Feelings of discouragement are hard to avoid. Think of a professional coach who constantly critiques the performance of athletes. This coaching style has been used for many years, but fortunately, it is now rendered outdated and ineffective. All it served to do was discourage and unmotivate some exceptionally talented individuals.
All of this is to say that no matter how passionate and skilled we are, when feelings of discouragement take over our psyche, we struggle to maintain efficient and effective performance. We may even dread something which once brought profound joy and purpose to our lives.
This article will outline what it means to feel discouraged and the negative consequences of discouragement. It will also provide five tips on how to stop feeling discouraged.
What does it mean to feel discouraged?
You have likely felt discouraged numerous times in your life. Right now, I can reel off a list of things I feel discouraged about, but I’m sure this feeling will pass.
When we feel discouraged, our enthusiasm wanes, and our optimism takes a nose dive. In its place, we experience the discomfort of doubt and the spikes of negativity.
For instance, you may have started a new fitness regime and haven’t yet seen the results you desired. Sometimes our expectations don’t match reality. When we feel discouraged, we sabotage ourselves with a drop in commitment, dedication, and focus. So feeling discouraged can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The negative consequences of discouragement
This article on Psycnet found that discouragement is associated with poor performance. That doesn’t surprise me, what about you?
Steve Magness, the author of Do Hard Things, talks about the history of coaching techniques, particularly mentioning the outdated tactic of abusing athletes by telling them they are useless and won’t amount to anything, among other demeaning and infantilizing comments.
I once worked with a coach with this sort of approach. He knocked my confidence, damaged my self-belief, and shattered my ability to dream big. He lost me as a customer, and building myself back up took a while.
Discouragement leads us to doubt our abilities, and perhaps more significantly, when we feel discouraged, we lack the vigor and energy to excel.
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5 ways to stop feeling discouraged
Sometimes discouragement comes from a negative talk from within; other times, it may come from an external source, a friend, colleague, or manager.
Here are a few tips for putting your shield up to avoid feeling discouraged.
1. Avoid burnout
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that when I give my all to something, I am particularly sensitive if my efforts are not acknowledged, let alone encouraged. This lack of encouragement can easily discourage me, and if I try to keep up the same productivity, it can leave me feeling burnt out.
I did a daily vegan-centered article a year ago to coincide with January. My articles didn’t garner the readership and engagement I had hoped. And so my motivation plummeted, and after the month, the impact of writer burnout created a void in my writing output for a few months.
A simple way to mitigate this is to take time away from whatever may cause burnout.
2. Communicate effectively
Sometimes our sense of discouragement is down to communication. We may have produced a piece of work that merits feedback. Or perhaps we haven’t been given set criteria and parameters for what’s expected of us.
It’s not that I seek reassurance or praise, but to continue plugging away with enthusiasm and commitment, I need to feel like I’m not shouting into a cave.
If you aren’t receiving the desired feedback, could you assert yourself and ask for it?
- “Can you check this document and confirm it fits what you had in mind.”
- “I propose to do X, Y, Z. Are you ok with this, and is there a particular aspect you want to be included.”
- “I tried a different take on the social media strategy last week; I’d love to hear your views.”
This tact will help you avoid discouragement and gain buy-in and collaborative communication with a manager.
3. Tame your impatience
Nothing worth having ever came easy.
A classic example of the waning of perseverance and commitment appears every January. New Year’s resolutions are started with promises of dedication and determination, only for 43 percent to fall by the wayside within a month.
We are living in a world of instant gratification. So much patience being a virtue, we want things now now now! And if we don’t get what we want immediately, we lose interest and become distracted by the next shiny object that catches our attention.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
4. Be open to change
It feels demoralizing to submit work for review only to have it returned covered in red pen. It’s easy to crumple into a heap as your morale evaporates from your soul. But once you are over the sting of the criticism, see if you can take this as the gift it is.
Instead of sitting on a runaway train, please take account of any suggested changes, redirect your train to get it back on track, and see how you feel when praise and encouragement come your way. Being open to change and making tweaks to your work will help you grow as an individual. It’s all part of the learning process.
Try not to take this correction personally, and you will alleviate your feelings of discouragement.
5. Focus on the journey, not the destination
While having goals and knowing what to aim for is normal, I strongly encourage you to focus on the journey, not the destination. This tact will allow you to take each day at a time and break down one big, intimidating goal into micro-sized, manageable goals that don’t seem so intimidating.
Sometimes we set ourselves ambitious and terrifying goals and immediately become discouraged. But if we focus away from the horizon and look to the path immediately before us, we will quiet our overwhelm and maintain our enthusiasm.
Remember, a mountain is climbed one step at a time. Focus on each mile marker and celebrate small micro-goals contributing to the bigger picture.
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Life is busy and chaotic; many of us live at breakneck speed and can find ourselves running out of gas at the most inconvenient times.
Keep our five tips handy to help prevent you from feeling discouraged, and hopefully, the momentum of your enthusiasm will keep pace with your task.
- Avoid burnout.
- Communicate effectively.
- Tame your impatience.
- Be open to change.
- Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Do you have any tips for avoiding the feeling of discouragement?