Caution: Stumbling Blocks Ahead

The road to achievement is paved with potholes. Here are 10 strategies to help you bear the bumps on your way to success.

a helpless mode.”

Determined not to accept defeat, Braxton took on two part-time jobs–as a waitress and a jewelry salesperson–to supplement her income at textbook sales job No. 4.

She left the company in early 1997 to accept an offer from Lightspan’s Northeast regional vice president.

Today, Braxton routinely surpasses her annual sales quota of more than $1 million and earns $250,000 a year at Lightspan. While she never would have guessed that her past struggles would serve her well in her professional future, she is now confident that she could tackle any major change head-on. “Change is constant–it’s going to happen. You just have to be willing to adjust and make those changes work for you,” she says.

Successful people understand that struggle can be fertilizer for success. They have learned how to confidently look obstacles in the eye and resolve to move forward anyway. Follow these 10 strategies to help you take control of the wheel of your professional or personal life and steer yourself in the direction you want to go, no matter how rough the road ahead.

Strategy #1
Change your perspective. Braxton altered her view of her circumstances, which empowered her to take control of them. Your attitude contributes significantly to your response in trying times and how you will proceed. “Adjusting your way of seeing a situation can allow you to maintain an ‘I can do it’ frame of mind when setbacks occur,” maintains Coleman.

She recommends the following three steps: “Adjust your way of viewing a situation by reflecting on past successes, embracing positive reinforcement from others, and refusing to personalize individual setbacks.” Realizing that certain things are just going to be out of your control will also help.

Strategy #2
Count the hard times as a necessary blessing. Those who win believe that whatever is in store for them today is meant to be–no matter the circumstances, says Beverly Smith, principal of the HR Group Inc., a management consulting and human resource services company in Marietta, Georgia. This basic belief will allow you to focus on how to purposefully use adversity.

As the old saying goes, you can’t have flowers without rain. When faced with a challenging situation, ask yourself: What happened during my last setback? What was the worst thing that happened? How did I get through? Did that experience make me stronger, and in what ways? What are the “positives” that came out of what happened? The answers to these types of questions will help you to better weather the difficult times on your journey to the good ones.

Strategy #3
Have a passion for what you do. Your devotion to reaching your goals contributes to a sense of purpose, says Coleman. It will also help you to keep focus during times when the process temporarily stalls or falls off the track. Keith Brown, president of Newark, New Jersey-based Cosmopolitan Executive Offices Inc., a business center for urban entrepreneurs, understands this point all too well.

Brown, 35, worked as a mechanical engineer for several large companies, including Lucent Technologies and Allied Signal,

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