10 Things To Do To Motivate Yourself In Difficult Times

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If you’re looking for ways on how to motivate yourself in difficult times, I hope that you find this post helpful!

We all go through tough times and often, finding the willpower to push through every single day is not an easy thing to do. I remember a particularly dark time in my life, when I was navigating my lowest point, every morning felt like a mountain to climb.

Just the thought of facing another day was already too paralyzing, not to mention everything that I have to deal with throughout the day.

Finding the motivation to keep trying and to keep going when every day feels like you’re being smacked with one problem after another just felt too impossible for me. I certainly know how difficult it is to keep trying, to find the hope and determination to keep pushing through when every day feels like a never-ending battle.

And regardless of how hard you try to stay hopeful and keep the fight in you, sometimes the weight of it all just feels so heavy and overwhelming that you start to believe that things will never get better and that no matter what you do to keep trying, you will still lose.

If you’re currently going through a challenging time right now, please know that you have the power within you to rise above this adversity. I know how overwhelming and paralyzing it can be to navigate these hard times in our lives, thankfully there are things that we can do to help us find the motivation that we need to keep fighting and to keep trying.

In this post, I will be sharing with you the steps that have helped me find and stay motivated despite of struggles that I was facing. While, I know that navigating through difficult times is a deeply personal journey, I hope that you’ll find some steps that resonate with you or at the very least, offer you some guidance (even just a little) as you navigate the challenges that you’re facing.

How To Motivate Yourself In Difficult Times

How To Motivate Yourself In Difficult Times

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is an important aspect of helping you learn how to motivate yourself in difficult times.

When we are going through difficult times, it’s so easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of expectations. We often believe that we should be handling these situations better or overcoming the obstacles that we are facing right away.

I’m certainly no stranger to this feeling. When I was navigating my rock bottom, I wanted to turn my life around as quickly as possible. So, I set all these unrealistic goals believing that doing this would motivate me to work even harder. I thought that if I just placed immense pressure on myself, it would somehow push me to take action every single day and turn my situation as fast as I hoped.

But that was actually not the case. Setting all these unrealistic expectations for myself did not motivate me, it only made everything more overwhelming to the point that it paralyzed me. The constant fear of falling short of all my expectations and goals only led me to procrastinate.

Instead of actually taking the necessary steps to improve my life, I was stuck in a cycle of overthinking and self-doubt. This made me realize how important it is to set realistic expectations, especially when we are going through challenging times.

What we are going through is already difficult, the more that we continue to set all these unrealistic goals and expectations for ourselves, the more difficult it is for us to motivate ourselves to keep trying.

I’ve learned that there is certainly nothing wrong with setting realistic expectations. This doesn’t mean that we are not aiming high or that we are settling for mediocrity. It is about understanding our current circumstances, recognizing our limits, and giving ourselves the best chance to succeed.

2. Practice Daily Gratitude

For the longest time, I honestly believed that practicing daily gratitude was nothing but toxic positivity. I know how easy it is to be grateful when everything in our lives is going smoothly but when everything around us is falling apart, finding something to be grateful for just feels impossible.

This is what I felt when I was going through the lowest point of my life. Every single day felt like I was being hit with one problem after another. It actually seemed like every time I would overcome one problem, two more would take its place. Finding something to be grateful for during that period of my life was just not possible.

So, I allowed myself to focus all my attention on everything that was going wrong in my life. I thought that doing this would help motivate me to work even harder and to be more determined to turn my life around. But that didn’t happen.

Focusing all my attention on everything that was going wrong did not help me in any way, for what it’s worth, it actually just made things even more difficult. By letting myself be consumed by so much negativity, I was making myself more defeated and overwhelmed every single day.

And to be honest, it just made me feel more hopeless. I’ve learned that practicing daily gratitude is not only vital for my mental well-being but it also has hugely positive impacts in helping change my perspective in life.

