How to Overcome Discouragement and Recharge Your Motivation

Written by on September 12, 2016 in Confidence, Emotional Mastery

Overcome DiscouragementOccasional discouragement is a fact of life. If you’ve ever pursued a goal to improve your life in any way, chances are you’ve experienced what author, entrepreneur and marketing guru Seth Godin refers to as The Dip.

The dip (aka slump, stall or nose-dive) is that point when progress slows to a crawl and you feel yourself barely hanging on. The excitement you felt at the beginning is a dim memory, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel – yet.

Often this period passes with only mild discomfort that can be overcome by taking a break to rest, especially if you’ve been working really hard to achieve your desired results.

But sometimes the dip takes on a life of its own, blooming into crippling uncertainty, doubt, and discouragement. This is the point where we begin to question whether to give into the doubts and quit, or try to push through it.

When you encounter an obstacle, instead of being discouraged, instead of complaining, shift your perspective and use the obstacle as a stepping stone to achieve even greater heights! ~M. Herald

A third option, the one we’re going to focus on now, is to take a step back and use the dip as an opportunity regroup and recharge your motivation.

Be sure to grab your copy of 13 Ways to Build Resistance to Discouragement! 

Push Through Discouragement

Own Your Feelings

Pride, ego, embarrassment, perfectionism, call it what you will, but sometimes the toughest part of this challenge is admitting you are feeling discouraged, especially if you’ve followed the traditional advice of telling the world about your big, ambitious dreams and goals.

So take a deep breath, and say the words out loud … I am feeling discouraged. Once you name a negative emotion it loses its power over you.

Remember, discouraged doesn’t have to mean defeated unless you let it! Click To Tweet

Define the Problem

You can’t overcome an obstacle if you don’t understand what it is and how you feel about it.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are the results you’re getting falling short of what you hoped for, and not coming nearly as fast as you expected?
  • Are the critics getting to you, sapping your enthusiasm and energy?
  • Are you having second thoughts because it’s taking way more work than you expected?
  • Are you comparing your progress to the achievements of others?
  • Are you sabotaging your own progress with self-defeating behaviors such as negative self-talk and procrastination?
  • Are you’re feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of your goal?

Maybe your problem is something completely different, but this will help you begin exploring possibilities. When you identify the source of your discouragement then spend some time writing about it, express your anger, frustration, let it all out!

This process of defining the problem will enable you to clear mental clutter and make adjustments that will help you get back on track, recharge your motivation, and maybe even spot opportunities for improvement!

Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other. ~Seth Godin

How Do You Know if You Should Just Quit

How can you tell if you’re in a temporary slump or if you should just quit? I’ll make it easy for you – never, ever quit just because you are feeling discouraged because that can quickly become a self-defeating habit.

This doesn’t mean that you should mindlessly pursue a goal that you are not fully committed to.

People set goals for all kinds of reasons, in response to the expectations of others or because they believe they should, and sometimes a goal sounds good in the beginning, but we underestimate how much time and effort it’s going to take and aren’t sure we want it badly enough to continue for the long-haul.

Taking the time to become clear about why pursuing a goal is or isn’t right for you can be a tremendous learning opportunity that will help you to build confidence, and set better goals with a greater chance for success in the future.

Closing thoughts …

While none of us can’t tell with any certainty what the future will bring, one thing you can be assured of is that if you don’t face discouragement head on when it first takes hold, it will slowly but surely claim power over you and with each new problem it will become easier and easier to give in to it.

Try to remember that moments of discouragement are very often followed by a breakthrough and an enormous sense of satisfaction for having overcome many challenges to achieve your goal.

A Gift For You!

Quick fixes serve a purpose when we’re feeling discouraged, but taking a graduated approach to developing confidence and resilience will allow you to more fully develop your inner strength and become resistant to negativity and disempowering emotions and behaviors. To download your copy of 13 Ways to Build Resistance to Discouragement simply share this post on your favorite social media channel – no email required!

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. I tell people to think of their business as if it were on the NY Stock Exchange. Will it succeed or fail? If you look at the stock charts for the most successful businesses in the world, they peak and they dip, but they keep moving forward. You need to look at a long term chart to see the growth. There are always dips, even big drops… but if the foundation is firm, the long term growth will be there. If the foundation is weak, cut your losses and move on to something that has more potential.

