Life is filled with ups and downs. One day you may feel like you can take on the world and nothing can stop you. The next day something unpredictable may happen and you’ve been thrown off course. It is inevitable that we will experience challenges that can test our strength, self-belief, and resilience.
It can be tempting to run away from challenges because we do not want to accept or face the issue head-on. Persevering through challenges is not easy, but it is a necessary skill to learn and can teach you valuable lessons.
In this article, I will explore what perseverance means, why perseverance is important, and five actionable tips you can use to persevere through challenges you may experience in life.
What does it mean to persevere through challenges?
A challenge is when a new or difficult task or situation presents itself and takes significant physical or mental effort to overcome. Challenges are experienced throughout life. When you are a child, you are constantly faced with new challenges.
For example, learning to walk, talk and read. As you get older challenges can be big or small, whether it is a health scare, financial issues, or even something as simple as trying a new recipe.
When challenges present themselves and things get hard, perseverance is the skill that pushes you through. Perseverance means you are willing to take on a challenge despite the difficulty or delay in reaching success. It is a necessary skill needed to help you achieve your goals, push through failure, and overcome difficult circumstances.
Why is perseverance so important?
Having the ability to persevere through difficult life challenges has many benefits. Being able to persevere helps you to achieve your goals and can also have a positive impact on your mental health. A study from 2019 shows that people who persevere and work towards their goals and face challenges with a positive outlook are at a lower risk of depression, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder.
Various studies have demonstrated that perseverance is a key quality for achieving success in life, more so than talent and skill. For example, you may be an incredibly talented athlete but get an injury that is beyond your control. You can give up, do a half-hearted rehabilitation, or persevere through the setback and come back even stronger.
Talent and skill are fantastic qualities to have. However, if you do not have the perseverance to push yourself through difficult challenges then talent alone may not be enough.
Perseverance is needed to push through the discomfort that comes with challenging experiences.
If we never persisted through learning new skills, for example, something as simple as riding a bike, learning a new instrument, or even walking and talking, we would not grow as individuals.
Persevering through challenges means overcoming the anxiety, discomfort, and negative thoughts that will inevitably try and get in your way.
5 Tips to help you persevere through challenges
Persevering through challenges can be difficult and will test your strength and resilience. Thankfully, there are ways you can make it easier! Here are 5 actionable tips you can use to help you when life throws a challenging situation your way.
1. Try to remain calm
When challenging times happen, sometimes your instinct may tell you to panic. As a result, you are not in control of your emotions, which can lead to poor decision-making. When challenges arise, it is helpful to take a step back, observe the situation without letting emotions control you, and then act.
There are various things you can do to calm your emotions during times of stress. Some examples include breathing exercises, seeking support from someone you trust, exercising, or meditation. Once your emotions have settled you are better able to analyze the situation rationally and implement a plan of action.
2. Accept what is happening
Oftentimes when life gets challenging it is beyond our control. All we can do is accept the situation as it is now and do whatever is in our control to learn and grow from it. Not everything will go your way and dwelling on challenging situations will only leave you feeling stuck.
Acceptance also includes accepting yourself. Sometimes we make mistakes or wish we had done things differently that may have avoided the challenging situation altogether. It is important to acknowledge that mistakes are human, and the best way to move forward is to forgive yourself and learn from the situation. Once you are able to accept the situation and let go, you will be able to move forward feeling calmer and less frustrated, so you can think clearly about the next steps you need to take.
3. Practice self-care
Taking care of yourself is a key part of being able to persevere through challenging situations. Self-care means intentionally implementing strategies or activities that aid in improving your health and overall well-being. Tackling challenges can be stressful and putting into practice some self-care strategies can play a vital role in sustaining your health and wellbeing, and better preparing you to persevere through difficult times. Some examples of self-care strategies include:
- Setting boundaries.
- Eating healthy meals.
- Engaging in an activity you enjoy (reading, music, your favorite TV show).
- Going for a nature walk.
- Meeting up with a close friend.
4. Put things into perspective
When we are faced with challenging situations it is common to experience cognitive distortions such as catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when we automatically assume the worst-case scenario will happen. When we are faced with stressful situations it can be difficult to take a step back and recognize that things will not be this way forever.
For example, you may be unhappy with your current employment situation and have thoughts like “things will never get better, I am stuck, and I will never be happy.” At the moment it may feel like there are no solutions, and that things will always be this way. Putting things into perspective can help you to change your mindset, address negative thoughts and better prepare you to address the challenge head-on.
Having perspective can be difficult when our emotions are high. However, a great way to gain perspective is to try and take a step back and ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What advice would I give my friend in this situation? What would they do to overcome this challenge?
- In an ideal world where everything goes my way, what would I do about the situation?
- Will I remember this problem in 10 years?
- What are some other ways of looking at the situation?
These questions may help you to recognize that the challenge may be more manageable than you thought! It is important to have perspective and remind yourself that things will change and get better. Once you are in this mindset, it is easier to persevere through challenging situations.
5. Seek support
Seeking support, whether it is from a friend, family member, or a professional, is never a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes great strength to recognize when you need extra help or encouragement. Talking to someone can have many benefits including:
- Providing a new perspective on the situation.
- Providing you with emotional support and validation.
- Helping you to feel less alone - you may find out that many others have had similar experiences!
- Helping you to brainstorm possible solutions.
We are constantly faced with new challenges in our everyday lives. Though challenges can be difficult to accept and confront, we must push through them in order to cope and grow. Though perseverance can take practice, it is essential to develop to overcome everyday challenges and learn from our experiences.
Do you think of yourself as someone who perseveres through challenges? Or are you planning to use one of these tips to improve your mindset? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!