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     Six Stalemate Strategies

BARRIERS between us and our goals are inevitable, but they’re not always the enemy we think they are. Life would be dull if we reached every goal with little effort. Climbing over barriers teaches us valuable lessons, makes victory sweeter, and life more satisfying. Barriers can also alert us to goals that may not be RIGHT for us, or just not at this time. It’s logical: the more road-blocks you navigate, the more goals you will reach, and the stronger you will become.

Slay the dragons ahead of time by properly PLANNING your goals, in writing. It’s easy to consider the positives: listing the benefits of achieving your goal, locating resources, creating action steps and plotting them on a timeline, and visualising the end result. But don’t forget the negatives: that is, how you will overcome the obstacles between you and where you want to be. Taking this step increases your chances of SUCCESS. A road-block that may have caused you to give up now becomes a minor hiccup.

Activate your pre-planned strategy, if you have one. If that doesn’t work, double-check that you’re focused on the right goal for the right REASONS. For years, one of my career goals was to leave a company for a ‘better’ position. I was interviewed for three jobs, but narrowly missed out on each one. Everywhere I turned, the road out of my job was blocked. With some soul-searching, I realised that I still had a contribution to make where I was. Within a few weeks, I moved to a satisfying new career within the same company. If you’ve exhausted all the usual avenues, but your goal is still worth pursuing, it’s time for more innovative tactics. Try the following ‘stalemate strategies’ to RESOLVE the impasse.

Albert Einstein said that our problems can’t be solved using the same kind of thinking as when we CREATED them. Put some SPACE between yourself and the problem. Then look at it from different angles: think laterally, ask others for ideas, brainstorm solutions while going for a walk, pretend you are an expert and give yourself advice.

Recruit OTHERS to solve the problem for you. Phone, email, write to and ask as many people as you can for possible solutions. Then wait for one, or many, ANSWERS to be given to you. Barbara Sher advocates this approach to overcoming hurdles in her book, "Live the Life you Love" (Dell, 1997).

List every action STEP it will take to get to your goal. Highlight those you are still able to complete. Make it a game to cross off as many items as possible, no matter how small. Last year, heavily pregnant and in nesting mode, I planned to spring clean our entire house and yard. The enormity of the project overwhelmed me and I didn’t know where to begin. To help myself get started, I divided the job into mini-steps, then took great delight in crossing off all the ‘little’ jobs -– tidying a bookcase, washing a single set of curtains. Before I knew it, the small achievements turned into huge chunks of crossed-off tasks and the job was DONE.

A common mental roadblock –- PROCRASTINATION -– may be in your way. Perhaps you must make a dreaded phone call. Take a sheet of paper and list every step of that phone call, right down to the smallest detail: phone number, who to ask for, exactly what information you need. But instead of scheduling a future time to make the call, sneak up on it right away. Walk to the phone and dial the number. Focus on the facts and not your feelings. You will handle it as you go. Your relief at avoiding days (or months) of unnecessary WORRYING will be immense.

Sometimes you can rework a goal to SIDESTEP the barrier completely. If you plan to get fit by swimming before work, but quickly find getting out of bed early is too difficult, perhaps you could walk after work instead.

Sometimes an impassable road-block tells us our TIMING isn’t quite right. If you can, put the project on HOLD for awhile, and see if the situation resolves itself. Things have a way of happening when they are meant to.

Each time you overcome an obstacle to reach a goal, CONGRATULATE yourself and store away the memory for future use. The next time you reach a road-block, apply what you’ve learned, and you’ll soon be carving a clear PATH to success.


Kim Woodland is a freelance writer living in Australia. She has researched the field of professional organizing for ten years, and writes articles about how getting organized can improve people's lives, help them achieve their goals, and deal with crises. She has also overhauled business records management systems and helped others get organized.

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