I’ll be the first to tell you: the journey towards reaching your dreams won’t always be easy. As I wrote in the conclusion of my book, Dream Big!: How to Reach for Your Stars, “It may take some time, and it’s entirely possible that you might fall down, stumble, or even lose sight of your path along the way, but in the end, I have no doubt that you’re going to reach your dream, and possibly even change the world as you go.” Obstacles are inevitable, but the focus shouldn’t be on how many times you get knocked down. Rather, it should be on how many times you get back up!
Getting back up isn’t always easy. Once you cross the finish line and achieve your dreams, you’ll look back on your journey and be proud of all the hard work you put in along the way. But in order to get to this point, you need to develop the right mindset. Keep reading to hear my tips for getting back up when you’ve been knocked down!
It all boils down to mindset; your mindset has a significant impact on your daily life because it determines how you react to different situations. For example, imagine you messed up on something at work. If you have a positive mindset, you may see this as a learning opportunity and a chance to grow for next time. In contrast, if you have a negative mindset, you may feel like you’re unfit for your job and that the task at hand is impossible.
When you get knocked down, it is easier to get back up if you have that positive mindset instead of a negative one. Studies have shown that people who think more positively are generally more successful. How do you achieve such an outlook? I have four pieces of advice:
1. Take Time to Reflect
When you get knocked down, first take time to reflect. Whatever the situation may be, what worked and what didn’t? What made it so successful or unsuccessful? Ask yourself, what can you do differently next time? By developing a sense of self-awareness, you can find the faults and pitfalls in your mindset. Acknowledging where a problem originates is the first step to fixing it.
Oftentimes, after we are knocked down, we are quick to resort to negative thoughts. By putting those thoughts down on paper, you’ll get them out of your mind, and when you see them in front of you, they will be less overwhelming.
You can’t necessarily avoid negative thoughts, but when you reflect and work through them, they’ll no longer weigh you down. Instead, they’ll provide you with a sense of self-awareness that’ll improve your mindset for the future.
After you get the negative thoughts out of your head, it’s time to put positive ones in! To start the process, list your three big takeaways from the situation (I recommend writing down your responses for maximum memorization!). What did you learn? What was so valuable about that experience? Why will you be better equipped to handle a similar situation differently in the future? Flip your mindset, and you’ll flip future outcomes around!
2. Develop Mantras
Mantras are a simple and effective way to keep yourself motivated. Traditionally, mantras are short phrases and affirmations you can tell yourself to stay motivated. Even something as simple as “You can do this!” can make a sizable difference. The more positive your inner voice is, the happier your outlook will be, and these phrases will re-energize you to get back on track towards your dreams.
Here are a few of my favorite mantras:
1. You didn’t come this far to only come this far.
2. Action conquers fear.
3. Excellence does not require perfection.
4. Things don’t happen to me, they happen for me.
5. Tough times don’t last; tough people do.
3. Develop Role Models
In order to be successful, you have to fail from time to time. This is evident in the stories of successful people. Every successful person has faced setbacks and has gotten knocked down. They used the obstacles they faced as opportunities to learn and grow, and those experiences led them to the success they have today. Studies have shown that role models motivate and inspire us, and they shape our values and beliefs. Use the stories of your role models to help you change your beliefs surrounding failure!
Here are some successful people who have faced setbacks in their lives:
1. Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the famous film school the University of Southern California. Today, he’s known for directing major movies like Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and the Indiana Jones series.
2. Albert Einstein didn’t start speaking until age four or reading until age seven. He went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics and develop the theory of relativity.
3. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as a reporter in Baltimore. Now, she is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran for 25 years and was one of the highest-rated television programs of its kind, and eventually for her own television network.
Your role models don’t have to be real people, though! While not real, fictional characters can still be people to look up to. Here are some of my fictional role models and quotes from them that inspire me:
1. Elle Woods, Legally Blonde: “What, like it’s hard?”
2. Gandalf the Grey, The Lord of the Rings: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
3. Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”
Some other of my favorites include Mulan, Princess Leia, and Hermoine Granger. These role models have helped shape my life and have influenced who I am today. Having a role model will guide you on your journey and keep you motivated even when you get knocked down (especially as they’ve been there, too!).
4. Be Easy On Yourself
Lastly, when you get knocked down, remember to be easy on yourself. Setbacks and obstacles are unavoidable; everyone has to face them. Beating yourself up over something that is inevitable will only make things harder, so cut yourself some slack. Recognize that you’re only human and credit yourself for how far you’ve come.
