How To Keep Going When You Don't Have The Strength
Have you ever woken up and felt heavy?
Ever felt like you just had way too much stuff on your plate and not enough "You" to go around?
I've been feeling like that recently. I've been feeling like there's not enough in me to keep going, or rather, I have just enough to keep going.
Sometimes the seasons of life are relentless, and we have to face challenges each day without a break for a long time. And your soul gets to the point of longing for rest, for escape. You feel weary, you feel weak, you feel worn. Sometimes it's one big thing looming above your life that feels like an immovable weight that's too big for you. Sometimes it feels like it's a million small things that are flying around your head, so many that you can't get enough time to focus on one at a time to actually handle them. You feel foggy and overwhelmed by everything.
Oftentimes, what's weighing you down are things that feel like you have no influence or control over:
Someone you love being sick, your sources of income coming to a halt at the same time despite your best efforts, someone close rejecting you, going through a season of transition between communities that leaves you feeling alone, knowing you have to move forward to make it but not knowing the steps to take, feeling the weight of responsibility from multiple things life is throwing at you, getting hit by wave after wave of circumstances as soon as you get your head above water... The list goes on.
These are all things I've personally experienced this year. Some of these things I'm still facing.
The last post I published explained why I haven't been writing for Frontrunners recently. However in the face of what has felt like relentless new obstacles, in the past two days I've gotten clarity and encouragement that it's time to start writing again.
One conversation was with my good friend, Brian (who happens to be writing the next guest post!) where we talked about not being satisfied with letting life happen to you but taking action instead. He's considering doing some new things that seem illogical, but ultimately will be more fulfilling, and challenging himself to just take the leap. (More about this in his upcoming post.) He also referred back to Frontrunners as an inspiration and catalyst.
We both expressed to each other how we need to have more conversations like this: Conversations that remind us about our passions, creativity, the future, and taking the steps to get there. – Those kinds of conversations refresh our vision.
The other interaction I had was from Demetri, an amazing client of mine, who told me he been reading many of my blogs and saying that he has been very inspired. He also shared this with me:
If you liked that then you'll really like this: I was reading your Self-preneurship #1 blog on the trip to Japan and I couldn't put it down. Not only that, but the stewardess who was serving my side passed by a couple of times to snoop over my shoulder to see what I was reading. After a couple of drive-bys she couldn't help but ask me what I was reading. She said, "I need new dreams. Can you tell me where to get the article?" I wrote it down for her. I have to be honest, you have a real talent for what you're doing. Consider me inspired & excited! Keep going!
To think that the threads of opportunity would cause something I wrote to be an inspiration to dream again for someone I may never meet is an amazing thought!
Both of these interactions reminded me that nothing I do is ever useless or without impact, that even when I'm at a very low point, that something I do can make a difference in someone's life (even a total stranger).
I don't have to be done with my problems in order to build others up, teach others, or bring value to them.
Although it's been close to 3 months since I've written a full article for Frontrunners, I feel that regardless of what's happening in my life, starting again will bring both me and others fresh life. The people whose success stories I'm inspired by are the people who keep going and find a way, even through the hardest of circumstances.
Even if it's one step a day to move forward, it's possible to move forward.
I feel that by sharing what I'm going through, rather than presenting an idealized, scrubbed-clean, all-knowing front, that there is something there for other people to be encouraged by. There are too many success stories out there where we don't hear about the grueling process it took to get there; the wins are emphasized and the losses are downplayed. In an effort to be inspiring, these stories end up being unrelatable or intimidating.
People want to know that there are other people out there who are facing insurmountable things, but still taking steps forward and not giving up.
I've noticed that the successful people I respect and admire the most are those who achieve it while still retaining their humanity, transparency, and humility.
I'd like mine to be a story like that.
The following list are beliefs that let me know I can keep taking steps forward when life gets hard, one day at a time:
I have to believe that there is an ultimate purpose for my life that is greater and more significant than the season I'm going through. You have to have faith of some kind; a belief in something that is not yet tangible, confidence in something that hasn't yet happened. And to have faith is to accept and embrace the fact that you have no control, which leaves room for peace and joy. I know from experience that there is peace in faith, but I need to remember that there is also JOY. Sometimes I reach out for peace through faith while at the same time holding on to a sliver of fear; and I know the fear comes from me looking at my situation through the lens of my own ability. – Personally, I put my faith in God. I trust him to lead and guide my path through life, and I believe that when I fall short he makes up the difference. – Whatever you have faith in, it's crucial to have it. You won't make it another day unless you believe that the sun will come up over the horizon.
This is temporary.
