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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough
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Whenever you hit a rough patch in life, it can seem like the problems you’re confronting are unique to you and that the whole world is closing in. It might be that you are struggling to find a way out and just can’t see the light of hope anywhere when the going gets tough.

Thankfully, although you might not see it, there is always hope. Nothing lasts forever—not even bad times—and doing things like remembering why you started in the first place and practicing using your courage muscle are just a couple of things that can shorten the difficult times.

If you could find a way to not only survive but thrive when the going gets tough, how would your life change for the better?

Here are ten thing you can do to make that happen today.

1. Realize How Far You Have Come

Whenever you get discouraged on the path to wherever you want to go, it is usually because you are only looking forward, not around you or behind you. Your journey through life will last until your final day, so it is no wonder that you still see a long and sometimes daunting path ahead.

To keep going despite this, it’s important to take a moment or two to look around. Look at where you are standing now compared to when you first started. Look at how many obstacles and challenges are behind you that you managed to overcome successfully.

The benefits of reflective practice are also extensive, and it is little wonder why.[1]

Looking back at how far you have come is usually the fire you need to keep on burning brightly into the future.

2. Remember Why You Started

When the going gets tough, you need something to cling to in order to keep your grit and remind yourself why you started doing something in the first place. Without this all-important “why,” you will be quick to wander from your path.

Whenever things are at their worst, your number one reason for doing the thing is going to be what pulls you through.

As ex-Navy Seal and motivation master David Goggins puts it:

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“‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight!”

Sometimes, life can be a bit of a fight, especially within yourself. Therefore, having your reasons for continuing will always help pull you out when times are tough. Try writing these down and posting them in places you look at every day to help them have even more impact.

3. Make It a Habit to Move Forward

Habits are some of the strongest behavioral predictors that we have. Most of our habits happen in our subconscious and are triggered by external or internal cues.

The great thing about habits is that they can be formed through conscious, repeated behaviors, and when practiced enough, they can eventually take their place in the subconscious and guide your life.

Use positive habits when the going gets tough.

    Of course, you want good habits to be guiding your life in the background, not bad ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it a habit to always move forward.

    There are going to be slip-ups, bad days, and circumstances that blow you off course, but moving forward is all about getting back on track as fast as possible. If you can make that a habit, you can always get closer to where you want to go.

    4. Use If-Then Planning

    When the going gets tough in your life, one of the most effective frameworks that you can put into place is called if-then planning.

    This is the simplified version of something called Implementation Intention, a concept created by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer in the mid-’90s[2]. It helps you to make sense of confusing situations and to be able to take action when you are really struggling.

    The simplified process is as follows:

    “If x happens, I will do y.”

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    For example:

    “If I start to have negative thoughts, I will take ten seconds to just breathe.”

    “If I feel extremely stressed for three days in a row, I will take the fourth day off to recover and reset.”

    If-then planning puts a strategy in place for when times are tough. It takes away the element of thinking, planning, and worrying, as you already know exactly what you need to do in each situation.

    The beauty of using if-then is that you can change the if and then for different situations based on whatever works best for you at any given moment.

    5. Find Some Mentors

    With the internet becoming more accessible than it has ever been, there are so many ways to get a peek into the world’s top minds and see what they do in their own lives when the going gets tough.

    Most successful people have had to overcome some serious struggles to get to where they are. Do a simple search online, and you will no doubt find out about all of the challenges that your favorite people have had to overcome.

    You can check out this article for more information on what to look for in a mentor.

    Because of this, you should try to take inspiration from these people and find your own mentors. It’s worth recognizing that nobody trying to live their best life can ever get through it without their fair share of challenges to overcome. That’s just part of the hero’s journey.

    6. Get out of Your Head

    Sometimes, all of the reasoning, thinking, planning, and ruminating in the world doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact, for the serial thinkers and problem-solvers out there, it is oftentimes that too much time in your head results in even more struggle rather than a release of it.

