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Published on December 19, 2018

How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

I have been discouraged and defeated many times in my life. I have had life deliver blows that have literally knocked me to the ground. The feelings of hopelessness and despair have consumed my life for many months. I wondered if I would ever survive these catastrophic events or if I would ever live a life where I felt happy and safe.

The good news is that slowly over time, my life got better and I got stronger. When I look back on my life I now realize that these “bad life events”, though painful at the time, were the catalysts for me to change my life.

“People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under” – Charles Swindoll

The only way for us to live our lives to the fullest is to learn how to persevere and deal with the challenges that life throws at us. I like to call these challenges “the curveballs of life”. Surviving these curveballs and perservering through adversity, pain, the feelings of hopelessness and despair are part of the journey for us to learn about whom we are. There is no other way to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful and optimisitc about life and our future.

Everyone feels discouraged and defeated at some point of on his or her life journey. Some of us find ourselves at this place of despair and we do not know what to do and so we stop growing and thriving in life. We end up living our lives through regret, fear, pain, disillusionment and sadness This is not how we are meant to live our lives.

When you are feeling discouraged and despair and life seems so tough, don’t give up. Use these 7 strategies to help you grow your courage and build your resilience so that you can step up, face the curveballs and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Accept and Anticipate Change on a Daily Basis

In today’s world of constant change, it is hard to hold on to who you are and manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. The one constant thing in our lives today – is change.

Instead of fighting the inevitability of change, learn how to accept it. Embrace change and know that by doing this, your life can only get better. Resisting change will fuel the negative energy that keeps you feeling broken and discouraged about life.

There is no way you can live your life to the fullest without experiencing change. Never stop learning about you, how you interact with others and the world that surrounds you.

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“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

Learn how to be agile in your thinking. Ask lots of questions and look for solutions, don’t just focus on the problem that you are facing. It is a lot harder to solve a problem when you are immersed within the problem itself.

Become a solution seeker because as the Dhali Larma said:

“If a problem can be solved it will be. If it cannot be solved there is no use worrying about it.”

2. Use Your Power of Choice to Liberate You, Not Imprison You

The only thing you have total control over is your power of choice. No one else can take that away from you.

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain …. To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life and not to deny my humanity but embrace it” – Kevyn Aucion

When life gets tough and you don’t know what to do next, you still have the power to choose. It is the choices that you make that determines how you react to the tough times in life you are facing. You can choose to do nothing, hide away, allow yourself to be distracted from the issue you need to face, or you can choose to take action and face your problem.

In my experience, the easiest option is to choose to do nothing but it always comes back and bites you big time – in the words of psychologist Carl Jung “what you resist will persist”. Choose to make choices that will enable you to move forward not backwards or around in circles going nowhere.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. A person who chooses to be a solution seeker is a resilient person who is self-aware and will actively seek support, advice and encouragement from other when times are tough.

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Solution seekers value the input of others because it is their wisdom and positive energy that helps solution seekers overcome adversity and keep moving forward in life.

Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

4. Be Positive and Laugh Lots

For me, this is my secret weapon that helps me to keep going when life gets tough. Having a positive attitude enables us to use our power of choice wisely. It also means that we are hopeful and optimistic about finding a solution or working through the challenges we are facing.

A positive attitude opens up your mind to explore possibilities whereas a pessimistic attitude closes your mind down and encourages you to withdraw yourself from finding your way through the challenges you are facing. With a pessimistic attitude, there is no growth and no learning – there is stagnation in life. A positive attitude is all about learning, growing and thriving in life.

When facing tough times in my life, I will choose to maintain a positive attitude because I know I will end up being stronger, more resilient and more courageous.

Laughter is life’s best way to thrive and flourish in life. To get through the tough times in life, surround yourself with people who make you laugh and like laughing with you. Laughter is contagious and you will soon find that when you are laughing lots you are feeling more alive and hopeful about your future.

5. Embrace the Unpredictability of Life, Don’t Run from Life

Life is a strange and amazing journey, many painful experiences and lots of beauty and joy. Running away from the challenges life presents to us is not the answer to dealing with life. When you run away, the only place you go is nowhere. The pain, the discomfort and challenges of life will follow you wherever you go.

It is okay to fall apart, make mistakes, fail, be disappointed and regretful but you can only stay in this not so great place for a short time.

Resilient people expect to fail and be disappointed. They know that to be strong, one has to overcome the adversity and challenges they face in life. Courageous people choose to “bounce forward” in life and to keep going toward living a happy fulfilled life. There is no other option for resilient people.

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Commit to becoming that courageous resilient person you were born to be.

6. Remember to Focus on the Things in Your Life That Bring You Joy

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain” – Joseph Campbell

When you are feeling despair, frustrated and hopeless, it is easy to forget the good things in your life. If you allow yourself to be consumed by negativity, you will start to believe that there is nothing good in your life. Before you know it, that will become your reality.

If you are having these thoughts, stop immediately and write a list of all the good things that you have experienced and all the things that have brought you joy. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more hopeful you will become.

Showing appreciation to others and expressing gratitude are two actions that will bring joy back into your life. The people who support you and love you are your treasure chest. The more you show appreciation and express gratitude to others (even strangers), the more joyous your life will be.

These two actions are very simple to do and if you repeat on a continuous basis, your life will change – for the better.

7. Don’t Let the Past Rule Your Present Life

Your past is your opportunity to learn the lessons you need to deal with your present life. However, if you don’t let go of your regrets in life and make peace with your past, it is very hard to move forward in your life.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery and learn how to trust and believe in you. When you are facing tough times in your life, ask yourself this question:

“What is the one thing I can do right now to take me one step closer to moving forward?”

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All you have to remember is to take one step forward and keep repeating that one step. You will soon discover that you closer to finding a solution.

Don’t let all your past mistakes and fears cloud your judgement and diminish your courage. You are not defined by what happened in your past you are who you choose to be now and in the future. Become the courageous empowered resilient person you were born to be.

Final Thoughts

It is understandable that when you are facing the tough times in life, you can become overwhelmed and lost. It is very hard to be hopeful and optimistic about your future when you are consumed by pain and frustration about your life.

However memorize this quote from Abraham Lincolns:

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.”

And use the 7 strategies when facing the tough times in your life and I guarantee you will survive and thrive through the toughest times of your life.

More Resources About Motivation and Positivity

Featured photo credit: Jared Erondu via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

1. Construct a Plan of Action

The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

2. Focus Your Attention

If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

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Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

    Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

    3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

    Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

    The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

    Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

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    This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

    The reason is simple:

    Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

    This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

    If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

    4. Accountability Is a Must

    When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

    When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

    You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

    • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
    • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
    • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
    • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

    Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

    5. Catalyst for Change

    There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

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    The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

    By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

    Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

    Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

    Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

    Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

    6. Character Matters

    In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

    Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

    Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

    It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

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    7. Muster up the Courage

    Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

    Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

    Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

    I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

    If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

    You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

    Final Thoughts

    There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

    Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

    More About Living Your Dream Life

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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