“Just keep going. You’re gonna make it.”

That was my mantra last week, which I repeated at least 3,389 times. I was so sick and stressed that finding a positive thought seemed like cleaning the Augean Stables. No way I was going to meet my deadlines/continue living.

Five years ago I would’ve thrown in the towel and wallowed in bed for a week. But this year, I had a game plan.

I managed to get through a week of hell with my biggest career achievement yet—just got contributor of the month at a major magazine I work for—and I still had the energy to play a beach volleyball tournament on the weekend. (Insert fist pump and slight pelvic thrust.)

Here are three things that made the difference for me, and that you can use to weather the toughest storms life sends your way:


Last week there were several moments where I could feel negativity weighing down like an acme-sized anvil, just begging me to choose the easy, self-defeating thoughts. But my goals kept me strong. They gave me the incentive to find the one positive thought when I needed it most, and a reason to work harder when I felt like being weak.

My goals reminded me that life didn’t stop when I felt like sh*t, and that I could still put one foot in front of the other if I wanted to. And seeing them written down on paper inspired me to act where I otherwise would’ve felt sorry for myself.

Normally I have 8-10 priority goals for my usual energetic self. But I cut myself a break this time and homed in on just three tasks that would make for a worthwhile effort. Just three. And the day I felt worst I just picked one! But as long as I was making progress and working on some goals, I still felt a sense of momentum. And that made all the difference for me mentally.


Hell has a funny way of erasing every good thing that’s ever happened to you. But don’t worry—it’s only an illusion. There’s still a ton of things to be grateful for. You just have to work a little harder, though.

Normally I do my gratitude in bed first thing upon waking. Uh-uh. That didn’t cut it during my hell week: the dark cloud hovered over my head and refused to budge. So I got up earlier to do a gratitude walk, and my mission was to not come back home till I had an inspired and grateful attitude.

The movement combined with focusing on gratitude always worked, and I’d always find the attitude I was looking for within the second mile. The funny thing is that I felt even more inspired and grateful than my normal day, which, I believe, has everything to do with how hard I worked for it.

So don’t use mental clouds as an excuse to not be grateful; that won’t help you with anything. Instead, see it as an obstacle to overcome. Get competitive with yourself! Challenge yourself to take charge of your attitude.

Once you accept that challenge, you’ll find yourself accomplishing everything you want to and more despite how bad you may feel.


Technically speaking, we shouldn’t even be here. Anti matter should have destroyed all matter when the universe began. The earth could’ve been a hair closer to the sun and scorched, or a bit farther from Jupiter and smashed to smithereens by a million comets. All the cataclysms that threatened our species with extinction might’ve done us in. But, by grace, you and I are still here.

While going through hell, I thought of all the times I should’ve gone to jail, and all the little miracles that kept me on a path where I can be useful to other people. It helped bring things into perspective: this round of hell wasn’t my first rodeo.

I’ve been delivered through my trials by a benevolent guiding hand that is always at work; even when I can’t see it in action. Recognizing the grace that has shaped my life helped me to have greater faith in the grace that would bring me through my rough moments ahead.

So if you’re going through hell, count on grace. Remind yourself that even though it seems bad now, you’re definitely going to get through this. Write out a mantra like the one I used, and repeat it every time you feel hopeless. You will get through this.


Winston Churchill said it well—“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Stopping doesn’t make sense! So keep your goals in front of you. Fight for gratitude and work for an inspired attitude. And when things seem bleakest, remind yourself of the grace that has always gotten you through.

Need encouragement and accountability to overcome your current struggles? Check out my coaching!

Originally published at millennialsuccess.io


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist, Fitbit.com, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!