Obstacle Analysis
the answer to what is stopping you

Obstacle Analysis. A simple way to understand what is blocking your move forward with your brilliant idea and I am going to jump right into it with an exercise and this is by Michael Neill, Coach Supremo to celebrities and Heads of State and details of the book it came from is further down the page.

I suggest you buy yourself a copy of the book I am going to refer to and tell you about shortly because

I think it will change your life regarding problem solving for everything, forever

But for now, you can take a large piece of paper and a pen or however you would take notes and document things and create a grid with 9 boxes, 3 across the top, 3 in the middle and 3 below.

Label the boxes in whatever order you want starting with

  • Information
  • Skill
  • Belief
  • Wellbeing
  • Motivation
  • Other People
  • Time
  • Money
  • Fear

This is your obstacle analysis grid

Obstacle Analysis Grid

I am going to take you through a very short 2 step exercise to determine what your problem might be and which box it fits in on the grid.

And don’t be surprised if you tick more than one or 2.

Tick as many as you need.

Now the reason I suggest you buy the book is because there is a third step which involves you read in detail about the problem or problems you ticked in your boxes.

It is the second half of the book, that is dedicated to The Obstacle Analysis Gridtm and I highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling and suffering a bit with analysis paralysis, procrastination or you are just plain stuck and unable to move forward with your business idea? And perhaps you have no idea why?

Alternatively, though, it could be

  • You are finding your will is there, but you just can’t seem to take things forward and feel blocked and frustrated


  • You suspect you know what the problem is but can't articulate it?

I thought this tool was so useful I wanted to share the concept of the obstacle analysis grid so you could put a handle on your problem quickly and stop yourself going round in circles and getting really frustrated with yourself.

There is always an answer; you just need to know to frame it to your particular situation

Life Purpose

Now about this Obstacle Analysis book

This brilliant grid tool is from the number one best seller book called You Can Have What You Want by Michael Neill, a very famous success coach for some very famous successful people such as Paul McKenna so I am very inclined to listen to what he has to say about the subject of success.

The first half of the book is about creating a life that makes you go wow, which is great but it was the second half of book called Obstacle Course to Success which caught my attention.

Essentially, the grid on your paper is to help with answering the question

What Stops You

These 9 boxes with 9 headings show you succinctly what the reasons are for you not going forward with whatever in life it is you want to do, be or have.

Now the reasons can be real or imagined but you will find, if you think back to anything that has held you back in the past, the reason for not doing, being or having will absolutely have fallen into one of the 9 categories.

The explanation of the grid, in detail, becomes the second half of the book with a chapter dedicated to each one of the 9 problems.

As Michael says, “While most people find all of the categories are somewhat relevant, their major life obstacles consistently fall into one or two of the obstacle areas on the grid”

He goes on to explain, "people have reported using the model to help themselves overcome everything from difficult people at work to agoraphobia; from dealing with a messy divorce to starting a new career at fifty something.”

It’s the bit about “start of a new career” that spikes my interest because I think this would be a great tool for you to use if you are struggling in any way to go forward with your small business ideas.

Michael has perfected his grid into a formal model and uses it consistently for obstacle analysis and goal setting.

But the question I know you are asking is

What about the practical application of the Obstacle Analysis Grid for your life?

In simple terms when you say you have a problem with something, does it sound a bit like this, and I am quoting right out of the book here?

The Information Obstacle sounds a bit like: I don’t know what to do and I don’t know where to find out.

The Skill Obstacle sounds a bit like: I don’t yet have the skills I need to succeed in this area

The Belief Obstacle will lead with: This is impossible or at best unlikely to ever work or happen

The Wellbeing Obstacle often begins with:  I am way too stressed/tired/unwell to deal with this

The Other People Obstacle can sound like: My boss/spouse/children/friends etc make it difficult for me or it is just not up to me

The Motivation Obstacle is the classic: I just don’t care enough, I can’t seem to get started, I can’t seem to sustain any momentum

The Time Obstacle always starts with: There just isn’t enough time in the day

The Money Obstacle nearly always relates to: I would love to but I don’t think I can afford to

The Fear Obstacle holds people back with: I feel sick at the thought of pushing myself through this

Can you see how easy and practical it is to work out what is stopping you; your excuse only ever falls into one or more of these areas therefore fixable with a little work.

Now here comes the exercise to go with your 9 box grid.

In the exercise you are invited to ask yourself as you look at your grid

What Stops You Moving Forward

Step 1. Give yourself a score from 1 to 10 in each of the 9 areas where 1 is an area of total weakness and 10 means an area of total strength

Step 2. Think of your specific problem or challenge you are facing and identify which of the 9 obstacle areas seem most relevant

 And if you remember earlier, I said the obstacle sounded like this:

  • You don’t know what to do? (Information obstacle)
  • You know what to do, but don’t feel capable of doing it? (Skill obstacle)
  • You don’t believe it can be done (Belief obstacle)
  • You are too stressed out to do it (Wellbeing obstacle)
  • Other people stand in your way (Other people obstacle)
  • You just don’t seem to care enough (Motivation obstacle)
  • You don’t have the time (Time obstacle)
  • You don’t have the money (Money obstacle)
  • You are scared to start and move forward a step (Fear obstacle)

The third step is then of course to read the book so when you have clearly identified the problem you go to the relevant chapter and begin the process to become unstuck.

Each chapter goes into a lot of detail about how to address the obstacle and how you can move forward.

They are not just skimmed over either, or sometimes the answers can be quite controversial as well

So don’t expect an easy ride or a pat on the head from this book.

If you want to learn more about Michael Neill and his obstacle analysis grid, here is a link to his website.

Happy reading, I hope this book helps you as much as it helped me with my own obstacle analysis path.

I found it really useful to have a framework to work with.