I wish life was easy for you. I wish life was easy for everyone.
And the truth is that sometimes life will feel easy and everything will go super-smooth and you will exult in how lucky you are! But, in these moments, you need to also prepare—because the pendulum of life swings in two directions. And when it swings back and easy turns to tough, what will you do?
First, don’t be scared or daunted by the tough times, because here is where you will be made. For good or for bad. For more or for lesser. Adversity molds our spirits in a way that prosperity never can, because in the down times of your workout, your love, and your life, you will find exactly what you are made of. You will find the inner resolve, the untapped strength, the depth of your spirit and your soul. You will find the rubber bottom to your despair and when you hit it, in the moment when dark clouds obliterate your sun, you will bounce. This is the good news.
In these moments of hard, you will develop your own brand of perseverance. Not everyone’s perseverance is the same. Some people put their nose to the grindstone (which is an odd expression, when you think about it) and just keep going. You want to be this kind of person. We all do. But the truth is that once in a while we have to be the other kind of person, too: the person who quits when things don’t go our way.
Wait. What? Did I just advocate quitting when things don’t go your way?
Yes and no. I want you to be the person who perseveres, the person who continues undaunted, the person who keeps going no matter what. This is who succeeds in life.
But in order to be the persevering athlete, the persevering worker, the persevering friend, you also have to know when to walk away from a situation that is not right for you. You have to learn to identify when something has gone terribly wrong and it would be best for you to abandon this effort and start again.
This is a tricky moment to navigate, because you don’t want to be the person who gave up because something is hard. Great things lie beyond the hard doors. Untold rewards are not found easily on the street, like pennies dropped out of a pocket with a hole in it. No, rewards are (usually) the result of hard work, very hard work. So, it’s often in your best interest to push through the hard. Keep going. Get to the end of the workout, the end of the workday, the end of the line. Bear down and bear through it. Decide not to quit, not to be defeated, not to break. Persevere.
But, in those very rare moments where your gut tells you that something isn’t right or an injury has happened, stop. Evaluate. And decide if you should persevere.
Inherent in the moment of perseverance is the decision that persevering is the right thing to do. If it is? You will know it. Your momentary pause will be nothing but a momentary pause, then you will stomp the accelerator and keep going. When this happens, let nothing and no one stop you. Bite your giant workout into small pieces and your life into manageable tasks. Get through things one second at a time if you have to. There is no shame in just getting through. There is only shame in giving up when you know you should go on. Many people will quit. Don’t be one of them.
Perseverance is a skill, and it is honed during these moments. The more that you persevere, the more that you can persevere. Soon, perseverance becomes second nature—and quitting becomes the aberration. This is when you will know you are succeeding. But first in the line of action is the decision to keep going when things get tough. Make that decision.
When the going gets tough, make certain this is the right path, and then find your inner edge and bite down hard on it. Keep going. There’s a light up ahead. Make it there.