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When Challenges Arise, Focus on Your ‘Why’

Everyone who has achieved significant goals in their work, family or personal life has learned at some point how to put setbacks in perspective, get back up after a defeat and re-energize themselves to try again. More often than not, the first step they take in the face of challenge is a giant one backward. They back up, take in the big picture and revisit the overarching goal that drives them. They return to their why.

A challenge that feels formidable in the moment looks so much smaller when viewed in the context of your larger mission. You get some perspective. But the really powerful part about the big picture view is how it motivates and inspires. It not only reminds you of your purpose, but reignites your passion for it.

Consider using these strategies to rediscover your big “why” and get inspired to break through even the biggest challenges.

Make it personal

When progress toward your long-term initiative feels frustratingly slow, it can also help to narrow your vision. You may not have solved the entire problem yet, but you have likely made significant progress in key areas and for specific people or groups. In working to advance women leaders, for example, the broad statistics can be deflating, but seeing individual women who are thriving, growing in their careers and realizing opportunities they may not have had a decade ago is inspiring.

See frustration as feedback

There is no such thing as a smooth, continuous path to a big, bold, daring vision. When hiccups occur, remember that every encounter is simply more feedback. Every result gives you more information about what works and what doesn’t. When you apply that new knowledge and use it to revise your strategic approach, you will come out ahead.

Cultivate other leaders

Ambitious women love to accomplish important things, but sometimes we try to be Super Woman all on our own. An even more powerful approach is to nurture other leaders to join you, bring new skills and perspectives to the mix and create a powerful team that can go further faster. Leadership expert and author John Maxwell asserts that the most effective leaders magnify their impact by developing the next generation of high-level contributors to propel organizations and movements to higher performance. 

Celebrate progress

Whether it’s on a grand scale or the wins of an individual, there are always accomplishments and small steps forward we can celebrate. If we only focus on our end result, we can miss those wins along the way and all the fuel they provide for the big journey. Consider ending every day with a note in your calendar that celebrates a step toward your larger goal. Over the course of the year, that provides hundreds of moments of inspiration to turn to when needed.

Reconnect your values and your work

Staying focused on your big vision becomes even more powerful when you remember how that vision reflects your deepest values. Are you energized by discovering new knowledge, lifting others up, making a difference or breaking through barriers? When you connect what you do to your core values, you can tap into those concepts to find your greatest inspiration.

When you need a spark, return to your big vision. Your why never disappoints!

Hattie Hill is President & CEO of Women’s Foodservice Forum.

This essay was featured in the March 31st edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.