What to do when you feel discouraged and want to give up
According to a plethora of research (with which I won’t bore you), by this point in the year, the majority of people have slacked off on their resolutions and have altogether given up on them.
Now as you may remember from my previous post on alternatives to making resolutions (read it here), I’m more about going after how you want to feel as opposed to going after mere goals.
But if you’ve discovered that certain goals will allow you to feel the way you want to feel, then I imagine those goals are pretty important to you. So when you fall short of them or they don’t work out how you planned, it can be discouraging. And it can make you feel like you should just give up. After all, what’s the point, right?
I’ve been there before. In fact, I’d say I’ve been there 3 times just this month alone! In the spirit of transparency, let’s take a journey through my challenges…
1) Business: I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur at 27 years old, but so it happened. I founded and own a business in the vein of communications. I essentially help thought leaders connect with bigger audiences using the power of storytelling.
Not too long ago, I decided to launch an online program that would allow me to share my expertise on a broader scale and reach more people with my work. I managed to maintain my vision for about a month before I got restless and withdrew my attention (ah, the all too common routine of the creative soul, jumping from one shiny project to another).
Unfortunately, my launch was wildly unsuccessful as a result (surprise, surprise) and I started to question my ability to raise the bar of my success as an entrepreneur. For some bizarre reason, simply because of ONE setback, I was suddenly questioning everything!
My problem? I wanted to use what had happened as an excuse to stay in my comfort zone. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, I told myself. And if not, then I could keep playing small, where things were comfortable and secure.
Sometimes, I think we allow ourselves to become discouraged because we’re overwhelmed by the fear of success. It may sound crazy, but you wouldn’t believe how often the fear of success is a bigger driving force than the fear of failure.
So are you discouraged and entertaining ideas of giving up simply because you’re afraid of what success might look like? Or maybe you’re afraid of the sacrifices you’ll have to make, or the hard work you’ll have to put in.
Here’s my take: when you want something bad enough – when you really, really, really want it so much that you can’t bear to live without it – you’ll move forward in spite of that fear. (I saw my fear for what it was, shook off my setback, and now I’m stronger for it, ready for my 2.0 launch).
And if you’re not there yet, then ask yourself why. Bad timing? Other priorities? Getting clear on what’s going on inside your mind will help you better understand the true source of your discouragement.
Let me give you two more examples:
2) Writing: I mentioned in my last newsletter that I’ve started publishing a story serially online (if you enjoy teen fiction/young adult fiction, you might want to check it out). The thing is, there are over 75 million stories hosted on this website. That equates to a very loud and crowded ‘market’, if you will. When you’re posting your very first story, you’re up against a lot of noise. Plus, you’re still building your audience and trying to gain traction for yourself.
It’s hard to not look at other authors, who are pulling in millions of readers for their stories, and not feel discouraged. But then I have to remind myself that those same authors were once where I now am. It took time to get where they are, and if I stay focused and keep moving forward, I can know similar success too.
I realized I had to stop comparing my journey with someone else’s journey and simply focus on the most important thing: my passion for writing. At the end of the day, I don’t do it for the numbers. I do it because it makes me feel alive.
What about you? Are you caught up in the web of comparisons? Are you too focused on others’ achievements to the point that it’s caused you to become discouraged? Life isn’t a race. We all have a different journey to take.
3) Running: My last example comes from my newly acquired activity. A few years ago, I used to run a lot. My dad was a runner, and my then boyfriend was a marathoner, so I was surrounded by it on all fronts. Seemingly out of nowhere, I decided to pick the hobby back up again.
The first day was a nightmare! Halfway through my run, I felt like I was having a heart attack! (I wasn’t, by the way). I came back home, bemoaning how out of shape I was. Clearly I wasn’t cut out for running anymore, I figured. Yet somehow, I managed to put my running shoes back on a couple of days later. (No chest pain this time). Then I did it a third time, then a fourth, then a fifth. In fact, I just got back from a run.
Each time, I go farther than I did on the previous run. Each time, I feel stronger. Each time, it feels less and less like work and more like my body’s on my side, ready to go the distance.
But it certainly didn’t begin that way, and there was a point where I wondered if I was kidding myself by taking up running simply because I wasn’t able to go as far as I thought someone my age and of my health should go. But then I started reading articles about running, and you know what I found out? That it takes a minimum of 4 weeks for your body to meet the demands of a new exercise. 4 weeks!
While I was finding fault with my body for not operating at its maximum potential, my body was begging me to give it a chance to catch up! Now I’ve realized I need to have days of rest that go along with my days of running, and that it was unfair of me to be so hard on myself.
What about you? Are you being unfair to yourself when it comes to the pace at which you’re working toward your goals? Are they not coming into existence as quickly as you’d like? Give yourself credit for how far you’ve already come and celebrate every milestone along the way. It’s the process that makes anything worthwhile.
The next time you feel discouraged and want to give up, ask yourself these questions: Am I afraid? Am I comparing myself to others? Or am I simply being too hard on myself? Connect with your truth and you’ll find the encouragement you need to get back on track with your wildest dreams.