This article explores “how to overcome challenges life throws at you” with the help of various mindful tips and techniques. It’s likely that as you work towards any one goal, problems will arise, and you’ll eventually have to overcome challenges in life. Life will always have something unexpected to throw your way, which is something we can all expect.
So, you’ll need to be flexible and prepared to change course in light of the unexpected!
It is the supple tree that bends in the gale while the one that is stiff and rigid either snaps or is pulled up by the roots. – Ursula Markham
Table of Contents
I. The Challenges of Life:
Suppose you were planning a journey; maybe you’re going to drive somewhere 200 miles away. You’ve looked at your options – the different routes you could take to get there. You’ve decided what the best route is, and you set off.
All’s going well, but after 50 miles there’s a traffic jam, and they’ve closed the road ahead. Or you get a puncture. Or maybe the motorway service station you planned to stop at for a meal is closed. What to do? Do you give up? Of course, you don’t. You identify and assess your options, and you decide what you’re going to do next.
It’s the same approach with challenges and setbacks to anything you set out to do – you identify what, exactly, the problem is, and then you look for a solution. You might be able to deal with the problem, or you might conclude that Plan A isn’t, after all, going to work out. So, you switch to Plan B.
If, when you were thinking through how to achieve your goal, you identified some alternative options for achieving that goal, you will have already identified a Plan B.
Whether it’s travel plans, a change of career, getting fit, or improving a relationship with a friend or family member, things happen. The weather changes, a road is closed, someone you were relying on drops out, you fall or sustain an injury, it costs more money than you expected. But, if you want it, there’s always away. And, most likely, there’s more than one way. As someone once said: ‘If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.’
II. Overcome A Challenge:
When you’re planning how to overcome a challenge and how to achieve a goal, you can anticipate potential problems and possible solutions. For each step, think about what could go wrong. What’s the worst that could happen while you overcome challenges?
Thinking like this is not designed to discourage you and put you off doing what you want to do. It’s making it more likely you’ll be successful. How come? Because you’ve anticipated the potential challenges and how to overcome challenges and problems, and you’ve already thought through how you would deal with them. Forewarned is forearmed!
What will you do if you run out of time, money, or the ability to do something? Perhaps you’re keen to take on a new project at work, or you want to work freelance or start a business. What might the potential problems be? Think through how you could deal with them. Who could help? What support, advice, finances, or resources could you draw on?
III. Life Is Challenging:
Happiness Habit: Learn from Difficulties
If or when things don’t go to plan, when there are problems and setbacks, as well as identifying your options and finding solutions, ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this?’ and ‘what will I do differently, now?’ Focus on learning and improving, and also on how to overcome challenges. Focus on what can be done rather than what can’t be done; be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
IV. How to Overcome challenges?
Happiness Habit: Keep Motivated
Remind yourself of a good reason for pursuing your goal; why it’s important to you. What will the benefits be of achieving what you want? Maybe it’s a financial or material gain.
Perhaps it’s personal gain: you’ll learn something new, be healthier or improve yourself or your situation in some way. Maybe it’s related to your social values – that you’ll be making a positive contribution to other people’s lives. Whatever it is, get into the habit of reminding yourself how pursuing and achieving your goal will improve your life.
V. How Do You Handle and overcome Challenges?
Happiness Habit: Reach Out for Support and Encouragement
As we have discussed in our previous article, to overcome challenges you will need what Professor Martin Seligman suggests: To be happy, to handle challenges, as well as have aims and goals, we need positive relationships; we need to connect and interact with others.
One reason for connecting with others is the advice and information, support, and encouragement we can get from other people; from friends, family, colleagues, or professionals.
So, share your goals with other people. As Karl Marx advises: ‘Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.’
VI. Overcome challenges and Problems:
- If, or when, there are problems and setbacks, as well as finding solutions, learn from difficulties.
- Remind yourself regularly of the good reasons for pursuing and achieving your goal.
- Get advice and support from other people.
- Regularly review your progress as you work towards your goal and note what you’ve achieved so far.
- Regularly review and, if necessary, modify or change your goals.
VII. How to Overcome Challenges to Goal Achievement?
- In different areas of your life, when what you do and how you live matches your values, things will just feel right. What you do and how you live will feel compatible with what’s important to you. And that will help you to be happy and to overcome a challenging life throws at you.
- But if you’re living your life or parts of your life according to values that you don’t believe in, you may well feel conflicted, out of balance, and unhappy.
- Knowing your core values and secondary values in different areas of your life can help you find meaning and purpose, help you to identify goals, and have things to work towards and aim for.
