Overcoming obstacles and staying focussed

Overcoming obstacles with NLP

Previous articles in this series about achieving success have covered the topics the mindset for successwhat does prosperity mean to you (including defining your life purpose, and setting and achieving goals), overcoming limiting beliefs and taking control of your timeThis article covers how to overcome other obstacles to your success, and some tips to stay focussed.

For many people, even the naturally positive and focussed, there are usually obstacles and distractions on our journey towards achieving goals. Obstacles could include other people in your life not wanting you to achieve the goal, your own impatience / frustration at lack of progress, lack of knowledge (yours and/or other people’s), changing circumstances / priorities and overwhelm.

Whilst whole books could probably be devoted to each of these obstacles, here are some brief tips.

Other people in your life not wanting you to achieve the goal

It is not uncommon for friends and relatives to (unconsciously) not want you to achieve your goals. This may happen because, for example, they are jealous of you, or scared that they will look inadequate in comparison to you, or that they will ‘lose’ your friendship / love / attention if you were successful, or that their ego wants them to appear better than you. Sometimes they may be very subtle (e.g. being ill when you have an important meeting), and sometimes they may clearly sabotage you (encouraging you to eat/drink unhealthy foods when you’re on track to reach your target weight/fitness level). If you become aware of this happening, you might want to address it tactfully even if it may temporarily cause friction, or simply notice it and stay focussed on your goals and the actions to take. It may be that you would benefit from having a conversation with your partner and very close family to discuss the impact of you achieving the goal on them (as a general goal-setting tip, always consider the impact of your goals on other people before you embark on them). Also, remember, true friends and people who really love you will want you to succeed and feel empowered. You may want to re-consider who you spend time with, or how much time you spend with them.

Impatience / frustration

Here are two simple NLP-based methods to deal with impatience and frustration. Firstly, look for other ways to achieve your goals or to complete the steps. Use an NLP technique called ‘Lateral Chunking’, which involves asking yourself questions like:

  • For what purpose do I want this?
  • What will this do for me/how will this benefit me?
  • What is this an example of?

and then ask yourself:

  • What’s a different way to achieve this?
  • What’s a different example of this?

For example, when I was doing the dissertation for my MA, I wanted to speak to the first team Premier League goalkeepers to help in my research. I was finding it a challenge to get responses from them, so I asked myself some of the first set of questions. When I realised that I wanted to speak to people who knew a great deal about goalkeeping at the highest level, I asked myself the second set of questions and realised that I could achieve what I wanted by contacting other senior goalkeepers at each club, goalkeepers in the Championship (one level down from the Premier League) and Premier League goalkeeping coaches.

Another method is to use an NLP technique called ‘Perceptual Positions’. Essentially this involves seeing the situation from other perspectives, for example the perspective of other people involved, and from someone who is completely neutral. Often stepping back can help you to gain a calmer perspective and clarity about ways to move forward. There is a business-related example in a blog thinking outside the box

Lack of knowledge

This is usually simple to address. Identify what you don’t know and then either learn it or pay someone else to do it for you! Similarly if someone else does not have the knowledge, help them to learn it or find someone else to help!

Changing circumstances / priorities

There are times when people set goals under one set of circumstances, and then life ‘happens’, for example pregnancy, redundancy, illness, promotion. In such circumstances, it may be appropriate to consider making small changes to your goal, such as changing the target date, or to completely change the goal to reflect your new goal/ priorities. Keep in mind the purpose of what you want to achieve, and ask yourself whether there are other ways to achieve it.


As a business coach I’ve noticed an increasing trend for my clients, especially those who are employed, to be under pressure and overwhelmed. Whilst to some degree this is a fact of modern-day life, as well as re-visiting the blog on Taking control of your time, please:

  • STOP,
  • take stock,
  • ask yourself whether you are taking on too much in your life or work/business,
  • ask yourself whether you’re a perfectionist and could accept excellence instead of perfection (and use the ‘Pareto 80/20 principle’)
  • delegate where you can
  • defer certain activities until a later date (assuming the overwhelm is temporary; do not defer to store up overwhelm for the future!)


These simple tips will help you to overcome some of the challenges that many people face in the quest for their goals. You may wish to revisit previous blogs in this series. Enjoy your success, and the journey towards it.

Do contact us if you have any questions, and to share your success stories.

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