    I love the wise counsel you’ve given us, Marquita, and the sane advice to know when it’s right to quit something. Moving foward is not always the right thing for a business or even for a particular strategy or campaign or project within that business.
    David Merrill recently posted…Content Marketing For Professional ServicesMy Profile

    • Hey, great to see you here David! Love the Stock Exchange analogy – definitely conjures up a distinct visual. Thanks for taking the time to share, and especially for letting me know you enjoyed the post.

  2. Reba Linker

    I’ve found this to be true as well, Marquita: “Once you name a negative emotion it loses its power over you.” We add so much to our own burdens by trying to suppress and repress our actual experience, don’t we?
    Reba Linker recently posted…This Manifesting Course Might Not Be Right for YouMy Profile

  3. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You have revealed how to stand up to discouragement. I do agree that admitting your problem is the first step to a solution.

    I also agree that finding out about the issue shifts you from whining to finding a solution and you are right that giving up is a No-No

    Thanks for this post. Take Care

  4. Ravi Chahar

    Hey Marquita,

    Life has ups and downs and we all get discouraged at a certain time. It’s important to know the problem and fight with it.

    Whether it’s about procrastination or something else. The main thing is to define it.
    You have mentioned it right.
    Glad to read this.

    Have a great day.
    Ravi Chahar recently posted…How To Add Copyright In WordPress Theme For Ownership?My Profile

  5. Mandy Allen

    Hi Marquita,

    It’s hard sometimes to know when to change tack and get on another path. As you rightly say, sometimes it’s just a dip. I’m great at throwing in the towel at the first hurdle! I guess some people are just like that. In my life I expect everything to go swimmingly, because it usually does. I’m very humbled by it and grateful that I don’t have to struggle constantly. I feel sad for those who do seem to struggle with everything. I do know, however, that when I am in a dip it is a very uncomfortable place to be.

    Enjoy the journey!

  6. Emi says:

    Hi Marquita,
    What a great subject! I found that the more you are aware of it, the faster you can switch your thoughts and activities and get back to your “Why?”
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Lesly Federici

    Hi Marquita,
    One thing I like to do is change the music I listen to and shake my body. Often it’s a state of mind that can be shifted. It takes practice because depending on the situation it can be challenging to get yourself out of a “funk”. NLP (neroliguistic programming) can tech you some very useful tools for shifting mindsets, and not staying “stuck” or unmotivated for a period of time. Wonderful article..

  8. Sushmita

    We all experience ‘the Dip’ I enjoy reading motivational posts they help me go ahead and the fire of desire and passion within receives the needed fuel. The dips we experience also in some way or the other help & teach us in some way or the other.
    I like you mentioning naming the issue to take it’s power away because one we are aware of the issue we can work on it to overcome
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. William says:

    I read this just in time! I think I always read your posts at the right time. I just recently had some discouraging news, I did not do anything as far as personal goals for the past week. Reading this helped me get the motivation i need. Thank you.
    William recently posted…Learning to Think Before ActingMy Profile

  10. Vatsala Shukla

    Good old Seth Godin, Marquita, the guy knows EVERYTHING! (You can easily deduce that I’m a fan of his. 😉 )

    Normally when I experience a dip, its fatigue speaking and my brain simply doesn’t work which means I need to step away from the task or project for a while.

    It’s the dump when the gut is telling me that it’s time to let go of a project and I have to accept it, that is often difficult because as creative entrepreneurs, we put so much of ourselves into our work. It was difficult the first time but now I’m used to doing assessments along the project like milestones and if the hole has turned square from round, I know the peg won’t fit and let it go.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Internal Controls: To catch Thieves You need to think like oneMy Profile

    • Well said Vatsala. As a writer, I really used to (okay so sometimes still) struggle to let go of a piece because I keep rewriting and rewriting. But eventually you realize that if you don’t let go no one will ever have a chance to read the thing! Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  11. William Rusho

    As for me, in almost everything I do, sometimes I need to do what I refer to as “Drop back and punt”
    It is hard to maintain concentration sometimes, for me it can be mental, as in writing, or physical as in training for wrestling. The only things that helps me is to stop doing it, for a small bit of time, do something fun. When I go back to do it, I seem to be excited and rejuvenated. Even personal relationships, sometimes I need just to go spend some time in the woods, just to catch my breath. Thanks for sharing.

