Roadblocks That Get in the Way of Your Dreams


I did a double take this morning as I glanced out the window. Our backyard looked like the scene of a horror movie, with twisted and gnarled oak silhouettes against the purple-white fog. This was the just the solitude I needed after returning from a holiday away to a to-do list the size of Texas.

I’m focused this morning on my year — not so much the planning, because that’s been done for a while, but my intentions, my beliefs in what I can really accomplish. I’m driven to help people find painting because I know how much it changed my heart, brought out my creative side, and made my life so rich. I want others to experience that soul-enriching feeling so they too can have the heart of an artist, even those who don’t believe they can do it.

Amplify Your Efforts

As I was thinking about how to appropriately amplify my efforts to draw others to the gift of painting, I had to admit that if it’s truly my life’s mission, I cannot allow anything to get in the way. I must drive it with smarter thinking, more time, more passion, fresh ideas, the willingness to do whatever it takes, and relentless, nonstop efforts.

This is how we all must approach our passions. When roadblocks get in the way, we have to find a way around, over, or under them. And if we’re unwilling, if we allow something to stop us, then our passion and drive aren’t strong enough.

Trading Your Life

We have to ask ourselves what we’re trading our life for. If I’m trading my life to help people discover and develop their passion for art, then life is too important to waste on petty little time-wasting things that don’t bring me closer to the goal. We each have to have a burning desire that is fueled into an all-consuming obsession.

But desire isn’t enough. If it were, we would all have endless money, perfect abs, and look like fashion models.

One of the problems with goal-setting is that we can’t just wish our way to our goals. Though mindset is crucial, mindset alone also is not enough.

A Glass Ceiling

A few years ago I realized I was not hitting my goals. It was as if I had a glass ceiling I could never get beyond, and though I had big dreams, I kept failing. Year after year, I set goals and missed them, and after two decades of doing that, I told myself I had reached my limit. I was unable to get beyond it, and I started to give up and accept my place in life.

Have you ever been there? Thinking you could accomplish something, but after getting beaten down time and again, finally accepting that it was never going to happen?

Though I thought I wanted to be successful, being successful beyond a certain limit triggered fears inside of me, and those fears held me back. And honestly, I had no idea it was happening.

If you and I were to be totally, painfully honest with ourselves, we would often discover that we’re continually missing out on our biggest dreams because we are subconsciously embracing the lies we tell ourselves and the lies others have told us.

Sometimes they are well-meaning, well-intentioned lies like …

  • “People are starving in China. Make sure you clean your plate.”
  • “We’re not cut out to be doctors or lawyers. We work with our hands.”
  • “Rich people are nasty and mean.”
  • “You’re not smart enough.”
  • “You have to retire at 65.”
  • “It takes talent to be a great artist.”
  • “You can’t make a living as an artist — artists starve.”
  • “Only losers do that.”
  • “You’re not good with money.”
  • “You’ll never be as good and successful as I am.”
  • “God doesn’t want you to be rich.”
  • “Men who drive fancy sports cars are compensating for their lack of manhood.”
  • “A woman’s place is in the home.”
  • “You should never be showy.”
  • “You’re big-boned.”
  • “You’ll never amount to anything.”
  • “You’re a bad student.”
  • “God’s going to strike you down for doing that.”
  • “Seven out out of 10 doctors smoke Lucky Strikes.”

If You Repeat Something Enough, You’ll Eventually Believe It

Our beliefs are created by repetition, by hearing something over and over again. Repetition of messages from our parents, our family and friends, our clergy, our subconscious mind, our bosses and co-workers and the media. We repeat our fears — often fears of success.

We and others have unintentionally programmed us to believe what we can and cannot do, what’s right and wrong, what’s acceptable and unacceptable, what’s possible and not possible, and this programming tends to get in the way of our goals. Worst of all, we don’t even know we’re doing it.

Changing Your Behavior

The first step in overcoming the lies we keep telling ourselves is to find out what they are. Start by listening to your thoughts and asking yourself, “Is that really true? Or is it a lie I’ve been told and have been repeating?” You have to challenge everything you catch yourself saying.

What’s Whispering in Your Ear?

You can learn about yourself and your limitations by discovering the little voices inside that have been holding you back. Do it by reading books, by attending events like Tony Robbins talks, by taking online courses and webinars, by seeing a therapist or a hypnotist, or trying EMDR therapy or neuro-linguistic programming. You will be amazed at how many things could be keeping you from your dreams. Once you’ve discovered your limits, you can reprogram your brain to overcome these roadblocks.

What are the things you’ve believed your whole life that may be holding you back?
What thoughts are keeping you from your dreams?
What’s buried deep in your subconscious that hurts you?
What do you find painful to talk about?

If you can devote 2019 to discovering what’s inside, you’ll make your dreams a reality.

I believe in you — I know you are capable of anything you desire.

Eric Rhoads


  1. Letitia Chapman January 13, 2019 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you Eric, I will buckle down today.

  2. kao January 13, 2019 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Truth and inspiration- thank you!

  3. lisa January 13, 2019 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this. Especially, “we can’t just wish our way to our goals” and “if we’re unwilling, if we allow something to stop us, then our passion and drive aren’t strong enough.”

    Thank you for this!

    Lisa Baurmeister

  4. Nicholette Fetsch January 13, 2019 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Eric.

    Happy New Year and new thoughts.

  5. Michael Parry January 13, 2019 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Great information and so very on target. I appreciate your time and words, and they are so true. I have been telling myself these lies for more than 50 years;. Back in the 70’s I produced a few (pretty good) paintings and enjoyed the process. Over the past 50 years I told myself that I would get back into painting when I retired. Well, I retired last year at 74 and the only thing I painted was the outside of my house. Now, I did enjoy brushing on that 30 plus gallons of paint, but it was not very creative. What say is so true.

