Activate Your Fortitude: 4 Habits to Overcome Your Obstacles

In our battle for the good life, obstacles will always come up. Fortitude helps us remove those obstacles. Do you face any of these roadblocks in your quest...

 Min read
April 27, 2024

In our battle for the good life, obstacles will always come up. Fortitude helps us remove those obstacles. Do you face any of these roadblocks in your quest to build better habits?

The Inner Obstacle - “I don’t feel like…”

Feelings can get in the way as we’re building good habits. Sometimes, these feelings have to do with an unpleasant aspect of our good habits. Other times, they have nothing at all to do with the habit we’re trying to build. We’re just in a bad mood. One way to break out of a funk is to use what the gaming world calls “power-ups.” In her TED talk, Jane McGonigal (link) explains that video game designers have discovered the sweet spot for making games hard enough to keep players interested while making them easy enough to win: a ratio of 3 power-ups for every major enemy the player has to face. In real life, these can take the form of getting up and stretching, taking a walk outside, taking a few deep breaths, listening to music, enjoying a snack, connecting with a friend, having a brief moment of prayer, etc. What are some “power-ups” you’re already doing? What “power-ups” could help you take your good habits to the next level?

Outer Obstacle #1 – “I don’t have time to…”

A homeschooling mother of 5 had “no time to pray.” Her spiritual director suggested she get a subscription to Magnificat and put the periodical on her kitchen table. Then, whenever she had a free minute, she was supposed to grab the Magnificat and pray with it. This woman with “no time” was soon praying 90+ minutes a day with these “power minutes .” Don’t underestimate the power of a minute. Can you write a blog post in a minute? No. Can you write a headline? Yep. Can you jot down a few ideas? Yes ma’am. Can you get just one idea out of your head and onto a scrap of paper you keep in your pocket? Absolutely. (St. Josemaria Escriva wrote 3 books with this method.) All we have is the present moment. Don’t waste your minutes. Each one is precious. You will never get it back.

Outer Obstacle #2 – “Look at this mess. I can’t…”

My mom is an exceptional “piler.” She has piles of things all through her house. Growing up in that environment, my comfort level with “untidiness” is incredibly high. And all that clutter can be distracting. And I’d love to fight it. To throw it all away or give it to Catholic Charities. The reality is, I kinda like living in clutter. It makes me feel at home. Now, if that’s not you, by all means, get rid of your clutter. But if you’re like me, maybe you can try to add some “positive clutter” in your life. Want to pray more? Why not keep various devotional books spread throughout your house? Want to exercise more? What about putting an exercise mat where you normally watch TV? Want to snack healthier? Couldn’t you put some nuts in a bowl on the kitchen counter? Habits start with cues. You can build habits easily if you make your mess work for you.

The Intimate Obstacle – “My family will never go for…”

While sometimes it’s just an excuse to avoid the pain of change, the reactions of our family members can push us away from habits that are important to us. Ideally, you’d recruit them to help by having a Crucial Conversation. It begins with answering the question: What is the over-arching goal that we can all agree on here? Starting with an agreement on a common objective can shift the conversation from adversarial to cooperative. And while we can share our goals and how we plan to get there, we can also take the time to listen to our loved ones’ concerns. Maybe there’s something legitimate there that can cause us to tweak our original plan. Other times, we may need to look outside our family for support - to a peer group or a mentor .


The bad news is building good habits is tough. The good news is you’re tougher. You’re made in the image and likeness of the Almighty, and He has sent His Spirit of fortitude upon you. As an incarnate spirit, you are more than any obstacle you face. Be tenacious. Keep fighting. Whatever it takes. No matter what.

James Lee