The journey up may have been hard work, but the feeling of accomplishment and sense of victory make it worthwhile. Image courtesy of Satit Srihin at freedigitalphotos.net
There are many tasks we may encounter in life that fall under the category of “Difficult but Worthwhile”. For example:
• Losing weight or any long-term behaviour that improves health – such as walking, or training for a particular event – whether it be a fun run, even a marathon.
• Finding our ideal partner - dating and getting to know, resolving difficulties in, or enhancing a relationship to new levels. Or, ending a relationship that is toxic.
• Giving up an addictive habit such as smoking or a drug
• Studying and achieving a qualification
• Finding a job that is satisfying – whether paid or voluntary
• Writing a good article!
• Bringing up children
• Finding motivation to do every day if suffering depression. Or going out and talking to people if suffering social anxiety
• Achieving heightened degree of success or knowledge. For example attending a personal development course or a series of seminars
There are countless other examples – what is difficult for one person may be easy for another, and the same goes for what is considered ‘worthwhile’ by a particular individual.
However, in all cases, on the one hand is the desire to attain a goal that would improve one’s quality of life, or enhance personal characteristics – such as the attainment of discipline and keeping up hard work. However, the very reason we haven’t yet achieved whatever Worthwhile goal we have is because – well, it’s difficult!
For example, losing weight involves self-discipline, and a whole new way of life, and forsaking what is pleasurable. Finding an ideal partner involves risk such as fearing rejection.
All of the examples above take time, energy, motivation, self-discipline, consistency, recovery from setbacks, a strategy…
So, what can we tell ourselves when it seems like ‘it’s just not worth it’ or the pleasure of succumbing to an old habit seems all too salient? Here are some ideas of how to stick it out when you have a goal that will improve your life, but it involves hard work and giving up what you may like.
1. *Begin to visualise your life long-term. “How will you feel tomorrow?” For example, if you leave that cigarette you may suffer cravings and discomfort today. However, tomorrow, you will feel that much stronger, and are that much closer to achieving your goals.
2. Keep reminding yourself over and over of the negatives you experience from not taking actions conducive to achieving your goal – for example if you again decide to not exercise, you suffer lowered morale and confidence.
3. Likewise, keep reiterating to yourself of the positives you will enjoy from sticking to your goals (and each step it takes to reach them). For example, save money from not smoking, improved health, feeling stronger inside.
4. Keep your steps to achieve your goal realistic and achievable. For example, if studying for a qualification, studying for 1-2 hours may be sensible, but doing 4 hours probably wouldn’t be easy to keep up. If you have the strategy of making steps to goal accomplishment achieveable, this will boost your confidence along the way. Because you have made it ‘do-able’.
5. Become self-aware of what motivates you, and what makes working toward your goal more difficult. For example, do you study better when your desk is clear, are you a morning person?
6. Gather support. Tell supportive others of what you are hoping to achieve and avoid people in your life who are negative toward what it is you a trying to do. Even if you might not know others personally or feel comfortable enlisting them in your efforts, sometimes there are groups that can help. For example “Quitline” if you aim to give up smoking or “Weight Watchers” if you are wanting to lose weight.
7. Don’t only not be discouraged by setbacks, but expect them. Probably 99.9% of people will have days where they take a step back in their efforts toward achieving their goal. Try to learn from your setback – were you negatively triggered – for example have you let too much stress steer you off course – you may need to lower your workload, get more sleep. Use this knowledge as a positive – when you know why you deterred from your course, you can use this knowledge to prevent this from re-occuring.
Also, rather than dwelling on your setback, get “back on the horse” as soon as possible, and experience success again as soon as possible.
8. Remember that significant changes are usually more difficult in the beginning stages whether it be quitting smoking, or exercising or eating healthier. Whatever the positive change you are trying to accomplish there are usually stages you pass through – initially, it’s often more difficult. Then, it’s less difficult but perhaps not easy either. Then, without you realising, it’s your new positive healthy way of being that is habitual, that is easier to do!
9. Put up reward stars for when you reach benchmarks – when you see how many days have elapsed you have a visual reminder that you can do it!
10. Also, have long term rewards that will inspire you – with the money you save from not smoking, you could go on a cruise. After you lose the weight, you can buy that cute dress.
Most worthwhile accomplishments in life take hard work and self-discipline. However, to keep it simple, keep envisioning and holding close in your mind and heart how the long term effort will be worthwhile. Also from personal experience, what helps a great deal is remembering the earliest stages are the hardest.