Staying Motivated During Challenging Times

Today’s story begins in the middle of a spin class. The point in time where you feel like giving up the most.

Because the middle is always the hardest. Whether it be the middle of a semester, the middle of a week, or the middle of a pandemic.

It was thirty minutes into class, and we had finished a tough uphill climb. I wanted to celebrate how far we had come, so I began clapping and cheering.

Despite my excitement, my instructor gave me a curious look and said: “Why are you clapping Andrea? We are far from being done.”

She was right. We still had a significant amount of time left in our workout. But I wasn’t clapping because we were finished. I was clapping because we had hit the wall and survived. I was clapping to energize.

Cheering in the Middle

A cheering strategy that I often use in my own classroom. Students are geared up at the start of the semester and pumped up at the end. It’s in the middle that their commitment starts to falter.

This is when I clap wholeheartedly simply because students show up to class. Both in person and online. A fun gesture underscoring how much I value their commitment to education. And they love it!

Small Gestures Energize

This year I am reminded how small gestures energize big time. Be it a high five. A wide smile. A kind word. Or calling a student by name.

Because beginnings have their own ticker parades. And endings take care of themselves.

It’s in the middle of a challenge where we need positive energy the most.

Applying these principles in your life

  1. Celebrate small wins throughout the day. Keep track with post it notes.
  2. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of pivotal wins and achievements.
  3. Take frequent dance breaks in unexpected places.
  4. Clap and cheer when family members arrive home from work.
  5. Don’t be afraid to stand out. You may be the pick me up a stranger needs to keep going and not give up.

Your Turn

  • How do you stay motivated during challenging times?
  • What keeps you going when you hit “the wall”?

Endurance multiplies when shared

Staying Motivated During Challenging Times first appeared in my psychology column for The Drive Magazine ™️

33 thoughts on “Staying Motivated During Challenging Times

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  1. Love your opening thought. I think I have intrinsic belief that there is purpose, even if I can’t always articulate it. It amazes me how every time I hit a wall – and retreat to bed – I awake with a list of things to accomplish despite myself. Makes me think of my father, who would always throw back the curtains and exclaim: “Rise and shine! The world wants you for a sunbeam!”

    1. Your Dad had me at hello! ☀️

      And given our frequent conversations about dreams, I have a feeling that you have other worldly visitors during your sleep. Reminding you of that purpose of yours, buried deep beneath life’s challenges. Reawakening on the pages that you share.

      Thank you VJ. Your Dad is now shining on me too 💛

  2. I love this. The middle is hard. Through my faith, and a good dose of nature, I try to stay motivated through encouraging others.

    I’m gentle with myself more than I used to be. I find giving myself the kindness and motivating language, as I give to others, is allowing me more grace to grow. Sadly, I’ve lowered expectations of others and have kept mine in the will meant for me.

    I appreciate your wisdom and writing so much.

    1. Nature is the ultimate cure, isn’t it?

      The quote on you shared on your biography / about me page says it all:

      “Going to the woods is going home.”

      I can relate to this on so many levels. When I feel like giving up, the ultimate cure is turning to the one place that remains constant for all of us — the great outdoors.

      Thank you for taking the time to share what keeps you going K.L.

      Love knowing you are giving yourself the gift of compassion, as you did for your “little dreamers” in your classroom, for all those years.

      Dreams pull us forward ✨

      1. Dr. Andrea,
        Thank you for this beautiful response. It touched my heart that you took the time to read my page~and follow me. Today was another day of giving myself grace. I, like most, have challenges. Yes, just like the students, I’ll give myself compassion. I appreciate you so much. Stay blessed and healthy as you provide so much for so many.
        Kind regards,
        Karla 💛🤗

  3. OMG – this is definitely an aha moment for me and another “programming” revelation.

    In high school, as a cheerleader, I cheered the hardest for the boys’ varsity football and basketball team players when it looked like the teams were about to lose the game. And sometimes, we’d rally them to a win. But we always reserved cheering for the boys. We never cheered for the girls’ sports teams.

    Even as competition cheerleaders, our coach, friends, and family were cheering us on but never an organized pep squad. But I feel your message deep in my heart. I see it as an opportunity to change my behavior. 💗

    It is so important to reach down in our reserves to celebrate every step – we absolutely need to cheer ourselves on to win. Thank you for the encouragement!

    1. MEL ‼️ your example of this concept JUMPS OFF THE PAGE 💯

      I so appreciate how you would cheer when the teams were about to LOSE because that is exactly when we need to dig deep and hold each other up.

      And how crazy was it that only the boys were cheered for back then.

