“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Some days are light and filled with inspiration. Some days are simply routine.
And on some days you may feel like just giving up on…
- Your new habit of working out or eating healthier.
- Your own small business or blog because you haven’t had the results you expected or wanted.
- Truly feeling better about yourself.
- Dating because you can’t seem to find the right person or maybe even have a good date at all.
Winding up in such situations is a normal part of making positive changes in life. But what you do when you feel like giving up will determine a lot about where your life will go.
In today’s article I’d like to share 6 habits that have helped me to hold on or to change direction on those difficult days.
1. Tap into realistic expectations.
This one has been very important to me.
Tap into realistic expectations not by listening to advertising that promises you quick results. Not by listening to the perfectionism – from the people around you or yourself – that allows no mistakes or failures.
Tap into it by listening to the people who have already gone where you want to go. Listen to the people who know what works and how you will stumble and fail along the way and can tell you how long your journey may take.
You'll probably not get an exact blueprint. But the things people can tell you in person or via books and blogs can be a great guidance.
2. Remind yourself why you are doing this.
It’s easy to lose the big picture in the busy everyday life. But if you feel like giving up then try reconnecting with why you are doing what you are doing.
Maybe it is to:
- Support and keep your family safe.
- Live healthier and longer so you get to watch your kids grow up.
- See the world and explore new things.
Write your answers down.
Then, whenever you feel like giving up pull out that piece of paper with your most powerful why(s). It often helps.
3. Remember: It’s darkest before the dawn.
This thought has helped me to hold on when things have felt very difficult and I felt like giving up and going home. Because I have found it to be true.
When things seemed to be at the lowest point with my blog and business, with my dating life or with my motivation in life in general something always happened.
Probably quite often because being at that low point forced me to change something in how I did things.
But maybe also because life seems to have some kind of balance if I just keep going. If I just keep taking action instead of giving up and doing nothing then something good always happens.
Seeing this repeat itself strengthened my belief in taking action and to keep going even on rough days or weeks. And it brings some comfort even when things look pretty dark.
4. Reconnect with the basics or change the path.
When I have run into a plateau or a longer rough patch these two things have been helpful:
- Simplify and reconnect with the basics. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the information out there about any change you can make in life. That can lead to confusion and to trying to do too many things at once.
In those situations it has been helpful for me to simplify. To just focus on a few or one of the things I have learned that are the basic fundamentals in this area of life. To improve my social skills those things were for example to keep a positive attitude and to assume rapport.
- Learn more and course-correct. Reconnecting with the basics often works well. But sometimes it has been helpful to change my course slightly instead.
To examine how I do things, what results they bring in and to compare it to how people who have gone before me have done things. To be honest with myself and admit that maybe one or two things or small parts of that I am doing are not working so well.
And to replace those things for a while – based on what others have done in the past – and see if that works better. Even if it means that I have to get out of my comfort zone.
5. Tell yourself: Just for today!
Here’s a little phrase I got from Brian Tracy that I often use when I’m having a bad day with a new habit. I say to myself: Just for today I will XX!
Replace XX with what you will do just for today such as getting exercise, getting going with the most important task first thing in the day or eating a healthy lunch.
By telling myself that I only have to do it today I get two big benefits:
- I release the mental burden of the past times I did it and future times when I will do it. And so the task becomes much lighter and the inner resistance melts away.
- It also reminds me that the period that I am investing in changing a habit is not the rest of my life. After 30 days or so the habit will mostly be automatic so it is not something I have to do on willpower for the next few years or decades.
And guess what, when tomorrow comes I’ll probably have a good day again with less resistance and I will most likely feel like doing the task again.
6. See if it is time to quit and to try something else.
Sometimes it is not time to give up. But it may be time to quit what you are doing and to try something else.
If you feel like giving up or you are bored a lot, if you feel no real passion or excitement or curiosity about a change or your current path then ask yourself these two questions:
- Am doing this because I truly want it?
- Or am I doing it because someone told me to or because so many people around me seem to have done it or are working on it?
What you want isn't easy to know before you get started though. You may need to try different paths before you find one that fits you. And just because everyone around you seem to love running doesn't mean that you have to love it or that you have to give up on the habit of regular exercise.
Try walking, biking, playing badminton or table tennis instead. Try a new way of doing what you want and see if it is a better fit and more enjoyable for you.