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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

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

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

There are times in life when we feel discouraged or defeated, when life delivers blows that knock us to the ground. The feelings of hopelessness and despair may consume your life for many months as you wonder if you’ll ever get back to feeling happy and safe. This is when it’s important to learn how to persevere.

The good news is that, over time, life can get better, and you can get stronger when you persevere. You’ll likely look back at these “bad life events” and realize they were the catalysts for you to change your life.

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. Surviving these curveballs and persevering through adversity, pain, and feelings of hopelessness and despair are part of the journey for us to learn about who we are. There is no other way to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful, and optimistic about life and our future.

Everyone feels discouraged and defeated at some point on his or her life journey. Some of us find ourselves at this place of despair, and we do not know what to do, 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 life seems tough, don’t give up. Use these 7 strategies to help you grow your courage and how to persevere so that you can step up, face the curveballs, and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Accept and Anticipate Change

In today’s world of constant change, it’s hard to manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. It’s even more difficult to find the motivation to persevere in the face of constant 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 discouraged about life.

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.

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Become a solution seeker because, as the Dalai Lama 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

One of the few things you have total control over is your power of choice. No one else can take that away from you, so use it when you want to learn how to persevere.

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 determine how you react to the tough times 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. 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 others when times are tough[1].

Solution seekers value the input of others because they know others may have wisdom or positive energy to help them overcome adversity and keep moving forward in life.

Afraid to ask for help? You can learn how to begin with this article.

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4. Be Positive and Laugh When You Can

For me, this is my secret weapon that helps me to keep going when I’m not sure how to persevere. Having a positive attitude enables us to use our power of choice wisely.

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.

If you have a hard time cultivating a positive attitude, consider trying mindfulness meditation. This can help you create space in your mind to root our negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

Laughter is life’s best way to thrive 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

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

It’s okay to fall apart, make mistakes, fail, and be disappointed, but you can only stay in this place for a short time. If you have a goal in mind, keep working to achieve your goal, despite the failures.

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 moving toward living a happy fulfilled life.

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

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6. Focus on Things 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 frustrated and hopeless, it’s 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 really want to learn how to persevere, 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.

One study found that gratitude was “demonstrated to be associated with increase in happiness, life satisfaction and social desirability”[2]. These all contribute to more resilience.

A great way to practice gratitude is by starting a gratitude journal. You can begin by writing three things each day that you’re grateful for. You can learn other ways to practice gratitude with this article.

7. Don’t Let the Past Rule Your Present

Your past presents an opportunity to learn the lessons you need to deal with in 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 yourself. When you are facing tough times in your life, ask yourself this question:

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

All you have to remember is to take one step forward and keep repeating that one step. You will soon discover that you are closer to finding a solution. Remember, you’ve done difficult things before and have come out on the other side.

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 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.

When you want to learn how to persevere and overcome the bad days, use the 7 strategies above to help you keep moving forward to get to your finish line.

More on How to Persevere

Featured photo credit: Guilherme Stecanella via unsplash.com

Reference

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Kathryn Sandford

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

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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out

How to Find Motivation When You’re Totally Burnt Out

I was weeping in bed for the third time that week, and I’ve never been a crier. But eight months after having my daughter, and four months after going back to work, the motivation and energy I’d originally felt returning to my job had completely subsided, and I’d hit a wall of fatigue and exhaustion of epic proportions. I’d forgotten how to find motivation.

I felt trapped. I wondered how to stop feeling unmotivated when I was trying to be everything to everyone. In today’s non-stop society, this happens to many people, so if you’re feeling burnt out and exhausted, you’re not alone.

How to Find Motivation

When I think about my experience with burnout, I can’t help but get a visual of when the hero Wesley is declared “mostly dead” in the classic 80’s movie The Princess Bride.

In case you haven’t seen the movie, let’s set the scene: Our hero Wesley is flat on his back, seemingly lifeless with heavy limbs and no strength left in his body after being tortured (almost) to death. Hope is bleak. At this point it seems impossible he has any fight left in him to take on his nemesis, Prince Humperdink, and rescue his lady love Buttercup.

But with the remaining air in his lungs, he mutters two words: True love.

This leads us to the first strategy for how to find motivation, even when you’re completely burnt out:

1. Focus on Your True Love

Our hero Wesley had one thing that motivated all of his actions: Princess Buttercup, his true love.

If you really think about it, the same is true for you. Whether it’s an actual person or a passion, you need to remember your “why.”

What is your reason for rising from this rut? Who or what was your motivation for reading this article? There’s something driving you to not stay stuck. There are some people who are counting on you or some mission that’s bigger than you that provide a clear purpose for everything you do.

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All of your efforts should be focused on your true love and getting back to being the person who can show up for that noble cause.

Knowing your true love is your compass. Whenever you’re feeling lost or uninspired, remembering the people or passion that make you uniquely you gives you that sense of purpose that you need to feel motivated to rise, even when you feel like you have nothing left.