Like I’ve said, setbacks are opportunities to learn. In these moments, you’re gaining valuable experience for the next time, and when a situation ultimately arises again, you’ll have a stronger mindset and be more prepared to face it. By practicing these things, you are building your mental toughness and setting yourself up to tackle some harmful habits standing between you and your dreams.
While failure is unavoidable, you can learn how to spare yourself the failure that is avoidable. If you overwork yourself or give yourself unachievable goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So let’s break out of harmful habits and minimize avoidable failure! When you limit the number of obstacles you face, you’ll be more prepared to take on the ones that are inevitable.
Give Yourself Time
When we work tirelessly at something only to keep running into setbacks, it is easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed. These feelings of being on edge make it harder to accomplish your goals, so you need to give yourself some time. Take a break from whatever you are tackling and give yourself space to get motivated again.
Taking a break is synonymous with self-care. Self-care is the practice of developing habits to take care of oneself. Studies have shown that it positively impacts both our physical and mental, ultimately helping us keep on track toward our goals. Taking a break is one great way to practice self-care because you’re giving yourself time to focus on your physical and mental wellbeing.
Map Out Your Goals…Realistically
On your journey to accomplish your dreams, it is essential that you map out your goals. Mapping out your goals gives you a sense of what you should be doing when so that you can stay on the path to success. However, when writing out what you hope to accomplish, it is important that you set yourself realistic standards. If you are setting unrealistic goals for yourself, you are more likely to not complete them or become discouraged. In contrast, if you set achievable goals, when you complete them, you’ll feel more motivated to keep going.
One thing I suggest doing to help with your goal planning is making a vision board. Vision boards are great tools for motivation and can help you visualize your goals and dreams. I know when I wake up each morning and see my vision board, I feel energized to start the day off strong and take strides toward my goals!
By setting realistic goals for yourself, you are making a plan to accomplish your dreams in a way that’s more sustainable (and effective!) long-term. Once you know what actions you need to take to achieve your goals, you can begin to build your community of support that will lift you up and guide you along the way.
Remember: you don’t have to get back up on your own! Your community can help you get back on your feet and provide you with the help you need to achieve your goals. Just remember: it is never a bad thing to ask for help.
The Importance of a Support System
It is nearly impossible to achieve a big dream by yourself. It truly takes a village. You’ll need a community of support to learn from and motivate you. When you are feeling down or facing a setback, your support system will be there to pick you up and get you back on track. Through everything you face, they will cheer you on and offer endless encouragement, while also holding you accountable to your dream.
Where Can You Find a Support System?
Support systems are all around you! School, work, friends, family, clubs, online groups – whatever community you are a part of, there will likely be people there who care about you and want you to succeed. In these groups, find people you can trust and who you know will have your back when you need them to. Keep them up to date with where you are on your journey! This will help keep yourself accountable, while dually gaining their continued support. Not only will they help motivate you, they’ll also be your own personal cheerleaders by your side when you cross the finish line.
Ask for Help
Don’t expect to accomplish everything without a little help! Struggling on the ACT/SAT? Hire a tutor. Training for a marathon? Hire a coach. Juggling a lot? Ask for an extension on that term paper. There are countless resources available that will help you on your journey and give you that boost you need toward success.
If you are looking for help, I encourage you to see what resources are available within your school or local library. Oftentimes, these places have set up programs to help people just like you fulfill their dreams! You can also organize groups on your own with your peers to support and collaborate with one another.
Mentorship is also a great way to find support and get the assistance you need. Programs like Mentor connect young people with mentors who will support and guide them through day-to-day challenges. Mentors offer advice and share their experiences to help young people be the best they can be. According to studies conducted by Mentor, youth with mentors are 78% more likely to participate in volunteer and extracurricular activities and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions. They are also 55% less likely to skip school or develop harmful habits.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are so many people out there who cannot wait to support you, and with their assistance, you might just be able to accomplish things you never thought were possible.
You’re On Your Way
On your journey toward achieving your dreams, getting knocked down is inevitable, but if you practice these three things, you’ll get back on track in no time. By fixing your mindset, changing your actions, and connecting with your community, you’ll get back on your feet. Moreover, the lessons you’ve learned will prepare you for future obstacles you’ll face.
If you want to learn more about getting back up and staying on track toward your goals, check out my book, Dream Big!: How to Reach for Your Stars. In this guide to accomplishing your dreams, I discuss the importance of a good mindset, the value of a supportive community, and more!