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Last Updated on February 16, 2021

12 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Discouraged

12 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Discouraged

Everyone deals with discouragement at some point in their life.  It’s part of what makes the human experience rich—the highs and the lows.  If we didn’t experience the lows, then we wouldn’t appreciate the highs.

Discouragement, disappointment, failure, and setbacks—these are all things that can help us if we maintain an empowering mindset.  The key to life is to learn from these experiences, and minimize the amount of time that we allow ourselves to stay discouraged. So the next time you start to feel discouragement, here is what you should do:

1. Take the long view.

Discouragement generally occurs when our expectations (what we think should happen) don’t align with reality (what actually happens).  In many cases our expectations are unrealistic, and this often has to do with how long we think things should happen.  If we take a longer view, and relax our expectations a little, it can really help to decrease discouragement.  The reality is that most things that are worthwhile take a lot of effort and time to come to fruition.  So be patient!

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2. Remember, there is no such thing as failure. There is only education.

When we feel like we have failed at something, discouragement often follows.  However, failure doesn’t really exist, except for the meaning that we give it.  If we don’t get the result that we want, when we want it, we just need to take new action.  We can choose, instead of thinking of failure as bad, to think of failure as education, and therefore good.  When we view it this way we realize that failure isn’t something that is bad, or something to be avoided. It is simply feedback. It is simply education. When we think this way we ease discouragement.

3. Stay true to our vision. See it again in our mind.

If we are feeling discouraged, think about our vision.  Think about what we want to create in our life. See it clearly.  Feel what it would feel like if the image came into reality.  What would this mean for us?  How would we feel.  Once we see it, and feel it, we will also feel empowered and our discouragement will dissipate.

4. Don’t let our ego get in the way of our development.

Our ego is often the primary cause of our feelings of disappointment and discouragement.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  We can control our ego.  When we do this, we are on the path of development. When we are internally strong enough to handle constructive criticism, and feedback, we receive the rewards of growth.  Growth leads to happiness.  When we are growing we feel good, and we aren’t discouraged.

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5. Stop comparing ourself to others.  We’re on a unique path.

A sure fire, 100% guaranteed way to get discouraged is to focus on other people in a comparative way.  Here is why: we generally see their victories, successes, and strengths. We see what they have and what we don’t. We see why they are better than us. When we do this we get discouraged and we feel sorry for ourselves. We don’t as easily see their struggles, their fears, their setbacks, and their failures.  So don’t do it.  It isn’t empowering. Don’t compare. We are on a unique path.  It is great to be inspired by another, but if by hearing another’s story, we feel that we are lesser, then we need to just focus on our own path.

6. Detach from rewards, focus on our actions and giving our best work.

If our sole motivation for doing something is the reward that we might get from the action, then we are setting ourselves up for discouragement.  Action should be its own reward.  When it is, we are forever free.  Freedom is at the heart of happiness.  When we don’t need someone else’s praise for doing something, when we don’t need a “carrot” for performing our work, then we are truly free to just focus on our work and make it great.  When we create great work we are happy.

To help you focus on your actions easily, here’s a Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost that can guide you to stay motivated and move foward. Grab your free worksheet and regain lost motivation quickly!

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7. Change our “rules” for being happy.

What rule do we have to be happy?  What has to happen for us to feel successful?  Is it in our control?  If it isn’t then we might be setting ourselves up for failure.  By rules I mean the set of circumstances that must be present for us to feel accomplished.  For example if I have a rule that says something has to happen to feel successful, what if I don’t ever reach it? Or even worse, does it mean that I never get to feel successful until I reach it?  That is a sad way to live.  We have to create rules that serve us. We have to live by rules that are within our control.  Here are some of my rules:  I am successful when I grow and improve.  I am successful when I give my very best.

8. Consider who we are spending time with.

The people who we spend the most time with might be a major contributing factor to feeling discouragement.  This can be a very hard one, especially if those people are family and loved ones. We have a tendency to become who we most frequently associate with, and if we spend all our time with people who are constantly negative, and feeling sorry for themselves, we can be influenced to see life through a similar lens.  So what can we do?  We can’t simply cut loved ones out of our lives. So what we should do is simply expand our social network.  Join a peer group that is positive.  Start to surround ourselves with positive people as a balance.  Over time we will start to take on their mindset and this will help with any feelings of discouragement we may have.

