5 Ways to Sidestep Discouragement and Stay on Track It's rare that we pursue big goals without temporary setbacks and momentary feelings of failure. These five practices prevent us from getting discouraged and throwing in the towel early.
- 1. Remember why you started to stay motivated.
- 2. Keep moving forward and learn from failures.
- 3. Be mindful of the content you consume and surround yourself with positive influences.
- 4. Take care of your mental, emotional and physical health.
- 5. Celebrate your accomplishments and acknowledge your progress.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When we set out to accomplish monumental things or make big changes in our lives, the road to success isn't always easy. Perhaps you're starting a business, writing a book, training for your first marathon or wanting to exceed your annual sales quotes. Maybe you're in a brand new role at work and looking to establish a brand for yourself.
Regardless of the specific goal you're pursuing, you're likely to encounter challenging days where you wish you'd stayed in bed. However, before you consider throwing in the towel on your wildest dreams, make sure you've done (or are doing) the following five things. If you do, you'll be less likely to view quitting as an option, and you may even realize you're doing better than you think.
1. Remember why you started
When we stay laser-focused and emotionally connected to the reasons we started down the path initially, it's harder to get discouraged. Remembering our purpose or vision for the end game is a surefire way to boost your morale when you're feeling down. Ask yourself, "What was it that made me want to do this in the first place? What's at stake here?"
Perhaps you'll remember that your goal was to impact the lives of others or make a meaningful difference in the world. When you remember that, it's harder to let a bad day, week or month stand in your way. Instead of thinking about why you can't, you'll remember why you must.
2. Force yourself to stay in motion
Sometimes, when we get momentarily stuck, there's a tendency to stay stuck. Make sure you don't allow this to happen. Being successful isn't about avoiding failure — it's about turning failures into learning opportunities so we can start again with greater wisdom and new insights. How many times you get knocked down doesn't matter nearly as much as how quickly you can get back up. It's not important that you blew off your goals for a day or a week. What's important is that you get back on track as soon as you can.
To ensure maximum productivity and keep yourself focused, I suggest weekly planning. At the start of each week, renew your excitement by making a list of the most important actions you'll take in the coming week — then commit to them by giving them a space to live and breathe on your calendar. Later, if something unexpected comes up and you can't complete one of your actions, no worries. But you have to assign that action item a new spot on your calendar.
Regardless of what setbacks you've had, it's hard to fail (in the long run) if you're continually getting back into action. Don't spend time focusing on what unfortunate things happen to you. Instead, always focus on what you can do about them. This will always allow you to be in place of control and power over your time, yourself and ultimately, your life.
3. Be choosy about what content you consume
When we're pursuing big goals, it's easy to become discouraged. This is why managing our mindset and our mood is mission-critical. It's important we surround ourselves with messages and reminders that we can absolutely accomplish our goals and struggle is to be expected (and normal). Carefully pick podcasts, videos and books that uplift and encourage you; not ones that do the reverse.
Do not associate with others who complain, whine, gossip or create drama; this will not help you. Spending time with others who have done what you are trying to do will be especially helpful. Finding a mentor, coach or therapist who can normalize your challenges can be wildly reassuring. Knowing that our experiences are not unique helps give us the courage to forge ahead, even when the road is hard and long.
4. Take care of yourself along the way
Sometimes, when we desperately want to achieve results, we focus on nothing else — then we become drained. If all you're doing with your time is focusing on a singular goal, it's likely you'll eventually burn out and lose motivation to keep going. This will sabotage your success. When we're pursuing greatness, it's critically important to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Taking breaks to pursue our favorite hobbies (especially those that allow us to access our creative outlets) is essential to our success. Getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water and exercising daily are helpful tools in making sure we're ready to execute our big goals. Invest some time each week doing the things you love, and/or seeing the people you love, because these are the activities that will replenish your energy.
5. Find the wins and celebrate your accomplishments
Regardless of what isn't going well as you approach your goals, it's likely there are some things that are going well. Don't stay so focused on the end result that you forget to acknowledge the small wins along the way, regardless of how minor they might seem. Okay, so you didn't sign that big contract you thought you would. What about the deals did you close this month? Maybe you're experiencing writer's block this week and can't think of a good ending to the novel you're writing. What about all the writing you did get done last week? When all we do is focus on what isn't coming together, we rarely find the motivation to stay in the game long enough to emerge victorious. Be sure to acknowledge your progress, even if its not as rapid as you hoped. Writing these things down can be especially encouraging.
Regardless of whatever you want to accomplish, remember this: If it were easy, everyone would do it. Bad days will come. Setbacks are inevitable. But, by following these practices, you're far more likely to have the inspiration and urge to buckle back down and keep your head in the game, even after a tough week. Do that repeatedly, for long enough, and success is inevitable.