Time, attention, money, and willpower are limited resources. Overcoming obstacles requires focusing your resources intelligently. Building focus is like building a muscle. It requires intention and effort to encourage growth.

Scattering your attention and resources limits your ability to overcome obstacles:

  1. Determine what success looks like. Focus is easier to maintain if you have a clear objective. You might need to find a better job in order to purchase the home of your dreams. But what does a “better job” really mean? If you know that it means:
  • A salary of $75,000+
  • No more than 50 hours per week
  • A boss that I respect
  • In the pharmaceutical field
  • Within 10 miles of my home
  • Then you can direct your energy and resources wisely.
  1. Make a list of what you won’t do. The great investor, Warren Buffett, suggests the following exercise: Make a list of everything you really want to accomplish and put the list in order. Circle the top three items. His advice is to avoid everything else on the list as if your life depended on it.
  • Avoid all the distractions in life that don’t matter. Handle your current obstacle. There will be time in the future to accomplish other goals.
  1. Create list of accomplishments at the end of each day. Success can increase focus. A little progress can fuel your attention. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day listing your successes, no matter how small.
  2. Control your thoughts. Keep your thoughts on the actions that will bring about positive results.

Can anything impressive be accomplished without focus? Use your time and other resources to the best of your ability. Distractions may be enjoyable, but they won’t help you conquer your obstacles.

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

Expect Failure

Be prepared for things not to work out. While there are many things we can control about ourselves, it’s not possible to control the rest of the world. Even with intelligent action, the results aren’t always positive in the short-term. Keep in mind that some obstacles can be too great to overcome. It wasn’t possible for Aristotle to walk on the moon.

  1. Failures can provide valuable information. Every failed attempt provides information that can be used to improve your approach or your objective. It has been said that the surest road to success is to fail quickly and often. 
  2. Failures can result in new opportunities. A failure can provide the chance to learn something new or to perfect a skill. At the very least, failure is an opportunity to learn how to control your emotions. 
  3. Understand that failure isn’t final. Abraham Lincoln had many failed business and political endeavors before finally becoming president.


Failure is a common outcome. No one can avoid it. How you deal with failure is under your control. While there will be a few obstacles that can’t be overcome, 99% of the obstacles we face on a daily basis don’t fall into that category.


Be the type of person that takes consistent, intelligent action. Give your best effort and be prepared to deal with failure.

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

– Walt Disney