By Elizabeth Violet Hallowell

It’s not always easy to know what you genuinely want to do, whether it concerns what to eat for brunch or which career path to take.

Sometimes you think you know the direction you want to go in, but all kinds of obstacles show up.

Do those obstacles mean you should push through them? Or are they warning signs that you’re headed toward an unforeseen catastrophic disaster?

Are your fears trying to sabotage you? Or is your Higher Self or your Guides trying to warn you and nudge you in a different direction?

It Can Be A Little Confusing!

Inspired with help from my spiritual guide Stella Seaspirit, I organized some common obstacles and warning signs into two lists. Because I like lists, okay?!

Next time you’re unsure of a situation, here’s a reference to help you figure out whether you should keep going in spite of the challenges, or to let it go and look for an alternative.

Self-doubt

  • Courageously work through these self-sabotaging road blocks in order to reach your dreams.
  • Playing out worst case scenarios in your mind
  • Feeling tiny, powerless or constricted when you think about your dream
  • Wondering “What if this doesn’t work out?”
  • You’re worried about what others think
  • You’re afraid to lose something you’re attached to
  • Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired or drained {Take a break, then continue tomorrow.}
  • The project takes much longer or feels much bigger than you anticipated
  • You’re unable to see how your dream is going to work out; it feels unlikely or impossible
  • Lack of a clear, confident, open door with a Welcome! mat {Move forward anyway. The path unfolds as you traverse it.}
  • You procrastinate, or get distracted with other things
  • You want to do the project, but you can’t seem to get out of bed!
    “Dispelling dread isn’t a matter of trying to forget about washing dishes. It is realizing that in actual fact you only have one dish to wash, ever: this one; only one step to take, ever: this one. And that is Zen.” – Alan Watts
  • It doesn’t perfectly comply with your high standards or expectations
  • You feel an aversion toward something related to your desire
  • You just want to hide behind closed curtains, or you move across the country to get away from something {your dream}
  • It doesn’t align with the status quo, information you’ve learned, or the way it’s usually done
  • It’s never been done before; you’ve never even heard of it
  • Your inspirations keep leading you along unexpected routes or into unknown territory.
  • You might have very little, if any, understanding or support.
  • You felt so confident or excited at first, but then you started to doubt or feel confused
  • You try to control something by over-thinking, over-planning or over-organizing it
  • A spontaneous inspiration leading to your desire throws off your whole plan or schedule {Throw out the schedule!}
  • The challenge is to follow your heart when doubts and obstacles show up. Stay focused on your dreams rather than your fears and challenges, because you manifest what you focus on.

Legitimate Red Flags

  • These are signals that there’s something else better, safer or more fulfilling for you. It might be difficult to let this relationship or endeavor go, or try something different, but it will be a relief when you do.
  • You keep running into closed doors
  • You keep trying to push through blocks or conflicts
  • You can’t seem to get an issue resolved
  • You find yourself sacrificing your soul, your values, or silencing yourself
  • Your words and actions feel forced
  • It’s not fulfilling or challenging
  • Your heart is just not in it
  • Your first reaction was heaviness, distaste or yaaaawwwn….
  • Meh, you could take it or leave it
  • There’s a somewhat equal amount of pros and cons
  • You’re only in it for the status
  • You focus on the exterior or appearance, failing to review the whole package or the fine print
    “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
  • You push down your honest feelings
  • You don’t know how you feel
  • You try to convince yourself or others that you’re happy
  • You jump without thinking {I did this with a marriage that involved kids!}
  • You fail to consider whether you’ll feel trapped down the road
  • You think you have to have it or something bad will happen to you
  • You’d sell your soul to the devil to get it or keep it
  • In your mind, it’s this or nothing!
  • You refuse to consider alternatives or optional routes to your happiness
  • You’re attached to a specific person or outcome which controls your sense of well-being
  • The challenge is to let go of what is not safe, authentic or fulfilling. Stay focused on your dreams rather than what you’re letting go of to make room for something better.

What If You Experience Both?

It’s possible to experience both fears and legitimate red flags in a situation. After all, most situations are complex, rather than black or white.
In that case, you might need to let something go, as well as plow through – perhaps on a different route or from a place of self-empowerment. Remove the red flags, but stick to your dream hiding behind the fears.

Conscious Risks

Ultimately, there are no wrong decisions or mistakes. You’ll learn a lesson and wise-up either way.
But life is a lot more fun when we navigate it with discernment, continuously moving closer to what is true to ourself, and distancing ourself from what is not. That takes some guts in our current world.
Remember, if you’re not experiencing some doubts and fears, it’s probably not worth your attention and energy. Living your dreams requires plenty of conscious risk-taking, not self-deprecating dead ends.


Elizabeth, also known as Intuitive Fish, is a healthy vegan mama living in the Pacific Northwest. Her life mission involves researching the esoteric arts, guiding souls along their awakening path, and contributing to a world of humans doing what they love. She’s available for readings and counseling, and would love to be your friend on social media.
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