ask mother nature to take her snowstorm somewhere else, and I can’t force the airline to take me to my destination. Even if I consider a plan B option like
©Productivity Paradox Page 3 of 7
driving to my meeting instead of flying, the reality of the situation is the environmental conditions aren’t really going to enable me to get to my meeting is a safe or timely manner. It’s beyond my control. There’s other forms of uncontrollable obstacles that aren’t considered life-threatening, but are certainly life-changing. Mandy Harvey’s challenge with losing her hearing, that’s a prime example. It’s a physical hardship that changed her life, but it’s something she was able to overcome.
Let’s think of a few other examples of these uncontrollable obstacles. It can be a health or medical issue. This could be anything from a stomach bug or a sprained ankle to a long term illness or even a hospitalization. Being laid off of a job, maybe the company is reducing their workforce. A death in the family. A company going out of business, either a company you work for, or maybe it’s a company that you service through your own business. Maybe it’s suddenly having to care for someone like an older parent, or a relative, or a sick kid. We have that from time to time, I know. I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the main idea. Basically, uncontrollable obstacles are life’s mishaps that unexpectedly land in your lap, and you’re forced to take a detour from your current path. Those are the uncontrollable examples.
Let’s talk about the controllable ones. Many times these obstacles are things that get in our way and create roadblocks for us, but they’re things that we have control over, or things that we can sort of work around. Many times it just takes a little mental perseverance, or some creative planning to maneuver around these obstacles and stay on course. Some examples of controllable obstacles are technology distractions, TV, internet, checking email, cellphones, social media. Another one is fear. Maybe you’re not sure where to start. Maybe you have a fear of failing, that can stop you in your tracks. Changes in life like getting married, getting divorced, having kids. Lack of knowledge. Not knowing how to do something, that can cause people to give up on a goal or a dream. Maybe it’s financial resources. Sometimes, it’s our own personal obstacles, perfectionism, procrastination, all kinds of things that we talked about back in season six back when we talked about turning stumbling blocks into starting blocks, those can be obstacles that we can control.
No matter what task, project, or dream that we’re tackling, obstacles are not typically advantageous to meeting our goals. They get in our way, they throw us off course, they basically wreak havoc on the best laid plans, and in general they can dampen our positive mindset. How can we jump over these hurdles when they get in our way instead of letting them trip us and allowing us to fall flat on our face? I want to walk you through four simple steps to help you overcome your obstacles, because I really believe all of these obstacles, we can figure out ways to work around them, we can change the way we’re looking at things.
The first thing is acknowledgement. The only way to get through an obstacle is to first, acknowledge it. Figure out if it’s a controllable, or uncontrollable, obstacle. If it’s a complete roadblock, or is it a small detour? Can you get around it and keep going? Do you need to stop, take a deep breath, and make a change of plans? Once you acknowledge the obstacle, don’t forget, you also can acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to be frustrated or discouraged when an obstacle gets in your way. You’re human. That’s totally normal, and it is frustrating. What’s important is to be honest
©Productivity Paradox Page 4 of 7
about what this obstacle is, and find a way to either evolve or take a detour. Acknowledging is that first step. The second step is assessment.
Once you’ve acknowledged the obstacle, next let’s take some time to assess what you’re dealing with. Remember, some obstacles are out of our control and others are more mental, or we have the power to change them, right? Keep that in mind as you evaluate your situation. Try not to dwell on things you have no control over like blizzards or illnesses. Channel your time and your energy towards the things that you do have power over. A lot of times if it’s something that’s out of your control, it means you’re really going to have to make a big shift or give up on the goal, and that’s okay because sometimes our goals change. We’ll be talking about that in just a minute.
The third step is assistance. Obstacles, no matter how big or how small can really make you feel overwhelmed. There is no rule that says you have to deal with them alone. Seeking help or getting support can be really crucial at these moments, especially when life has thrown you a curve ball and you’re not sure what to do next and you’re feeling a little bit defeated.
We all have moments where we feel utterly and completely defeated. This is where it really helps to have a support system in place. That can be an accountability partner like we talked about a few podcasts ago, or you can ask a significant other, or a friend, or a colleague to help get you through the challenge that’s in your way. Talking and planning with someone that supports your efforts, that will help you get through an issue no matter how big or insignificant it may seem.
Then, the fourth step is action. Once you’ve had time to evaluate the obstacle and determine the next possible steps, then it’s time to act. I like to think of this as the power of the pivot. A pivot is a moment when you realize you have to let go of what you planned for and do something else. Basically when the path to get to your goal has become blocked with an obstacle, you’re at a crossroad. At that moment, you have to decide whether to stay steadfast to your path that you’ve laid out for yourself and planned out and risk failing due to the obstacle, or pivot and shift to a detour. Maybe it’s an alternate path. What I would encourage you to do is don’t wait too long to take action, to take these steps. If an obstacle is one that you can control, seize the opportunity and make the necessary changes to keep moving in the positive direction. Keep that momentum going. Taking action with situations you can control, that helps lead to continued progress. I think that’s really important.