      Which probably explains why have been making up for lost time since then!


      WITH YOU

      “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”


  4. This is so uplifting and true. We start out with a head full of steam and enthusiasm and right there in the middle of our journey that energy starts to wane and we start to focus on how much further we have to go. I love the idea of cheering for ourselves and others to get fired up and keep moving forward. Cheering you on whatever point you are in your day, Andrea 👏👏👏

    1. I can almost hear YOUR CHEER jump off the page !!

      Thank you Syl, for this energetic enthusiastic comment.

      It’s the feeling I get every time we interact here and on your blog:


      Have the most wonderful weekend my friend!

      Andrea ☀️ 💃

      1. You are so very welcome. I have to turn up the volume so the reverberation can be felt.

        Your positive energy and perspective is highly contagious.

        Thank you for believing in me and I believe in you 💯%

        Thank you for sending me in the right direction towards a wonderful weekend and sending you the same vibes, friend!

        Syl 🌞 🦁

  5. Yes, it is short of the midpoint when most tend to get disheartened.This is the time for a inspirational nudge which will take them the other side of the midpoint. A feel that they are closer to the end line than the start point . It is like climbing up s hill. One feels like giving up before reaching the top . This is when the cramps n pains catch up. This is the time to have the mind focussed on the top. For once you are at the top then it’s a matter of going down which is far easier .
    Stay blessed Dr Andrea and keep inspiring.

    1. Jas, you have the best analogies!

      And as an Human Resources Professional with years of experience — you know what it takes to help people keep climbing.

      Feeling your blessings from India to Canada, 11,462 km away.

      🙏 ✨

  6. I really like the tips from this post – I cheer my young daughters and give them high fives when they’ve achieved something, it makes sense we should do this with adults.

    Also during many a gym session I’ve done something similar half way clapping myself when I’ve completed a challenging set – especially one I’ve doubted I can finish as planned.

    My personal Tip on staying motivated during challenging times it being will to take a step back, rest, have a night off. That way when I return to the problem I return to it feeling fresh.

    1. I love that you clap for yourself too!

      I explain to students that CLAPPING is a simple and fun way to MOVE ENERGY through both the room, and through ourselves.

      Add in some high fives and everyone is flying HIGH. Adults included!

      Psychology homework for you this weekend James:
      High five your wife, when she least expects it. And watch the reaction. It’s sure to be good.

      And I so get the step back rest and take a night off.
      I built the idea of PAUSE into Emotional CPR (catch, pause, repair)

      Another simple, effective way to reserve, conserve, and regenerate emotions, motivation, and energy.

    1. Mitch:

      This is today’s reminder to clap for yourself! This very moment 👏

      It’s 1:46 on November 19 and you made it:

      1) half-way through the day and 2) half-way through the month of November.


  7. We definitely aren’t celebratory enough, where cheering and encouraging one another becomes our normal response. Where we choose to be focused on hope rather than settling for the dumps. I’m sorry your instructor missed the chance to uplift his students. Your ideas are amazing.

  8. You have an amazing knack for taking simple principles and making life-giving actions out of them, Dr. D. I not only enjoy your posts but am also inspired by them, Keep up the wonderful work. Blessings, Peter.

  9. I appreciate this post so much.

    Thanks for these tips/tools I can use to help my son deal with all the stressors of high school during a pandemic.

    The middle of the challenge…Just thanks.

    1. High school was tough when we were young! So many ups and downs in adolescence. Add in a pandemic — a recipe for uncertainty + the opportunity to build resilience and inner strength like never before.

      Love knowing the message hit home for your son. And I hope it does for you to Chandra Lynn. You deserve your love and kindness, as much as you give to everyone else.

      I have read your blog and I am mesmerized by your words. Grateful for your grace and wisdom.

      Have a wonderful Sunday!

    1. I love how you included the word cycle Ali! Because when we reflect back on the entirety of our lives, we are always in process. Moving through different stages and cycles of our lives. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. Your words encourage me!

  10. I don’t know if you remember me. You were my psychology professor for educational psychology in the technological studies program at teachers college. One of your current students shared your psychology blog with me. Hope you are well! Michele Giles

    1. How wonderful to hear from you Michele!

      I don’t remember all my students, but I do remember that I really enjoyed teaching at the university from 2002 until 2016 at the teacher’s college.

      Staying motivated during challenging times continues to be key for educators. Teacher enthusiasm creates a domino effect and our students are always watching.

      Check back in anytime and let me know how it goes!

      Wishing you a relaxing holiday before we all gear up for potentially another online semester.

      Dr. D 📕❤️

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