“Every great story on the planet happened when someone decided not to give up, but kept going—no matter what.” ~ Spryte Loriano
A wise man once shared some words of wisdom with me. He said, “Never give up. There’s always a way”. Actually, he wasn’t just any old “wise guy”—he was my dad. And on that day, I heard his message loud and clear: “Even though things might seem impossible, they’re not.” But—working toward a goal can be exhausting. When the going gets tough, sometimes we’d rather throw in the towel than throttle full steam ahead. Sometimes, the easy way out feels like the only way out.
But if we listen to poet Robert Frost, we may just hear the best advice (yep, even better than my dad’s) when we know where we’re going, but can’t figure out how to get there:
“The best way out is always through.”
OK, let’s face it—achieving a goal takes effort (all goals do). Deciding not to “pull the plug” and continuing to “plug away” requires willpower, no doubt. It requires focus, determination, and guts…and a silent promise to keep on going, despite the bangs, bumps, and bruises that we endure along the way.
Trust me—our promise to “never give up” is one of the hardest promises to keep. Why? Because the path to success is rarely (never?) “straight”. It’s a long and winding road full of zig and zags, twists and turns, and stops and starts that can lead us so far off the beaten path that all we want to do is turn around and, yep…you guessed it: head back home.
Guess what? I never turn around and head home when the going gets tough.
Because I deleted “I give up” from my vocabulary.
Because when I map my journey, my inner GPS doesn’t understand those words.
If you’re anything like me, “giving up” isn’t an option on the journey to success. When the heavy weather sets in, I drive slow and brave the elements. When I see obstacles in my path, I go around them. I go over them. I push them out of my way. And sometimes, I might even patiently wait for them to move out of my way. In fact, once I set my goal, I fill up my motivational gas tank, map my route, and begin my journey—despite each and every one of the things that could go wrong along the way.
And guess what? I always arrive at my destination. No matter how many times I needed to detour. No matter how bad the weather was. No matter how many times I had to stop to rest. No matter how long it took me to get there.
No matter what.
But at some point on the journey, we may feel that our strategy isn’t working. And when something isn’t working, we begin to lose faith in our ability to keep going. And when we lose faith in ourselves, our motivational engine quickly runs out of gas. The problem: Sometimes we only see one path to achieving our goal. But luckily, we have a solution: There are a gazillion paths to achieving our goal. And we even have some good news: Many of those paths are much more inspiring, much more motivating, and much more rewarding than the one we’re on. And they all “get us there”.
But…only if we’re open to discovery. Only if we’re willing to explore. Only if we’re up for the adventure. Only if we believe that there’s always “a way through”.
So, let’s avoid the “exit ramp”. Instead, let’s “pull over” and consider three “Cs” that help us to push “through”:
Stop and breathe for a moment—whenever, wherever, and as often as necessary. When we shift from “chaos” to “calm”, we stop the emotional “tornado” that’s been swirling inside of us. We open up the mental “doors” that allow us to envision a better plan. And all of a sudden, like magic—we see a better way.
Our eyes are the “windows” that allow us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, our vision can get “blurry” along the way. When we stop to clear our eyes, we get a better sense of how far we have left to go on the journey. And when we look back, we’re proud to see how far we’ve come.
See the “Choices”
Sometimes, we become so focused on the goal that we don’t realize how many different (and better!) paths there are to choose from. Staying calm and getting clear can help us to see the awesome options that are right in front of us. And when we see the choices, “I can’t” suddenly turns into “I can…and I will”.
After many zigs and zags, starts and stops, and trips and falls on the path, we eventually realize that “failure” is part of success. We realize that when we stay calm, get clear, and see all of our choices, our inner GPS eventually gets us there. And when we finally delete “those words” from our vocabulary, we have the power to turn “I just can’t do it…I gotta stop” into “I AM UNSTOPPABLE”.
So, be focused. Be fearless. Be the fire in your desire. And always remember—challenge is the one thing that no successful person has ever avoided. But challenge gives us strength. It gives us wisdom. And it whispers some words in our ear that we should never forget: the secret to having the power to push your way through is realizing that you already do…
About the Author: Joshua GARRIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors. He holds a Ph.D. in health psychology, an M.S. in cognitive psychology, and a B.S. in general psychology and journalism. He currently resides in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Following the completion of his doctorate in 2014, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research for his inquiry on health beliefs, outcome expectancies, and stress appraisal in college seniors. Read More…