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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.

Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It 7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown And Get More Out of Life How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough Anxiety Coping Mechanisms That Work When You’re Stressed to the Max If You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life, Read These 5 Strategies

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Last Updated on March 12, 2019

Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

The statistics are dismal. A recent study has found that 69% of people feel trapped in the same old routine, and only 3 out of 10 people are happy with their lives.[1] People are feeling stuck.

Some are feeling stuck in their careers, feeling like they’re too far along one path to make a change. Some are feeling stuck in their personal lives. The toll of the daily grind sucks most of their time and energy. So their relationships, self-care, and personal goals get lost in the shuffle of the treadmill existence.

When people come across these challenges of feeling stuck, the feeling sometimes doesn’t go away. It often intensifies as time goes on. As the stuck feeling intensifies, some people choose to settle. Subconsciously, without even realizing it, they end up pushing their dreams and goals further and further down.

Others, if the feeling of being stuck intensifies to an unbearable point, choose to make changes. They may choose to pivot in their careers, even after years at a successful job. They may end up making big changes in their relationships, or start putting their fitness at a higher priority. They may make drastic changes to finally feel free. These changes can be incredibly difficult to make, especially if a person has lived many years in a certain lifestyle.

Feeling stuck is NOT fun. I’ve been there. I get it.

Why Are You Feeling Stuck?

People feel stuck once in a while. There are many causes of feeling stuck. Many people work toward goals that don’t actually align with who they are at the core or what they truly desire. I call these “False Objectives”.

Living a life of False Objectives can cause people to feel very stuck and frustrated. People can build lives that are very “successful” according to society; but if you’ve built your life based on False Objectives, you’re not going to feel fulfilled. You’ll end up feeling stuck.

Another cause of feeling stuck is not knowing who you are. If you don’t understand how you’re innately wired – your strengths, your gifts, your talents, your passions – it’s tough to make decisions that enable you to maximize those. It’s tough to reach your full potential if you don’t know who you are.

You can feel stuck if you’re doing work that doesn’t allow you to maximize your innate strengths. If you’re doing work that doesn’t bring out the best in who you are at the core, you’ll likely feel some dissatisfaction and you won’t reach your full potential.

Other people feel stuck because they haven’t surrounded themselves with mentors or peers who have achieved what they want to achieve. They stay in certain routines while craving to do life differently. As Jim Rohn says,

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“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

If your goal is to run a marathon and you’re spending most evenings and weekends drinking beer with your coworkers, you’re probably not going to run that marathon. If your goal is to live a location-independent lifestyle and work anytime from anywhere, but everyone in your social circle is at traditional jobs; it’ll be tough to break free from the 9-5 mentality.

How Feeling Stuck Screws You up Secretly

Feeling stuck screws up people’s lives. The consequences of feeling stuck can range from mild to severe. People may feel a mild discontentment with life and end up succumbing to the idea that life is “okay,” and settle. (Nancy’s story will resonate with you.) They may never reach their full potential, their highest levels of happiness and satisfaction. And they may not make the impact on the world that they could make, and have a looming sense that there could be “more” to life.

Often, though, the feeling of being stuck comes with much larger consequences. Feeling stuck can hinder career growth and contribute to disrupted marriages. It can lead to huge midlife crises.

The feeling can (and frequently does) increase as the years go on, leading to significant regrets about unfulfilled dreams. In fact, the number one regret of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” She writes:[2]

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Many people had not honored even a half of their dreams, and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

    How to Approach Life Differently

    Thankfully, some highly effective strategies can prevent you from feeling stuck. Using these strategies can help you avoid significant problems in your life. It’s different than conventional living, and it works.

    Commonly, people live with many set routines. While certain routines are helpful, becoming stuck in the daily grind routine can get frustrating. Many people eat roughly the same foods each week, go to the same place each day, talk to the same people, keep the same commitments, and end up living life on autopilot.

    It’s tough to feel like you’re progressing forward when each day is spent doing the same uninspiring routine. In order to avoid feeling stuck, it’s important to live intentionally. It’s crucial to live in the driver’s seat of your life and get out of autopilot mode.

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    First, ditch the False Objectives. Just because everyone in your family are doctors doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because all your friends are married with a big house, a white picket fence, and 2 kids doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because everyone you know works 9-5 doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. It’s not easy to design your life intentionally, but it’s critical in order to avoid feeling stuck.

