4 Strategies for Overcoming Life’s Obstacles

By DiAnn Mills @diannmills

Guest Post by Kristen Hogrefe Parnell @KHogrefeParnell

When my now-husband James and I were dating, he helped me purchase my first mountain bike. I knew he loved off-road biking and that this investment would give us hours of quality time together.

Going on three years now, I’ve been riding my Cannondale with him, and he’s been helping me improve my technical skills. Along the way, I’ve had a few falls and close calls, because the trails are often riddled with roots and involve some elevation. (Even Florida has hills!)

The other weekend, I came to a screeching halt. I don’t mind a descent, but this one looked like a cliff from my perspective.

“You’ve got this,” James said. “It just looks like a drop-off, because of the roots, but once you get over them, it’s a smooth slope.” He proceeded to demonstrate as I hopped off my bike for a closer look.

Avoid Delays

Getting off my bike was my first mistake. Hesitation might just be the number one reason that obstacles get “in our heads.” When we give ourselves time to overthink the situation, fear creeps in.

I’m not saying that we should take unnecessary risks. However, in my case, my husband had just shown me that there was no danger and confirmed the drop was no harder than others I’d already done.

Are you tempted to delay a decision you need to make? If you’ve already accessed the situation and determined that you need or want to move forward, what is holding you back? Chances are, the longer you procrastinate, the less likely you will proceed at all.

Remember Achievements

While fear was trying to hold me back, I should have recalled similar challenges I’d already overcome. Moments earlier, I had climbed a hill that sent me slipping backward a year ago. Today, I pedaled up the incline, no problem.

Also, compared to the drops I’d completed on our bike trip to Bentonville, Arkansas a few months prior, this descent was a cakewalk.

We tend to get stuck mentally. However, if we can find the presence of mind to realize we’ve already overcome similar obstacles, we can move forward with confidence.

Visualize the Goal

As I stood at the top of the drop-off, I looked past the drop itself to the path that would let us continue our trail ride. Then, I gave myself a pep talk: Just do it, and then you’ll be on your way. There’s no other path to return to the trail. Go slow, and in seconds, you’ll be right where you want to be.

“I’ll video you!” My husband called, giving me a thumb’s up.

Perfect, so we have evidence of how I lost my front teeth.

I had to shut down my sarcastic internal monologue and focus back on the trail. I could do this. I would be on the path in no time.

And so, at turtle speed, I spun my pedals toward the descent and kept my eyes focused where I wanted to go.

Stare at Success

Looking where you want to go is a key skill in biking and in life. For example, if the trail is narrow and you have to maneuver between two trees, a beginner’s mistake is to look at the trees. Guess well? You’ll hit them if you focus on them.

But if you look at the trail beyond the trees, you’ll avoid a painful collision. Sure, you might have a wobbly moment, but you’ll end up where you aim.

So often, we focus on failure and not on success. We see all the reasons we might not “make it,” which can become self-fulfilling prophecies. However, if we keep our eyes on the prize, we will press on until we reach it.

Believe it or not, this idea is biblical. The Apostle Paul says, “… forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14 NKJV).

Paul didn’t look at the path behind him or the distractions around him. Instead, he stared straight ahead, remembering that the end goal was living his calling to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That day on the bike trail, as I stared hard at where I wanted to go, I made a flawless descent. My confidence rising, I even rolled some other technical lines later that day that I’d never dared before.

Whether we are sharing our faith, practicing the gifts God has given us, or seeking to fulfill a dream, we can conquer the obstacles that try to make us swerve off track and find satisfaction in besting them.

Which strategy seems most helpful for defeating an obstacle you’re facing?

You are an overcomer!



Kristen Hogrefe Parnell is an award-winning author and life-long learner. An educator and mentor at heart, she teaches English online and is an inspirational speaker for schools, churches, and podcasts. Her young adult dystopian novels, The Revisionary and The Reactionary, both won the Selah for speculative fiction, and she has several new projects in the works. Kristen and her husband live in Florida and enjoy sharing their lake home with family and friends. She blogs at KristenHogrefeParnell.com where she challenges readers to find faith in life’s everyday adventures.

Thank you, Kristen!