How to Eliminate Obstacles in Your Path So That You Can Move Forward With Your Goals
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Back when I was in college, I once heard a conversation where my younger sister was teasing my older sister about her trying to ‘lose’ her accent. (We’re from the South.) My older sister got really mad, and told her that she had taken an entire college course to learn how to lose her accent. She was working on her Master’s Degree in Theater, and wanted to be able to perform sometimes. Thus, the accent had to go.
I’d never once thought about the accent, nor the stigma involved in it. Until I read an article about a pretty famous model that had issues with people thinking that the accent made her sound less intelligent, which really bothered her. The two of these things combined made me VERY self-conscious to carry on a conversation with people I didn’t know. And when we moved to New Mexico, it got worse. A co-worker of mine would make fun of the way I said some words, and it hurt my feelings, and put me in pity-party mode.
This has remained all the way up to my thirties. And when I started this blog, I really wanted to think about the possibility of adding in a podcast. It sounded super exciting, since I actually do like to talk. But when I thought about the ‘accent issue’, it came to a screeching halt. How would I get around that? Speak with a fake accent? Try to lose mine like my sister tried to lose hers? How totally un-authentic is that??!
I hated the war in my brain about it–so much so that I finally broke down and had a conversation with my husband about it. He thought I was being silly, and stated that he had never once heard anyone say that it makes you sound less intelligent. Plus he’d found that his accent (originally from West Texas and admittedly less twangy than mine) made him stand out. I truly wanted to believe him, but I just sort of felt like he was giving me the ‘wife’ response–you know, where one spouse tells the other what they want to hear so they quit worrying about something.
My turning point was when I broke down and did a phone call with a branding consultant in L.A. I was terrified to get on the phone with her, and had the same war battling in my head as always: fake accent or real? I ended up just being myself, and you know what–it was fine. As a matter of fact, the second call we had, I voiced my fear to her about it and she was taken aback. She said she’d never in her life heard that a Southern accent made someone sound less intelligent. Her opinion was that it made a person feel warm and authentic, and that she sort of felt like people from the South had better social intelligence anyway–they knew how to make people feel comfortable.
Her saying this made not just my day, but like my entire last lots of years!! I had never thought of it in those terms before, but I appreciated her telling me that so much, it’s ridiculous–and, yes, I told her that!! I briefly considered sending her a pecan pie.
So what’s the point of this silly story? Well, me having an accent has held me back from a lot of things I’ve wanted to do because I didn’t want anyone immediately making the assumption that I’m a dummy because of the way I talk. I’ve been scared to coach–in person, on a call, or on Skype, scared to make videos, and scared to create a podcast. It was my OBSTACLE.
So I’m sharing today one of the best ways I know to work your way through an obstacle. (Besides having two fabulous people talk you through it and prove your insecurities wrong.) Because let me tell you–thirty-something years worth of fear is a horrible way to spend your life. Not to mention tedious since I’ve had to come up with ways to NOT speak.
If you’ve heard of the WOOP method of goal setting, you may already know where I’m going with this. The WOOP method wasn’t terribly effective for me, simply because it focuses on more emotional and flowy concepts. Don’t get me wrong–I can be super emotional with the best of ’em! But I need something hard and certain in black and white right in front of my face. The one part of the method from the book that stood out to me, though, was the part on obstacles. One of the techniques for getting around an obstacle is called a WOOP Intervention. This is detailed out in the book Rethinking Positive Thinking by Gabriele Oettingen.
WOOP Intervention is basically where you print out this little card to carry around with you when you can predict an obstacle for one of your goals. You list the goal, and include what the obstacle is that you can already see coming. Then at the bottom you fill in the blanks so that it reads something like, “When it’s time to _________, and I feel like __________ instead, I will __________.” You’re making a plan to save yourself from the obstacle. I love this, because I’m so busy and scatterbrained all the time, that if I have an obstacle come up, I go with the easiest solution (which usually ends up costing me money or calories.)
My only hang-up with this is that I would probably forget the card is even on me. However–if I’ve made a plan and written it down, the chances that I’ll remember it are like a million times better. My alternative to that would be to set a reminder. You can actually set location-based reminders now, too. So, for example, if you know you’ll be tempted when you walk into the coffee shop to get a giant sugar-laden bear claw when you really just want sugar-free coffee, your reminder will pop up when you get to the coffee shop location reminding you of a healthy snack instead of that guilt-packed bear claw.
Remember that some obstacles are fears, other obstacles are lack of planning. And some obstacles just can’t be avoided. These are usually urgent or emergency situations that come up. What are some of the obstacles you foresee in your tasks and goals getting done? How have you worked around or through them? Let me know, I love hearing solutions! And if you just need another perspective, shoot me an email!