I work with a lot of people who are starting something new, whether that be a new profession, a new relationship, or learning a new skill. Inevitably somewhere along the journey, they experience a major stressor or setback beyond just the stress that comes with challenging yourself. At some point it seems as if everything in their life begins to collapse or obstacles keep coming up to get in the way. For example, a week after starting a new program someone in their family gets sick, their job gets restructured and they have a completely different schedule, or a global pandemic hits and the world is turned upside down (I'm sure no one can relate to that right now). So for my clients, the question always becomes what do they do...do they use that as an excuse to give up or do they keep going?
I am of the firm belief that when you set something new in motion and you go about the work of creating change in your life, you stir the energy around you, which creates a ripple effect. Sometimes the ripple is small and only small or inconsequential obstacles come up, but sometimes the ripple is so big it creates a tidal wave and if you aren't careful you can drown. But if you can find an anchor to hold you in place, the waves can make you stronger and more capable of accomplishing what you set out to do in the first place. So I am going to teach you to do exactly that.
The most important anchor you can use is to have a support system in place. As soon as you start anything new I recommend getting an accountability partner or someone to check in with. This will make all the difference in the world. It's best if your partner is working on the same thing that you are so that you can do it together, but anyone that you can check in with and who will hold you accountable is good. Create a check in schedule, whether it's daily or once a week, and create a check in type like an email, phone call, meet up, or text. Then follow through and let your people know how you are doing towards your goal consistently.
Know Your Obstacle Type
Figure out what type of obstacles or stressors are happening for you. Are they natural stressors that come with change, is it the energy rearranging itself, or are they the kind of obstacles that are telling you that you are on the wrong track? You can tell the difference after some time and reflection. You will be able to know that they are natural stressors because they will be directly related to the change, but are small enough that some adjustments will help. For example, if you just started a new diet and all of a sudden start getting invited to a lot of parties with snack foods everywhere that tempt you, that is a natural stressor. If you suddenly start to experience a lot of obstacles coming up in your life that are not related to your goal it is probably the energy rearranging itself. These usually happen more towards the beginning of your journey, but can happen throughout the entire process. It will look like a pipe bursting the week you start a new job and are working crazy hours, or a pandemic happening the week after you start a diet and all that is left in the grocery store is processed food. These are things that require a lot of creativity to figure out how to handle them, but they are designed to make you so much stronger. On the other hand, there are obstacles that come up over and over again because something is not right for you. The perfect example of this is that you are in a relationship that keeps bringing you down, making it impossible to move forward in your life, and making you feel less than. It can be hard sometimes to pick up on the nuanced differences between all of these obstacles so sometimes it helps to reflect on it with someone whom you can trust.
The next thing you need to do before giving up when an obstacle occurs is to figure out if you are using it as an excuse to self-sabotage. Starting something new can be scary and it is a constant process of expansion by means of pushing your limits. That can be extremely uncomfortable and many people think it would be easier to just give up, which I am not going to lie, it would be. However, the rewards of pushing through, far outweigh the temporary discomfort you are experiencing. I see self-sabotage a lot with clients, and the reason why this happens so frequently is because when you push yourself in any way to expand or do better, all of your limiting beliefs come up. Those beliefs are there to keep you small and it's really easy to give into them, especially when an obstacle comes up. A perfect example would be if you started a workout program and are now using the fact that gyms are all closed as an excuse to stop working out, when there are literally thousands of free workouts being live streamed daily on Instagram alone. If that is you, then you are definitely self-sabotaging, and I would wager money that your inner dialogue sounds a lot like, “you will never actually get in shape”. Decide not to give into that voice that is trying to hold you down and push through.
Reframe the Problem
One way to help make the obstacles more bearable is to reframe them as opportunities. If you can think of them as a way to make you stronger, smarter, or better equipped to handle the goal you are working towards then it will feel more like a necessary trial rather than a roadblock. What you have to remember is that the end result you are working towards will require you to be different, so the Universe will put things in your path to help you develop the qualities you need to succeed. For example, if you want to own your own business that will require you to be confident, strong-willed, and resilient. So you better believe obstacles will come up along the way to make you more of each of those things. Another reframe you can use when a hardship presents itself is to view it as a competition to see who will win, the Universe or you. There is nothing like a little competition to get you motivated.
Don't Do It Alone
A lot of times we try to muscle our way through hard times with only our will and our own strength reserves. However, in my experience we need to rely on something more than just ourselves whether that be God, the Universe, Spirit, or Mother Earth. The best way I have come across to do this is to pray. When times get tough and you feel like giving up, pray. When you are so tired that you feel like you couldn't possibly take one more step, pray. Ask to be filled up with the presence of whatever higher power you believe in and ask it to give you the strength to pull through. That has never not helped me.
Remember Your Why
There is always a reason you start out on a journey to change something. Either it's because you are unhappy with where you currently are, you are aspiring to be better, or you have any other of the millions of reasons to create change. When times get tough, it is crucial to remember why you set out to do this in the first place. Think about how unhappy you were before you started or envision the future that you are working towards in full detail. If your why is strong enough, and important enough, remembering it will help pull you through.
The last tip to get you through difficult times without giving up on your goal is to get curious about what is happening. A good way to get curious is just to start asking questions until you cant think of any more questions to ask and then ask yourself some more anyway. Ask why this is coming up, ask what you could use to help you through, ask how someone else that you admire would handle this. Become like a child again and keep asking yourself why for every excuse you give. You can also think about your situation from different perspectives. Oftentimes a shift in perspective will help you think of different options that are available; ones that you may not have seen before.
The moral of the story is to keep moving forward and do not give up. Take a rest or a pause if you need it, but do not quit. If it is something you really want, the consequences of giving up are too great and the burden is far heavier than any obstacle that comes your way. You are (insert adjective) enough to do this and I am pulling for you. I would love to hear about any goals you are working towards, obstacles that are coming up for you, or ways that you are pulling through. Let me know in the comments!