I’ve realized that practicing daily gratitude is not about minimizing what you’re going through or invalidating the pain that you are currently feeling. It’s not about pretending that everything is okay. It is about finding balance, ensuring that while we navigate challenges, we also allow ourselves to pause and recognize even the smallest glimmers of joy, love, and kindness that are still in our lives.

Choosing to find even the smallest sparks of light in stormy seasons gave me the motivation that I needed to keep going.

If you’re currently going through tough times, please know that practicing daily gratitude is never about diminishing the weight of your burdens but rather about highlighting the moments of light that coexist alongside them, no matter how small they may seem.

Here’s a great guide on gratitude exercises and activities from Positive Psychology.

3. Stop Beating Yourself Up

Are you also guilty of being your harshest critics? I know how easy it is to beat ourselves up, especially when we are going through challenging times. I was guilty of doing this too.

For years, I have always been guilty of being my worst critic. When I hit my rock bottom, I became even more critical of myself. Every mistake, no matter how small, felt like a huge failure. I continued to beat myself up for even the smallest detail.

At that time, I actually believed that relentlessly berating myself would make me more motivated to improve my life. It worked for a while until I found myself feeling so drained and defeated of the constant self criticisms to the point that I couldn’t even muster the energy to try anymore.

If you’re also guilty of being your harshest critic, please know that your worth is not determined by your mistakes and setbacks. Please remember that you are deserving of love and kindness, especially from within.

Offering ourselves compassion, especially during challenging times is vital in helping us cope with problems that we are currently facing. I realized that while negative self talk might seem like a way to push ourselves harder, in the reality, it’s actually diminishing our self esteem and confidence.

We have to learn how to stop beating ourselves up. We have to keep reminding ourselves that self compassion is not about being self indulgent. It is about acknowledging our weaknesses, shortcomings, and flaws and meeting them with kindness and understanding instead of judgments and criticisms.

Know that you deserve to give yourself the same amount of love, kindness, and understanding that you so freely give to your loved one.

4. Live One Day At A Time

Living one day at a time is another vital step that will help you learn how to motivate yourself in difficult times. In today’s world, it is so easy to get caught up in between constantly planning for the future or ruminating about the past.

When we are going through difficult times, I know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on and with all the what-ifs that constantly fill our heads. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I was paralyzed because of all the fears and anxieties that filled my thoughts.

I was constantly worrying about the problems of tomorrow or replaying yesterday’s mistake without realizing that by doing this, I was actually making everything so much more difficult. By constantly living in the past or fearing the future, I was overwhelming myself with emotions and scenarios that were either out of my control or hadn’t even happened yet.

I realized that doing this was not only making me feel more exhausted and drained but it was also making it so much more difficult for me to find the motivation and strength to keep pushing.

Living one day at a time not only made navigating my lowest point less overwhelming but also removed the unnecessary stress and worries that I was adding to my life.

I’ve learned that choosing to take each day as it comes is not about failing to plan for the future and leaving everything to chance. It is about finding the balance between embracing the lessons of the past and planning for the future while living in the present moment.

It is about choosing to focus our attention on the things that we can do today and the things that we can actually influence to help improve our tomorrow.

How To Motivate Yourself In Difficult Times 1

5. Remember Your “Why”

Going through difficult times will certainly challenge our commitment and motivation. During those moments when it feels like everything is just going against us, it’s crucial to remember our “why”.

Our “why” is the purpose that fuels our actions and decisions. It’s the source of our motivation, determination and strength. On days when we feel like giving up or when we feel so defeated and drained, revisiting our “why” is just what we need to find the strength and motivation to keep persevering.

It’s important to ask ourselves why we started on this journey. What are our long-term goals and aspirations? What fuels us to keep going? We have to be perfectly honest with ourselves while answering these questions.

When we go through challenging times and when self doubts and difficulties arise, let’s let our “why’s” serve as our guiding light to remind us of our purpose and help us navigate whatever challenges and adversities life throws our way.

