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5 Tips to Keep Moving Forward

A quick jump to the past

If there’s one thing I have, it’s perseverance.

I often feel like I’ve done a lot for someone my age.  I’m the type of person who doesn’t often stay in one place.  I’ve been pushed and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  And I’ve made a lot of bad choices to move and push when it would have been easier and perhaps more beneficial to just stay where I was.

I got my first adult job, within two months had my second (all while being a full-time student).  The next big job I got, I went for promotion after promotion until the company and people I was working for got in the way.  During my undergraduate studies, I worked, was on student government, started and ran an advocacy organization, met with so many administrative members that my head hurts thinking about it, and worked in one lab full-time and another half-time.  Looking back, I have no idea how I did it.  Especially since I was having trouble keeping enough money to eat and keep a roof over my head.

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Those little doubts

There’s often a voice at the back of my head that says (among other things) “You fail at everything you try to do.”

I wanted to be an artist, but was forced to leave school
I decided to make a career at retail, but kept jumping into promotions until I was put in a place where I was harassed daily
I tried freelance photography and web design only to be met with a world where “everyone” can do these things (where artists are devalued)
I tried to become a scientist, and now I feel like there’s not enough support or community there for me

Is this failure?  Is this bad luck?  Is this incompetence?  Or is this just “imposter syndrome” with a hint of self-fulfilling prophecy?

You know what?  It doesn’t matter, because I choose to keep moving forward.

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5 things to help YOU keep moving forward

So, when everything is falling apart around you, how do you keep pushing on?  Here are my top tips for persevering.

1. Find a good support network

Let’s start with the most important thing, finding a good support network.  I know a lot of people who have friends but whose friends aren’t a good support network.  My best supporters have the several things in common.  Have you found a support team with the following traits:

  • They experience or have experienced the same issue as you have in the past
  • They have overcome or moved forward despite these issues (and not succumb to negativity)
  • They have a generally positive outlook
  • But they won’t sugar coat the truth
  • They genuinely care about you (I know you think they do…but do they really?)

Here a couple of posts about this elsewhere, both from Katy Peplin.  Take a look here and here.


2. Keep an internal locus of control

Another problem I see a lot is that when bad things happen, people are quick to blame others.  Someone does badly on a test, it’s the teacher’s fault.  An experiment failed, someone must have mixed the reagent wrong.  I notice that many who push through failure are able to take responsibility, even when it ISN’T their fault.  Instead of focusing on the failure, they look past that at the solution.

Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on finding a solution.  And you can do this by believing that you have the ability to make change.

Here’s some other posts about this: Here and here

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3. Find a hobby you can excel at

No matter how good you are at accepting failure, we all need some success.  So find something that you know you can do well and make it a habit to do that.  Drawing, writing, playing that one game on your phone, hiking, biking, playing with your pet.  Dedicate time to doing this every day, and mark that as a success.


4. Write a list of your successes (even small ones)

During my senior year of undergrad, I had to take a Capstone course.  It’s them was to build a portfolio, and the teacher was a true beam of enthusiasm.  She believed that even the smallest success should be in your portfolio, no matter how inconsequential it seemed.  I felt pretty ridiculous, but I must admit.  It felt nice to see a long list of accomplishments, no matter how small.

So now I keep a list on Trello for this very reason.  Whenever I have a small success, I put it there.  And on those dark days where I’m about to give up on everything, it’s a nice thing to have.

And here are a couple useful posts about how journaling can help and keeping weekly lists.

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5. Don’t look back

I know I just told you to keep a list of your successes, but hear me out.  You should always (1) remember your successes and (2) reflect on how you could improve upon your mistakes.  BUT what I see and hear too often is people’s constant longing for things to be how they once were.  Whether that’s a “back in my day” or a “when I was a kid”, I find the extent to which people fantasize about these things to be excessive.

All that time people spend wishing things were how they used to be…I feel like that time could be used making things better right now (or in the near future).

Here’s a somewhat humorous post about nostalgia to cheer you up.

How do you keep a positive outlook?  Where do you find solace when times are tough?  What are your favorite hobbies?  What are you GREAT at?  Let me know in the comments!

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