If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl,
but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Perseverance is often said to be the thing that separates “achievers” from “aspirers.” Right now, we are all aspiring to get through the coronavirus pandemic – plus all of the other terrible things that have come at the same time.
It gets harder and harder to keep doing everything we should to stay safe and healthy as we also get more and more tired of carrying these extra burdens each day.
So what advice do professional extreme athletes have to offer about building endurance and perseverance in the face of pain and exhaustion? Here are 5 key strategies to help you build your perseverance muscle.
Pace Yourself: We don’t know how long this period of uncertainty and instabillity is going to last – so don’t attack each new challenge at full speed and learn to manage your own expectations. Acknowledge that what used to be quick and easy is probably going to be harder and take longer now. Build a little extra time into your expectations so you don’t always feeling pressured to catch up. Remember, everyone is experiencing the same pressures and those who make it through in the best are choosing to battle real challenges – not self-inflicted expectations that make everything worse.
Always Keep a Little in Reserve: Don’t let yourself get so run down you have nothing left to get through whatever comes next. Sleep is the most critical reserve strategy – prioritize it! Then schedule in mini-vacations into your day that give yourself a time away from things and people that require extra attention. Mini-vacations can be a 5 minute break to watch cat videos, searching for your dream house on Zillow, or stretching while you make a cup of tea. Breaks are important, just remember they are a bridge to fuel a reserve, not a way to avoid dealing with the day’s challenges.
Set Mini-Goals: How many steps does it take to take out the trash? Count them off and finish the task. Can’t find the motivation to finish the laundry – set micro goals to fold 3 items, then another 3, then another 3 until it’s done. Breaking up bigger, hard tasks into smaller ones rewards your brain with bursts of serotonin that fuel your forward momentum.
Create Structure: Routines help you get back on track when its hard to focus. They pull you back to “here and now” as the springboard for dealing with everything out of the normal. Routines also keep you moving through the toughest moments until you reach an easier one. Things like taking an extra walk each day has a built in double bonusof knowing you are making yourself stronger and changing your sight line at the same time.
Last but definitely not least, Recognize Daily Wins. There is nothing normal about this new normal. So give yourself credit for the extra work you are also doing just learning new systems as part of every day. This probably wasn’t part of your “to do” list, but you did it anyway and deserve credit for keeping on keeping on!