    Yes, some things can be solved by thinkin, but when the going gets really tough, it is usually just pure heart, emotion, and grit that are going to carry you through. Your mind can become a tyrant, and it is worth being aware of this.

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    When you feel your own thoughts weighing you down, it is time to step out of your mind for a little while and get into your body. Lift some weights, go for a run, or take a pleasant walk.

    The mind and body are much more connected than most people think—especially when it comes to emotions and fears—and doing something beneficial for the body often benefits the unsettled mind as well.[3]

    7. Ruthlessly Forgive Yourself

    One of the worst things you can do when the going gets tough is to come down hard on yourself. Everyone has these external and internal struggles, and the harder you are on yourself for having them, the more difficult and traumatic the episodes will be when you inevitably slip up.

    A lot of people are far harder on themselves than they are on other people, and to keep going in tough times, you need to be just as empathetic with yourself as you would be with your best friend.

    The hard times are much easier to get through when you are at peace with yourself. You will be astonished by how much less pressure you feel when you take the time to forgive your own mistakes.

    8. Take Smaller Steps

    It is common for people to stumble in life because they are simply taking on too much at once. Whether it be too much ambition, unrealistic expectations of themselves or others, or some extra curveballs, big steps can sometimes be too much to take.

    The truth about big steps is that they are rare, disruptive, and difficult to keep up without crumbling. The big steps—the real life-changing goals and dreams that you have—can often be broken into much smaller steps that are more manageable and that will get you to the same place.

    If the going is getting particularly tough, it might be the case that you are simply trying to do too much at once. Try taking smaller, more manageable steps, and see if obstacles and difficulties become easier to navigate.

    9. Use Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage

    Everyone will agree that the courage we have stored within ourselves is often finite and difficult to sustain for long periods. We tend to think that making a big change in our life and getting out of a rut requires courage for long periods that we simply cannot manage.

    The good news is that this isn’t true. Most of the pivotal moments of change in your life—including pulling yourself out of a hole when the going gets tough—come from small, courageous decisions in short, precise moments.

    Quite often, using twenty seconds of insane courage when it is needed is enough to completely change the trajectory of our lives. Whether it be asking for that promotion, deciding to go to the gym for the first time in months, or having the courage to break through your insecurities and ask someone out, most of these only require a few seconds of insane courage.

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    To learn more about tapping into a deep sense of emotional courage, check out this TED Talk with Susan David:

    10. Accept That Your Motivation Will Wane

    One of the main reasons that people get discouraged and struggle to keep going in hard times is that they never expected their motivation to dip.

    When we start a project or enter a relationship or take on something new and exciting in our lives, our motivation is high, and we are in a mindset of excitement. We start thinking about all of the positives that could come from these things.

    However, as time wears on, motivation levels inevitably drop, and you start to focus on the negatives of what’s happening or the added responsibility that you forgot to consider.

    When this happens, you have two choices:

    1. You can put on your rose-colored glasses of the past and falsely remember how perfect everything was.
    2. You can put on your realistic glasses, face the difficulties, and keep moving forward into something better.

    The true test of character comes when you hit a dip, motivation wanes, and you just don’t feel like doing stuff anymore. The secret is to realize that all of this is temporary and that you don’t need motivation to act.

    It’s nice to have motivation, but the true test of character comes when motivation inevitably wanes. In those moments, will you keep going?

    Final Thoughts

    So there you have it. Each of these ten ideas for how to keep going when the going gets tough is versatile enough to be applied to almost any difficult situation that you find yourself in.

    Life is going to present many difficulties. This isn’t something to fear but something to embrace. With these steps, you can navigate these stormy waters a little easier.

