Last Saturday, I started a new series on the blog: 7 Stories from the Battlefield. It’s a collection of stories I read and lessons I learned during the past week to share with my readers the stuff I’m reading and the blogs I'm following. (Although next Saturday, I will be renaming it to 7 Lessons from the Battlefield. It just... sounds better.)
Today, I’m starting a new series: 9 Things You Can Do. It's a practical series about anything related to doing better work, living a better life, and making the world a better place.
Today, I want to start with 9 things you can do when you're feeling discouraged:
- Remember that it's not a sprint. It's a marathon. This is a lesson we often forget and a lesson we need to keep reminding ourselves of. Most of the time, we feel discouraged because we're rushing for things to happen. We're rushing for our dreams to come to fruition. Slow down. Appreciate the journey and enjoy the race!
- But, remember that it's not really a race. So, stop comparing. Most runners participate in marathons not because they want to finish first. They participate in marathons because they want to finish. Period. Stop comparing yourself with other runners. The important thing is for you to finish the race. Run at your own pace! If you want to compete, compete with yourself. Strive for a better record next time not to beat others, but to be better. Personally, I get insecure of startup founders, full-time freelancers, and entrepreneurs who are the same age as me. I have to constantly remind myself that I have my own race to run.
- Remember that you are not alone. You are doing whatever you are doing with God. He gave you that mission. Yes, there will definitely some difficult times and you will go through some rough roads. But, whenever you feel lost or whenever you stumble, you have to remember that God is with you. So is everyone else who is rooting for you to succeed.
- Discover your "discouragement triggers." These are the things that make you feel discouraged. Personally, my trigger is not accomplishing anything substantial by the end of the day or if I am not able to move forward with my dreams. I know it's not really a good thing as I'm basing my happiness on achievement, but I have to avoid being unproductive. After you discover your discouragement triggers, you have to decide whether you need to face them or avoid them. There are triggers that you need to avoid like being unproductive or addictions. But, there are "deeper" triggers that you have to face once and for all like unforgiveness, pride, or having an empty love tank. You cannot keep running away from these deeper triggers.
- Discover your "happiness triggers." These are the "everyday" things that make you feel happy or excited. These are not the same as your big dreams and long-term goals. These are the little things that can make you happy this very day. For me, this includes writing a short blog post that I can publish on the same day because it makes me feel productive.
- Write on your gratitude journal. If you don't have one, it's about time to have one. Whenever you feel discouraged, it helps to remember the times when you got blessed beyond measure. Let those times encourage and remind you that whatever you are going through right now is nothing compared to the blessings you have received and those you have yet to receive. After all, you are just about to do great things. An alternative for the gratitude journal is making a list of things you are grateful for which you read every time you are feeling down, discouraged, and defeated. You may have lost this battle, but not the war. Also, you probably have won countless battles before. Remember and learn from those battles.
- Focus on today. Yesterday may have been difficult, but it has already passed. Tomorrow may seem hopeless, but you can still do something about it now. So, you might as well focus on today. Also, the present is really the only time you have to act on your dreams, to build momentum (and be unstoppable), to be happy, to be grateful, to hope, and to live. Stop living in the past. Stop worrying about the future. Live your life now!
- Remind yourself why you started in the first place. Remind yourself of your big, emotional why. You started pursuing your dreams for a reason. You knew that there will be tough times and rough roads ahead. Yet, you still made that brave decision to start. Remind yourself of that reason.
- Get out of the house (or office) and gain perspective. Whenever I'm feeling discouraged, I take a walk around our neighborhood, go to a chapel and spend some time in prayer, eat at Burger King (Sorry, I'm failing to become vegan. I love Burger King... and pizza.), or simply go window shopping. Yes, I love going to the mall and not buying anything. I'm really trying to save. But more than walking, eating, or window shopping, I love seeing people—especially happy, smiling people. They remind me that everyone is going through something. Everyone has his own struggles. Yet, the people I see in the mall, in the chapel, and in Burger King are still able to remain happy and go about their days with smiles on their faces. Most of the time, their problems are even way bigger than mine. So, who am I to really stay down, discouraged, and defeated while there they are, facing their problems as if they are just peanuts? Perspective: Most of our problems are just peanuts. And I love peanuts! Peanuts add flavor to our lives and peanuts make us stronger!
How about you? What do you do when you're feeling discouraged?