Now, if the obstacle is one that you cannot control, or one that is going to be a major setback, don’t think of it as a defeat, think of it as a delay. When things feel out of our control, like when an obstacle lands in your path, focus instead on what you can control. Like your reaction to the event, your feelings and your emotions. We can’t control everything, but we can control some things. We can control how we behave. I think that’s really important to keep in mind when you’re dealing with these obstacles.
A really good attitude is important when you’re making a shift in plans. Look at obstacles as new opportunities. It’s a chance for a new perspective. Making a new plan as soon as possible, that’s what’s going to help you get quickly back on track
©Productivity Paradox Page 5 of 7
when circumstances are better. Take action by creating a new, alternate timeline and don’t forget to reset your expectations to fit your new plans. Here is what I want you to take away from this idea. Because it’s all well and good, we have four steps there,
we have acknowledgement, assessment, assistance, and then action, but it is a little bit defeating when we have an obstacle.
This is what I want you to remember. Pivots can be incredibly powerful. You might remember what Jeff Goins said back when I interviewed him way back in episode 68. He said, “Failure doesn’t prevent us from success. It actually leads us there.” Sometimes obstacles can feel immense and heavy in the moment, but they’re imperative for our growth. We just don’t realize it at the time. It’s a bit like unanswered prayers. How often have you thought you wanted something, like a relationship or a step up in your career, and then you didn’t get it, but you’re disappointed, but later you look back and you think, “Oh my gosh, thank goodness that didn’t work out.” Right? I know for me, especially with relationships, I really worked hard and prayed that they would work out. Now I’m like, “Woo, dodged a bullet there.” We all have moments like that. Think about how powerful a pivot can be in your life.
John O Leery who we had on the show in episode 89, he was burned over 100% of his body as a young boy. Months of pain. He went through loss of his fingers. Yet, when he’s asked if he would go through all of it again, he says he would. It’s what’s made him who he is today. He’s become a person who helps transform other people’s lives, because he’s embraced the power of the pivot and where that took him. Think too about Mandy Harvey, we heard her story last week. She talked about how she turned her own, personal hardship into a victory. She views her disability as a strength. She no longer can compare herself to other singers, so she’s lost a lot of that doubt she used to have that held her back. That doubt that told her there were so many other singers better than her. This pivot allowed her to take another path, which has led her to some great musical success. It’s not just individuals who can become stronger thanks to the power of the pivot. Groups and organizations, they can pivot for growth.
I want to tell you about a little business that you may have heard of, and how they used several pivot points to turn obstacles into ultimate success. Back in 1998, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin founded a company called Field Link. It was a security company that allowed users to store encrypted data on their Palm Pilots and their PDA devices. It was quite a while back. When things didn’t go so well, they pivoted, and they changed the company name to Confinity, where they changed their focus to digital transfers of funds through their PDA devices. A small change, and they just kind of changed their focus. Still working on these PDA devices and technology, and encrypted data, but it was a pivot. Then, when eBay customers started to use their product, they pivoted again, and they began to focus on eBay. They eventually merged with Elon Musk’s bank. At that moment, they pivoted again, and they changed the company’s name to PayPal.
PayPal basically pivoted to stay alive, and they ultimately created a successful company, because of the power of the pivot. The bottom line is obstacles don’t have to be our enemy. If we embrace the power of the pivot, we can go down a new path that can ultimately lead us to success if we just don’t allow obstacles to defeat us.
Remember, you are much stronger and capable than you give yourself credit for. That I can promise you.
I hope this episode has helped you look at some of the obstacles in your life in a little bit of a different light, and to maybe start seeing obstacles as opportunities, because that’s really what they are. They allow us to get off the same old path we’ve been on and to blaze our own trail. That is what I want for you. To help even more, I’ve got that free five day goal-setting challenge that I told you about at the beginning of the show. It’s absolutely free. We’ll be doing live videos, I’ve got downloads for you, and you’ll have a lot of support of other people going through the same process. I think that can be a really powerful thing. To sign up, just go to inkWELLpress.com/goalsettingchallenge. What I’m excited about is this year could be your year to go from goal-setting to goal-getting, and that is something worth celebrating. Speaking of celebrating, next week is our final episode for this season. I’m really excited for us to pull everything together and close up the season. Be sure to tune in next week. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.