Overcoming Obstacles: 4 Tips to Clear The “How Hurdle”
As a coach, I’m privileged to be part of a process where my clients create a new and exciting vision for their lives and take action towards it. The excitement is palpable as they connect with what’s truly important to them. But often they’ll hit what I call, the “How Hurdle.” “How will I do that?” or “How can I get myself from here to there?” The excitement starts to deflate as they focus on not knowing the clear answers to the “How” Hurdle.
Think of a hurdler, about to take off from the starting blocks. Looking up from their hurdler stance, the finish line is not even visible. What do they see? Nothing but a line of tall, solid ominous hurdles blocking their way to their goal.
It’s the same for us in our lives. We want to get somewhere but we don’t know “how” to get there. Many head for the dressing room before the race to the finish line even starts. I’d like to share simple ways to overcome this phenomenon of the “How Hurdle”.
1. “How?” isn’t as important as “Where” and “Why?”
Part of our mind likes to solve problems, so it will naturally prompt that “how” question. Asking “How” first is like putting the cart before the horse. Ghandi didn’t ask himself how he’d get the British to leave India. Instead he… held steadfastly and articulately to his vision and then followed a course of action that revealed itself as he went along.
The more important and empowering questions to ask yourself are “Where?” and “Why?”. Where do you want to go? Why do you want to reach that new goal? Why is it important for you to learn how to solve that problem? The answers to the “where” and “why” will give you the motivation and energy to find the “how” as you take action.
2. Building a Big “Why”
If your “why” is big enough, you’ll figure out the how. You just hunker down and start doing whatever it takes to get the job done. If a family member required urgent medical treatment and you didn’t know anything about the medical system or how it works, it wouldn’t take long for you to take action, would it? You’re motivated, so you’d ask a lot of questions of the doctor or others, go online to research, or pick up the yellow pages to look for support groups.
Connecting to your “why” will commit you to action. Commitment is the key to knocking those “How Hurdles” down. The “how” will appear once you make that commitment to your “why”. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred .. unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
3. “I Don’t Know How” as an Excuse
Have you ever used the phrase “I don’t know how” as an excuse for inaction? What would you say to a young child who said “I don’t know how” in the face of having to try something new? You’d most likely let them know that it’s OK to make mistakes and learn from them.
But perhaps you really meant, “I’m not ready to move forward” or “My goal isn’t really clear or important enough to me”. It’s more empowering and accurate to be honest about it, especially with ourselves, than stand behind an excuse.
4. Nevermind the Naysayers
Have you ever decided to try something new, despite your own questions about how you’ll succeed, and then the moment you share your new goal with someone they turn into a dream-stealer. They’ll pepper you with questions like, “So how exactly are you going to do that?” Unfortunately, some of those naysayers are people who are the closest to us. They have a great skill for putting more “How Hurdles” up on the track.
Don’t let the naysayers stop you! Take a moment to share your “why” with them and how it’s going to look at feel for you to accomplish that goal. Invite them to support you by brainstorming how you could accomplish the goal. Share your commitment to doing whatever it will take to cross the finish line.