Identify your obstacles

It has taken me a lifetime to learn that when I’m not making progress towards a goal, it’s because there are obstacles I haven’t yet identified.

It might seem obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me.

In the past, I would just stop working on the project and move on to something else.

That left a lot of half-finished projects in my wake.

There was a pattern

I began to notice my pattern: When the going gets tough, I watch a Hallmark movie.

Realizing that — noticing that there are situations where I stop moving forward — was pivotal, though.

I started asking myself, “Why?” I needed to understand what made me stop.

When I gave myself the time to accept I had hit a wall and explore why, I was able to identify the obstacles holding me back.

As I did this more and more, I noticed that I usually came upon the same obstacles:

  • There’s not enough time.
  • I don’t know how to do it.
  • I don’t have the right tools or resources.
  • I’m afraid I might fail.
  • The next step is so big or complicated that it overwhelms me.
  • Something else became a higher priority.

What are your obstacles?

Are any of those things obstacles for you, too? Or do you encounter other obstacles that keep you from making progress with your book or how you market it?

I thought about this as I continued to work on my 2018 goals with my goal buddy this week.

There have been too many years when I had plans that didn’t materialize. Last year, for example, I was excited about a new book idea. Something stopped me from finishing it.

Pay attention

So this is the year I pay more attention to my rhythm.

I need to notice when I’ve stalled. That will allow me to identify the unseen obstacles in my path and figure out how to move them out of the way.

I’m experienced enough to know I won’t always be able to do that alone. And I’m smart enough to bring in help when I need it.

In a year from now, I want to be able to tell you that I not only identified my obstacles, I figured out how to get over, under, and around them.

My wish for you is that you can say the same.

I hope that you will also pause to think about why you stopped working on your book, its marketing, or anything else that’s important to you. That will help you plan how you’ll navigate around the obstacles you’ve identified.

Let’s use this quote to remind us.

obstacles 2
“Never give in to the obstacles that lie in your path towards the achievement of your dreams.” ~~ Lailah Gifty Akita

If one of your obstacles is lack of a solid book marketing plan, be certain to download my free template. I walk you through every step of the process. All you have to do is click the blue bar below to get your free Book Marketing Plan Template:

What’s holding you back? What are your obstacles? Tell us in a comment. 

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  1. Great article, Sandy. Thanks especially for the list of obstacles. I most identify with “I don’t know how to do it” and “the next step is so complicated, it’s overwhelming.”

    In the past I’ve struggled with “there’s not enough time,” but for me, that was almost always an illusion.

    If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work.” He argues that sustained concentration is necessary to produce high-quality work that’s hard to replicate and therefore valuable to others.

    More importantly, he makes practical suggestions for how to increase your capacity for this “deep work.”

    For me, it was a worthwhile read. I feel more in control and intentional about how I spend my time each day.

  2. Hi Sandra,
    I think the biggest thing for me marketing is the big unknowable thing out there and I knew I needed to learn everything about it (because I know nothing) but then I found myself watching a bazillion webinars and reading a bunch of blogs and then I just feel scattered as opposed to finding one that resonates with me and moving along that path. I am taking a month-long challenge this month and am learning things I never knew and am being challenged out of my comfort zone. I believe this strategy is one I can follow. So, I think I’m finally settling down into one marketing path that I can actually do. I feel some positivity already happening and a change in my own energy so I think I’ve finally found “it!”

    1. I understand that completely, Wanda! I know the feeling. It’s information overload, added with “Whose advice can you trust?” After awhile, the resources you can trust do rise to the top.

      I’m glad the challenge is working for you. That’s great news!


  3. Sandra,
    Thanks, this article resonated on two fronts for me.

    When I’m writing a book, I tend to begin procrastinating at the point where I must tie intersecting story arcs – romance and action. Good to realize that’s what’s going on there. Once I break through that barrier with a book, the writing really flows, and becomes even more fun (which is essential if I’m to keep writing).

