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.

followed by a plan to resolve the situation.

In 1994, Gwendolyn Fisher was downsized from her position as a staff editor at ARCO in Los Angeles. At the same time, she was carrying the financial weight of the family, and was pregnant with her first child. With no job, the threat of losing active enrollment in a corporate-sponsored executive M.B.A. program at the University of California Anderson School, Los Angeles, and a baby on the way, Fisher was faced with several dilemmas. Would anyone consider hiring a pregnant professional? How would she finish school with no foreseeable income?

After considerable contemplation, Fisher formulated a plan of action–and then put it to work immediately. She took out student loans, and did freelance work for corporations and for several public relations firms to prepare financially for the birth of her child. All the while, she surrounded herself with supportive people and tried to remain positive. “I didn’t know if I would make it,” she admits. But she did know that her situation wouldn’t get better if she took no action at all.

Strategy #9
Become fearless. In order to overcome fear in life, you must dwell on the rewards of life and the success that can come along with it. Says John Williams, author of Bend But Don’t Break (, $9.95), you must replace fear with a desire to reach all levels of achievement.

“Desire says I want to–I can, I will, I must–and I will seize it at all costs,” he says.

Fisher gave birth to a healthy baby girl about eight months after she lost her job. She could have allowed the fear of financial insecurity and professional uncertainty to cloud her vision of finishing school and getting back on her feet professionally. But she didn’t.

“Once I took stock of everything, I knew that going through this experience, particularly finishing my education, would make my life better.” She turned her fear into faith, completed the M.B.A. program, and landed a new gig as a manager of corporate communications at pharmaceutical giant Merck in central New Jersey.

In the end, Fisher emerged stronger–and happier. The higher income that came along with her new job also helped her regain control of her financial situation. “I knew I would have to take things day by day,” she says. “As a result, my life is so much better now.”

Strategy #10
Stay motivated–no matter what. Otis Williams, president of Otis Williams Limitless Inc., a personal development firm based in Cincinnati, argues that your level of motivation will have a major impact on your productivity, achievement, and overall well-being.

Braxton and Fisher were both motivated by sheer survival–their own and particularly that of their young children. Howard’s motivation sprung from the desire to become a top-notch athlete. And while he’s not out of his rough spot yet, Brown’s primary motivator is his desire to bring about positive change in his community. First, identify what motivates you (see Strategy #3). Then, resolve yourself–through meditation, prayer, journal writing, whatever works for you–to keep that motivation alive,

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