- The aim isn’t to have lots and lots of goals, it’s simply to be aware that you do have these different areas of your life – work, friends and family, health, hobbies, and interests, etc. – and each area has values and the potential for goals that provide purpose and meaning and can contribute towards your overall happiness.
- As the philosopher, A.C. Grayling says: ‘Happiness comes as a side-line of other endeavors that, in themselves, bring satisfaction and a sense of achievement.’
- There’s a process involved; you’ll need to think about and identify the specific goal, what you’ll gain from achieving your goal, the options for working towards your goal, and what steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal.
- When you’re planning how to achieve a goal, think about what could go wrong. Anticipating potential problems makes it more likely you’ll be able to deal with them because you’ve already thought them through. So, think who could help. What support, advice, finances, or resources could you draw on?
VIII. How to Face Problems in Life?
Take stock of your progress – of what you’ve achieved – regularly. No matter how slow things seem, if you’re working towards the next step, then you’re making progress!
Be prepared to modify your goals. Your priorities and your goals may well change as time goes on, so adjust them to reflect new knowledge and experience. And if a specific goal no longer feels appropriate, then let it go.
A few years ago, for example, I started a Master’s degree in International Business at IPE University. Although it was interesting, after the first module, I changed my mind. I altered my goal: rather than pay to do research and write, I decided to find a way to be paid to research and write.
IX. Daily Challenges to Become a Better Person:
Whatever it is you want to do, whatever goals you’d like to achieve, despite your good intentions you might think ‘it’ll take too long to achieve’ or ‘it’s going to be too hard or it’s too late.
It could be that you think I don’t have the skills or ability, ‘I might not do it right, my friends might not like it, or ‘my family will disapprove’. It’s true; it might be too hard, it might be too late, other people might not like it or disapprove.
There will always be challenges and difficulties. But if you stay where you are, if you don’t push yourself, nothing will change and you won’t be happier.
Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change. – Jim Rohn
X. How to Overcome Challenges Life Throws at You?
What would you do if you knew it wasn’t too late? What would you do if you had the skills, knowledge, and ability to achieve what you want? What would you do if you weren’t worried about other people’s reactions? What would you do if you were sure it would turn out well?
Too often, there’s something you’d like to do but because you know it’s going to take some effort and there’s going to be some challenges and difficulties, you stay where you are; you stay in the same boring job or career, for example, sticking with the course that you don’t like, or putting up with unsatisfactory friendships and relationships. You believe it’s safer not to make changes, not to try new experiences or learn new things.
Although you may be dissatisfied and frustrated, although you may not be happy or feel fulfilled, it’s been like this – you’ve had these routines and commitments, this job or career, these relationships, and friendships – for months or years. It’s what you know, so you might as well stick with it.
Palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware found that many of the people she spoke to at the end of their lives recognized that for much of their time they had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. And they regretted it. She says: ‘The so-called “comfort” of familiarity overflowed into their … lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and their selves, that they were content.’
Don’t be one of those people!
Don’t, for example, be like Ali. Ali figured that if he didn’t try, if he didn’t take any risks in life, then he couldn’t fail. Although he wanted a partner, one special person to share his life with – someone to share interests with, someone who might love him and care about him – Ali wasn’t prepared to widen his social life; to meet new people, and to accept invitations to things he wouldn’t normally have gone to.
He felt that it might not be worth the time and effort. He certainly wasn’t going to try internet dating or go on any of the blind dates that his friend wanted to set him up with; what if the other person was boring or stupid? Or what if he liked the other person, but they weren’t interested in him? Better to turn down a date than accept it and the other person not call him again.
This was Ali’s approach to most things in life – he took no risks. While this approach kept Ali ‘safe’ it also meant that he rarely got what he wanted in life. By risking nothing – by staying in his comfort zone – Ali was trapped in his limited life. He was not happy.
You can’t change situations you don’t take responsibility for. Sigmund Freud once said: ‘Most people do not want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.’ It’s the same with happiness – most people don’t want happiness, because happiness involves responsibility.
If you’re like Ali, the more you avoid making changes, the more entrenched in old habits and patterns you’ll become, and the more likely it is that you won’t fulfill your potential to be happy. You don’t give yourself the chance to discover what you could be capable of, you don’t learn how to manage challenges, and you don’t allow yourself to feel good about yourself for having achieved something. So, you don’t get to be happier.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
Living according to your values, doing what’s important to you and has meaning for you – being happy – does involve making an effort, persevering, taking some risks, and making sacrifices. It means stepping out of your comfort zone. But each time you extend your comfort zone you extend your happiness.
Look for Opportunities to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Write a list of five things you could do that would move you out of your comfort zone; things that won’t involve too much of a stretch. Then choose one of the things on your list and do it.