In my case, I had to eventually realize that my true love (my husband) wanted his true love back—not this sobbing, miserable zombie I’d become.

When I realized that my complete lack of motivation and burn out was really affecting him, I knew it was time to get to the root of what was really wrong, which leads us to step 2.

2. Identify Your True Adversary (and Focus Your Limited Energy There)

There’s always someone or something that has to be defeated in every hero’s journey when learning how to find motivation. In the case of our hero Wesley, he had to defeat Prince Humperdink in order to rescue Buttercup. This singular mission helped him reserve his energy for the most critical moment, when he finally met Humperdink face-to-face.

In the case of your burnout, there is most likely a root cause that has to be addressed in order to reclaim your motivation. Getting clear on what that is will prevent you from running around trying to fix every aspect of your life and allow you to simply focus on the one or two things that are really the reason everything’s feeling so hard.

When you’re truly burnt out, it’s likely that it’s negatively impacted multiple areas of your life, so it may feel impossible to identify the root cause of your struggles at the moment.

To get the root cause of your burnout, do a gut check. What are the first 3 reasons that you think have caused you to burn out? What were the first things that popped into your mind?

If you’re stuck, you can also rank each of the following categories of your life from 1-10 (10 being awesome, 1 being awful):

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  • Career
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Money
  • Contribution
  • Personal Growth
  • Spiritual Life
  • Health
  • Romance
  • Fun

The aspects of your life with the lowest numbers should help you identify the true root cause of your burnout.

One way to really figure out what’s wrong is to imagine what a 10 would be to you in each area you rank low. For example, if you rank your job a 2, what would a 10 be to you? Describe it in as much detail as possible and compare it to your current situation.

For example, maybe your 10 job would be remote, but your current job forces you to commute and travel constantly. This has the potential to affect every area of your life, but the solution to most of your woes is to get a job that lets you work from home and doesn’t require so much travel.

When you’re clear on what’s not working, you can start to see a way out, which leads us to step 3.

3. Remember That You’re the Hero

It would have been easy for Wesley to play the victim. After all, he literally was tortured to death and endured unimaginable pain in the Pit of Despair.

However, instead of focusing on what had happened to him in the past, as soon as Wesley was brought back to life, he focused on what needed to be done in order to get his girl. He remembered he was the hero, despite how things may have felt or appeared in the moment.

When we’re burnt out, it’s easy to want to play the blame game or feel victimized by our circumstances.

This isn’t a good way to learn how to find motivation because it prevents us from having any agency or creative point of view on our situation.

If anything is going to change in our life, we have to always remember that we’re the hero of our own story. Despite what circumstances come at us, our responses are 100% our responsibility.

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In my case, I knew the commute and stress from my job was one of the major sources of my burnout. I also knew something was wrong with my health but didn’t have any answers or solutions yet. What was clear was that the stress I was feeling wasn’t going to get any better if I kept doing what I was doing.

I had to save myself. I had to do the work, and perhaps I was using my husband as an excuse because in admitting I needed a break or help, in my mind I was admitting weakness.

I was afraid to be that vulnerable and to ask for and expect his complete love and support when I wasn’t “working for it.” I was more comfortable playing the victim of my circumstances and falling on my noble sword because it made me feel strong.

Can you relate? If so, spend time answering these questions:

  • If you’re honest with yourself, have you been playing the hero or the victim of your story?
  • Claiming your role of hero, what’s your next play?
  • What are you secretly wanting permission for that you need to grant yourself?

Once you take complete responsibility for your circumstances and for saving yourself, there’s another key thing you’ll need.

4. Accept Help From Your Friends

Our hero Wesley was “mostly dead” and unable to walk, feed himself, or hold his head up when his friends Inigo and Fezzik found him. If it wasn’t for them, he would have died in the Pit of Despair, but they held him up, found Miracle Max, advocated for a remedy, and carried him on their backs until he could stand on his own again.

My story is no different. In order to find my motivation again and recover from burnout, it required me to rely on my husband and support network more than I ever had before. It also required doctors, life coaches, and the support of friends and family.

Sometimes showing weakness is the ultimate show of strength.

You are the hero, and you’re also human. None of us can do this on our own, nor are we supposed to. When you’re burnt out, it’s important to ask for help and seek out a support system while you find your way back to yourself[1].

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This is how you learn to achieve your goals after losing motivation.

Final Thoughts

Remember, burnout happens to all of us from time to time, and it’s during these times that we may need to learn how to find motivation again.

Sometimes, doing this requires making a huge life change, but other times, it can be fixed with a new habit as simple as shutting down your computer, putting your phone out of sight, and giving yourself some down time.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities on your plate and with all of the things you’re thinking you need to change, remember to start small and focus on the ONE thing that’s going to make the biggest impact.

My thing was leaving my full time job, which, after months stressing about it, was accomplished in one 10-minute conversation with my manager.

Save your precious energy for only doing the things that truly matter right now, and your motivation will start coming back sooner than you thought possible.

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Featured photo credit: Tania Mousinho via unsplash.com

Reference

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