The O in G.R.O.W.: Overcome Obstacles

Obstacles rear their ugly heads in many ways. When it comes to careers and the clients I coach, however, there are two that feature prominently in so many of my conversations. One is the pervasive influence of the word should. The other is good, old-fashioned fear

If you’re trying to move forward in your career and finding yourself stuck instead, it’s worth considering whether the obstacle in your path is fear, a sense of obligation, or both. 

Should I? 

Yes, you should! 

To be more specific, that’s the correct answer if we’re talking about following your passion and embracing growth opportunities. 

It might not be the correct answer if it’s keeping you in places you no longer wish to be. How often has that word bounced around in your head, giving you a stern sense of obligation and dictating your actions and the choices you make? (If they even feel like choices at that point!) 

We feel the word should when we consider our career paths, the jobs we apply to, the way we behave, and how we meet society’s expectations to do it all. Bearing all the shoulds bestowed upon us by others can be a heavy burden. 

But the word should is rooted in external expectations because if you don’t do what you should, what will others think of you? Those expectations often overshadow our aspirations, the dreams we have for ourselves, our wants, and our needs. This tricky sense of obligation has led more than one of my clients down a path that didn’t lead to fulfillment or authenticity. 

Fear Not! 

The unknown is scary, without a doubt. But it can also be exciting, miraculous, and more than we dared to dream possible. The obstacle here is that we can’t see where we land until we’re there. So, it takes faith, courage, and a little planning ahead. 

But what is it, exactly, that we fear? Failure, perhaps, or even success. Judgement. A loss of stability or security. Responsibility. Many things can keep us up at night and prevent us from taking steps forward. Some fears are rational – of course – but many are rooted in imposter syndrome, negative self-talk, and bad experiences that have stayed with us for too long. 

What would it look like to put those fears aside and forge ahead? What might you dare to do? 


We can face our obstacles head-on by parsing out what we must do versus things we should do. The musts are part of our internal compass, things that align with our values, beliefs, desires, and commitments. On the other hand, the shoulds have an external source, like the opinions of others, cultural norms, or societal expectations. 

Breaking free from external expectations can be difficult because we often internalize those ideas, giving them space in our heads and hearts. But in all things, we have agency and can choose something different. We can redefine success on our terms aligned with what we actually want and really need.

And that fear holding you back? Reframe it. Instead of looking at this obstacle and letting anxiety get the better of you, see it as an opportunity. By shifting your mindset, you can turn fear into excitement. Not an obstacle to overcome: a challenge that you get to tackle, learn from, and conquer. 

My Story 

I know a little something about all those shoulds and all those fears. My entire career – until just a few years ago – was on the traditional path. I was successful, yes, but not fulfilled. I wasn’t fueling my passion and using my true gifts. 

As I turned the idea of starting my coaching practice around in my head, I felt all those things. I should stay the course, choose the known, and support my family. I was afraid that if I leaped, I might fall flat on my face. 

On the contrary, I’m here, building my practice, and eternally grateful for the strength that allowed me to choose my path. The whispers of fear and obligation are still there, but they are much softer and more easily ignored now. 

What about you? Do you feel like the status quo is no longer serving you? It may be time to look closely at the obstacles limiting your potential, whether it’s fear, obligation, or something else entirely. 

The beautiful thing is that once we name those obstacles, we can make a plan to overcome them. And you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here to help in any way I can.

Lisa L. Baker - Certified Personal, Career, Success and Life Coach

Lisa L. Baker is a professional life coach, career strategist, and keynote speaker. Lisa is the founder of Ascentim – a Maryland-based coaching practice that utilizes a unique G.R.O.W. process to help clients gain clarity, realize new possibilities, overcome obstacles, and win at life. Lisa shows high-performing professionals how to Level Up and Live the Life of Their Dreams.

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