Just about everyone on the planet has struggled with finding meaning in life and reasons to go on living it.
The world can be incredibly unkind, and hardships can make daily existence an excruciating struggle. Things aren’t great anywhere right now, and many people are having a rough go of it.
Truth be told, I’d be concerned about anyone who didn’t question the point of living now and then. We’ve all thought about giving up on a dream because the odds seem stacked against us.
At times like this, it’s important to remember that although life is often a struggle, there are plenty of reasons to keep going, if you know where to look.
5 Reasons To Keep Going In Life
If everything seems hopeless, you may toy with the idea of exiting stage left. After all, it would, you think, be a lot easier to do that than to face the ugliness that you feel is inevitable. But you know what? Situations always seem darkest before dawn, but the sun will rise again.
1. You never know what may be around the corner.
When things go wrong and you feel like there isn’t much (if anything) left to live for, that’s usually a sign that the slate is being cleared for something much better to begin.
This isn’t blind optimism, but rather a voice of firsthand experience. I’ve been through harrowing situations that I barely survived, including stints of homelessness in dangerous locations and having what I thought would be a lifelong relationship crumble to pieces.
There were times when I lost almost all hope and resigned myself to the idea that what little life I had left would be miserable.
Things have a strange way of turning around, however, and usually when you least expect it. My life is now full of peace, love, and a startling amount of fun, thanks to surprising circumstances that fell into place at the right time.
If I hadn’t kept going when everything seemed bleak, I wouldn’t have found a level of happiness and tranquility that I never believed was possible. I had to lose everything I had at the time in order for the gifts I received to have a place to settle. It’s likely that you’ll experience something similar as well.
2. Beauty exists all around you.
You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy beautiful, soul-expanding experiences. If you’re in a city, look up the days when art galleries and museums have free hours (usually a few evenings per month). The same goes for the ballet or symphony; they often allow the public to watch rehearsal performances.
If you feel that there’s nothing around you that’s worth doing, change your location. Try a working holiday visa trip and spend a few months in a completely different country. Help out with the wine grape harvest in France, or at a beach hotel in Tanzania. A Swiss ski resort can be a fun place to work in the winter months, or you can hop down to Costa Rica if you prefer a warmer escape.
Many people get depressed when they feel stuck in a rut, but there are very few situations that can’t be changed with some adjustments. If experiencing wonder and beauty again is important to you, then make it a priority. Do what must be done for the sake of your own mental health and to rekindle the light in your own heart and soul.
Don’t make excuses or try to convince yourself that you can’t. There’s always a way.
3. There’s so much you haven’t experienced yet.
Think about all the amazing life experiences that you haven’t had yet. Then consider that if you choose to leave early, you’ll never have a chance to try them out.
Maybe you’d really love to bask on a Caribbean beach or hug elephants at a Kenyan nature reserve. Or perhaps you’d enjoy checking out the pyramids in person or sampling food from every cuisine on the planet. These may seem impossible to you right now, because of financial or health constraints, but as mentioned, you never know what tomorrow may bring.
Here’s an example: A 97-year-old WWII veteran named William Goode was surprised by a complete stranger while walking with his caregiver in the park. Isaiah Garza approached him and asked if he would like to visit Disneyland. It turned out that Mr. Goode had always wanted to go but had never had the opportunity.
That random encounter changed Mr. Goode’s life. Not only has he made a friend in Isaiah, but the TikTok star has made it a goal to help his elderly pal check off everything on his bucket list.
You may think that the thing(s) you’ve always wanted to do or try aren’t within reach, but that may only be the case right now. What’s impossible today might be attainable tomorrow or next week.
4. Your presence here means the world to many.
Think about all the people who love you and depend on you, and remember that your absence would leave a huge hole in their lives that couldn’t be filled.
Take a moment to consider how you feel about the people who are no longer in your life for one reason or another. Maybe you’ve lost touch with a friend you absolutely adore, or you’re still mourning the loss of a beloved parent or sibling.
Some people create such strong bonds with their pets that they mourn them for years after they pass on, and they can’t bear to get a new companion for fear of how much it’ll hurt when it’s their time to go.
Someone out there feels the same way about you.
Nobody could ever fill the gap that your absence would leave in their life. Friends, family members, or even complete strangers might be able to look after those currently in your care, but they don’t have your voice, touch, skills, or unique energy.
They need you. More than you realize.
5. Nobody else can help others the way that you can.
There is only one you, and the magic that flows through your hands will be unlike what anyone else has to offer.
We often hear how important it is to help others when and how we can. You may not think that you make much of an impact in the world, but your tiniest act of kindness might make an extraordinary difference to another living being.
When and if you feel like throwing in the towel, do something to help someone else in need. Check “help wanted” ads for people who are in desperate need of assistance, and if you have a skill that they could use, offer it.