  12. As a big fan of all things Seth Godin, I see how most of us do have ‘a dip of discouragement’ from time to time, Marquita. While I was reading this, I was curious if I feel discouragement or disappointment when things slow down or when things seem to be moving in their own direction. I do stop and reassess what is or isn’t working and then redirect my efforts. Sometimes I also question if the lack of flow, or things happening the way I see they ‘should’, is a sign to move on to something new. Thanks for the outstanding tips on how to step back and objectively see the situation for what it is and then to plan our next actions from there!
    Beverley Golden recently posted…Dietary Fat: Friend or Foe to Our Health?My Profile

  13. Kimba

    I was recently working with a team at a big event. I observed the director of the group stressing out over every single detail; perfectionism on overload. Her team around her was not reacting well, but she couldn’t see it. One of the things I love about midlife is that I’ve come to understand that putting yourself through those perfectionism hoops is not just unhealthy, it can alienate the people around you. Hard lesson to learn sometimes, and it can be easy to back peddle in stressful situations.
    Kimba recently posted…The Wisdom of the ClawMy Profile

  14. Donna Janke

    I really needed this post now. I don’t think my “dip” has taken a life of its own yet (and hopefully never will). I will use your steps to push through.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Mass Appeal: Concerts for the Public by the PublicMy Profile

  15. Paula

    Key is to admit and identify the problem. I find living in the moment keeps away alot of the negativity we can fall into. I also realized how totally imperfect I am and how awesomely created and loved I am despite my littleness.
    St. Theresa the Little Flower inspired me.
    Paula recently posted…Tropical Paradise, Life On A Blog Island with No Traffic?My Profile

  16. Mark

    First of all what an incredibly inspiring and educational post M!

    And I really love your image for this post as well!

    I’ve often wondered how my hand looked, as I held on for dear life, fighting off those doubt gremlins!LOL!

    And I tweeted your insightful quote as well!

    And I too am also a big fan of Seth Godin!

    The guy just overflows with real world wisdom, insights and proven marketing and business building gems.

    One thing is for sure, it’s not if you’re going to experience the dips!LOL!

    It’s what will you do, to effectively recover and keep moving forward!

    Thank goodness, you are arming us with the proper emotional tools, in order to do so!
    Mark recently posted…How To Avoid A Major Marketing Mistake Tons Of Extremely Savvy Entrepreneurs Make!My Profile

    • Thank you Mark, always appreciate your kind words. 🙂 Seth is terrific, isn’t he? I’d love to be able to take one of his courses in person one day! So glad you found value in the post, and thank you for sharing!

  17. I have certainly experienced “dips” in my life. Who hasn’t? As you point out, it’s important to examine the goal you’ve set for yourself. Is it realistic? Can you can draw on all the resources you need to reach you goal? In my case, when I had my first business, my problem was that my goal, or business model, was fuzzy. I waited way too long to acknowledge that and, as a result, suffered the financial consequences.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…So-called “Soft Skills” in High Demand – for NowMy Profile

    • Oh yeah, fuzzy business plans (and goals) is a big problem, but one that is quite common. Several months ago I worked with a group to develop personal self-care plans and one of the biggest challenges the participants had was creating a clear statement defining their intention. Saying “I want more time for me” is one thing, but actually describing what that will look like is much tougher than most people are prepared for. Thanks for sharing Jeannette!

  18. Ken Dowell

    I thought it interesting that you pointed out the first step in the process of dealing with discouragement is to admit that you’re discouraged. I think that for many ambitious people their natural instinct is to hide and deny that they are in fact discouraged. If you pretend long enough that you’re not discouraged, does that become a self-fulfilling prophecy? I would guess that it would just make the inevitable crash more crushing.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…Will the Techies Save Our Cities?My Profile

    • I hear you Ken, and I suppose to some degree denial could fall under the ‘Fake it till you make it’ strategy, but I think that approach works better for confidence building than dealing with self-doubt which has a nasty way of expanding and taking on a life of its own. Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  19. Erica says:

    Great points on dealing with discouragement. And as I read your post, I thought of how this is needed advice for so many of my clients. Because weight loss almost never happens the way and at the speed one wants it to.

    I love how you say to not make a habit of quitting. I always tell myself what a shame it would be if I quit the very moment before my breakthrough when I’m feeling discouraged. And that is what usually keeps me going.
    Erica recently posted…The Best Water Filter for the Cleanest WaterMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the article Erica. I think it helps to understand that every single one of us experiences self-doubt and discouragement at some time. What sets us apart is how we choose to handle it. 🙂

  20. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! I do think I will go with the third option, the one we’re going to focus on now, is to take a step back and use the dip as an opportunity regroup and recharge your motivation.

