Pushing through to achieve anything is tough. For the past few months I’ve been pushing myself to complete a half marathon and it has been anything but easy. I’ve had to work through some negative thinking and figure out what works for my body and what doesn’t. Since this has been on my mind the past few weeks, thought I’d share some useful tips on how to push through even when it feels too hard.
1. You might not need to stop trying, but instead try something different. All of us are susceptible to tunnel vision. You might be pushing yourself too hard in one way, and not really considering other options that work for you. Thankfully there are many different paths to achieving a certain outcome in your life. Many of the things that have worked out well for me, involved me doing something that was different. Even if it feels scary, try considering something different. For instance, you might need to consider going to counselling instead of trying to work things out all on your own. You might need to ask for help from others to get you through this phase of life. Maybe you need to meet new people instead of trying to change the people in your life.
2. Try to not confuse a need for rest with giving up. To achieve your goals you may need to push through. There may be phases where you lose sleep, feel very stressed and have to prioritize this goal temporarily over other things that are meaningful and important to you. However, try to notice when you aren’t taking care of yourself and actually need rest. The body is not designed to be overworked and stressed for long periods of time. There’s no harm in taking a time out or giving yourself a break. Before ever running over 10km at once, I felt I was unable to get past 6-7KM without feeling exhausted. I contemplated that maybe I was simply unable to run that far. I forced myself to run repeatedly but my pace was terrible and I felt really bad after each run. Then I decided to take a rest for a full week. I barely exercised at all during that week, and didn’t do any running. Then when I ran again after taking a rest, I felt great again and was able to run over 10km for the first time. Turns out that all I needed to achieve that running goal was to take a break and give my body time to rest and ultimately get stronger. You may need the same. Sometimes to achieve your goals, you do need time to adequately take care of yourself and rest. Take a break if you need it!
3. Discomfort is often what we experience before a much needed change. I bet you have wished that a change could happen seamlessly and pain-free. Many of us have wished that change could be easy. However, discomfort is often a prerequisite before a change can occur. You might have negative thinking, fear, anxiety or an overall negative attitude towards doing something different or difficult, but that feeling is usually an indicator that you are on the right path and need to push through those negative emotions.
4. The more you push through, the easier it will become. I remember the first time I tried something new, completely by myself without any friends to accompany me. I felt quite a bit of anxiety and nervousness. What if I made a fool of myself? What if I was bad at this thing? I imagined all the worst case scenarios. Then somehow I found the strength to try something new and everything was okay. I had fun and was glad I put myself out there. Since then I’ve tried new things, often by myself. Has it been easy? No, definitely not, but it has become much easier. I still get a little nervous but it’s much easier to push myself, so easy that I barely think about it. Remember that pushing yourself takes practice. The more you become accustomed to trying harder and pushing yourself through those tough times, the easier it will become throughout your lifetime.
5. Pushing through helps you understand what your inner voice is trying to tell you. Giving up is pretty easy and often violates what you truly want for yourself. Keep your own values in check and remember that often we need to push through to live our life authentically and uphold our own values.
6. Even if the journey is different than what you expected, it’s important to push through rather than abandon the project entirely. The best lessons can come from trying something and failing. This project may not be your best effort. Maybe you can think of hundreds of things you could have done to have seen this project become more successful. That’s okay. Finish your project and push through. You can revisit this process later and do a better job than ever next time. This weekend I’m doing a half-marathon for the first time. I did not train enough to perform well for the half-marathon but I’m focused on simply completing it before the cut-off time. However, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about running and am more adequately prepared to train for the next half-marathon I decide to do. I’m going to do the half-marathon and give it my best try but I know I’ll do even better the next time. Try to avoid giving into the temptation of abandoning that project, and push through. Even if it fails or is not that great, you will learn something that will make you in a better position to be successful the next time.
7. Believe that your dreams can come true. All of us can relate to that feeling of not truly believing in ourselves and thinking our dreams are more a product of fiction than reality. I personally have felt this way throughout my lifetime and struggle with it still, even though many of my dreams have come true and many of my goals have been achieved. Avoid falling into self-sabotage traps such as talking yourself out of a dream or even convincing yourself that you don’t really want to achieve that anyway.
Remember it’s always better to push through. Find the right balance to keep working hard but getting adequate rest. You can only succeed if you push through.