How Tough Love Can Help You Achieve Your Goals (And Why You Can’t Just Wait Around For It)

woman looking tough
Oladimeji Odunsi

If you want things to change, you need to direct some inner tough love on yourself.

It’s not always easy to look at our current situation, the facts plainly spelled out for us to examine, and realize that we aren’t anywhere close to where we want to be. Especially when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. When we feel like all the things we’re dissatisfied with in life have been done to us rather than taking responsibility for our own past decisions.

That doesn’t mean we have to be 100 percent “on” all the time, that we aren’t allowed to ever make mistakes. We all have bad days, ones when we allow ourselves to wallow. But wallowing shouldn’t ever be a perpetual state of being, should not be the way we choose to indefinitely exist. Because in order for any of us to change, we need to make moves, ones that we’re wholeheartedly committed to.

So in case you’re having some trouble buckling down and practicing that inner discipline, here’s some tough love for everyone who has gotten so used to simply complaining about the things in life they’re unhappy about. The thing you need to hear most is this: if you want things to change, you need to get off your ass and do something about it. You need to step up. That doesn’t mean trying sometimes and backing off the grind on the days you feel tired or just want to “do your own thing”. Coming across true change doesn’t mean putting in only half of your effort some of the time.

Making real, long-lasting changes which will eventually progress and benefit us has to do with genuine effort. It has to do with making a solid plan and sticking to it. It has to do with realizing that putting deadlines on your dreams are just unrealistic reasons to quit; because in reality, things take as long as they take. Not getting to where you want fast enough? Try harder. Eat, sleep, and breathe the change you wish to see. Hone whatever craft you’re trying to master. Don’t stop until you get that dream job you’ve been imagining for yourself for so long. Realize that effort isn’t always commensurate to immediate results in the short-run, that good things take time. They take effort and work around the clock, seven days a week.

But there isn’t always going to be someone next to you saying you’re doing a good job, that you need to keep going. So we need not only work on our goals, but on ourselves. And just like our goals, the changes in ourselves won’t happen right away. Our ineffective habits won’t break themselves overnight. There are going to be moments when we don’t feel good enough, when all we want to do is give up on ourselves. Moments when it will feel so tempting to resign ourselves to the way things already are, convincing ourselves that it’s okay to settle.

So in order to power through, to keep that fire burning inside of us on the tough days, we need to enforce that tough love mentally inwardly on ourselves. We can’t wait for other people to do it for us. We need to train that voice inside our head to be more than just a cheerleader on the good days and an enabler on the bad ones. We need to be able to push ourselves in the right direction with only ourselves to rely on in those weak moments when all we want to do is quit.

Tough love is great when it comes from an outside source, but it’s something else entirely when it comes from within yourself. Because nothing will change unless you truly put the work in, the long hours and the sleepless nights. That tough love voice inside of you is your passion in overdrive, your ambitions presenting themselves in full force.

Sometimes you might have to force that voice. It won’t come naturally every day. We’re only human, after all. But one day you’ll wake up and it will be easier, that self-motivation. If you practice that tough love enough, it will start to become engraved in your mind’s inner workings. You’ll start to believe you can do it.

And that, the belief in yourself, in your goals and where you want to be, is half the fight. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

A writer of creative non-fiction who drinks copious amounts of coffee.

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