Help construct a ramp to assist someone who uses a wheelchair to get into their own home more easily. Support a young person who’s leaving foster care and venturing into the world without a safety net as they muddle through accounting paperwork. Or do something as simple as spending a bit of time with an elderly neighbor so their full-time caregivers can catch a breath and go pick up some groceries.
Volunteering is a great way to rekindle one’s sense of purpose. The most precious thing we have is our time, and putting our time and effort toward helping those less fortunate than ourselves makes a massive difference in both their lives and our own.
Even if you can’t get out there and do much in the way of physical labor, there are still things you can do from home. If you like to read, you can proofread books for Project Gutenberg or record audiobooks for the visually impaired.
You can send e-cards to kids battling cancer at various hospitals, or become a virtual mentor for a school-age child in a developing country.
Anytime you find yourself thinking that you have nothing to give, or that nothing you say or do matters, know that you have the skills within you to potentially change someone else’s life for the better.
If you’re really having trouble seeing any good in the future, or you feel that you have nothing to give anyone, then please reach out for help. There are mental health helplines to call no matter where you live. Talking things through with a stranger can often help to shift your perspective.
Alternatively, find a therapist you’re comfortable with. Then work with them to not only determine why you’re feeling this way, but how to move forward from here.
They can also request bloodwork and such from your primary caregiver. Quite often, nutrient deficiencies like anemia (from low iron), low B12, D, or potassium can make people feel depressed, anxious, and despondent. A few lifestyle changes might be just the thing to help turn your perspective—and by extension, your whole life—around.
5 Reasons To Keep Going For Something You Truly Want
People keep moving toward their goals and dreams for various reasons, even when they feel that the odds are stacked against them. Below are just a few that may inspire you to keep on keeping on:
1. This is important enough for you to keep striving for.
When you think about the stories that inspire you most, were any of them about people who quit when things got rough? Or were they about people who kept on going despite hardships and naysayers because the goal they were striving toward was simply that important?
Grab a pen and write down a list of people you admire or look up to. They might be real people from history who achieved amazing things despite seemingly insurmountable odds or fictional characters who did the same thing.
Most Canadians are familiar with Terry Fox, a 22-year-old cancer patient and amputee who attempted to run 8,000 miles across Canada in 1980—with one prosthetic leg!—to raise money for cancer research. Although he had to stop at the halfway mark because the disease had spread to his lungs, the legacy he left behind has raised over $850 million for research to help cure this disease.
Americans may be aware of Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first Black woman to practice medicine in the United States. She faced incredible racism and sexism when she enrolled in medical school in 1860, but she persevered. The medical texts she wrote and published helped to educate countless physicians on how to properly care for women, children, and newborns, and they are still referred to today.
And let’s not forget the fictional character Frodo Baggins. He showed us that even the smallest person can change the course of history (and save the world) if they have a purpose to drive them forward and the courage to pursue it.
Remind yourself of why you set this goal to begin with. Keep asking yourself questions until you’re sick of hearing your own voice, but write down absolutely everything that brought you to this point and why this goal is important to you.
Why do you want to achieve this?
What pushed you to take the first step toward this goal?
What will happen if you don’t keep striving for it?
If you’ve given up on similar goals in the past, what happens if this time you don’t quit?
2. You’re further along than you realize.
I worked as a personal trainer for a while, and you wouldn’t believe how many people wanted to give up on their fitness goals when they’d almost met them. They were so obsessed with minute details that they literally couldn’t see how close they were.
Instead, they admonished themselves for not being able to lift enough that day or for the numbers on the scale not dropping fast enough. It didn’t occur to them that the numbers couldn’t be relied upon because they were gaining muscle as they were dropping clothing sizes. And they were lifting 5x the weights they could lift two weeks before!
We are always much harsher with ourselves than we are with others. You’d likely be encouraging and impressed by a friend or family member who achieved as much as you have, but you’re probably your own harshest taskmaster.
Try to draw back and be objective about how far you’ve come compared to where you were when you started. What would you say to your best friend if they were in your position? Would you encourage them to give up? Or to keep moving forward to the goal that’s just over the next hill?
Become your own cheerleader and you might be amazed at the second wind that hits you to help propel you forward.
3. You may find a better-fitting goal as you move forward.
Many people set goals for themselves that they think they want to achieve, without truly understanding their motivations as to why. As a result, they might get halfway toward it, or even most of the way through it, and then start to flounder.
This often happens to those who think that if they can just win that medal, earn that degree, or buy that piece of equipment, they’ll be happy. In fact, not only will they be happy—they’ll gain accolades from their peers who will recognize their awesomeness. Their elation at attaining their goal will keep them on a high for the rest of their lives, and everything from there on in will fall into place perfectly.
That never happens though, does it?
Here’s the thing, even if the end result proved to not be what you truly wanted, the process in attaining it undoubtedly taught you more about yourself and who you really are.
