3 Steps for Overcoming Obstacles and Building Success

Passion Led Us Here written in sidewalk - overcoming obstacles in life

Overcoming obstacles is a part of life. You can’t control which ones you’ll face or when they’ll happen. However, you can control how you respond. In this post, I’ll cover 3 strategies you can use to bounce back, build resilience, and deal with future obstacles even better. You’ll also meet someone who is a great example of how to push through challenges to achieve a goal.

do not enter sign - obstacles in your way


What is an obstacle?

Before we dive any deeper, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

An obstacle is anything that gets in your way and stops and/or slows your progress. 

The types of obstacles people face will be different and depend on many factors including:

  • race
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • religion
  • geography
  • access to healthcare
  • physical and mental health
  • family
  • safety
  • education



women on the beach chearing - overcoming life obstacles


What does overcoming obstacles mean? 

We hear this phrase all of the time and we’re taught from an early age that it’s important. However, we’re not always taught what this means and why it actually matters.

Overcoming obstacles means that you can work through a challenge in order to achieve a goal.

For example, you come from a family that doesn’t have enough money to pay for your college. However, you are smart, driven, and passionate about going to medical school. As a result, you work multiple jobs and take out loans to put yourself through college. You also work as hard as possible to keep your GPA high and get accepted into a great medical school.



man with hands up at finish line - overcoming obstacles in life


Why does being able to deal with challenges matter so much?

Being able to overcome obstacles is essential. Starting in childhood, you’ll face setbacks as well as difficult people and situations. Most of these challenges will be unexpected and hurtful.

Some people will luck out and either face few challenges or have lots of support to deal with the ones they encounter. Others will have to deal with more than they should ever have to.  There’s nothing fair about how, when, and to whom challenges are handed out.

Whenever someone faces a challenge, they wonder how they’ll make it through. At first, most people just want to give up. Getting through challenges is hard and, sometimes, painful. Who wants to put themselves through that on purpose?

While some people can gather the strength and determination to make it through, others will give up and stay stuck in an unhappy life. The difference between these two groups: self-efficacy. 



man mountain climbing overcoming challenges



What is self-efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a fancy term for believing in your ability to succeed and get stuff done despite the challenges you’re facing.

Self-efficacy impacts every area of your life because the stronger your belief, the less likely you are to give up when the going gets tough.

People who have a high level of self-efficacy tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful because they don’t give up on their goals.

People with low self-efficacy don’t think their efforts are going to change anything, so they give up quickly.



Jenni Grover founder of chronicbabe.com

image from chronicbabe.com



An example of someone who doesn’t give up: Jenni Grover

Jenni is the founder of the online community, ChronicBabe.com. When she was 25, Jenni was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. More diagnoses followed. She decided to use her situation to change the conversation about young women with chronic illness. Through her work, she empowers a group that usually feels isolated to build a full life beyond illness.

In 2016, Jenni’s new insurer took away the FDA-approved Fibromyalgia medication that was working and made her undergo a process called Step Therapy.

Jenni was taken off of the medication that worked and put on a series of less costly medications. She had to fail on each one before she could appeal to go back on the medication she was originally taking. This process took months and sent Jenni’s health into a black hole. She lost years’ worth of progress.

Jenni won her fourth appeal but her insurance company still refused to pay for her medication.

At the point when most would give up, Jenni chose to do something positive.

She continues to petition her insurance company when faced with regulations that block her progress. She’s also been encouraging others with the same experience to join her fight against Step Therapy.

You can click here to watch a video of Jenni in 2016 talking honestly about her many battles and the importance of activism.

Jenni is a role model for many women with chronic illness and a fantastic example of working through challenges to meet your goals.



woman walking up stairs to make progress



3 key strategies for overcoming obstacles

Even if you’ve been feeling beat up by life for a long time, it’s never too late to make things better for yourself. Any positive action is progress.

Here are three strategies you can start using right now to improve your ability to bounce back, keep going, and make a difference:


1) Pick something you are good at and do it. Then keep doing it.

We gain confidence by doing things we’re good at over and over again.  Identify something you can do every day that will help you make progress toward your goal.

You may have to start small, like writing in a journal or taking a shower every day. There’s nothing wrong with starting at basics.

What matters is that you keep it up, build momentum, and keep adding larger and more challenging tasks.


2) Look for role models and learn from them.

Look for information and support from people who are going through or have experienced similar challenges.

Humans are social creatures. We need to hear that people who facing similar challenges can live full lives. These stories give us hope. This is one of the reasons that support groups and blogs are so successful.

Jenni is a great example of this. Many young women with chronic illness rely on her and her online community for information and inspiration.  


3) Give yourself a pep talk before doing something that scares you.

Your mindset plays a key role in what you take on. Remind yourself that you have gotten through tough times before. Look for specific examples and write them down so that you have a list of evidence.

If you are doing something completely new, remind yourself you have started new and different things before. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don’t. But, you’re willing to try again now and that’s huge.



Next steps

You can’t control which obstacles you’ll face, but you can make choices about how to cope.

Decide you’re going to believe in yourself this time.

Stand up and keep going. Any step forward is progress.

Please share or forward this if you know someone who would benefit from hearing this message.


Stay strong,

Dr. Ronit Levy

Clinical Director

Bucks County Anxiety Center


Written and updated by Dr. Ronit Levy.

Dr. Ronit Levy is a clinical psychologist and director of Bucks County Anxiety Center in Newtown, PA. She specializes in treating teens and adults struggling with anxiety due to Anxiety Disorders, OCD, chronic illness, and life events. Dr. Levy trains and supervises other therapists and presents on mental health in the community.

  1. Jenni Grover Prokopy
    May 2, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I am thrilled you’re sharing this valuable advice and including my post! thank you so much.