How to Motivate Yourself to Keep Going When Things Get Hard

Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living with 0 Comments

By Joshua Johnson | Tiny Buddha

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

My father was an amazing man. I’m sure most sons think that about their fathers, but it’s a belief held by more than just myself. I’m not saying he was a great father, but he was a great man.


He was a Vietnam veteran, a carpenter, and a social paragon in the small town I grew up in. Our neighbors declared him the “Mayor of Bluebank” (the road he lived on.) His funeral was one of the most attended events that our small town in Kentucky had ever held.

Dad believed in working hard, and, true to his word, his health began to sharply decline after having a lung removed (the unfortunate “cure” to lung cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure). He passed away on Veteran’s Day, 2012. A cruel twist of irony.

I had the pleasure of working with my father on many projects, from building homes to cutting staves at a sawmill. I was fortunate to learn what a real work ethic looks like by working with Dad.

When Things Seem Impossible

Even though Dad isn’t here to give me advice, I still ask myself what he would do when I’m faced with something that seems impossible.

“I feel too tired to work today…”


“Where will I find energy to tackle this project?”

“I don’t know where to start…”

Everyone faces situations that seem impossible at times. It’s an unfortunate lack of grit and resilience that’s common to my generation.

Luckily, I have one invaluable piece of advice that I managed to get from my father before he passed away.

Advice on Working Hard

When I was in my late teens and doing irresponsible crap, I once asked my father how he worked so hard. He enjoyed socializing on the weekends, but he seemed to enjoy working his butt off just as much (even with the occasional hangover.) I didn’t understand it.

His response stuck with me. He smiled and told me, “Stop asking how I work so hard, son. Ask me why.” His response was rhetorical; he didn’t want me to actually ask him “why.” His point was that the reason he worked was how he found the energy to work.

Dad’s wisdom didn’t quite click with me until my son was born. I’d always had what I considered an inherited strong work ethic, but it wasn’t truly tested until I was kept up all night for weeks on end with a crying baby.

Babies, a Day Job, and a Side Gig

It can be lonely at 3:34am, especially when you’re awake with a crying newborn. The three minutes and fifty-five seconds it takes to heat four ounces of refrigerated breast milk can seem like an eternity when you want to go back to sleep.

Once I manage to get the boy fed and back to sleep, I crawl into bed to wink before the alarm goes off at 6am so I can get ready for work. Quietly.

In situations like this, energy at work can seem fleeting. You know your job performance is suffering, but you manage to grit your teeth and get back to it. Somehow. Your shift takes forty hours longer than it used to, but you push through.

To top it off, I write articles in my downtime. That means research, writing, editing, submitting, promoting, etc. Work ethic seems like a stupid thing when the beautiful Siren of Sleep is calling you.

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