Internal obstacles are barriers that prevent people from accomplishing their personal goals. As the name suggests, internal obstacles come from within people, stemming from their habits, beliefs, and psychologies. External obstacles are pressures from outside influences, such as peer pressure; work issues; money matters; and relationships with family members, significant others, friends, and coworkers.
Internal obstacles often arise from psychological issues such as anxiety, fear, depression, egotism, and low self-confidence. If you are afraid to speak in public, for example, the same fear might hinder your ability to speak up in meetings. If you are an egotist and think your opinion is the only one that matters, you may not take into consideration your coworkers’ input and might have trouble working on group projects. These issues can be obstacles that impede your progress at work.
There are many kinds of internal obstacles. According to the human resources (HR) department of the University of California, Berkeley, people typically face more internal obstacles than external obstacles in the course of their working lives. According to the same source, some of these internal barriers include procrastination, perfectionism, fear of failure or success, low motivation, problems with asserting yourself, an inability to manage time, and a lack of stress management tools. Since these obstacles are internal, people often have a better chance of addressing and changing them, according to the source.
Daum writes that habitual obstacles are the second type of barrier that people tend to generate. As the name suggests, habitual obstacles deal with habits. They are created when your habits, or patterns of behavior, prevent you from accomplishing something that you want to achieve. Since habits are such a large part of the way we usually act, they can be hard to break. Daum points out that only behavioral change can eliminate habitual obstacles.
Business coach, trainer, and mentor Ute Wieczorek-King operates Success Network, an organization that works with female business owners. She writes that more women than men lack confidence in their career skills. This condition can make them less likely to assert themselves in various situations, such as negotiating for higher pay. Wieczorek-King adds that low self-confidence can make some women more reluctant to pursue certain careers or even cause them to procrastinate in entering a career because they are afraid their weaknesses will cause them to make mistakes.
The fear of failure is a very common internal obstacle. Often people are afraid to do things because they fear they will make mistakes. This type of fear can lead to inaction. If fear is preventing you from accomplishing your goals, certified career coach Janet Crawford suggests that you examine what it is that you really fear. Question whether these fears are realistic. If they are not, remind yourself of what is actually true. Crawford urges you to also remind yourself that you have accomplished things in the past in spite of your fears and uncertainties.
Even if you do fail, it does not have to turn into an internal obstacle, says Daum. Everyone fails sometimes, so you are not alone. Daum notes that, although admitting mistakes can be difficult, being honest about
your failure and working quickly to correct your mistakes can help your working relationships. After a failure, he suggests analyzing your actions, having conversations with others, and making plans to correct issues, since all these techniques are ways to turn the failure into a learning opportunity. Finally, Daum says that sharing the story of your failure with others is useful for helping others while also demonstrating your humility.
A number of factors can cause internal obstacles. A lack of education and training can prevent you from entering a specific field or advancing to a new stage in your career. According to Crawford, if you feel unready to act toward a goal, you are unlikely to make a move and succeed. Getting training and education can help you feel more prepared to tackle career goals. In addition to helping you acquire new skills, training can help you feel like you are taking action and moving toward something instead of feeling stuck.
Self-Assessment Although it can be difficult to eliminate internal obstacles, it is possible. Daum says that knowing yourself is a good start. This is especially true when tackling habitual and psychological obstacles. If you know yourself and your situation, you can identify the exact nature of your obstacles. With self-awareness, you can use your strengths to address your weaknesses and tackle the barriers in your way.
For example, if you have been anxious about an upcoming client presentation, you can watch videos and read documentation (for example, supervisors’ reviews) relating to your past presentations. This can help you study the strengths and weaknesses you demonstrated during earlier presentations. You might learn that you wrote well for the presentations’ report sections but did not speak as articulately as you would have liked during the spoken sections. You can use this knowledge of your past performance to address your current needs.
Education and Training Education and training are good ways to eliminate internal obstacles. They provide you with the skills that you may be lacking to complete current and future tasks. For example, if you are dissatisfied with your oral presentation skills, you can consider taking a public speaking course to prepare for upcoming presentations and future projects. This can lead to additional education and training, enabling you to sharpen your skills even more and tackle additional skill-related obstacles. In addition, education and training can provide psychological benefits by boosting your confidence and reducing your anxieties and fears.
Education can be formal or informal. You might consider enrolling in a vocational or college program to learn new computer programs or to earn a certificate or a degree. Informal training may include books and websites that address the obstacles you are facing. These often have resources such as tests, worksheets, checklists, and exercises to help you learn how to do things such as manage your time more efficiently.
A problem-solving approach allows you to analyze your obstacles, research solutions, and consider various outcomes. If your planned action does not work, this process allows you to make additional plans because you have researched the problem and have considered different actions and outcomes. It allows you to step away from the obstacle and research it, which can give you much-needed distance and a new perspective. Finally, it acknowledges the psychological aspect of barriers. The process rewards you for your achievement, which could make you more likely to repeat positive behaviors and eliminate negative ones.
Working with Others There are a number of professionals and resources that can help you eliminate internal obstacles. Within your workplace, you might want to consider speaking with your supervisor and coworkers. They can tell you how they overcame their own career obstacles and how they handle specific situations at work. These conversations can provide handy, concrete hints, but they also might be emotionally reassuring. These talks illustrate how your colleagues have faced the same challenges and triumphed. Visiting your HR department is also useful since HR staff can direct you to other resources your workplace offers, such as training or counseling. For students, a career planning and placement department can be useful if you are looking for career advice.