Over the years, I’ve encountered more than a few quotes about obstacles and opportunities.

Quite a few of those quotes remind us that what we see — obstacle or opportunity — depends on our mindset. And I believe that’s true to a very large degree. You may identify with a friend of mine who wanted to retire. Unfortunately, his level of debt — mortgage and credit card and medical (amassed through a combination of the expenses of his wife’s cancer battle and, according to him, “normal” foolish spending) — was an obstacle he couldn’t see past. All the typical solutions — stop eating out, sell unwanted stuff, get a 2nd job, etc. — seemed impossible or overwhelming, given his circumstances.

Finally, one night after 4 straight 17-hour days of travel, flight delays, stressful business meetings, etc., he was fed up. Long story short, he googled “drastic debt-cutting measures”. In every spare moment he could find for the next six or seven days, he read articles and watched YouTube videos, taking notes on a legal pad of every debt-crushing strategy, no matter how outrageous it seemed to him. Then he began implementing those strategies, one at a time. Some were short-term practices; he sold the family house with 4 empty bedrooms, for example. Some weren’t a good fit for him and his circumstances, so he set them aside. Others became regular practices.

Within 8 months, he had paid off his nearly-$60,000 debt, had retired from his stressful job, and was working part-time at a job he loved and volunteering in his church and community.

I asked him recently what was the catalyst for him to stop thinking of his debt as an insurmountable obstacle. He replied, “You might think it was because I was tired, and I was. But being tired and fed up only made me see the debt as one more thing making me tired. One night while drinking a beer in my hotel room, I thought, ‘Hell, I’m going to go at this like a game. A game I’m going to win’. I was carrying more than a little anger that I hadn’t found a way to beat Lori’s [his wife] cancer, and I’ve always been competitive, and I simply began focusing on this as a game, if you will, that I was going to win.”

What obstacles do you see in front of you, blocking the way between you and the way you want to live? Identify them and try to think of them as opportunities. It’s not easy, I know; I’ve been there, staring at seemingly-insurmountable problems. But it can be done.

Join me this week on social media (Patti Miinch on Facebook and Instagram) as we talk about changing our perspective. We’ll talk about some creative ways to overcome obstacles and how we can stay the course even when the going is hard.

We may be in our primetime years, but it’s time to regain the enthusiasm of our childhood, put on our raincoat and boots, and jump into some puddles!