From “perseverance[ pur-suh-veer-uhns ] noun – 1) steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. 2) Theology. continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.

Everyone has their ups and downs. Some things work out perfect, others are gigantic dumpster fires. Lots of things sit in between those outcomes. Some people are blessed with a natural ability to roll with the punches, never getting to far up or down, never getting too overly-excited or too depressed. Most of us are more susceptible to emotional swings, and have to work at staying in the middle.

Some have additional factors that contribute. When I was working for a VP in the corporate gig, I was struggling. I was not an incompetent Executive Assistant, but I was somewhat methodical. I could do good work, but if I was put under extra time pressure, I would rush and make mistakes. Not a good situation when you work for a guy that goes 1,000 MPH. All. The. Time. He was also the “tough love” kind of guy – the kind that believed punishing mistakes was the best method of performance improvement. So when I started making mistakes, the snowball effect kicked in with great speed. Eventually I was put in the Employee Assistance Program. Mandatory step 1 of the program was to speak with a counselor to get a feel for what was hindering the employee’s performance and make a plan to move forward. My session resulted in a suspicion that I might have depression, so I was referred to a therapist. It took the therapist about 5 minutes to confirm that suspicion, and just a couple of sessions to determine I needed to see a psychiatrist to consider medication. There are numerous antidepressants available, and I was prescribed Lexapro. It seemed to be effective. I ended up losing that EA job, and was transferred to another department to be the admin for a group, 1 pay grade lower. I stayed there the rest of my time at that company, until it was time to start the VA business.

The ups and downs of a new business can swing very widely. The most level-headed person can really feel it, let alone someone who has diagnosed mental illness. So what is one to do? Here are 3 strategies:

Daily “focus” time – Spend a few minutes each day, preferably the first few minutes, on the basic fundamentals. I have a daily devotional time of Bible study and prayer, followed by a few minutes reviewing why I started my business. You will hear business coaches regularly remind people to “go back to your ‘why’.” It keeps you motivated to move forward.

Never compare – Remember my “STOP Saying It Can Always Be Worse” post the other day. If I’m having an especially acute “down” day, telling me that children are starving in the African desert does nothing to help me. Not that I don’t feel for them, wish better for them, or want to help them, but that does not make what I am facing disappear. If someone in your home cannot get medical treatment because of a prior medical bill, the plight of people on the other side of the planet does not magically melt the pain in your body. But there’s another application – don’t compare yourself to anyone you perceive as successful. Each person has his/her own journey, and no 2 are exactly alike. Plus, the person you are thinking “has it all” probably went through very difficult times in the beginning of the journey. If all you look at on social media is the successful end of someone’s journey, you will develop an unrealistic picture of those lives and life in general. Whatever someone else appears to be, your journey will not look exactly like that one. Concentrate on your journey.

Surround yourself with support – This is where I once again have to talk up our VA 101 Mastermind group. These people are so relentlessly supportive, one can’t help but be motivated to keep pushing forward. And what do I mean by “supportive”? I mean that they regularly encourage you, and also give you constructive criticism when you need it. When I made updates to my website not too long ago, I put the link in our Facebook group and asked for feedback. I got it. They told me what they liked about it and some improvements to make, all of which I implemented. When one member posted how she lamented her oldest child going off to pre-school, how much she missed him during the day, and how much she cried about it, I decided to throw a little humor her way. I posted this meme I saw on Twitter.

It had the desired effect – it gave the doting Mommy a good laugh. We encourage and challenge each other regularly. I love these people more than I can ever tell them.

Life isn’t easy, and it’s not supposed to be. But you can use focus time, your support system and avoidance of comparison to others to attack anything that overwhelms you so that you can continue building what you set out to build.

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