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How Do You Handle Discouragement?

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Has it been hard to sustain your commitment to some goals you set or projects* you put into motion since the start of the year? Have you been applying for jobs and with no response to your applications? Are you in an interview process with a potential employer, and it’s been weeks since you’ve heard from them? Perhaps you're working with a coach to explore your next “right thing” and you wish you would just know already!

Most of us start excited and a little nervous about our new projects – full of belief in the possibilities. And yet, every project has ups and downs, its turns and twists. Difficulty, unpredictability, unknowns, and disappointments are part of the whole endeavor.

I'm sure you can name when you or someone you know felt discouraged and lost heart, maybe even gave up, in the middle of an important project (I know I can*).

Something to know…There are projects


then there are PROJECTS.

The little ones like switching out your clothing for the new season might be easy to manage, but the bigger projects, like implementing a career transition, can feel like a long haul.

Since everyone gets discouraged, let’s assume you will too, what now? Dealing with discouragement depends on our ability to manage our emotions. We can all do this with practice.

Build skills for handling discouragement by practicing the following:

Use self-compassionate, affirming self-talk. project is important to you. Post your top two reasons somewhere you can see them

This tough, and so am I.
This challenge is teaching me something, but I may not know what it is until I get through it and look back.
I haven’t figured this out, yet.

📌Revisit your “why."

➸ If you haven’t done this already start now by writing down why this project is important to you. Post your top two reasons somewhere you can see them.

📌Prepare with If/Then statements.

➸ Think through the possible obstacles you might encounter as you work on a specific phase of your project. It may be something you can anticipate frot experience – a situation or a response to certain types of situations. Then, create an if/then statement. Examples:

 IF I am discouraged, THEN I will look at my list of self-compassionate self-talk and apply it to this specific situation.

IF I start to feel discouraged about how much work I have left to do, THEN I will chunk it down into smaller pieces. 

IF I crave a cigarette, THEN I will take 9 4x4 breaths.

Imagining what could go wrong is part of how we're wired to keep us 'safe' and is all about survival. Brain scientists call this thinking, "negativity bias." Here’s the kicker…it is frequently wrong! So, practice challenging what it tells you. How you overcome the feeling is by acknowledging it and doing something about it.

What are your "go-to" anti-discouragement strategies?

*My definition of a project is anything that takes two or more actions/tasks to complete. Example: cleaning out your closets is a project, within that, sorting your shoes is a task. Replying to a friend's email is a task, writing a series of newsletters is a project. Writing your resume is a project, and downloading your old one is a task. See?

Judy Garfinkel helps you clarify "what's next." Her expertise in building confidence and resilience supports personal growth and the ability to navigate career and work transitions – especially now! She also crafts bespoke resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and bios that open doors for her clients and land jobs. Judy is President of the International Coaching Federation - Connecticut Chapter, where she leads 200+ member coaches.

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