NO MATTER HOW well you have planned for the future, chances are you will encounter a number of unexpected obstacles. You might be made redundant or face personal circumstances which dictate that your career takes a back seat for a while. And, of course, you will face smaller daily struggles to stay focused on your goals - the unsupportive boss, lack of time, or the clients who make your life difficult. If you have already faced big challenges, then you are in good company. George Lucas was rejected by every movie studio in Hollywood before his film Star Wars was accepted by 20th Century Fox. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas and suffered several bankruptcies before building Disneyland. Both overcame their challenges to attain success. * When obstacles get in the way, we have to make a choice. Either we give up on our goals, or we commit to doing all that it takes to achieve our dreams. So when things get tough, remember the old adage: 'If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' You cannot avoid change, however you do have a choice about the way you approach it. You can choose to hold on to the old ways or embrace change by accepting it willingly. I am not suggesting you should become passive and allow things to overwhelm you. You should anticipate change, research the options available and make clear decisions about how to adjust your actions in order to reap the benefits of things happening around you. For example, if you lose your most valued client to another supplier, you could allow frustration and anger to undermine your productivity. Alternatively, you could learn from the experience and develop more sustainable customer relationships. Do not ignore the fear that you feel. Allow it to come, but ask what it is you are afraid of. Usually, the source of our resistance is fear of not having our deepest needs met. Use this awareness to plan new actions to help in meeting your most fundamental goals. It also helps to develop an attitude of gratitude. Negative and angry thoughts are the quickest route towards feelings of powerlessness. Learn to be grateful for every experience, no matter how difficult. You will find that an attitude of gratitude frees you to find the opportunities, rather than the limitations, in every situation. If your boss hates your proposal, try to regard that as an opportunity to improve. Even if you hate the job, but cannot move on just yet, find things to love about your work, such as the relationship you have with your colleagues or the positive impact you can have on those around you. It may sound quaint, but some people find that regularly listing their blessings helps them to maintain a purposeful approach to their work. Knowing that you are already blessed can free you from the frustration of 'not having enough' and allow you to focus on using your time and energy more productively. For example, if you get passed over for promotion take some time to reflect on the positives you already have: a regular income, opportunities to learn and a wealth of experience to build on. By knowing you have already created good things in your life, you will feel more able to generate positive ideas for moving forward. Self-limiting beliefs are like wooden legs. We drag them behind us, allowing them to slow us down. They can undermine even the most talented people. I am sure we can all think of someone fabulous who has said, 'I don't have a degree, so I can't apply for a management position,' or 'I don't have any experience, who would want to employ me?' What we see as limitations are, in truth, self-imposed beliefs designed to protect us from disappointment and failure. For instance, if we choose to believe that our lack of a degree will prevent us from getting a superb job, it is because we fear being judged as inadequate by others. Very often there is an element of truth in our beliefs. Yes, employers do tend to prefer candidates with previous experience and many organisations like to see applicants with a degree. But we overemphasise these truths and forget there is always another side to the story. Most employers would consider reliability and ability to do the job as even more important than qualifications or years of experience. Throw away your wooden legs and focus on all your positive qualities. Does the lack of a degree or diploma mean you cannot use your brain? Of course not. So use your initiative and target jobs that will value your on-the-job expertise. If you feel lack of experience is a problem, apply your energy and enthusiasm to finding internships, voluntary projects or freelance work. Do you remember when you learned to swim? While your parents or teacher might have shown you the proper technique, ultimately it was up to you to get into the pool and try to stay afloat. You had to act out the mechanics of swimming before you could really do it. It is the same with your career. Sometimes you will have to take risks and act as if you know what you are doing. Do not let lack of experience, knowledge or specific skills stop you from doing what you want to do. Get out there and start acting as if you are already accomplished. Imagine that you have been offered a promotion to a supervisory position. Do you let your lack of experience put you off? No. You read up on management techniques, watch other supervisors at work and then use your knowledge to act as a manager. With proper research, the task of managing others will become easier and, in time, your supervisory skills will be second nature. Remember that people tend to believe what they see. If you act like a high-flier, chances are others will see you as just that. And if you combine a can do attitude with proper planning and research, there is no limit to what you can achieve in your career. * Adapted from The Power of Positive Thinking in Business: 10 Traits for Maximum Results by Scott W. Ventrella Career Survival Tip #12 Develop a winning attitude. Know that you will reach your career destination, even if you have to take a small detour to get there.