    Remember, the majority of people feel stuck. So, if you’re doing things like the majority of people, you’ll likely feel stuck, too. You’ll need to think differently and create your life differently.

    Two Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

    In order to intentionally design your life, avoid falling prey to False Objectives, and prevent feeling stuck, there are questions to ask yourself every day. These questions can help you stay focused on what matters most to you, help you avoid feeling stuck and frustrated, and create the best life possible.

    1. Why am I going to do what I’m going to do today?

    If you’re showing up to work each day and giving your years to your job, it’s important that your “why” is deeper than “to pay the bills.” Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing can help you make choices that inspire and motivate you.

    By asking yourself why you’re going to do what you’re going to do today, you will be living intentionally. In today’s incredibly busy, easily distracted world, living intentionally and focusing every day on what matters most is unique.

    When you choose to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing every day, it will help you stay focused on what’s truly important to you. This can prevent you from getting stuck.

    2. What would future want me to do today?

    Imagine yourself, in the future, as the best version of you. What would that version of you want you to do today? Making decisions from the viewpoint of the future you can help you move forward and prevent the stuck and frustrated feeling.

    When you make decisions from the viewpoint of future you, you will develop perseverance and reap the benefits of delayed gratification. Today’s society is very focused on instant gratification, but a lot of great things in life take time and effort. Learning to take small steps forward by making decisions from the future you’s standpoint can help you progress toward your biggest goals and dreams.

    How to Get Unstuck

    After asking yourself the two questions, work on the plan to get unstuck. I’ve personally tried these strategies and they work for me.

    1. Choose goals you truly desire to accomplish

    This might sound obvious but we all get sucked into False Objectives at times. When you’re setting goals in your career and your personal life, make sure they are goals that matter to you.

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    Working hard toward big achievements that don’t align with your values, priorities, and who you are at the core is a fast-track toward feeling stuck.

    Learn about your strengths, your gifts, and your passions. Choose goals that align with who you are at the core, and work toward goals that align with your inner strengths and gifts. This will help you maximize your potential and minimize the stuck and frustrated feelings.

    2. Watch your mindset

    Often, we think we’re stuck, but the problem is our mindset. Being mindful of our mindset and self-talk is important to living a life of freedom and fulfillment. Work on rephrasing your self-talk in order to improve your mindset.

    For example, if you tell yourself, “I could never start a business,” rephrase it to, “I don’t know how to start a business YET, but I can learn.” If you find yourself saying, “I don’t have enough money to travel,” tell yourself, “I don’t have the money right now, but I can make a plan to save money to travel. Rephrasing your self-talk can help you see opportunities and possibilities instead of feeling stuck.

    Occasionally, even the most driven people have days where they feel unmotivated. Check out this article for tips to get motivated when you feel like doing nothing:

    What Motivates You And How to Always Stay Motivated

    Those tips can help you break free from the rut.

    3. Get out of your comfort zone and add some excitement to your day

    Shaking up your daily routine and adding some excitement to your days can help you get unstuck.

    While breaking out of your daily routine can be uncomfortable, it can be a great way to invigorate your life. You can start by getting out of your comfort zone in small ways. Here are 10 ways to step out of your comfort zone and overcome your fear. As Brian Tracy says,

    “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

    Getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing growth can help you to continue to move forward and prevent you from getting stuck.

    4. Surround yourself with people who have done what you aspire to do

    It’s easy to get stuck if you’re trying to accomplish something and you’re struggling to believe it’s possible to accomplish it.

    Instead of letting yourself be isolated and stuck, commit to learning from people who have done what you aspire to do. This can help you believe it’s possible to achieve the same goals. It can also help you to be inspired to progress forward instead of staying in stuck-land.

    You can seek out a mentor, or even read inspiring books or listen to motivating podcasts by the people who have achieved your biggest goals and dreams.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s frustrating to feel stuck. But you don’t need to stay stuck if you know the right ways to break free from the rut.

    Practice living intentionally by asking yourself the 2 critical questions:

    • Why am I going to do what I’m going to do today?
    • What would future want me to do today?

    When you constantly reflect about what you truly want and whether you’re doing the things that lead you to what you desire, you’ll feel less stuck gradually.

    Featured photo credit: Krists Luhaers via unsplash.com

    Reference

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