Advertising

Last Updated on February 4, 2021

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Through Hard Times

Advertising
10 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Through Hard Times

Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. But it’s the difficult times where we need a little more support and guidance.

I’m a firm believer that it’s how you respond in your moments of defeat that really defines the type of person you are.

When you can improve your ability to navigate the difficult times, you not only live a happier life, but you also grow as person. Here’s how to make getting through hard times less difficult:

1. Stay Positive

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope is what makes the difference.” – Virginia Satir

Now I know this may sound cliche, but the thing about cliches is that they’re typically true. Staying positive is only a small part in getting through the difficult times, but it’s an important part.

When you stay positive, you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to not only make it through those bad times, but become a better person in the process.

You can do one of two things when life takes a turn for the worst. You can remain positive and remind yourself that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you’ll make it through, or you can curl up in the fetal position and relegate yourself to being nothing more than a victim of circumstance.

I’m not saying that you can never have a bad day, or get a little discouraged, or shed a tear. But I am saying you have to eventually pick up the pieces and start moving forward.

Advertising

If you tend to get stuck and lose motivation easily, this free Fast Track Class – Activate Your Motivation may just be what you need. Join the class and learn how to be more resilient!

2. Get Creative

There are times when you can’t do much to change your situation. You just have to deal with it. But there are other times when you can actively work to make the situation better.

The solution won’t be in plain sight, because if it was you probably wouldn’t have gotten in that situation in the first place. But if you can take a step back and see the bigger picture, you may discover somethings that can help you.

A great example of getting creative during a difficult time is the story behind Wrigley’s gum. The founder, William Wrigley Jr. was a soap and baking powder salesman in the 1890’s and he always offered free gum to all of his clients. With his career as a salesman taking a turn for the worst, he noticed one thing that forever changed his life; people loved the gum he gave away more than the products he was actually selling. It was that one creative insight that got him through that difficult time and made him a monumental success.

3. Learn From the Difficult Times

“Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional” – John Maxwell

When I find myself in middle of an ugly situation, I like to pick everything apart and see what went wrong and what I could’ve done differently. I always end up learning something that helps me and I eventually get a really clear picture of what I need to do to make sure I’m not in the same situation again. Or if I do find myself in a similar situation, I know what to do to minimize the difficulty of the situation.

It’s easier getting through a difficult time when you know the chances of it happening again are slim to none.

4. Change It Up

After you identify the key takeaways from your difficult time, you just need to make a change. If it’s a change you can implement immediately, do it. You don’t want be in the middle of a difficult situation longer than necessary. If it’s something that you can’t implement right now, take note of it so you can use it when the the situation calls for it.

Advertising

But it’s pointless to learn from the difficult times if what you learned doesn’t directly affect your actions.

I’ve really come to embrace the difficulties and struggles that life hands me because I know there’s a silver lining in each one of them. You’re a lot more resilient than you give yourself credit for.

5. Know What You’re Grateful For

Gratitude means showing appreciation for all the good in your life, instead of focusing on the negative. Get clear about what it is that you’re grateful for.

Write out everything in your life you can think of that you’re grateful for having or experiencing. An even more powerful exercise is to think of the one person you’re most grateful for, and write a note explaining why you’re so grateful for having that person. Then give him or her a call and read that note to them.

Advertising

The difficult time you’re going through will start to seem less significant when it’s compared to everything that’s going right in your life.

6. Focus on What You Can Control, Not What You Can’t

Some situations are beyond your control and no matter what you do, you can’t change a thing. You’re setting yourself up for frustration when you focus your time and energy on things you can’t control. You’re also making the situation seem even more bleak than it actually is because you’re focusing on the negatives.

You should instead focus on the things that are within your control because that’s the only way you can make a change that’s actually going to help you. Make a list of everything you can control about the situation and divert all of your focus towards those things. Anything that’s not on the list, doesn’t get any attention.

7. Realize You’ve Come a Long Way

Sometimes we get so focused on the road ahead, that we never look back to see what we’ve already traveled. Give yourself credit for everything you’ve already done.

You’ll give yourself a confidence boost when you realize that you’ve already made so much progress and the light at the end of the tunnel will get brighter.

8. Build Up Your Community

Having the right people around you is one of the most important things you can do for yourself when the times get tough. You want to surround yourself with people who are loving, caring, honest, and available.

You need them to be loving because a little love always makes the bad days seem a little brighter. You need them to be caring because it helps to have someone who cares about your well being as much as you do.

But you also need them to be honest. You need someone who can look you in the eye tell you truth. Their honesty may be that one piece of information you need to get through the tough time.

Advertising

And you need them to be available. When you pick up the phone looking for some compassion or honesty, it helps to have someone who’s actually going to answer.

Community is also important because it helps to have someone who understands what it is that you’re going through and can relate to your situation. If you can find a community who has been through what you’re going through, you can find out how they made it and then apply that to your own life.

9. Be Kind to Yourself

You need to care for yourself to survive tough times. Take a walk through the park, lift some weights, read an amazing book. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that gets your mind and body engaged at a higher level than wallowing in self pity.

10. Forgive

If someone else is at fault for the bad situation you find yourself in, the natural response is to harbor anger or resentment towards that person.

But what if instead, you forgave that person. You accepted what happened, but you no longer held it against them. You would feel better, because now instead of focusing on the negative feelings you have toward that person, you can focus on moving forward.

You can’t really get through a difficult time when your every thought is about how upset you are with the person who got you into that mess. It just makes things more difficult.

Or maybe the difficult time you’re going through is a direct result of something that you did. I’ve been there before, and I know I continually beat myself up about it. I couldn’t forgive myself. I almost felt obligated to be hard on myself.

The problem with that is, it only makes things worse. You get caught in this revolving door of self hatred and feeling worse, and there’s a swirl of anger and frustration and self doubt. It’s ultimately a recipe for disaster.

Advertising

More by this author

Tony Robinson

Tony writes about mental strength, happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Through Hard Times 10 Things That Happen When You Start to Enjoy Being Alone This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone 6 Habits Of Highly Successful People Before Bedtime 30 Motivational Quotes To Remind You To Believe In Yourself

Trending in Staying Motivated

1 What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work? 2 6 Friday Motivation Tips to Help You Stay Motivated 3 How to Improve Employee Motivation in the Workplace 4 20 All-Time Best Motivational Books to Inspire You 5 21 Powerful Words That Will Give You Life Motivation

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

Advertising
What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

Advertising

Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

Advertising

Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

Advertising

Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

Advertising

Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

Advertising

So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

Read Next