We’re having trouble with our garage door. It won’t open or close and keeps telling us that there’s an obstacle, even though whatever might be blocking its path is invisible to us. We’ve looked over every part of the garage where the garage door goes up and down and there is nothing standing in the way.

My husband Alan ( he’s in charge of maintaining the garage door functionality!) says there’s a fake obstacle.

It made me think about how we create and maintain fake obstacles in our life.

I say it myself all the time, “I can’t do this thing because this other thing is in the way.”

It sounds like this, “I can’t ask for a raise (or get another job or go for that promotion) because I’m not good enough yet.”

You can fill in your reason here…

  • Because I haven’t finished my advanced degree.
  • Because I don’t have the 5 years experience required.
  • Because my coworker is better than me.
  • Because the other candidates are better than me.
  • Because I don’t know what to ask for.
  • Because I don’t know where to start.
  • Because I don’t know anyone at that company.
  • Because…add your reason here!

And yet, when you break it down, when you look closely at that obstacle with a less biased eye, you’ll often find that it’s fake.

Your bias likely runs deep and strong against you. You see yourself as less than when it’s time to be your own advocate. You’ll fight long and hard for your co-workers, your peers and your family, but you throw yourself under the bus at the first sign of defeat.

I get it. There are so many times just don’t feel like doing things that are important to move my business forward. I think about all the things I need to do to get from point A to point Z and it’s overwhelming.

It’s why I zone out at night binge watching Outlander or Suits (which, by the way, is so fun to watch as Meghan Markle’s character frets over applying to Harvard when we all know she’s about to become a real life Princess!).

So, what can you do? 

The only way I’ve found that works for myself and my clients is to make a decision to do it scared and then break it down into easily managed bite sized tasks.

Even if you don’t want to start looking for a job, once you make the decision to do it, it’s easier to spend 10 minutes every evening doing research about new jobs.

The bite sized chunks is important to keep you from feeling overwhelmed and just stopping. Your plan might look like this:

  • Set your timer for 10 minutes
  • Go to Indeed.com or LinkedIn or wherever you want to start your search.
  • Read job descriptions for that 10 minutes to get a sense of what is out there.
  • When your timer goes off, stop.
  • Repeat the next day.

As you do this, you’ll start to map out what your next steps will be. Do them, one at a time, for 10 minutes each day until they are done.

If you want to ask for a raise or talk to your boss about your future career opportunities, it might look like this:

  • Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Go to Indeed.com or LinkedIn or your company job board and start looking at posted jobs or job descriptions to get a sense of what the next level jobs are.
  • Do this for 10 minutes.
  • When your timer goes off, stop.
  • Repeat the next day. Or move on to the next step, which may be crafting your script for the conversation or sending one email to a friend who has a similar job to schedule an informational interview.

The Bottom Line 

The bite sized chunks work. Even when you’re nervous to have that conversation or afraid to move forward or overwhelmed.

This works to overcome all obstacles fake and real. Now can someone please come over and fix our garage door opener?



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