The 10 Obstacles to Finding and Fulfilling Your Purpose…and How to Overcome Them

When you were born, there was a mass of potential inside you. Deep in your DNA, your family history, and the experiences you would have throughout your life were the seeds of someone the world needed.

But somewhere along the way, you stopped believing that your life had meaning. That you had a purpose. That we all really needed you to be here.


Image courtesy of Josh Sniffen on Flickr Creative Commons

And I’m here to tell you that we do.

What I’ve found is that there are 10 things that are holding you back from finding and fulfilling your purpose.

Here in Part 1, we’ll explore the first 5 obstacles and the truth you need to know in how to overcome them.

  1. Fear

The Belief: Fear comes in many forms and can keep us from doing what we’re really meant to do. The two primary ways that fear shows up when seeking our purpose is the fear of failure and the fear of success.

We may think that our purpose has come and gone. That we somehow missed it. Now it’s just the slow decline to the end.

On the other hand, we may think that finding our purpose may involve stepping out into the spotlight. That we are meant to do something massively amazing. That all the world will be watching. And that scares the crap out of us!

The Truth:  When it comes to both of these fears, we have to realize that neither may be true. The fear of failure in finding your purpose, or finding that you might have missed it, can’t be true. If you’re still reading this, there is more for you to do. There’s more of an impact you can make. So while some of your childhood dreams may not come to pass, you may still find out there’s some awesomeness left in your life.

As for the fear of success, let’s do a little ego check. While you MAY be destined for greatness, more often our greatness isn’t what we’ve seen in the movies. You may not be called out on stage and asked to “perform” for the world. Most of the time, it’s on a much smaller scale. Most of the time we just need to do the thing that comes naturally and be the best version of it that we can.

So think big, or think small, but do what feels right. And stop being afraid. Get out there and do it today.

  1. Self Doubt

The Belief: The problem with self doubt is that we can fall into the belief of “who am I to think that the world needs me?” We can easily get sucked into the trap of thinking that we’re just not good enough. Or that others are better. Or that we’ll never get it “right”.

The Truth:  You ARE good enough, but you can always be better. I think it was Zig Ziglar who first said “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great!” So I say, “who are to think that the world DOESN’T need you?” Cause we do! We NEED you to show up and do whatever it is that you’re great at! And you are great at SOMETHING, heck probably A LOT of things!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a cashier at a grocery store, or the CFO of a Fortune 500 company. A custodian, or a real estate mogul. We need you to show up and share your gifts with the world. Just do something that lives out what the world needs from you. And if you’re not doing that thing now, get out there and find it!

  1. Worry

The Belief: Worry is a funny little beast. It can often be confused with fear, but there is a BIG difference between the two. Fear CAN be healthy, and has some benefit if applied correctly (such as to keep us safe from an actual threat to our life).

Worry, on the other hand, is the belief that something bad is headed our way.  That some calamity is stalking us from nearby just waiting for us to let our guard down. Worry has a funny little way of crippling our thought process and prevent us from taking action. It’s the dreaded “what ifs” that rattle around in the back of our head.

The Truth:  Worry has little to no benefit in your life. Actually, it does WAY more harm than good. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to act recklessly and do whatever you please. Quite the contrary. What I AM saying is that instead of focusing on what COULD happen, focus instead on what WILL LIKELY happen.

There is a funny little function of our brain that causes us to find what we look for. It’s the idea that we get what we focus on. So why waste all that brain power and potential on thinking about bad things happening? Instead, focus your attention on what will likely happen if you take specific actions to meet your goals. You may still not get them, but taking steps forward is better than not moving at all.

  1. Naysayers

The Belief: This falls somewhere between worry and fear. Naysayers are the people that will hold us back. Or remind us of our failures. Or just plain tell us that we can’t do something. But ya know what? They’re always gonna be there. EVERYONE has a critic. For everyone that steps into their purpose, there’s at least one that tells them they can’t.

The Truth:  They’re not gonna go away. Ever. So get over it. The truth is that for every single Negative Nelly in your life there are thousands waiting to cheer you on. So forget em. Love em, but don’t let them get to you. Trust me on this one. The critics will always be there, but don’t let them write your future.

Now, an important note here is that there will be some who tell you that what you’re trying to do, whatever your purpose turns out to be, may not work. I DO NOT include those people in the naysayer category. Think of these people as Truth Tellers. There is a massive difference between the two.

And therein lies the trick. Knowing the difference.

Naysayers will try to hold you back. Truth Tellers will challenge your strategy.

Naysayers will push their doubts. Truth Tellers will share their experiences.

Naysayers will tell you that it won’t work. Truth Tellers will tell how you can make it work.

Naysayers will laugh at you. Truth Tellers will laugh WITH you.

So when you’re with a naysayer, carefully discern what their motives are.

And then go find a Truth Teller. Those are the people that want to see you succeed.

  1. Getting over the Past

The Belief: Life really sucks sometimes. It’s filled with disappointment, pain, loss, and every other rotten feeling that you’ve ever had. Sometimes you get sick. Sometimes you fail miserably. Sometimes others fail you and leave you high and dry.

And we can have a tendency to carry that baggage of our previous experiences for YEARS. An often, it’s really heavy.

Sometimes I think it would be more helpful if life came with a warning label.  Warning: People inside come with baggage, and sometimes you’ll be forced to carry it. Some experiences may cause side effects such as exhaustion, painful swelling of emotions, and general weariness. Don’t experience life without discussing your conditions with a trusted friend.

The Truth:  But ya know what? It doesn’t. And you don’t need to carry the baggage of your earlier days. Just set them down.

You have to know that some of the things we try just aren’t gonna work. So if you’ve experienced let down and disappointment ( and you KNOW you have), know that it’s a universal experience. No one has been successful at EVERYTHING they’ve tried. BUT, you can’t ever be a success without continuing to try!

No one has ever succeeded by giving up.

So don’t quit before you start. Get out there and start looking for you purpose. It’s just waiting for you to find it!


In Part 2, we’ll look at the remaining five obstacles of lack of clarity and focus, unexpected issues, everyday busyness, dealing with loss, dealing with letdowns. Be sure to check it out!

Which of these are holding you back? Be sure to include your comments below!

Get Out of Your Own Way (Part 1)

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