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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

7 Things to Remember When Going Through Tough Times in Life

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7 Things to Remember When Going Through Tough Times in Life

Sometimes, you will go through really tough times. It’s those times when everything you do just kind of flops, and it feels like your life is going downhill, which makes you feel very sad.

In these challenging situations, maintaining a good mindset is probably the most important thing you can do. It will allow you to stay upbeat, avoid pointless sorrow, persist through the hardship, find smart solutions and eventually turn the situation around.

I believe that there are 7 key ideas to keep in mind when the going gets tough, in order to stay positive and be resilient.

People frequently forget these ideas. Their thinking becomes overly pessimistic and gloomy. But if you bear these ideas in mind, they will do wonders for your emotional state and your capacity to overcome the challenge you’re facing.

1. Even Bad Times End

Everything ends. Whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t last forever. When a situation is troubling for you, it may seem as if it will never end. But that’s just a subjective and distorted perception. Our minds tend to expand negative events as they happen and so it appears like they’ve been going on for a lot more than they really did, and as if they will continue to go on for a long time.

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Nevertheless, even the worst kinds of situations end at some point. Sometimes you need to do something to make them end or hurry that moment. Other times, they will simply wither and die on their own, and all you can do is give yourself an instant motivation boost, have patience and wait. Not sure how? Get the Instant Motivation Boost Worksheet for free and learn how. Either way, things will change.

2. You’ve Overcome Challenges Before

Another way to address the feeling that a bad situation will never end is by thinking about similar situations that you went through in the past and you’ve successfully overcome. You can find a precedent nearly every time if you think hard enough.

When you do this, it acts as a reminder of your ability to handle challenges and get passed them. It boosts your sense of self-confidence and it eliminates the sense of helplessness. This attitude shift is most likely to motivate you to take action and get you to successfully rise above the situation.

3. You Have Lots of Strengths as a Person

When the going gets tough, it’s common for us to stop seeing our strengths and only be aware of our flaws. Thus, we see ourselves as losers, incapable to rise above difficult situations. But this is never true. Just like any other person out there, you have a combination of strengths and weaknesses.

The key is to remind yourself that you have lots of strengths. Perhaps start thinking about some of them in particular, and do a quick mental check of some of your strengths. By doing this, your perception of yourself will shift and become more balanced. Again, this will empower you and give you confidence that you’ll handle the situation you’re in effectively.

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To play on your strengths even better, find out what your motivation style is. When you understand your motivation style, you know how to stay motivated with the ways that fit you best. Take this free assessment What’s Your Motivation Style? and find out your motivation style now!

4. It Happens to Everybody

Frequently when facing hardship, our thinking will trick us into believing that this happens only to us. Other people don’t go through the kind of difficulties we go through. It almost seems like the universe is plotting against us and wants to hurt us.

However, with a bit of lucid reflecting, you’ll quickly realize this is not true. What’s true is that you’re hyper-aware of your troubles because they’re, you know, yours. But you’re not nearly as aware of other people’s trouble, which makes it seem like they have it much better than you. This is highly unlikely though. So remember that whatever happens to you, in the same form or a related one, happens to almost everybody.

5. It’s a Learning Experience

It is often said in the personal development world that there is no failure, only feedback. When going through tough times in life though, we tend to forget this. We see failure as an indicator that we’re not on the right path, but not as a learning experience which can put us on the right path.

Most learning in life comes from trial and error. And when things aren’t going the way you want them to go, the best thing you can do is to try to understand why this is happening, and learn from the experience. It is by learning and applying that learning that you’ll eventually turn things around.

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6. You Can Always Ask for Help

When facing hard times, it’s a good idea to remember that there are people in your life that you can rely on for help. Even if you’re not the most social person in the world and you don’t have a lot of friends or a big family, there are still people in your life that you can rely on.

These people form your social support system. Many times, just thinking about them and realizing that they are there for you in case you need them provides you a lot of emotional comfort and it gives you more courage to push forward.

You may not even need to actually ask them for help. Just knowing it’s available will embolden you and that will be sufficient.

If you don’t know how to ask for help, here’re some tips for you: How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most

7. There Are a Lot of Things to Be Grateful For

So some things aren’t going well in your life. That’s less than ideal, but if you think about it, there are still lots of things that are going well in your life and there is still a lot to be grateful for.

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Maybe your romantic relationship is in trouble, but you have a great career. Maybe your career is in trouble, but you still have your health and your family. And there are so many small but significant things to be grateful for: a walk in the park, a cup of coffee, a nice sunset, a casual conversation.

When going through tough times in life, think about this for a second and start noticing the things to be grateful for. It will completely change your perspective. You’ll realize things aren’t that bad after all, and that, troubles and all, life is worth appreciating.

Need a little reminder what to be thankful for? This article is for you: 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

The Bottom Line

Write these 7 ideas on a small piece of paper and carry it with you all the time, in a pocket or in your wallet. And whenever you’re confronted with a tough situation, take out the piece of paper and mindfully read to yourself at least once all 7 reminders on it.

You’ll notice that your mindset will begin to shift, you’ll become more positive and you’ll feel better. And once you’re in the right mindset and the right emotional state, it won’t take long before you’ll figure a way to overcome the tough situation you’re in.

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It all starts with the mindset. Good luck!

More Articles to Help You Get Through Tough Times

Featured photo credit: Dimitar Belchev via unsplash.com

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Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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