    Awesome advice as always.
    Thanks for sharing
    Chery :))

  21. Lydia Brown

    Overcoming obstacles I learned feel like a natural high. I can pretty much shake stuff over on my own. However, years ago when I got stuck I could stay there for days and weeks and the negative self-talk was deep. Then I read Iyanla Vanzant’s “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up,” and “Value in the Valley.” No cure here just the ability to redirect some days faster than others. Great post Marquita Thank you
    Lydia Brown recently posted…How to Support Your Loved One Recovering From AddictionMy Profile

    • I’m familiar with Lyanla’s writing, and love her inspiring quotations. “Redirect” is a great word to describe this process Lydia, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Always appreciated!

  22. Yes, I totally agree! Sometimes it’s just best to sit back and take a deep breath, and admit it’s not going so good. And not beat yourself up for it, since everyone has bad days and slumps and downturns. If it’s possible to take a day off, switch to a new project, or even just go for a drive, it can really help with getting new perspective.
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…Leave it to a 2016 Mazda MX-5 GS to get me all lawless and reprobate.My Profile

    • Great point Krystyna! I find that switching my attention, and looking at things from a different perspective, really helps me to stay fresh with a project and avoid slipping into a dip. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  23. Jeri

    I’ve definitely been in a prolonged dip when it comes to creative endeavors, not just with writing but with pursuing music, dance, and photography. The things that make me feel like I’m alive and all that jazz. It’s easy to be a hard worker and get your job done, but then the job becomes your life. I think fear of failure plays a huge role and that often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Jeri recently posted…#WriteTip: How to Write a Submissions Cover LetterMy Profile

    • No question that putting things off becomes a habit Jeri, and one that can continue for months if not years if we fail to recognize it for what it is. Just takes one step in the right direction to get momentum going. Hint, hint. 🙂

  24. Great post and excellent advice. I love the name “dip” to describe the occasional slumps life sends our way, it also implies there will eventually be a rise.

  25. Thx for this terrific post, Marty. I have a friend who says, “There are no obstacles; only opportunities.” She believes that all challenges should be viewed as opportunities to learn and grow. That kind of optimism is contagious, because many of us who know her have taken on the same approach. Thx for sharing your own words of motivation.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…increasing your chocolate knowledgeMy Profile

  26. Dave

    Great motivation as usual, Marty! I really loved the analogy about using “obstacles” as a stepping stone to reach even greater heights. Visualizing the view from atop a boulder, shifting perspective from something that is usually a hindrance into something that can help us is really empowering. Thanks, as always, for sharing such useful and inspiring content 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Come AliveMy Profile

    • Glad you liked the quote Dave … I think I was inspired by the fact that I’m now surrounded by trees and boulders. I’ve been meaning to explore some of the trails in the woods behind my place, but then yesterday I heard some weird howling out there and for some reason it made me think of Stephen King. I really must get a handle on my imagination!

  27. Hi Marquita, Very nice article. As I am currently in a dip I have saved it to read a little later.

  28. Sabrina Quairoli

    Thank you for sharing this today. I really needed it. It reminded me to write things down and see what comes on paper to help clear my mind of the discouragement.

  29. I start to wonder if you’re a mind reader! Was just experiencing a bit of self-doubt last weekend. I shook myself out of pretty quickly, but ew to those moments of wondering if I was doing the right thing.

    I particularly like the idea of naming the issue. What a great way to take away it’s power!
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Memorial of Flight 93 Fifteen Years After 9/11My Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the post RoseMary. Fortunately, most occasions when we’re hit with doubts can be overcome pretty quickly. It’s when we’re truly testing ourselves to step outside our little zone of ‘comfort’ that we’re far more likely to get stalled. Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

  30. Phoenicia

    I had this very conversation with a friend last week. We discussed owning our feelings, acknowledging when we feel bad about a situation and identifying solutions if possible. We will feel discouragement at times in our life but there is room to recognise this and move on. I am learning to maintain joy even when everything is not going the way I had hoped.
    Phoenicia recently posted…2016: Planning and ReflectingMy Profile

    • Good for you Phoenicia! Sounds like you are in a good place now so that you can quickly deflect signs of discouragement before it takes hold. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  31. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I must have dipped a million times in my life but have bounced back. For me, it was negative self talk. I had to learn not to do that. Now, when I “dip” I can catch myself and replace the negative with positive.

    Great post as usual!

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Use Your Blogging Skills To Make Money OnlineMy Profile

    • Well, I’m going to indulge in a little word-play here and say that rather than bouncing back, you bounced forward because knowing you as I do I’m guessing that you didn’t just go back to where you were before you dipped, but came out stronger than ever and raring to go. Thanks for sharing Donna. 🙂

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