9. Get outside, move and breathe.

Fresh air and sunshine can have an amazing effect on our feelings.  Sometimes when we are feeling down, all that we need to do is simply to go outside and breathe.  Movement and exercise is also a fantastic way to feel better.  Positive emotions can be generated by motion.  So if we start to feel down, take some deep breathes, go outside, feel the fresh air, let the sun hit our face, go for a hike, a walk, a bike ride, a swim, a run, whatever.  We will feel better if we do this.

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10. Talk to our mentor.

Our mentor can be a great source of wisdom when we are feeling down.  So when discouragement rears its ugly head, go have a coffee with our mentor.  They will be able to give us wisdom based on experience.  In many cases they will also give us tough love and help us to snap out of it if we are feeling sorry for ourselves.  They will also help us to make a specific plan of action to work our way out of discouragement.

11. Do a mind map.

A mind map is a simple and empowering exercise that can help trigger our creativity and also pull us out of discouragement.  Take a blank piece of paper or a whiteboard. In the middle write out what it is that we want (our goal).  Then map our ideas that will get us there.  Use arrows originating from our goal and pointing to the various actions that we could take.  Break those actions down into sub actions.  Spend a good hour of so on this activity.  Once we are done we will have a great plan of action.  Then get to work.  Work will break the chains of discouragement better than anything.

12. Go find someone who we can help.

This is a great way to alleviate discouragement.  Go find someone who needs help, and then help them.  It is really that simple.  When we serve others, when we go out of our way to help other people in need, we feel better.  It is impossible to be discouraged when we are giving all our efforts on behalf of another.  Discouragement is a really a self-driven symptom.  We are focusing on ourselves.  That is why we feel bad.  Something isn’t right in “our” life.  However, when we stop thinking about ourselves, and when we direct our attention to another, we feel better.

Featured photo credit: Ethan Sykes via unsplash.com

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Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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Last Updated on April 9, 2021

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is learning how to stay motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task at hand serves a greater goal.

It’s impossible to expect your motivation levels to remain at 100% all the time, but there are things you can do to maximize your stores of motivation and push forward. Here are 5 simple yet effective tips for staying motivated.

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first, but if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it, it’s time to find your good reasons.

For each goal you set, there needs to be a reason behind it. If you don’t nail down your “why” when you begin, your motivation will soon falter, leaving you miles from achieving your goal. This isn’t the way to learn how to become motivated.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

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  • Rewards: This may come in the form of money (a salary or a raise, for example) or some kind of award.
  • Personal Gain: You will learn something new or improve yourself in a certain way.
  • Accomplishment: Achieving a feeling of accomplishment and recognition for achieving a goal can be a huge motivating factor.
  • A Step Closer to Bigger Goals: Even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to increasing motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, and others will love it[1].

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and enjoyable when we begin to lose motivation.

Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some, yet others love being in that environment. For those that hate going to the gym, finding a team sport in their community may serve them best.

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and others?
  • How can I make this task the best part of my day?

Expecting a task to be enjoyable is one way to learn how to stay motivated. Most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, so looking for ways to have fun while working is a great habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach and Don’t Give up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach if you want to learn how to get motivation.

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You may be doing everything correctly and efficiently, but such an approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach that will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common—if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one that will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

If you can’t find the right approach, you may need to go back to motivation basics to find your motivation style. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style?

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most big or long-term goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities, but to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it. Tracking is merely taking note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at the bigger picture and realize where exactly you are and how much more you have left to do.

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For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until everything is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such an approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive progress made. This is how to keep yourself motivated in the long-term.

5. Reward Yourself

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on a particular task? Hate the whole idea of working?

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables that will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way. This creates external motivators to help you feel motivated in the long run.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do. For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself to dessert.

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For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to see a movie, taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

The more you reward yourself for making progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques, and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right away. Mix different approaches, and match them to your task for the best results.

Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to help you feel better, and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Learning how to stay motivated is as simple as finding what works for you. If you need a reward, schedule one. If you just need to find your “why”, take time for introspection. Do what you need to do and start tackling those goals.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Positivity Blog: How to Get the Boring Tasks Done

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