As hard as the hardest season/situation is that I'm facing, it is temporary. It will pass. What is most important is how I choose to respond to it. A season, by definition, has a beginning and an end. I believe our decisions and responses can either get us through a season or prolong it. I've had seasons last way longer than they originally were supposed to because I spent so much time lamenting on my problems, feeling bad for myself, and dwelling on how "It wasn't supposed to be like this.", rather than focusing on walking forward, having hope, and learning the lesson that I was supposed to learn (which leads me to the next thing).
There is value in the experience.
In all things, there is an opportunity for learning and growth. As long as I look for it in every situation, especially the ones that feel soul-crushing and life-sapping, then that experience is not without benefit. I have been amazed by how much my attitude and perspective influence how "bad" a circumstance is. When I'm letting it get the better of me it feels hopeless, I get depressed, feel hopeless/angry, and feel beat up by life. When I'm taking time each day to acknowledge what I'm grateful for, what parts of my life are good, how this situation is growing me, how it's preparing me for the future, and look for opportunities to help/serve/encourage others instead of being a victim, then the problems don't seem as bad.
My good friend-tor (friend-mentor), John Schreiber, has a tattoo on his forearm that reads, "WTM2S?", which stands for "Will This Make Me Stronger?": a question he asks himself each day and in response to each situation. (PS: John wrote an amazing guest article for Frontrunners. Read it HERE.)
I am an example.
Even when I don't know it, people are watching my life. They watch me go through things and see how I react and respond. They watch me either persevere or give up. They watch me push through, or stay put. They watch me pursue something that I'm going to do and bring it to reality, or they hear me talk about it but never take enough action to make it happen. And watching my life has an influence on them.
When we see someone overcome the odds, do what they love, never give up, fight for their life, strive for something greater in life, it inspires us to do the same in our life. When we see someone transparently share their battle, and then we see then persist until they come out the other side, it builds belief in ourselves that we have what it takes too. It makes us feel like, "Hey, if they can go through that stuff and still make it, then maybe I can too!"
I'm not done yet.
There are things in my life that I have yet to accomplish, and because of that, I can't let this beat me. I can't stop now or I will never reach the vision that I have for my life. I believe that there are greater things for me to do still, so I have to keep going, otherwise the story ends. And there are people who I have yet to meet who needs to hear my story to find inspiration and hope for their own lives. My story about going through this and coming out the other side needs to be told.
Other people believe in me.
Even when I don't believe in myself, there are people who love me who see something great in me. They speak life into me when I'm weary. They build me up when I've crumbled. They see value when I feel worthless. And it's these people who I go to when I'm out of strength or drive to keep moving forward.
Even if you don't think you have anybody, you do. They are there if you look for them. And if you really don't know anybody, there are groups, communities and organizations dedicated to supporting, loving, and accepting people.
For me, the ultimate example of this is my faith in God. (Going back to my first point) I believe that even if the whole world tossed me aside, that He wouldn't leave me, and even if I screwed up majorly or I missed my shot, that he wouldn't give up on me. – Whatever your belief is, treasure the people in your life who believe in you and never be ashamed to reach out for help or strength in your times of need, that's why those people are in your life: because they care!
The other alternative is to quit.
In the face of the hardest challenges I've faced, I know that there are always two choices: keep going, or quit. And one of those leads to life and one of those leads to death. Even if quitting wouldn't necessarily cause you to actually drop dead (some situations are actually life-or-death though), giving up and quitting is a decision to let yourself die on the inside; whether that's letting a dream die, a relationship, a business, an opportunity... Remembering this keeps me going because I refuse to quit and die.
This quote means that giving up is easy, but persevering can feel like the hardest thing ever. If you give up, your story ends, but if you keep going, then you get to live to the next chapter, and the next, until your story is complete. You stay your course, knowing that you took the path less traveled, and ultimately get to live a life of true fulfillment.
This year, especially the past 4 months, has had some extremely trying times for my wife Shannon and I, across the gamut of so many areas of life. But we are still here.
And we will still be here when next year comes. But what's going to be different is that we will come out stronger, wiser, more experienced, better prepared for the future, more grateful for what we have, more compassionate for others who are going through things... we won't be the same, and I think that's one of the most important things to remember.
Whatever you're going through, you're not alone.
Whatever story you're trying to walk through –
Raising a family, building a business, pursuing a passion, developing yourself, fighting a sickness, mending a relationship, overcoming an addiction, changing career paths, leading a group of people, or finding your self-worth –
Even if all you can see is clouds, there is light beyond the horizon.
If you're in a hard season, share some of the lessons you've learned in the comments section below so that others can be encouraged by your story.
And if you'd like to read more on similar topics, check out these other Frontrunners articles:
Battling The Anti-Me - My wife Shannon writes transparently about winning her fight against depression
Your Biggest Rival - When you're feeling behind and discouraged in life