This month we’re talking about tools you can use as you work on making healthy or positive changes in your life. Whether you’ve set a goal to work on your physical health – such as to eat healthier, start exercising, or get more sleep – or to make a positive change in your family, marriage, or career, these tools can help you get where you want to go. (Includes affiliate links)
Today let’s talk about the need to keep going, especially when the going gets tough – or tedious or boring or frustrating.
(BTW, it took much, much longer than I planned to write this post, because I’ve been struggling to keep going with this series… and, to be perfectly honest, with a lot of other things too.)
When things happen (and they always do) or when life gets hectic (and it always does), it’s easy to let your goal slip away. After all, if you don’t see progress, if you get bogged down trying to make difficult changes, or if life’s little emergencies keep crashing into your plans, it’s easy to throw up your hands and walk away.
Or to say, “I’ll get back to that later.”
Or even, “Maybe I don’t have what it takes.”
When that happens, what you need to do is simple – but not easy. Keep going. You need to develop what psychologist and author Angela Duckworth refers to as “grit” – passion and perseverance for a long-term goal.
Duckworth describes grit as focusing on “an ‘ultimate concern’ – a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal, even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward the goal is halting or slow.”
What does grit look like?
♥ It looks like my friend who kept going with a healthy eating and exercise plan for more than two years, in order to lose 80 pounds. And who keeps going to maintain her weight loss.
♥ Grit looks like three of my writer friends who are pursuing their goal of writing a book, despite the family, health, and financial complications that keep getting in their way.
♥ And grit looks like my co-worker who pursued a difficult and challenging professional goal for five years, encountered dozens of setbacks and lots of negative feedback, but kept going and finally reached his goal.
In other words, grit is making the decision – and taking the steps – to keep pursuing your goal, in spite of the things that get in the way. It’s deciding to keep going, regardless of your circumstances.
If you’re into the “messy middle” of working on a goal or pursuing a dream, you may feel like giving up. You may feel like it’s hopeless – that you don’t have what it takes or just simply can’t do it.
But instead of giving into those (very human, very understandable) feelings – I want to encourage you to get gritty and keep going. Don’t give up, and don’t let go of the thing you really want. Instead, take these 5 steps that will help you keep going:
1. Reconnect with your “why.” Spend a few minutes thinking through your decision to pursue a healthy or positive change. Why did you decide to pursue this particular goal or dream? What do you want to achieve and, maybe more importantly, what do you want to feel and experience when you achieve it? Make a few notes on your phone, calendar, or a note card and refer to them to reconnect with your “why” when the going gets tough.
2. Take at least one step forward every single day. The path to reaching every worthwhile goal begins with a single step. And then another. And then another. By the time you reach your goal, you’ve taken thousands of steps in the right direction. But it starts with taking one step – and then taking steps consistently.
I tend to think that I can take steps for a week, stop for a while, start again, stop again – and then I wonder why I can’t seem to reach my goal. If that sounds familiar to you, keep it simple – commit to taking at least one step toward your goal every day – even if it’s a very small step. Some days you’ll do more, but on the days when negative thoughts or feelings – or just the realities of a busy life – get in the way, commit to doing just one thing that will help you move forward.
3. Accept boredom and frustration as part of the process. Working on a big goal can feel exciting and stimulating – and it can also feel tedious, annoying, and deadly boring. Cooking hundreds of healthy meals becomes tiresome. Trying to figure out the technology to set up your online shop becomes frustrating. Actually writing the book you’ve always wanted to write feels boring.
Why? Because you can’t see or feel the big reward – it’s too far down the road, well out of sight. So what you’re left with is the day-to-day work, which really isn’t all that much fun. That’s annoying – but it’s also completely normal. So accept it, and determine to push through it and keep going. And, set up some rewards for yourself along the way, as a way to encourage yourself and give yourself something positive to anticipate.
4. Reframe “failure” as “learning.” Everyone who works on a big goal “fails” along the way, often many times. But the people who don’t let failure stop them are the ones who learn from it – and keep going. So when you get off track, move backwards, or just totally drop the ball, don’t tell yourself that you’ve failed. Instead, figure out what you can learn from the process, and then apply what you’ve learned to your next steps moving forward.
5. Create a mantra that helps you keep going. Sometimes, when things get tough or boring or annoying, you just have to talk to yourself. Maybe you need some words of encouragement, maybe some words of tough love, or maybe a little bit of both. One quick and easy way to do that is to create a mantra (or more than one) and use it to remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Your mantra can encourage you – “I feel great when I eat healthy meals,” “I’m building my online business,” “I am a writer” – or remind you of what you’ve committed to do – “Today, I’m following my healthy eating plan,” “This week, I’m working on my business for one hour every day,” “Today, I’m talking to my husband in ways that strengthen our marriage.” (You may also want to go back and work on creating a mindset that works for you and visualizing the change you want to make.
Working on a goal that will improve your health, life, marriage, or family is exciting – and it also involves a lot of time, effort, and tedious work. So don’t be surprised when you feel stuck, frustrated, or uninspired as you’re moving toward your goal. That’s normal, and you can take these steps (or find others that work for you) to keep going and keep moving forward.
Use the Tool – Today or tomorrow, figure out where you tend to get stuck, get off track, or just abandon your goal completely. When does that tend to happen? And why does it happen? (Fatigue, boredom, frustration, or something else?) Then identify the steps that will help you overcome those barriers and keep going. Try a combination of these 5 steps, or identify others that work better for you.
I’d love to know what you’re working on this and how this idea works for you. Leave a note in the Comments, or email me at [email protected]
You can find all of the Healthy Life Toolbox posts here.