Life is all about the continuous effort required for overcoming challenges. Every day brings forth new hurdles, and you always have to be on guard to dodge these hurdles if you wish to live a relatively smooth, successful life.
The consistent motivation required for overcoming difficulties in life can be easily lost, even by the most successful people. It can be difficult to dig deep and find the courage to face challenges, but once you do, that strength never leaves.
If you feel like giving up, you’ve come to the right place. The 7 tips you’ll find today will give you the right boost of energy to continue your push against your daily struggles!
1. Shift Your Perspective
Every challenging situation, right off the bat, affects your perspective first.
Let’s say, this morning you woke up to an email from your boss that said that you have to work through the weekend. You had planned to meet your friends after months this weekend. Of course, you’ll instantly start to feel angry and sad.
Next, you open the fridge to make some eggs for breakfast, but the eggs have gone bad. You’re also out of cereal. Later on in the day, you have to go out grocery shopping, but your favorite, most comfortable jeans are dirty. Although this inconvenience is minor, it could possibly be the last straw.
Apparently, your entire day has gone in the wrong direction. However, the real issue is not that minor challenges got to you back-to-back. Instead, it’s your perspective.
From the moment you read the email, you put a negative twist on everything. Since then, everything was perceived as a bigger problem than it actually was. You already knew that you were out of cereal. You also probably knew that the eggs would go bad by this day.
Despite that, your negative mindset made your overreact.
Make it a habit to never let negativity take over. No, you shouldn’t force yourself to be positive but at least try to focus your negative energy on the real challenge. Ignore the minor inconveniences like you would on a good day.
If you let your energy go to waste on such small matters, you’ll be drained of energy before you even begin to figure out how to overcome your challenges.
2. Learn From Someone Who Has Been There
If it gives you comfort, then you should know that you’re not the only one going through this issue. Someone out there is going through similar circumstances, and possibly even worse.
Similarly, there’s someone out there who has been through the same challenge but was able to get out of it unharmed.
There are millions of people in similar circumstances. You may know at least one such individual who has gone through a similar issue. It could be a celebrity, someone from your neighborhood, a member from your extended family, or anyone from anywhere.
This person’s experience is a source of motivation, as well as a guide, to get through your challenge. Overcoming challenges can be as easy as observing the people around you in the long term.
If you can’t think of anyone who has tackled the problem already, it’s alright. You’ll know of someone who, if ever faced with a similar situation, could walk through it without an issue. Maybe that’s because this person has enough money to buy their solution, or they have the physical and mental ability to find a way out.
Whatever the case, try to follow the same footsteps. Come up with alternatives to suit your circumstances. As long as you have an example to see, you’ll have the strong will to continue in the same direction. A real-life example is the best motivation to continue the fight against your life’s hurdles.
Similarly bring to mind a challenge you have overcome already. Once you realize you’ve done it once, you’ll have the inspiration to do it again.
3. Don’t Shy Away From Help
You came into this world alone, and you’ll leave alone. Yet, every human depends on others for their survival between these two points of existence. Even the strongest economies in the world are interdependent. It’s only natural to expect an emotionally or physically strained person like you to seek help as well.
If you aren’t capable of pulling yourself out of the tough situation, go ahead and seek out support or help. A third party will likely be able to offer a perspective you hadn’t seen.
Having someone to support you through your tough time is great. The best scenario is if they have the expertise to get you over the hurdle. Even if that’s not the case, the emotional support is more than enough to keep you going in tough times.
They may also be able to present examples of challenges you have overcome to motivate you to overcome whatever you’re facing now.
4. Figure out a Solution
There’s a solution to almost every problem you’ll face as you seek success in life.
No matter how big of a mountain you think has come in front of you, it won’t kill you. You can reach its top with the small steps you take every day.
If you’re thinking of ways of overcoming challenges, you’re already on the right track. Only with a mind that wants to overcome an issue can you actually do it. So, start thinking of all possible and impossible solutions to your problem.
For example, if you’re currently going through a financial problem, some solutions include shifting to a better-paid job, working more than one job, taking out a loan, winning the lottery, robbing a bank, and the list goes on. By simply acknowledging that there are so many solutions to your problem, half your worries will be eradicated.
The next step is, of course, to work on a realistic solution. Once you’re figured out the most feasible route for yourself, you need to start taking baby steps towards it.
Let’s say you decided to change your job. You’ll start by looking out for career choices that pay well and are also relevant to your skills and experience. Next, you’ll apply to places that have open vacancies, and so on.
With a focused goal, you won’t lose your sense of direction amid all the hindrances.
Do you know what pulls people down during a tough time? It’s not that one challenge, but the fact that this one challenge overshadows everything and makes it difficult to overcome life challenges along the way.
An issue in your career reflects on your behavior with your partner, keeps you from hanging out with your friends, strains your motivation to stay fit, and basically harms every other aspect of your life. All of this is because that one challenge is all that’s on your mind. You’re unable to distract your brain to think of other things.
This behavior is harmful not just to you, but also to those around you. Keep the challenges of your life restricted. If they take over, you won’t be able to overcome them. To solve one problem, you need to continue to live normally in other parts so that you don’t lose your strength.
How do you overcome challenges?
Learn to compartmentalize so that your brain is trained to keep the good things away from the negative. With an organized mind, you can conquer any challenge that comes to you.
6. Focus on the Bigger Picture
There are many quotes about overcoming challenges, but one that rings particularly true is this:
One closed door opens another.
One hurdle may seem like a full stop, but it may be exactly what you need to reach a final goal.
Imagine the prettiest landscape; a land full of peace, serenity, natural beauty, a starry sky, and everything nice that you can think of. If you know that the final destination is worth it, you won’t mind the narrow path that you’ll have to walk on to get to it.
Similarly, if you can shift your focus to the bigger picture, the minor challenges won’t seem to be an issue. Instead, you’ll make the most of them by learning from every challenging second. Going through a hard time can bring you many benefits if you have the right point of view.
7. Help Others
In the end, despite your challenges, be ready to offer help to others.
You will be contributing to the cycle of help while also learning a great deal from their way of tackling a life issue. Moreover, offering a helping hand ensures you’ve got someone you can rely on during your tough times, too.
Overcoming challenges in life requires a balanced way of tackling the problem without letting it affect healthy parts of your life. It not only requires physical effort, but also mental strength.
The 7 tips you learned today are a good balance between both. They keep you mentally strong so that you can give your maximum physically. Altogether, you can put up a strong fight against the hardest challenges. No obstacle can stop you from living your life to the fullest.
All you’ve got to do now is stay determined and push yourself by implementing these tips in your life. Then, notice yourself looking forward to new challenges instead of dreading them!
More Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Life
Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).
The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.
And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money.
And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.
Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.
So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.
Table of Contents
Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation
“To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”
Generally speaking, we all need motivation.
An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.
Why? It’s simple.
There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.
If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?
Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.
The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.
When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.
Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it:
“Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.
If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams
Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation
If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:
Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation.
One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.
Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point.
By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.
Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”
In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.
Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.
6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation
So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?
There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.
The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do.
It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills.
Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.
You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours
2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose
Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you?
And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”
Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:
“I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”
Inspirational, isn’t it?
Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism.
When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.
4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something
A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.
But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.
Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.
For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.
Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.
5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)
The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).
If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.
All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .
6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason
Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically.
The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.
A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.
The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.
And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.
Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:
“If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”
Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.
Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.
In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.
And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?
Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.