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6. Practice Self Care

It’s easy to take our well-being for granted, especially when life gets hard. I was certainly guilty of this. I mean, it’s easy to prioritize our well-being when everything in our lives is going smoothly but when everything is just falling apart, practicing self care is probably the last thing on our minds.

This is what I felt. When I was going through a difficult time, I believed that practicing self care during this period of my life was nothing but a complete waste of time. I have always thought, “Why would I even waste precious time doing something that does not directly help better my situation?”.

So, I continued to push myself and I kept neglecting my well-being, thinking that this was the best thing to do. That approach worked for a while until I found myself burnt out, physically and mentally drained, and unable to effectively deal with the challenges I was facing.

The reality is we can’t truly keep ignoring our needs and well-being without expecting any consequences in return. This made me realize that self-care is not a luxury. It’s not something that we only practice when everything is going smoothly in our lives.

It’s a necessity, especially during difficult times. If you’re also guilty of taking your needs for granted, please know that you matter and your needs are important. Self care is not selfish nor is it being self-indulgent.

Now, I actually truly believe that self care is a lifeline, something that helps keep us going especially during challenging times. We have to keep reminding ourselves that carving out time for our needs and well-being is necessary, even when it feels like we have a million different things to do.

We don’t have to spend countless hours practicing self care, it’s about finding those small moments throughout the day to check in with ourselves and recharge. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes to take deep breaths.

So, please let go of any guilt or hesitation when it comes to self care. Know that by prioritizing self care, we are not only taking care of ourselves but we are also ensuring that we have the energy, motivation and strength to face life’s challenges.

7. Reflect On Past Successes

I know how easy it is to start doubting ourselves and question our capabilities, especially when we are being smacked with one problem after another and one disappointment after another. It’s easy to start believing that maybe we don’t really have what it takes to turn our lives around and to lose hope and motivation when things aren’t going as planned.

That is why reflecting on your past successes is crucial in helping you find motivation in difficult times. When I was navigating this difficult period of my life, it actually felt like regardless of how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to win.

Every day felt like I was constantly losing a battle and the weight of all the disappointments and problems was taking so much toll on my spirit and motivation. But the more that I focused on all the negatives, the more they consumed me and the more difficult it became to see a way out.

If you feel this way too, please take a moment to pause and reflect on all those times you’ve said you will never be able to overcome a challenge and yet here you are, you proved that thought wrong countless of times before.

Think back to the times when everything seemed impossible, but you made it possible through your determination, motivation, and resilience. Those moments, no matter how small or grand, are a testament to your invaluable strength and your ability to push through whatever life throws your way.

Let those moments serve as a reminder of your strength, capabilities, and resilience. Every time, you feel like giving up, look back to those moments. Let those moments fuel your motivation to keep pushing through and to remind you that no matter how challenging the current situation may seem, you’ve faced difficulties before and have always found a way through.

8. Seek Inspiration

Seeking inspiration is another important step that’ll help you learn how to motivate yourself in difficult times. When we are struggling in life, the weight of every little setback that we experience can be overwhelming, and often we can feel trapped in a cycle of negativity and hopelessness.

This is exactly what I felt. Every little setback felt like a direct hit to my confidence, and with every setback and disappointment that I was smacked with, I felt more hopeless, unmotivated and so defeated.

It was during that difficult moment that I realized how powerful and encouraging the stories of others can be. I was so desperate for even a small glimmer of hope and motivation that I began reading motivational stories and posts, hoping that by reading other people’s journeys in navigating difficult times, I would find the motivation and strength to keep persevering.

And it helped a lot. It made me see that regardless of how alone I felt, I wasn’t. Countless people have gone through the same things as I am going through. Their stories reminded me that regardless of how drained we already felt or how challenging the situation may seem, with determination and a little inspiration, we can find our way out of the storm.

