So you have a dream and decide to turn it into a goal. But as you begin working hard towards achieving your goal you begin to experience setbacks, learning curves and brick walls that leave you feeling increasingly discouraged. There is a tennis match of thoughts going on in your mind; one side feels so certain that this is your path, a part of your purposes, even, and the other is questioning whether this was meant to be at all.
These types of experiences can be extremely discouraging, especially when it feels like there is a lot on the line, like your career, finances, health or relationships. This defeated feeling can even make the idea of giving up, surrendering your goal and walking away from your dream, seem palatable, desirable even. The truth is that at these moments your brain is filtering out a lot of information; it’s selectively showing you a picture that doesn’t include all the reasons you made this goal in the first place. And so it looks more attractive than it really is. But you made this goal for a reason; something needed to change.
Real, sustainable change is hard. This accounts for one of the main reasons new businesses fail and why gym memberships go unused. And while we can’t expect the things that are really worth working for to be completely seamless and easy, we certainly do not have to give up when times get tough. It is very possible to build our inner resilience and find ways to keep going. Below are 8 ways you can build that inner resilience and push through the road blocks that come up on your path to success.
1. Remind Yourself of Your “Why”
I discussed earlier how the brain can filter out information and create a selective picture of what it would look like if you gave up. To counter this effect, ask yourself the following questions and right down your answers,
Why did I decide to do this in the first place?
What was happening in my life that I decided to create this goal for myself?
What is at stake if I don’t follow through? Am I okay with this? Can I find a way to accept this?
If not, what do I need to help me keep pushing forward?
2. Keep Going, Even If It’s Baby Steps
Even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, pick one or two small tasks that even in the slightest way move you closer to achieving your goal. I will get into this in a bit more detail later in the post, but keep reminding yourself that each of these smaller steps is in fact its own light.
3. Stay In Your Lane
I am going to give you a hard fact here; you are not likely to be as successful at the front end of your journey as the person who has been working their butt off for years. And that is perfectly fine. See this other person as motivation of what can be and of what you can accomplish if you keep going, but give yourself a gentle reminder when you get into that comparison zone. And as a side note, be very cautious of those instant success stories, and look out for the fine print. Results are not typical means just that; you have not failed because this is not your story. You might be driving on the same highway, but remember to stay in your own lane.
4. It’s Okay If You Are ‘Not Okay’
If you have committed yourself to growing, developing or changing in some way then you will get knocked down at some point. Whether this be by old belief systems and fear, by people who for their own reasons would like you to stay where you are or by external circumstances outside of your control. And you are not the only one. So there is no need to keep your struggles to yourself and pretend that your journey is all sunshine and rainbows. Talk to someone, write about it in a journal, paint, start a running group; do whatever you need to do for you to acknowledge and work through the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations that you are essentially detoxing through your journey to a better version of you.
5. Be Mindful of Your Self Talk
When times get hard, we can sometimes be unnecessarily tough on ourselves, instead of simply acknowledging and accepting that times are hard. You have done nothing wrong and you are not flawed; you are simply going through these storms so that you can come out the other end, stronger. So be careful of the ways that you speak to yourself when you are facing an obstacle or set back. Specifically, be aware of statements that start with things like,
- You are…
- You never…
- You always…
- How could you…
- You’ll never be…
- Why can’t you…
I previously wrote about negative self talk, so feel free to check that post out to read more.
6. Find Time for Balance
As much as you may be inclined to put 110% of your energy into your goal, to go big or go home at this point, it’s likely that if you been facing some set backs your brain and body are in a stressed state, which can actually make it harder for you to be at your best.
During tough times, find ways to nourish and appreciate other parts of your life. Find and do things that give you a sense of enjoyment or achievement. By having these more positive experiences and people in you life, you won’t be so hyper focused on the set back in this one area, and it gives your brain and body time to heal and recharge. Have you ever been completely stuck on something and then the next morning when you’re taking a shower (typically a positive and even meditative experience for some people) the answer “all of a sudden” comes to you? By engaging in pleasurable or confidence building activities outside of working on your goal parts of the brain become more accessible. So have some fun and find time to unwind. You really do deserve it.
7. Track All Progress and Achievements (Especially the Small Stuff)
You might already have a to-do list or a set of steps to take to help you reach your goal, and that is fantastic, but do you have an achievements list? This can be a particularly motivating and confidence building activity that takes just 5 minutes at the end of each day. By listing what you did and what you accomplished you can remind your brain that you are working towards something bigger and that change is happening. Another benefit of this kind of list is that it can help you re-assess if your benchmarks are realistic. Maybe you realize that losing 30 lbs in month wasn’t realistic (or healthy), but maybe 10 is, and that is both a fantastic achievement and proof that you have been working towards your health. Each time you reach a new benchmark, write it down, congratulate yourself and have a little celebration at the fact that in the face of adversity you are still here.
When we struggle while working towards something, it is incredibly easy to feel alone in our strife. The voice behind this thought is one of fear, and it needs to be challenged. The truth is, you are not alone, and many very successful people have had to overcome incredible set backs before making it to where they are. In times like these seek out motivation and connect yourself with others who have had similar journeys. The path is yours but you don’t have to walk it alone.
I would love to hear what has helped you keep going when times got tough. Who knows, someone else might need to hear exactly what you have to say.