At a recent event, I began by asking the audience, “Who was discouraged last year?” “Who has been discouraged this year?” “How many think you will face discouragement next year?” Naturally, everyone raised their hands.
I am certainly one who can raise my hand for all three questions. No matter how positive you might be, there will be times when discouragement hits you broadside without giving you a warning. I am quite confident there are many reading this article, at this very moment, who are highly discouraged and looking for a way to rebound. No one is exempt from discouragement.
There are three important things you lose because of discouragement:
- LOSS OF ENERGY: We find ourselves losing the energy we once had when we started the project or process. We work hard to make everything right, but at each corner we find failure and begin to get weak. Mentally, it is like a syringe has sucked all our vigor from our minds and bodies.
- LOSS OF VISION: Often, when we begin a new project or process, we have a vision of how it will turn out. We see success in our minds and a bright future, and we are alive with excitement. But after many attempts of creating success with quick setbacks, we begin to lose our original vision of what we wanted to see.
- LOSS OF CONFIDENCE: Once you lose your energy and vision, it is just a matter of time before you lose your confidence. Because of the many setbacks, you may begin questioning whether this project or process is correct, and more importantly, if you have the ability to make it work. You start to question yourself and begin to open up your mind to doubt.
I am sure that we can all look back at our times of discouragement and reflect on these three losses and how true they are to stopping us in accomplishing our dreams. Everything begins to get real dark.
For several years I flew my own plane. I was instrument rated so I would often find myself in rainstorms. I can remember flying on top of the clouds where the sun was light and bright and then be instructed to descend through the rain clouds for the approach to the runway. As I would descend, the bright light would begin to turn gray. As I went deeper into the clouds, the gray would turn to dark gray. And then just before I would break out of the clouds, it would be the darkest. What a feeling, believing your instruments but observing nothing but blackness.
I have found multiple times in my life that when it became the darkest that was the time I would break out and begin to win again. I believe that many of you, at this very moment, are approaching your breakout point if you will keep the faith.
So here are a few thoughts on how to fight this mental monster of discouragement; thoughts that will bring you back to your vision when things begin looking dark.
- REJECT: When you feel discouragement coming quickly, dismiss the idea by speaking loudly to the thought to leave your mind. You may have to find a closet or go to your car, but it is important that you reject and rebuke that thought. “I command this thought to leave my mind.” Say it over and over and over until you have totally rejected the negative thought.
- UNIFY: Get around family and friends who will breathe life into you. My wife has been my cheerleader for five decades. When I feel discouraged, and after I reject the thought, I get with her to soak up her enthusiasm and encouragement. And I will call some of my friends who I know will offer me an uplifting word of encouragement.
- TIME OFF: Frequently we fall prey to discouragement because we have been working too many hours on our project, having our entire thought process on what we wish to accomplish. A Greek Proverb says, “A bow strung too tight will eventually break.” Take some time off; step away from the program or process and enjoy a fun day. Maybe drive to a lake, or mountains, or take a walk in the country to allow your mind to break away and relax. We often put way too much stress on ourselves.
- REDIRECT: Redirect your focus. We often find ourselves focusing on the mechanics of what must be done, rather than the vision. As an author, there are more days than not that I do not want to write. I think of the long hours sitting in front of the computer and what is required to get a manuscript ready…I call that the STUFF! Redirect your mind from the STUFF back to your VISION. This change of focus is critical when building a business. Don’t get caught up in the daily grind of getting things done and lose sight of why you are doing it…the vision.
- SERVE: What keeps me alive when writing a book, or preparing a talk, or building a company, is thinking about how the book, talk, or company will serve others. Focusing on the life-giving outcome of your project or process it is like putting on a giant oxygen bag and inhaling fresh air. If we see what we are doing to serve others and bring that focus back to center stage, we will find discouragement fleeing.
If you are discouraged today, I ask that you reflect on the suggestions above. I am confident you will begin to break discouragement down to a manageable task.