    As for marketing, I bought a major AMS ads training last year, but it took me until this January to dive into it – again, because it was more complex than I thought it would be.

    Thanks for the wonderful ‘aha!’ moments.

    1. Such great insights, Cathryn. Thanks!

      I’ve had that experience with courses, too. Sometimes the content requires more knowledge than I have already, and that makes moving through it much more challenging. I have to remind myself to use Google a lot to look up what I don’t understand, ask questions in groups, and to pace myself.


  4. I would say my greatest obstacle is a mental block, but that’s a little vague. Obstacle number one is FOSM (fear of social media, which simply overwhelms me). Facebook keeps changing its rules, and my Facebook business page seems useless. There are groups I want to visit and participate in but rarely seem to have the time. Obstacle number two is poor time management. I would so like to hire a marketing manager and relinquish that hat, which doesn’t seem to fit too well.

    1. Thanks, Bobbi. I know you’re not alone. Maybe it’s time to brainstorm how to make hiring help a reality. Maybe bounce a few ideas around with someone in your network?


  5. I’m in the same boat with Wanda. I became overwhelmed with all the videos, newest fads and webinars etc. Over the last few months I’ve been paring down which ones work, experimenting with some of the paid marketing sites and am slowly moving forward. Now I’ve pared down the number of newsletters I receive and also mostly only read blogs that I know are grounded in reality.

    By the way, congratulations Sandy on your fantastic ranking on Google. I’ve enjoyed your newsletters throughout the years and I believe your ranking is well deserved!

    1. Alison, I feel your pain. I get overwhelmed, too.

      Thanks for the kind words! They mean a lot to me. That ranking was such a lovely surprise!


  6. I run into these obstacles often. Especially the one around failure. What I’d like to share is how I’ve moved through the blocks. I call each of those billeted items “Whispered Lies” from my fear-filled
    mind. To overcome these limitations I’ve discovered 4 strategies & 50 tools to overcome negative thinking. You can check out the ideas on my blog Or purchase my book
    Starting January 31 from amazon or now from Seattle Book company. It’s called “50 Ways to Worry less now.” I know from experience that we need many effective ways to reject those whispered lies!

  7. A spot-on list of what keeps us from the thing we want to do most – write. I was deep in the midst of a fiction work and a timely non-fiction book when my husband had a stroke in January 2017. I’ve not written a word since. I’ve been forced into the role of his constant caregiver. If I can break away for a few hours, I can’t just “put” myself back into the writing zone. Our home environment is no longer a place where I can live in my creative world, and have the luxury of sticking to a true writing schedule.

    1. I’m so sorry, Anne. That’s one obstacle you won’t get around any time soon. How unfortunate for both of you. Big hugs — that’s all I can do.


  8. Lailah Gifty Akita’s quote is right on line for my current concerns. I have found myself attending other tasks instead of getting back to my book “Peg Leg Annie” At end of chapter 22 I seem to have hit a snag. I have a goal which includes a book signing introduction at a historical museum, a publisher who has shown interest and yet my procrastination tendencies or whatever reason find me bogged down. Part may be I am concerned how to progress from the point in the story I have arrived. In any event I, above most, should realize the importance of Akita’s quote for I am 85 come from major heart surgery, died twice and brought back. For that if for no other reason, I owe my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the completion of my tasks for the books and works I have instigated and mostly the care of a companion as she progresses in her Alzheimer’s. At 85 it is a challenge but keeps one young, of mind at least, and this my retirement. I love your blog and hope to contribute more to it as this is the first. God Bless,

    1. Bob, you sound like a pretty amazing man. I’m not surprised that quote resonates with you. Can you brainstorm with someone about what should come after Chapter 22 to get you rolling again? You’ve got a lot to distract you — maybe a fresh set of eyes and a “what if”‘ conversation is all you need to jump start the rest of the book. I have a feeling that with a conversation or two to help you sort things out, you’ll be able to get back to your story. I’m sending you positive thoughts!


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