How to achieve your goal

Psychology faculty member offers strategies for persevering through adversity

By Michele Wojciechowski, ’90

Every challenge in life is different.

Adanna Johnson, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, shares tips on how to persevere through adversity.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alex Indigo

Seek Support

“Finding support is crucial for any type of challenge,” Johnson explains. “If you are going to climb a mountain, run a marathon, or finally lose that extra weight, it’s good to find other like-minded folks who can give advice and encouragement. You can do this via social media, but don’t discount the importance of face-to-face interactions. Particularly if you’re dealing with grief, health issues, or substance abuse, in-person contact gives you accountability as well as support.”

Do Your Research

“If it’s a health diagnosis, find out everything you can about it. If you’re learning how to swim, do the same,” she advises. “Know what you’re up against and what to do to reach the goal—whether it’s being healthy or planting a flag at the peak.

Get Involved

When dealing with health issues, many people find it useful to get involved in a non-profit: volunteering or fundraising for research, for example, Johnson says.

“You’re doing something that can affect the issue overall, even if it may not impact you directly in your diagnosis or that of a family member.”

Break It Down

If you are electing to challenge yourself, or if you are facing a challenge that involves your own self resolve and commitment, Johnson recommends breaking the challenge into small, measurable, obtainable goals.

“You won’t be ready to run a 26.2-mile race overnight, but if you break the total distance down into running a certain number of miles per week, you can make it happen,” she said—with patience and the belief that you can get through the training to the finish line.

Be Realistic

“If you create goals that are beyond what you can actually attain,” explains Johnson, “you’ll get discouraged, and that can lead to setbacks.”

If your personal challenge is to lose weight, you can’t lose 100 pounds in two months. Determine what you want and match that to what is realistically achievable in a certain time frame: whether it’s to lose a certain number of pounds or inches over a period of time, or a dress or pant size, for example. 

Tap into Spirituality

Johnson says spirituality can be a great source of finding meaning in whatever experience someone is facing. Using prayer and meditation helps limit distractions so you focus on your goal. And giving a specific obstacle the time of day—but not all day, every day—also lets you put things in perspective.

Be Resilient

“There are some individuals who experience one setback, and they’re completely out of the game,” says Johnson. “There are others who are so resilient that they can ‘fail’ at something five, six, seven times, and they keep pushing.”

No matter what challenge you face, tell yourself to keep going.

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1 Comment

  • Posted by GEORGE MSETI | December 9, 2014

    IT IS TRUE THAT EVERY CHALLENGE IN LIFE IS DIFFERENT, AND THE WAYS OF FACING DIFFERENT CHALLENGES ALSO DIFFER DIP ENDING ON THE TYPE OF THE CHALLENGE ONE FACES. IF A PERSON FACES A CHALLENGE THEN HE/ SHE RUNS AWAY FROM IT. THE CHALLENGE REMAINS THERE SO THE BEST WAY IS TO FACE ANY CHALLENGE THAT COMES ACROSS YOU. THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO IDENTIFY THE CHALLENGE AROUND YOU, DO YOUR RESEARCH, PUT YOURSELF IN THE HANDS OF GOD THEN GO A HEAD FACING THE CHALLENGE.

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