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Struggle can be paralyzing. Financial uncertainty, health problems, personal challenges . . . whatever you’re dealing with, the obstacles you face can make you feel small and powerless. Fear and anxiety creep in. You become convinced that this is life. This paralysis, this obstacle — this is your reality.
I can tell you this: the struggle absolutely is real. But it’s not permanent. And you control how this challenge, whatever it is, defines your life.
I’ve thought about struggle a lot over the years because I’ve faced countless obstacles of my own. I’ve confronted major setbacks, creeping doubts, and seemingly impossible odds. Now, looking back over everything I’ve been through, I can clearly see that I got where I am today not because I pushed through the struggle, but because I learned from it. I embraced it. I let the experience show me how I was out of alignment with the person I wanted to become and what I needed to do to change that.
That same outcome is completely within your reach, too. The greatest challenge you face today is actually the key to your success down the road. You only need to understand how to transform your mindset from one of limitations to one of possibilities.
I know. It’s easy enough for me to tell you to just “get a new perspective.” It’s another thing for you to summon a brand new outlook when you’re lying awake at night, worrying about bills or how to focus on your business in the midst of a personal loss.
Hang in there. Little by little, I’ll help transform your perspective, transform the way you confront life’s devastation, and transform your future.
First, let’s clarify why we all struggle in the first place.
We’re all dealt different hands in life. When it comes to family, stability, and health, some people are more fortunate than others. So why is struggle a universal truth?
The first thing to understand is that we all experience desire. We experience certain wants deep within our core. Each desire you have is driven by one part of your being:
- Your body has the desire to breathe, eat, and survive.
- Your mind has the desire to protect you, explore, and create.
- Your soul has the desire to Be, connect, and share.
When we can’t fulfill these desires, we experience struggle. The more basic our unmet desire is, the harder the struggle will be.
So, you can see how easy it is to suffer, no matter who you are or what advantages you have in life. If you are alive and human, you will be up against major challenges.
The trick is to make the struggle work for you.
All too often, we mistake obstacles for limitations. We let our difficulties define our reality. We think of a failing business as nothing more than a failing business. We see a marriage on the rocks as a marriage on the rocks. We see a house in flames as a house in flames.
Not only does this perspective disregard your true potential (and trust me, you’ve got tons of potential), but it also denies the very nature of life.
Our world shows us in a million different ways that growth is inevitable, that all living things have to change in order to become what they were meant to be. Think of a seed. It’s confined to a shell, sure, but is that the seed’s entire reality? Absolutely not. With time and care, the seed breaks out from its shell and grows into a tree.
The same can be true for you. You only have to embrace struggle as a natural step towards becoming the person you most want to be and creating a life that meets your deepest desires. Confront struggle head-on, let it hurt (because it’s going to), and choose to find the possibilities in the challenge.
A struggling business can actually be a business on the verge of a game-changing transformation. A marriage on the rocks is really an opportunity for deeper intimacy. And by all means, grieve the loss of a house in flames, but remember that every change is a chance to rise from the ashes, better than before.
Of course, getting to this more optimistic frame of mind takes some work.
Here are some practical steps for using struggle to your advantage.
- Look at struggle as your change agent. What is this challenge telling you about yourself or your life? Are you out of alignment with your goals? This is your wake-up call.
- Notice that everything around you changes. Every living thing is evolving, transforming, and rising to the challenge. Do what you have to do to join the game.
- Stop reliving the past. If you’re stuck in a cycle, notice it and make a change.
- Create new habits that align with the person you want to become.
- Start with simple changes: changes so simple you can’t possibly fail. If you always put your right shoe on first, start with the left shoe today. Put the left shoe on first every day, and celebrate your success in making that change until that change becomes a habit. Once you’ve mastered that small adjustment, add another one. These baby steps tell your body that you can make changes, that you’re capable of evolving instead of waiting for the world to change around you.
- Commit to 30 seconds of appreciation every morning. Appreciating what you already have is the fastest route to happiness, even in the more difficult seasons of life. Before you even get out of bed, choose 3 things that you are thankful for. Think about them. Feel them like you’re experiencing them in this moment.
No one’s life is easy all the way through. But when you face difficulty, you have two choices: You can let obstacles be roadblocks, or you can use those same challenges to become the person you want to become and live the life you want to live.
I know you have unlimited potential to thrive, even in the hardest of times. Believe that yourself, and you’ll be unstoppable.