How to regain strength in tough times: For the purpose driven

When you feel like quitting, remember why you started

– Anonymous

If you are like my friend Jane, you probably get very excited about everything new, especially at the start, or earlier in the envisioning phase. You get excited at the beginning of a new project, a new job, a new place, a new business, a new anything. If there was one thing that would keep your heart alive all the time is setting the stage and going away before the “drama” begins. You love to think of the prospects of success, and that’s what you really think about most of the time. You fantasize about how it’s all turned great and delivered your desired goals to you on a silver platter. Nice positivity by the way.

Oh! Wait, maybe you don’t get that excited and so you aren’t like Jane. You’re probably like my other friend, John. The thought of anything new scares you. Not like deadly scary, just scary. You don’t just think of the prospects of success, you think about the possibility failure too, and having both thoughts just creates uncertainty that you happen to hate. You’d rather linger in what has been around for quite some time even if deep down you know it’s time to reach for something higher. It’s good you think of both possibilities.

You see, regardless of who you are, there are times in life when venturing on something new is the right thing to do. Sometimes we accept that and really move, to a new project, a new job, a new place, set up a new business, a new nonprofit, join a new community or get into anything new for that matter. This would be great for those who are like Jane and a breakthrough for those who are like John. It brings the Janes home and the Johns past the awkward moments.

Well, it then turns out you need to hang in there and get stuff done to really fulfil the “why” for your signing up. This is where the drama starts for the Janes and the reality show for those like John. The tough comes, and the fantasy goes away or the doubts seem to be confirmed. This is the point when you have a lot of those “This is not working” and “I knew this wasn’t going to work”. You are now contemplating whether you should quit or endure, and you decide to try once more, then twice more, and again, then you give up and decide to quit. You’ve had it! It’s not working.

When you get to this point where things don’t seem to go right, your motivation has disappeared; you are discouraged and somehow disappointed. This is the point where you have to stop and think about why you got into this in the first place. You have to stop and remember that you are not discouraged or disappointed by the “why” which was your motivation when you signed up. For those like Jane, the feeling of success (which was to come at the end) gave you reason to start, and at the earliest stages gave you reason to keep on. For those like John, the fact that moving was the right thing to do, the end desirable and important; that, together with possibility of success gave reason and meaning to the venture. If you think about it, the end is still desirable and just as important as it was when you signed up. So really, the purpose is still valid. However, something has changed –the process.

If the why is still important and it’s only the process that has changed from what we had hoped it to be to what it almost always is what should we do? Well, there is no a simple one-size-fits-all answer to that. However, it will be helpful in determining what to do if we wake up to reality. You see, the road is always going to be rough. The roughness may differ between individuals and scenarios, but there is always some roughness in the process. There are two things to remember. First, we need the roughs and toughs. They make the end more precious because they require us to give more before we achieve the goal. Sometimes, they prepare us to handle the challenges that come with success. Second, they can and should be overcome to achieve the goal. By keeping these two things in mind, and clinging to our purpose that is still valid, we can regain strength to keep moving and thriving past the hurdles until we achieve the goal/impact on which our eyes are set.

Tough times never last, but tough people do – Robert H. Schuller