It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger.

I’m not sure to whom this quote should be attributed; it popped up on my Instagram feed today and I instantly resonated with it.

One good reason to do hard things is that by doing them, they begin to feel easier — not because they are actually easier, but because by doing them, we become more adapted to and more adept at conquering them. Choosing to do what’s difficult makes us stronger to face difficult things.

In my seventh year of business, compared to my first, I am far more prepared to answer tough questions, have uncomfortable conversations, take a stand for what I need, and say no to clients who aren’t a fit. Did these hard things become easier? No, they’re still hard. But because I have faced difficult situations before, I am stronger and more willing to address them now.

Running, by far, is the place where I’ve most clearly seen the way that experience with difficult challenges feels easier because I’m stronger.

I ran a half marathon last Saturday in hot, humid temperatures. The heat didn’t feel as oppressive as I expected, not because it was cooler (if it was, it was only slightly so) but because I’ve run several hot weather races this summer, including a half marathon in June. As I ran into the sun, I had the memory of having tackled, and conquered, those other races. I used my past successful hot weather runs to fuel my confidence.

When I face something difficult, whether a physical, emotional, or business challenge, I draw on past experiences to give perspective.

I identify a similar difficult situation I’ve faced.

I talk to myself about whatever event I faced before, reminding myself that though the present situation feels hard, I am equipped to handle it. I bring specific examples to mind. Whenever possible, I focus on the end positive result I expect and the short-term nature of whatever pain I’m presently facing.

I repeat positive self-talk and phrases as often as necessary.

One favorite phrase for me is “all you have to do is finish.” This one works well for running and work challenges. Any difficult thing I’m facing is nearly always temporary. If I keep running, I’ll get to the finish line. If I keep breathing, the hard conversation will soon be over.

When a situation is really hard, I count to ten.

It’s always possible to get through the next ten seconds, so when a situation feels impossible, I take deep breaths and count to ten and repeat that as often as I need to until the pain subsides. With running, I focus on completing the next mile.

Every time I do something hard, I get stronger to face challenges in the future. My growth and progress are not always outwardly apparent, but I find hope knowing that, as I face struggles, I am getting stronger inwardly, in the ways that matter most.

“We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tell me something! How do you stay motivated to do ‘hard things’ in life or business?