  6. Katy January 13, 2019 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Excellent article Eric! I agree with you 100%!

  7. Sandi Pillsbury January 13, 2019 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Dear Eric,
    I have been enjoying your “Sunday Coffees,” for well over a year now. But, this particular one really hit home for me! I agree with you 100%, as I have been doing some not so good “self talk” in recent days! I am recovering from knee replacement surgery, and it is a very slow and painful process. I have been wondering if I will ever get “back in shape,” so I can get back to Plein Air painting. This article is so timely for me! So, I will “pull up my boot straps” and set my artistic goals for this coming year, and I WILL get back to my easel sooner rather than later! Thank you so much, and Happy New Year!

  8. Rachelle Lima January 13, 2019 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    I read Sunday Coffee often, yet this one hits home. All of your thoughts and ideas are true at one time or another. Experiencing them myself I have done the same, the research, the amplifying, the boosting, and more inward conversations than I care to admit. Long story short for eight months and counting I am a care giver. But guess what, I still get to paint…not often or on a consistent basis, always with interruptions, yet I would have it no other way. What I have learned, what I am drawing from is a weird inner peace/voice that tells me you’ve got this, you’ve done the research and you know this. Draw from your inner reservoir, trust your instincts, and see what happens. I’ve set everything aside and I have no map for 2019, no itinerary, no confirmed destination and it as liberating as hell! Artwork without a plan? Here I go.

  9. Jim Trask January 14, 2019 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Hey Eric, enjoyed having coffee with you this morning. Actually it was a cup of tea, but it served it’s purpose of reflecting on your words and analyzing the successes I’ve experienced, and for what reasons. Raised on a farm during the ‘50s art was not a part of family conversations, but it did not deter me from thinking and positioning myself in school involving art/architecture. After obtaining a BFA I experienced a rude awakening during a summer internship with a large architectural group. I was not cut out to function in an interior office environment. Something like “you can take the boy off of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!” What was the alternative? Fortunately a family friend nearing retirement from L.A. City Fire said to me….”Jim, why don’t you come down to my station and I’ll show you a real job”. Resetting my priorities, I studied fire science at the local community college and applied to several fire departments achieving employment with Santa Barbara County Fire for a career of 23 years. Eric, your comments hit home particularly when it gets down to commitment…….”just do it”. If you have to worry about the outcome do it after the fact! I had time to develop my artistic skills, build a landscape contracting business after retirement for fifteen years, and now am experiencing a full circle return to my art endeavors.
    2019 will be a year of art. Currently I am exploring Plein air painting as something I want to add to my current skill level. I am almost halfway through Strada Easel’s 31 day challenge and seeing some marked improvement. I just ordered a subscription to Plein Air Magazine, and signed up for a workshop in April with John Cosby. I did not question whether I should do these things, but more if I can keep the target focused of getting better and better with my artistic goals I’ll be a happy camper. Being late in life I want to personify the adage….:sliding into home base, bruised and battered, but thankful I took the swing at the ball which was a home run,” or something like that.
    Thanks Eric for reminding us to stay focused on our goals. Jim

  10. Aleada Siragusa January 14, 2019 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    I really like how Joel Osteen helped me understand the Bible in a way which was so much more relevant to me. It helped back to my Christian faith with a greater understanding and this has helped with my neuro-linguistic programming. I also had help earlier with the Tony Robbins tapes. I listen to audio tapes as I paint, currently the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. While I paint I may miss large sections of the tape because of concentrating on my work but I listen to these and other audio books over and over again. My mother and father were born over 100 years ago and their working class Catholic upbringing meant they approached child rearing with a punitive demeaning manner. Painting was painful for me because of the negative voices in my head until I blocked them with the stories I love to hear. I also healed from abuse by Bible Phrases I have heard and other phrases from great wisdom such as Bob Dylan and other poets. Now I can create my art anywhere without stories and instead of hearing the negativity I can enter a zone where I feel the pleasure centers in my brain fire and I get a great feeling from this. I had many years of training in meditation and one of my teachers, a Theravada Buddhist Master of the highest rank, told me that my meditation would be my painting and he is right. I also have a mantra which I use in a sitting meditation and I also use a silent insight meditation. I also pray the rosary and traditional prayers of the Christian faith, mainly at night while I go to sleep. Making art is a lifestyle and a profession more than a career. God Blesses the Artist who find their true spirit though their work

  11. Norma Thompson January 14, 2019 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Eric I enjoyed hearing you speak at a Fredricksburg convention years ago but recently reading your newsletters I have gotten to know just the neatest guy, one who is able to share part of himself with a community that loves to paint. You can relate in real terms how sometimes we all have struggles, some humor, some ideas, suggestions. I know I’m not the only one who is grateful…

  12. Bill Rives January 14, 2019 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    On the money, as usual. You got me hooked when I heard you speak at PACE 17 in San Diego. Look forward to seeing you again at Paint The Town in Marble Falls this Spring.

  13. Jeff January 14, 2019 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    You are an amazing person that I hope to meet one day. I am an artist
    but not quite in your wheelhouse because I am an abstract oil painter. I still
    get a lot from you and your teachings.
    Thank you!

  14. Kasey Jones January 15, 2019 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Eric, Awesome! How are you able to write exactly what I have been thinking and was going to write about? HMMMM? Are you really sneaking into my brain at night and are my thought, feeling, passion doppelganger? Scary. It happens almost every post of yours! 🙂 We would be terrific friends in Real Life!

  15. Peggy Borreson January 17, 2019 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Another great Sunday Coffee. Great advice I intend to do. Thanks

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