You might have been striving for high achievement in academia only to realize that you’d rather make pottery for a living. Or, after years of competing with others for shiny medals, you now find greater purpose in helping to build houses for the homeless.
Back in the day, I had a good friend whose life goal was to become a professional break-dancer. As he practiced, he discovered that he was enjoying the music he danced to more than the bruises he was collecting, and he started to make his own tunes.
Now he’s a full-time musician, happily making music for others to dance to. He still has plenty of “off” days (like everyone else), but he only found his true passion by pursuing the one he thought he wanted.
If you find yourself questioning why you should keep going on the path you’re on, take the time to reflect on whether the life you’re living and the resultant goals you’re pursuing are in line with your authentic self.
4. The journey can be even more fulfilling than the destination you’ve mapped out.
Some people give up on their dreams because they feel there’s no chance of attaining them. Maybe they know they won’t have enough funds to complete the project.
Remember that life is a journey rather than a destination—you never stop moving forward. You’ll finish one assignment and then have another to tackle, or you’ll earn a bachelor’s degree and then start a master’s program.
Maybe when you’re halfway through getting that master’s degree, you start a family or move across the country and your life takes a very different direction, so you never actually finish that degree program. That said, you draw upon the knowledge you learned in your classes to start a business (that ends up thriving!) or when taking care of your loved ones.
Nothing—and I mean NOTHING—you do is EVER a waste of time, not for you or for those around you.
When the aforementioned Terry Fox started that run across Canada, he hoped that he would make it all the way to Vancouver and that every Canadian citizen would donate $1 toward cancer research. When he died, he had raised $24.1 million, almost the equivalent of the country’s population at that time. The foundation created in his name has raised almost $1 BILLION since then, and helped millions of people.
Did he make it all the way across Canada? No, he didn’t.
Did he meet his goal of $1 per citizen? No.
But did he meet wonderful new friends along the way, and make an extraordinary impact on countless people’s lives? Absolutely.
You don’t necessarily have to achieve the goals you set for yourself, because life can change direction at the drop of a hat, and we need to be able to flow along with it. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bother to start them. The actions you take while pursuing your dreams may change your life in ways you never imagined.
No, you may not be able to defeat the armies of Mordor yourself, but you can meet them in battle, nonetheless. Furthermore, you might end up setting off a chain of events that will impact countless lives for the better, forever.
5. You might simply need to try a different approach.
Sometimes, when we’re feeling defeated by a particular endeavor, we get so sick of messing up the same thing in the same way over and over again that all we want to do is to throw in the towel. This has happened to me countless times, and it’s probably happened to everyone else out there as well.
It happens most often when we keep trying the same approach to a problem instead of altering course. And what’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
If that soufflé you’re baking keeps collapsing every single time you attempt it, then it would make sense to try a different recipe, right? Or maybe a different pan? One of the variables you’re working with isn’t connecting properly, but that doesn’t mean that the entire endeavor is a bust. You just need to sort out the fine details and change tactics.
Are you familiar with Robert the Bruce? He was king of Scotland in the early 1300s, but he had to hide in a cave for a while thanks to Edward I’s interference—but that’s a long story for another day. Point being, while he was holed up in that cold, damp, dank cave, he observed a spider weaving a web.
That cave was quite drafty, and the poor spider’s web kept getting torn apart by the wind. Over and over again it rewove that web, using silk strands created by its own body, only for it to be destroyed. But the spider kept trying, and eventually found a weave pattern that could withstand the gusts that tore through the area.
He related well to that little spider, and instead of giving up, he found the courage to rise up against his oppressors and win back his throne.
The point here is that although we feel like we’re facing insurmountable odds, there’s always a new way of weaving that web by altering our perception and then changing our approach accordingly.
If you feel thwarted in pursuing your goal, stop trying to climb over the wall. Dig under it or find a way around it. What you perceive as unattainable might simply need a change of perspective.
Ultimately, nobody can change your mind for you when it comes to giving up or not. Many choose to give up on goals because it’s easier or they’ve had so many setbacks that they can’t bear the thought of trying again only to lose everything once more.
A friend of mine once told me about how he’d walked for hours in excruciating heat because his car had broken down, and he ended up lying on his back in the sand, resigned to an ugly fate. He’d lost hope of finding help and figured he’d lay down and let the inevitable happen.
But then a seagull flew overhead, going in the direction he’d been walking. If he hadn’t flung himself to the ground in a fit of despair, he wouldn’t have seen the gull. Thinking it likely that the gull was heading toward the sea, he followed it, and if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have found the oceanside hut serving cool drinks just over the next big dune.
Keep your eyes open for signs, remember why you’re pursuing that dream, and keep going. You may not reach the location you’d planned for, but you’ll certainly find something amazing where you end up. Plus, you’ll have great stories to tell about your journey!