    More Inspiration to Help You Stay Strong

    Featured photo credit: Gaelle Marcel via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Psychology Today: What Is Self-Reflection and Why It Matters For Wellness
    [2] American Psychologist: Implementation Intentions: Strong Effects of Simple Plans
    [3] The International Journal of Psychoanalysis: Emotional Processing: The Mind-Body Connection

    More by this author

    Daniel Riley

    Daniel is a writer who specialises in personal development and helping others become the best version of themselves.

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    Last Updated on July 29, 2021

    How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up

    How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up
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    It’s Monday morning. The alarm goes off. Do you know how to get motivated at that moment? What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you open your eyes? 

    Are you excited to get up and go to work, or are you dreading the day and week ahead?

    Whatever your response may be, ask yourself this question:

    “What is it that makes you feel unmotivated?” What’s driving you to feel negative or positive about your Monday ahead? If you want to know how to get motivated, keep reading.

    The Two Types of People

    You likely know of people who have been doing the same thing for years and seem to not have any problem staying stagnant. Whether it be in their marriage, job, or personal endeavors, they seem to be getting along just fine without progressing towards anything “better.”

    On the other hand, I’m sure you also know of individuals who focus on the positive, goals setting and are constantly pushing themselves to greater heights. Be it promotions at work, building a family, celebrating marriage milestones, traveling more, or going to school again, these individuals seem to constantly progress towards something that improves or enhances their life.

    So what’s the difference between these two types of individuals?

    What you feel capable of doing comes down to one thing: motivation. It’s the force, or lack of, that keeps driving you forward to overcome challenges and obstacles to achieve your goals.

    Without motivation, you’ll give up after a few failed attempts, or even on the first tough challenge that comes your way. Or you’ll just remain where you are: unhappy yet not doing anything to progress ahead.

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    What Is Motivation, Really?

    Whether you realize it or not, motivation is a huge force in your life, and it needs to be harnessed in order to excel and actually enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing on a daily basis. If you find yourself thinking, “I need motivation,” there are specific steps you can take.

    Unfortunately, many overgeneralize the word motivation. We think of being either motivated or unmotivated as a simple “yes” or “no” state of being.

    But motivation is not a switch. As discussed in the Fast Track Class – Activate Your Motivation, motivation is a flow. To feel motivated, you need to dive beyond the surface. Just reading a motivational quote, being encouraged by your friends or mentor, or writing out a short to-do list won’t help you build sustainable motivation in the long run.

    You can think of the motivation that we want to achieve like the Sun (self-sustaining and long-lasting), which supplies a constant influx of energy to all life on Earth. Just like the Sun, your “motivation engine” has different layers, starting from the core and spreading out to the surface. The surface is what you see, but the real process is driven from the core (your internal motivation); and that’s the most important part.

    If you can create a self-sustaining motivation engine, you’ll be able to find more meaning in your life and enjoy every minute of what you’re doing, which will make your roles and responsibilities less of a chore. 

    Let me help you understand this motivation flow better by breaking down the motivation engine into 3 parts:

    1. Core – Purpose
    2. Support – Enablers
    3. Surface – Acknowledgement

    The Third Layer: Surface

    The outermost layer, also known as Acknowledgement, encompasses any type of external recognition that might give you motivation. It may come in the form of respect or recognition, such as compliments and praise.

    Or it could be emotional support through encouragement, feedback, and constructive criticism. It could also be affiliation, where you have mutual companions or buddies sharing the same goal or burden with you.

    One recent study pointed out that “rewards had a positive impact on work motivation but no significant relationship existed between reward and job satisfaction”[1].

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    Therefore, it’s important to recognize that rewards will motivate you, but they won’t necessarily make you happier in an undesirable situation.

    This is generally what you see on the surface when you look at other people. You see the external acknowledgement, respect, and recognition they’re getting.

    The Second Layer: Support

    In essence, the second layer of the motivation engine (also known as Enablers) is what supports your goals. They can magnify the motivation core you have, or speed up the momentum that you build. Basically, they create favorable circumstances for things to go smoothly.  

