The Impediment To Action Advances Action

Alex Chen
2 min readMay 26, 2024


“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

— Marcus Aurelius

Image Source: Wix AI

My Recent Experience

In the upcoming few weeks, I will be attending an intensive workshop on sinology (traditional Chinese culture), and I will not have access to my phone or computer except for on Saturdays (the organizers want us to fully focus on the workshop). Shortly after that workshop, I have another intensive workshop for another month. Therefore, in these upcoming two months or so, I don’t have the amount of time as I usually do to write my weekly posts.

At first, I was a little frustrated at the situation because I made a promise to myself and everyone that I would put out a good quality blog post every week. But ancient philosophers, like Marcus Aurelius, all teach that the problem is never the outside circumstances, it’s our attitude towards the outside circumstances. If we can reframe the situation, then we can convert the “obstacle” into a path for advancing our goals. Another analogy that Laozi uses is water: when water encounters rock, it simply flows around it and continues towards its destination.

Thus, I asked myself, “How can I still put out a good quality post every week despite my limited prep time?”

I then remembered that many years ago, when I first started the Weekly Wisdom Blog, I experimented with a short-form format called “Wisdom Quotes.” Basically, I just post a wise quote and give a short commentary. I went back and read some of them, and I feel like these are really useful and short reminders. Examples include:

Indeed, short-form has short-form’s benefits, and long-form has long-form’s benefits. I’ve mostly leaned towards long-form because I think many of us “know” and have heard these teachings over and over again, but what’s missing is that thorough discussion that makes these lessons really stick in our mind. But short-form is really easy and accessible to read, and sometimes all we really need is that reminder.

So given my situation, I will write short “Wisdom Quote” format posts over the next couple of months. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or ideas, feel free to share in the comments. And whatever obstacle you are facing now, ask yourself, “How can I use this obstacle to advance my goal?

Originally published at on May 26, 2024.



Alex Chen

Passionate about self-cultivation, happiness, and sharing wisdom.