What is the number one obstacle that is keeping you from achieving your goal?
Some of the common ones I hear from clients are…
Time – I don’t have enough time to workout or eat the way I should.
Injury/Pain – I have an injury/pain that is keeping me from working out.
Diet – I don’t like healthy foods.
Priority – I prioritize everything and everyone else ahead of myself.
Overwhelm – Everyone has a different opinion of what is the best way to eat and workout, I have no idea what is right so I get frustrated and do nothing at all.
What do all of these obstacles have in common?
They all have a negative mindset associated with them.
“I don’t have…”
“I have an injury…”
“I don’t like…”
“I can’t prioritize right…”
“I am not smart enough to figure things out…”
How can we expect to make lasting significant change when we are starting off with such a negative outlook on our ability to overcome the obstacle we face?
Our state of mind plays a huge role in determining the outcome we desire. The best example I think we can all relate to is food. Lots of people say they do not enjoy vegetables because they have a negative association with them from childhood. For example, maybe your parents forced you to eat some boiled, mushy, bland brussel sprouts when you were a kid.
Ugh how gross!
Now, when you look at brussel sprouts as an adult you immediately are reminded of that childhood experience and say you will never eat another brussel sprout again!
Then, one day you are out to eat with a friend and they order the crispy brussel sprouts on the menu of your favorite steak house. The waiter brings them out and they look amazing, perfectly cooked, crunchy, covered in a balsamic reduction.
Your friend notices you eying them and asks if you would like to give them a try.
You surprise yourself and say “Sure!”
You slowly take a bite and….they are fantastic! You now like brussel sprouts!
Guess what happened?
You broke that negative association you had with brussel sprouts and now have a new vegetable you like to consume!
Another good, and shocking example, is pain and injury. How many times have you heard someone say “I can’t do XYZ movement/activity because it causes me too much pain”?
What if I told you that the pain was all mental, an association they have with that time they did that movement/activity and they experienced pain?
Don’t think that is possible?
In a 1996 study, researchers performed a study on ten people who had osteoarthritis of the knee. Five of the participants had an arthroscopic treatment performed on their knee, the other five just had incisions made on their knee but no procedure was performed. In other words, five of the participants had placebo surgery!
Post surgery the researchers surveyed the participants on their level of pain, gathered data on subjective measures like knee extension and flexion as well as 50 ft walk time, and also asked the participants whether they would recommend the surgery to family and friends.
All participants, including the placebo group, experienced less pain in their knee post surgery. That’s right, the participants who only had a cut made in the skin said they had less pain even though no procedure was ever performed!
Researchers also found no significant differences in subjective measurements between the placebo and non-placebo group.
Finally, seven out of the ten participants, including 4 out of 5 of the participants in the placebo group, said they would recommend the surgery to family and friends.
This clearly shows that pain and injury has a huge mental component to it, and just by thinking a procedure will help us we can actually “heal”.
So how do you change your mindset and the negative association you have with overcoming your greatest obstacle?
The first thing to do is to reword your obstacle.
Here are some examples from above.
Time – My time is currently limited, but I am doing the best I can with what I have available to me to get in physical activity.
Injury/Pain – I have an injury/pain that is keeping me from doing what I want to do right now, but I know this is only temporary and I am finding other ways to exercise while I work to fix the problem.
Diet – I currently have a limited diet, but I am exploring new foods and new ways of preparing foods that will help me expand the options available to me.
Priority – I have a lot on my plate caring for others in my life, but I am working on making time for myself to implement some health care practices.
Overwhelm – There is a lot of information out there on health and fitness, but I am systematically exploring some of the options that I think will work best for me.
In each of the above statements we acknowledge the obstacle, but also include how we are trying to overcome it. The tone and sentiment of each statement is much more positive and eliminates the negative association with the obstacle.
Will this help you overcome the negative association you have with the obstacle and help you conquer it?
No, but it certainly makes it feel like it is possible. Just by knowing something is possible makes it much easier for you to actually achieve it. You will be much more likely to try that movement that caused you pain in the past, to eat the vegetable that always turned your stomach, to set aside the time to workout in the morning, to actually take action on the information you consume throughout the day. Each time you try you are making progress as opposed to having a mindset of “you can’t” do something and not trying at all.
Here is a challenge for you. Try taking your greatest obstacle and rewording it so it seems possible to overcome. Now write it down. Write it down each day in the morning when you wake up. Remind yourself of the challenge and that it is within the realm of possibility that you can overcome it. Then day by day work towards overcoming that obstacle, I guarantee once you start to believe it is possible you will overcome it.
If you need help with your biggest obstacle in order to overcome your biggest obstacle, reach out in the comments below or on Facebook Messenger or Instagram, I am always happy to chat! To get more content like this delivered to you weekly for free, sign up for my newsletter.
- (n.d.). A strategic mindset: An orientation toward strategic … – PNAS. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/09/2002529117 ↑
- (n.d.). Arthroscopic treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a … – NCBI. Retrieved June 4, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8638750 ↑