    If you want to know how to find motivation, positive enablers are key. This could include friends and family, or any support network you’ve created in life.

    The Innermost Layer: Core

    But what’s most important, and the true driving force behind your motivation flow, is the innermost core, your Purpose. Your purpose is what differentiates the motivated from the unmotivated, the achievers from the underachievers, the happy from the unhappy.

    Your motivational core is your Purpose, and it is sustained by two things: having meaning, and forward movement. With these two as a foundation, you’ll have a power source that will feed you motivational energy indefinitely.

    If you want to learn more about the Motivation Flow, join our Fast Track Class – Activate Your Motivation for free now!

    How to Sustain Your Purpose

    Having meaning is simple. If you want to learn how to find motivation, just ask yourself a question: Why?

    Why are you pursuing a certain goal? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. While motivation provides you energy to do something, that energy needs to be focused somewhere. So without meaning, there is no direction for your energy to focus.

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    Yet, having a meaningful objective doesn’t mean you have to change the world or have a huge impact on society. The secret to meaningful work is simple: it should contribute value to something or someone that matters to you.

    One study suggested creativity as one possible path to meaning, saying: “Many of the core concepts in work on the meaning of life, such as the needs for coherence, significance, and purpose or the desire for symbolic immortality, can be reached through creative activity”[2].

    Next up is gaining forward movement. In short, this means to just keep moving. Like a snowball, motivation from having progress creates momentum. So to keep this up, you have to keep moving.

    The good news is, your progress doesn’t have to be huge for you to recognize it. Small amounts of progress can be just as motivating, as long as they keep coming. Like driving a car, you may be really impatient if you’re at a complete halt. But, it lessens if you’re moving forward, even if you’re moving slowly.

    Creating a simple progress indicator, like checklists or milestones, is a great way to visualize your small (and big) wins. They trigger your brain to recognize and acknowledge them, giving you small boosts of motivational energy.

    This is why video games are so addictive! They’re full of progress indicators everywhere. Even though the progress is completely virtual, they’re still able to trigger the motivation centers in your brain.

    Find out What Drives You Today

    Why not take some time today and do a quick reflection of where you’re at now? Take one aspect of your life that you’d like to progress further in.

    For example, it may be your current job. Start with your why. Write down your reasons for why you’re in the job that you’re in.

    Then, think about your Motivation Core: your Purpose. Write down what it is within your job that gives you meaning, and what are some things that will help push you forward in life.

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    Once you have those points, it’s time to do a comparison. Does your current job help you make progress towards that purpose that you’ve written?

    If it does, you’re on the right track. If it doesn’t, or if you’ve realized your life isn’t going where you want it to, don’t panic. There’re tools that can help you get through this. The Actionable Motivation On Demand Handbook is one of those effective tools that can help you always stay motivated. Get your own handbook and never lose motivation again!

    Do your best to not focus on the negative. Review your goals and aim yourself in a positive direction, even if it means that you start small.

    Final Thoughts on Staying Motivated

    Happiness doesn’t need to be a vague term or illusion that you’re constantly chasing after with no end in sight. By finding your true motivation, you’ll be one step closer to realizing your happiness and finding meaning in everything you do.

    You may have tried many solutions to help you stay motivated and found that none of them really have any impact. That’s because they bring about incremental changes only, and permanent change requires a holistic approach. It requires more than just focusing on one area of your life or changing one part of your routine or actions.

    You want to make a fundamental change, but it feels like big, unknown territory that you can’t afford to venture into at this point in your life.

    The truth is, taking your life to the next stage doesn’t have to be this complicated. So, if you’d like to take the first step to achieving your life purpose, the time to learn how to find motivation is now!

    More on How to Find Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] European Journal of Business and Management: Impact of Reward and Recognition on Job Satisfaction and Motivation
    [2] Perspectives on Psychological Science: Finding Meaning With Creativity in the Past, Present, and Future

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