Doing this helped shift my perspective and it gave me the motivation that I needed to keep trying and to keep believing in my strength and resilience. If you’re currently navigating a difficult period in your life, I hope that reading this post will help give you the motivation that you are looking for.

Whenever you feel so down and defeated, please remember to seek out those stories of resilience and hope. Let them reignite your inner flame and find your way back to motivation and purpose.

And please know that regardless of how difficult everything may seem right now, there is hope. You have what it takes to turn your life around.

9. Avoid Comparisons

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. Especially in today’s world, where we constantly see all these people having everything figured out and navigating life’s challenges like a pro, and yet here we are, still figuring out our footing.

I know this feeling all too well. When I was growing up, I was constantly compared by the people that I love to others. I was constantly reminded of how someone else was doing better, achieving more and seemingly leading a more productive life.

I took this with me, as I grew older. I was constantly comparing my progress with someone else’s and going through difficult times only magnified this habit. I kept feeling like regardless of how hard I tried, I was still not making enough progress compared to other people.

I was constantly trying to keep up with everyone’s achievements and failing to recognize everything that I had overcome. And let me tell you, living that kind of life was just so exhausting and mentally draining.

Not only was it making life so much more difficult but by constantly comparing my journey with others, I was also making myself feel more defeated and hopeless, draining any motivation in me.

If you’re also guilty of this habit, please remember that your path is uniquely yours. There is no specific timeline for overcoming struggles. What others may take a month to overcome, might take others a year or even longer and you know what? That is perfectly okay.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that everyone has their pace, their lessons to learn, and their personal battles to fight. Life is not a race.  The more that we keep comparing our journey to others, the more we rob ourselves of the joy and fulfillment that come from embracing our own path.

Reflect on your own path. Reflect on how far you’ve come, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the growth that you’ve experienced. We don’t have to keep measuring our worth and success based on other people’s terms.

Your worth and value are inherent. Let’s focus our attention and energy on becoming a better version of ourselves and please always remember that you are enough just as you are now, you don’t have to keep competing with other people, just to feel worthy. You are worthy simply by being you.

10. Take Small Steps

When I hit rock bottom, I wanted to turn my life around as quickly as possible. I wanted to make all these huge improvements right away so I pushed myself into doing more than what I could handle.

I thought that if I just kept pushing myself, I could better my life right away and achieve all my goals. But in reality, this approach only led to burnout and disappointment, and honestly, it just drained any motivation and determination that I had in me.

Pushing myself to take all those huge leaps and make all those big improvements just made everything more overwhelming and daunting. This made me realize how important it is to give yourself permission to take small steps.

Navigating challenging times and overcoming adversities is not easy. It can get so overwhelming and often it paralyzes us making it even more difficult for us to take action. That’s why please don’t hesitate to take small and easy steps.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that growth and healing are not something that happens overnight. We don’t have to keep aiming for monumental changes right away. Starting with smaller goals actually made everything less overwhelming for me and it made it easier for me to take action and to be consistent with my efforts.

If you ever find yourself overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenges that you’re facing, remember to focus on the next step, not the entire journey. Remind yourself that lasting change comes from the accumulation of many small efforts over time. So, please don’t hesitate to take that small and easy step.

Final Thoughts

Please know that learning how to motivate yourself in difficult times is not straightforward. There will be days when we find ourselves stuck in a rut, feeling overwhelmed, questioning our abilities that regardless of what we try to find the motivation we need, nothing just seems to work.

During those moments please give yourself compassion, patience, and understanding. Know that what you’re going through is perfectly normal and what you’re feeling is completely valid. We won’t always feel 100% motivated every single day, regardless of how hard we try.

We will always have our “off days” but that is certainly not a direct reflection of our capabilities and strength. Keep moving forward, even if it’s at a slower pace during these “off days”.

Know that you have what it takes to push through this adversity and please remember that I’m always rooting for you!

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