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Pushing Beyond Hope – Keeping Commitments When Hope Is Gone

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It is always very easy to pursue a goal when equipped with faith and hope. But hope isn’t naturally bestowed upon us. Sometimes we run out of faith, hope evades us, and we are surrounded by darkness. It is then – that the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel cannot be seen, and we ask: How can we move forward? How can we reach our goals?

Religion teaches us to believe in something we cannot see, it asks us to have faith. Historically speaking, faith had been used successfully over time to help people get over the tough moments, to hope in order to keep push forward. However faith is a concept, it is something we chose to accept, to believe. Even religious leaders have admitted losing faith at times. In an article published in 2013, Amanda Marcotte discusses five contemporary Christian leaders who gave up faith and become atheists. They might be the extreme, but if even they lose faith – those we least expect to — many others certainly struggle to keep faith.

Keeping commitments and reaching goals requires us to find a way –often through unforeseen challenges. If we cannot be assured about the strength and longevity of our faith, then perhaps we can work on a “Plan B” where we can still push forward without faith, without hope, but still reach our goals.

One way to explain the ability to use faith and work sometimes in absence of it, is to point to ultrarunning. Over the past few years I have been running competitions of 100 miles or longer and successfully finishing them. During some of these competitions I have encountered two separate and distinct possibilities. One is to give up, because many times that seems the rational thing to do. The other, of course, is to pursue something larger — the possibility to moving ahead, of reaching my goal without faith, hope, or any rational explanation. Let me be a bit more specific.

Training for an ultramarathon requires thousands of hours of running, learning to hydrate and take in nutrition, breaking the work-rest cycle, sleep deprivation, heat endurance. Then there is the mental training — accepting in and processing pain, learning patience, etc. While the training prepares the body for the tremendous challenges encountered in a race, it also creates a base of confidence. Knowing you did the training, you subjected yourself to extremes creates a rational belief that you are trained enough to succeed, which in turn creates hope. But what happens when certain circumstances lead to a loss of hope, when rationally you cannot expect things to work, when the situation at hand tells you that you are finished?

The harder the races – like anything extremely challenging – the greater the likelihood that you will lose hope. You may even lose and regain it several times. For more details see my Spartathlon 2013 and 2014 Race Reports. So what is the best approach to keep moving forward? From my experience I have learned that refusal to give up is the only attitude left. When we are in doubt, when there is no hope left, our minds tell us to quit. The mind finds thousands of justifications to give up. The only difference between accomplishing your goal and quitting is stubbornness. If you can just move forward because you do not want to quit, you learn with each step that you have at least “one more step” in you. There might be no hope to finish, there might be no ability to see yourself able to take another 100 steps, but you always know that you can take “one more step”. And if you know this, then you also know you are not ready to quit. As it always happens, sooner or later things change, circumstances improve and hope begins to grow.

The truth is stubbornness – the ultimate refusal to quit – has a place in every aspect of life. When there is no hope, just move forward, just take one more step, push for one more day because you refuse to quit. Life will always have ups and downs, we will experience periods of high hope, low hope and no hope. To succeed at your goals, to live your life you need only to COMMIT TO TAKE ONE MORE STEP. YOU ONLY NEED TO REFUSE TO QUIT ONE MORE TIME.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Marcotte, A. (2013). “5 Religious Leaders Who Gave Up the Faith and Became Outspoken Atheists and Agnostics,” Alternet. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/belief/5-religious-leaders-who-gave-faith-and-became-outspoken-atheists-and-agnostics

Nana, A. (2013). “2013 Spartathlon – Race Report,” International UltraRunning Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.internationalultrarunning.com/Spartathlon%202013%20-%20RR.pdf

Nana, A. (2014). “2014 Spartathlon – Race Report,” International UltraRunning Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.internationalultrarunning.com/Spartathlon%202014%20Race%20Report.pdf

 

 

Pushing Beyond Hope – Keeping Commitments When Hope Is Gone

Andrei Nana

Andrei Nana is a licensed attorney, specializing in business law, business owner, and ultra-runner. Andrei has completed 22 races of 100+ miles or 24 hours, including the Spartathlon in 2013 and 2014 – finishing 2nd American and 27th overall in 2013. Recognizing the need for organization in international ultrarunning, Andrei founded the International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation, which focuses on developing elite international ultrarunning. Nana is also the creator of the first six day race in Florida, the Icarus Florida UltraFest. Sought out for his ability to overcome excuses and his unique approach to commitments, Andrei created Nana Endurance Training and frequently presents to organizations, businesses and works directly with individuals.

For more information about Andrei, visit: www.internationalultrarunning.com or www.nanaendurancetraining.com.


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APA Reference
Nana, A. (2015). Pushing Beyond Hope – Keeping Commitments When Hope Is Gone. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/commitment-strategies/2015/01/pushing-beyond-hope-keeping-commitments-when-hope-is-gone/

 

Last updated: 31 Jan 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Jan 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.