5 Ways to Push Through the Mental Roadblocks
There will always exist in at different points in your life roadblocks you will have to push through. Those mental or physical obstructions which prohibit us from completing a certain task, activity, or goal. Every time one of these roadblocks appear we have one of two options, we can simply stop and give up. Or we can push through the roadblock to achieve our dreams.
Overcoming My Roadblocks
These roadblocks pop up almost every time I go out to ride my bike. I really want to ride my bike, I thoroughly enjoy being outdoors, getting exercise, and exploring the mountains on two wheels. But it seems like every time i start the ride my mind and body are saying “dude, don’t do it, just go back home!” I am tired, my body is sore, my pain is spiking, my mind is wandering, and part of me wants to recline on the couch and watch some football or a movie to unwind. But I have learned to push through. It is not fun, but no matter how badly my mind is screaming, I keep pedaling.
What I have learned over time is that if I keep pushing, more than likely I break through the obstacle. If I keep riding, my mind and body will eventually settle in and I begin to enjoy the ride. Sometimes I even end up riding farther than anticipated. But I never would have known this about myself or this ability to push through the roadblocks, if I quit every time I did not feel like continuing. I would have missed the mountains, the views, the beautiful trees, and feeling great about the exercise. I would have given into the roadblock instead of having the knowledge I can push through the roadblock and experience the greatness which exists on the other side of every obstacle.
In order to push through the roadblock there are 5 different areas I keep focused in order to break through.
1) Focus on the Next Step With The End Goal in Mind
When I begin my bike rides it is really easy to get caught up in the entire journey. I can get consumed with the facts of it’s a 2 hour ride, there are 2 big climbs on this trail, and there is that one rocky section I can never make through without getting off my bike. If I think too much about those obstacles, especially at the beginning of my ride, it can derail my entire ride before i even get on my bike. What I do is focus on what is in front of me; can i make it to that tree, the bend in the road, or sometimes make it past the cows (entirely different story). I know in the back of my head where the finish line is, but that is not as important as simply getting to the next point.
This is how you need to address the obstacles in your life. When doubt or fear creep in, do not think about the end goal, think about the next step. What next step will get you closer to your goal? What next step will bring you closer to completing the task? Do not let the fear of the obstacle in front of you, or the magnitude of the task, derail you from taking the next step. Sometimes pushing through is just taking it one step at a time in order to cover more ground. As long as you are still moving toward your end goal, then you have been successful.
2) Keep Grinding
I remember a couple of rides over the last few months where I wanted to quit about 5 times within the first 30 minutes. I had either not ridden in a while and was gassed, did not eat enough, or had just eaten. But each situation made me want to turn back for home. Instead of giving up I kept grinding. I would just put my head down, look at my feet and keep pedaling. The grinding action, which would require my full attention, was enough to push me through my obstacle. I would literally grind my way to the next milestone until I eventually had moved passed all of my doubts and fears.
It is easy to give up. It is easy to throw in the town and turn back for home. It takes a lot more strength, resolve, and fortitude to grind it out. But the grinding action is what separates you from the rest of the crowd. When you get stuck on a project or task you may have to take a step back and make sure you are addressing it properly. But then you may just need to put your head down and grind it out. The action of moving forward will push you through the obstacle. Then once through the obstacle, you may get an entirely different view of the problem or task. You are stronger than you have ever imagined, but you will never realize this strength until you grind through the obstacle.
3) Know Yourself
One of the key aspects of pushing through your obstacles is knowing yourself. There are a few times where I did have to turn back. These are few, but necessary. I know myself well enough now where I can distinguish between me just letting my fears get the best of me to knowing something is a little off and I need to turn around so I can fight another day. This mentality and acuity is important to know when to push through and when to throw in the towel. If I attempt to push through the obstacle when I am not mentally and physically ready I run the risk of causing more damage and derailing my journey for an extended period.
When you come across an obstacle, know yourself well enough to understand when to push through and when to stop. More times than not, you have the ability to push through any obstacle in your path. If you are quitting frequently then you need to evaluate that piece of your life. Knowing when you need to take a step back, reevaluate, and reassess is crucial. Quitting is a grand quality when it allows you to attack better and with more precision on another day. Know when to push and know when to quit. It could be the greatest gift you give yourself in achieving your goals.
4) Remember Past Experiences
When I begin a ride and the obstacles begin to appear, one of the first thoughts which comes into my mind is “Eric, you have done this trail dozen’s of times, keep going.” You see I have done this trail before, many times before. I have even felt this exact same way when I started this trail before. This remembrance allows me to push through the momentary obstacle to keep going. It is a reminder I do have the strength and ability to push through this time to keep moving forward.
This is why, I believe, it is important to journal. Write down those times you came face to face with your greatest fear and won. When you conquered the challenges and obstacles in front of you. It is a constant and consistent reminder that you do have what it takes. You are strong enough to overcome. You have been in this exact spot, or a similar spot before and you won. So why would you not overcome now? Remember what you have conquered in the past to keep moving forward to conquer in the future.
5) Visualize Your Journey
When the obstacles try to block my path it is extremely helpful to visualize my journey. I think about the hill up ahead and how brutal it is, but there is a nice flat area just after I can regain my breath. When I get to the rocky climb, I need to stay to the right side of the path. Or when I get on the other side of the mountain, the downhill part is a blast and the whole reason I suffer through the climb. By visualizing what is in front of me, I am preparing my mind to prepare my body for what is ahead.
When you enter a new task or project, begin to visualize your journey. Even if you have not been on this particular trail, you have probably done something similar. Begin to get into your head what it is going to take, where are the breaks, where are the tough spots? What are the milestones you need to hit along the way. While you cannot prepare for everything, by visualizing what is ahead you are eliminating as many mistakes, excuses, and fears as possible before you even get to that spot. This lessens the obstacles and can allow you to move through them with more purpose and intentionality.
You will never be able to eliminate all of the obstacles in your life. The goal is to find out how you can move through them as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
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