Over-estimating obstacles and under-estimating you. Turn it around – Part 1

06/07/11

Photo by Margaret Durow

“I really want to become a fiction writer, but it is so hard to get published. I’m not sure if I have what it takes.”

“My dream is to become an actor, but it’s impossible to make it out in the beginning without knowing someone with a foot in.”

“I just want to be an artist, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make a living out of it.”

“My dream is to live abroad for a year, but I can’t afford it.”


Sounds familiar? If you’re not saying something along these lines yourself, I’m sure you’ve heard others say it.

I know I’m guilty of always throwing in a BUT at the end of my dream statements.

I’m seeing a clear pattern when it comes to dreaming big and the obstacles that are keeping you back.

It’s easy for me to see that the girl I’m talking with is over-estimating the possible obstacles to make a dream come true. And it’s easy as an observer to see that she is grossly under-estimating her own abilities.

Are you doing the same? It’s hard to notice this in ourselves, as we hold our beliefs so close to our hearts that it impairs our vision. Right now, it doesn’t matter where these beliefs came from, we’ll deal with that later. Right now our focus is to re-phrase and turn around the over- and underestimating.

How to turn obstacles into possibilities + motivation

1. Start out by mapping your own thoughts by finishing the sentence: “[My dream] is impossible because …..” If this comes easy to you, you might be over-estimating what it takes to get there. Don’t judge your thoughts at this point, just get it out of your system. It might look like this:

Living abroad for a year is impossible because I don’t have any money saved up, I don’t know the language, I won’t be able to get a job, I don’t have a passport/visa, I can’t take any time off my current job/studies, I’m going to miss my family, I won’t be able to take my cat/dog/horse/kid ….. The list goes on an on.

2. Now look at what you have written. Are your obstacles reasonable? Are they unavoidable? Impossible to overcome? Would you say this to a friend who shared a dream like this with you? It might help to leave the list for a few days before you get back to it. Do you still see the same obstacles? It can also be wise to go through the list with a good friend or two. Do they see the same obstacles as you doo?

3. Make a new list of all the people you can think of who have achieved what you want to achieve. Google is your friend. Did the same obstacles apply to them? How did they overcome them?

4. Finish the sentence “[My dream] will happen because …” or even “[My dream] will come easy to me because …” This might feel a little more difficult than the first list. It might look like this:

Living abroad for a year will come easy to me because citizens of my country don’t ned a visa, I already have a passport, I can get an extra job for a while before I go, I have a friend who knows someone I can stay with for the first few weeks, I can skype with friends and family… This list goes ON!

5. Take a look at the items on list 1 that aren’t as easy to overcome. Take a sheet of paper and write each problem on top of a sheet. Now take a step back and pretend the person in question is someone else than you. This makes it easier to sneak past the fears and the what-ifs. How would you help someone else build a strategy to overcome this problem? This is where you turn problems into solutions and to-do’s. Here is how it might look like:

Problem: I won’t be able to get a job there because I don’t know the language well enough.

Possible solutions: You could apply for jobs withing the expat community, you could get a job that doesn’t require too much costumer service, you can take language classes before you leave, you can start your own online business, you can get a possible manager to hire you based on your charm – not your language skills, you can save up everything before you go, you can start a kickstarter campaign to help you fulfil your dream, you can work as an au pair …

Keep in mind that there will be obstacles, challenges and problems to solve. That’s part of the game that makes it all so much more fun and rewarding. The trick is to not over-estimate them, but see them realistically enought so that you don’t put off working towards your goal, and don’t under-estimate the obstacles so much that they throw you off track.

Over to you: Do you over-estimate the challenges it takes to get where you want to go? How do you solve the problems in your way? What problems are you working on right now?

Part 2 is coming Thursday: How to turn self-condemnation into self-confidence, belief & happy dance

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane July 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm

hey Marthe :) you have no idea how much I needed this. thank you! can’t wait for part 2 :)
take care!

Reply

Marthe July 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I really hope it helps! Let me know if you get stuck and need a little help! :)

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Christina July 8, 2011 at 3:23 am

“I really want to become a fiction writer, but it is so hard to get published. I’m not sure if I have what it takes.”

^That’s EXACTLY what I tell people when they ask me about my dreams. Word for word, practically.

This post helped, though! :)

Reply

Marthe July 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Glad it helped! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help make your dream come true!

Reply

Krissy July 8, 2011 at 3:35 am

Wonderful advice and a great system to help work through this situation, Marthe! I’m going to be graduating university next year and I can already hear myself saying, “Oh, I’ll never get an internship with this company, or I’ll never get into the design firm I want”. No, Krissy. No! Find a way!

Reply

Marthe July 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

YES! There’s no doubt in my mind, you’ll find a way in no time!

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