Perhaps you broke a string mid-solo at an important performance and blew a deal with an industry executive.
Or maybe you lost your job, so you’re going to have to find another way to fund your music career.
Or, perhaps, like me, through a series of unforeseen events, you find yourself carless for the first time in 12 years.
Whatever the case, we all find ourselves in trying circumstances from time to time. Not to be negative, but it’s not a matter of if but when. As cliché as this probably sounds, it doesn’t matter what you are going through. What matters is how you respond to it.
Here are seven crucial things to do when you’re trying your darndest but you’re just not winning.
1. Express Gratitude
If you’ve been led to believe that you should only be thankful in the good times, you’ve been led astray. When things are hard, that’s when you need to dig deep and deliberately find the things that you are presently thankful for.
Appreciation can shorten the amount of time you spend in struggle. Conversely, complaining and whining can extend the trying times. It can even magnify and increase your troubles.
I like to use the illustration of The Exodus, in which the Israelites were delivered from slavery and brought out into the desert under the leadership of Moses. However, the goal was never the desert; it was the Promised Land. Because of their constant complaining, the Israelites ended up elongating their stay in the desert (for 40 years!), when they could have been enjoying the richness of the Promised Land.
Don’t delay your journey to the Promised Land. Remain grateful for the testing that will eventually give you a great testimony.
2. Revisit Past Victories
If you find yourself in the midst of a trial, it’s an important time to remember your past victories.
Undoubtedly, you’ve had times when you’ve given up. You’ve had times when you took the easy way out instead of taking the high road. I know I have.
However, you’ve also had some wins. You’ve overcome. You’ve conquered. You’ve defeated. You’ve surmounted.
Take some time to remember the instances in which you mustered all of your inner resources and went after the solution instead of focusing on the problem. Let those triumphs sink into your consciousness and repeat them in your mind any time you feel discouraged.
3. Review Your Goals
Life works in mysterious ways. Most of us are too short-sighted to be able to see when a present challenge is actually moving us closer to our goals. That’s why it’s important to review your objectives when you’ve hit a snag, like a fishing lure in a pile of weeds.
I cannot say where my present circumstances are going to lead me. However, I did set the goal to lose 55 lbs. by the same time next year. Perhaps having to take transit (remember my carless comment?) and travelling on foot is actually going to bring me closer to this goal.
Moreover, it’s important to remember where you’re going and why you decided it was something you wanted to do in the first place. Don’t lose sight of your vision when challenges try to cloud it out. Your goal is important. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be encountering resistance. If it was easy, everybody would have done it.
Take some time to reaffirm what is important to you. Just because things don’t appear to be going your way right now, it doesn’t mean that your goals are unimportant. The reason you’re running up against adversity is because your dreams are worthwhile.
You also have to be careful about prematurely stopping anything that you don’t feel like doing anymore. In times of struggle, there are probably few things that actually do feel like doing. Don’t take that to mean you should quit everything!
There are many ways of accomplishing the same ends, and there may be times when you are required to redirect your energies toward a new venture. However, don’t automatically assume that you are at a crossroads; you could end up taking a detour into the fields of nowhere.
5. Council with Your Mentor
If you’re having a hard time right now, talk it over with a trusted mentor. This is no time to retreat inside and keep to yourself, even though that may be your first instinct.
If you truly trust your adviser, you shouldn’t have any trouble revealing to them what you are going through. After all, they are human just like you. They’ve had their fair share of troubles in their lifetime.
The danger of never reflecting on your life is that you may not learn anything important. Failures and mistakes always contain lessons, but unless you seek interpretation, you may not find the silver lining in the clouds.
At this juncture, it would be wise to journal and get clear on your feelings. Uncover your inner world, and understand why you feel the way you do. You’ll be amazed at the results.
If you just don’t seem to be winning in anything you’re doing, it may be a good time to reevaluate. However, as I noted in point 4, be careful not to jump to any conclusions. You may not be on the wrong path, and some testing on the path to achievement should be expected.
This is where council can be immensely useful. After all, life is meant to be lived in community. Others can often see what you can’t see when you’re in the storms of life.
With that in mind, if it’s time to move on, then it’s time to move on. Just don’t be too hasty in your decision. Ask for guidance first.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.