5 Habits to Help Survive Tough Times

Whatever failure a man or woman has to overcome, they survey the damage done and inevitably one of the first questions asked is, ‘What now?’   The road to recovery from hard times is a long and patient one.  While the first step is stopping the behavior that got you in the mess you are in, “what now” is usually the next question.

People need a focus when they are putting their lives back together. Let’s face it – recovering from things like divorce, addiction, business failure or anything that involves major life change is overwhelming.   When you don’t know what to do – do what is absolutely necessary to survive. 

Without a narrowed focus, emotions like guilt, anger and regret can seep in and cause you to lose sight of the things that really need your attention.  How do you survive?  By investing in habits that will lead to immediate growth in your life!

5 habits to help you survive where you are:

These five habits will always keep you focused and always keep your mind present on the things you need to do.  When you lack direction and ask ‘what now’, you invest in these five habits.  Many times on your way back you will be distracted by others success and start to feel sorry for yourself and get overwhelmed or get angry at where you are.  These five habits are your standards for success after immediate failure and hard times.

#1: Relationships

It is very likely, if not certain, that you’re choices have affected the closest relationships around you.  When it comes bad choices, no one is immune from consequences.  Spouse, parents, children or friends have been affected by a set of decisions you have made.  While you can’t undo the bad things done, you have to stop the bleeding from the wounds you created.  The only way to do that is to spend time and effort in a defenseless position, out of love and empathy towards those you care the most about.  Start with God, then, if you have any, your children.  Focus on your spouse. Then examine your parents and/or friends that you have let down and begin to build the bridges where it is possible.

Do what is necessary…invest in and spend time with the ones that you love the most.

#2: Your Health

Going through tough times created by poor decisions is hard enough.  Being out of shape, sick and unhealthy compounds all the problems we have. Stress is the culprit here.  Constant worrying.  Guilt.  Trying to hold it together.  The tears.  The anger.  Stress does a number on the body.  It usually leads to destructive habits.

Destructive habits

Stress can cause you to eat – not to fill your stomach – but to feel voids in your life.  Be    careful.  Eating under stress can add the pounds and problems to your life quickly! If you drink alcohol – you may tend to drink more during these times.  Drinking too much to relieve stress usually leads to problems.  Lack of sleep is another thing that affects health and triggers weight gain.  All of these things – our diet, sleep and habits are affected by stress.  When we gain weight or become unhealthy we feel bad about ourselves.  These feelings can trigger emotions of guilt or worthlessness and depression and inhibit us from moving forward in life.  It is hard enough to make a comeback after failure – but an unhealthy body can make it so much harder.  This isn’t about your appearance.  It’s about how you feel about yourself.  Feel healthy = look healthy.  If your diet consists of fast food and the last time you worked out was walking to your car in a hurry- you probably don’t feel real good about yourself health-wise.

  1. Focus on what you put in your body.  Whether its food or drink- have a goal to become healthier on your come back from hard times.
  2. Move your body.  Whatever that means for you.  Lift weights.  Walk.  Run.  Swim. Bike.  Everyone has an opinion on what works best, but to get healthy, exercise at least 30 minutes a days,  4-5 days a week and be amazed at how good you start to feel.
  3. Be careful on how you relieve stress.  Make sure it is healthy.

#3: Work – have a job and be fully present in it.

I have helped countless drug addicts who lost their job.  They had a good job prior to their last fall.  Now they are clean and are ready to move ahead.  The problem is – they can’t find a good job.  And most act surprised! Too many people have told me, “I can’t find anything worthwhile.” Weeks later they still aren’t working.  What do you think is about to happen? Yeah – relapse.

I lost my job – my entire career – as a result of my own issues.  Maybe you are fortunate enough to where your current job was not affected, but you would have to be Superman/woman for the stress of what you went through to not affect your focus.  Be present in your job – physically and mentally.  Don’t allow the stress or worries of what you are going through ruin the income you have.  And don’t be foolish enough to think you can cut corners and still hold on to your job.  You want to redeem your story right?  You want a better you with more purpose and more meaning?  Then understand that how you perform your current job is so important in the process.

If you lost your job and are looking for one – don’t be too picky.  If the best you can do is the worst you can imagine – take it – work hard and in two-three years who knows – you may get promoted.  Invest yourself into your current career and see what God does.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

#4: Have Fun

Fighting for your life back can be exhausting.  Sometimes broken world people feel guilty for enjoying themselves.   Don’t.  Build some time in every week, even if only a couple of hours, to do something that energizes you and puts a smile on your face.  Living hard and in sin will age you.  Don’t make the mistake of being so serious about your life that you forget to enjoy it.  One of my biggest problems in my 20’s and early 30’s was that I took myself too serious.  In your effort to rebuild your life, stop and smell the roses.  Take the hike.  Schedule a vacation.  Enjoy your Saturday or Sunday doing something that makes you feel younger than you are.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old.  We grow old because we stop playing.”

#5: Routine 

“Habit is the beneficent harness of routine which enables silly men to live respectfully and unhappy men to live calmly.” George Elliot

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.  This is even truer when you are fresh off the heels of unmitigated disaster as result of your own poor choices.  Structure is a great way of organizing your life so that it makes sense to you.  When I was recovering from my own failure it didn’t take much to remind me of the situation I was in.  Early on, I relied on motivation or inspiration to get me moving towards the things I knew were important to me.  But then my guilt or regret would hit me and I felt like a complete failure, unworthy to have any impact in my children’s lives or the courage to take the steps necessary to put my life back together.

Routine helps to remove the need for inspiration all of the time.  A routine takes away having to will or motivate yourself to do something.  That is why having a routine to accomplish goals is much easier than relying on your mood of the day.  Of course, when establishing a routine, you do have to will and motivate yourself to get stick the routine.  But once the routine is set, it is on autopilot and the need for constant willpower and motivation is no longer necessary.  Like an athlete who sets aside time for training, fight for what is important to you by scheduling it.  Plan your day and week to focus on what is most important:  relationships (with God, spouse, children friends), work, your health and time to relax and have fun!   

Let me warn you though.  These habits require effort and you will have to work on them in spite of the emotions you will deal with on a daily basis.  That is why they are practical but not easy to carry out.  This isn’t glorious and this isn’t sexy – and that’s why so many run from it.  In order to stop the bleeding it requires a constant change in bandages and you will have to circle back to these things over and over again to make sure they remain steadfast as top priorities in your life.



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