It’s been an interesting year across the world. Uncertainty seems to be the only real certainty there is. Businesses are either not growing like they thought they would, or holding back because they are not sure what lies ahead. The real test of an entrepreneur is how they fare when the going gets really tough. The real test of a leader comes when they hit trouble.

Tough times happen to the best of us at some point. They are inevitable. In your quest to achieve your business, career or personal goals, you will most certainly face difficulties. I know, I am not telling you anything you didn’t know already. The thing about tough times is that they don’t always give you a head’s up. They sneak up on you. You could be going ahead at full steam, with everything working like a well-oiled machine, when ‘bam!’ the unexpected blow catches you sideways and takes your breath away.

On a recent trip to New York I watched the movie The Founder. It is the story of Ray Kroc, the founder of the McDonald’s franchise. I discovered he wasn’t really the founder at all but you’ll have to watch the movie to found out how it all began, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. One thing that struck me about Ray was his tenacity in the face of one challenge after the other. Although I didn’t agree with the way he handled some of them, or his ethos, I couldn’t help but admire his refusal to be beaten by even the greatest odds.

When faced with difficulties in your work or personal life, there are various options open to you. One of those options is to keep going, tackling the challenges one at a time until victory comes. Another option is to pretend everything’s ok and hope that if you ignore them long enough, they’ll disappear. There is a third option. It is to stop, take a break from whatever you were doing and do some thinking.

I say this because one of the reasons many fail in the face of challenges is that they have not taken the time to arm themselves with the appropriate strategies to do battle with, and rush instead to do the first thing they can think of. It’s a bit like going to war without first making sure you have the right tools to fight with.

Now I am not advocating you take this line of action every time some small obstacle comes your way, but when something huge threatens to derail you from your intended path, it could be your best option.

Often the motivation that keeps you pursuing your goals is the benefit achieving those goals will bring you. The main danger when challenges arise is distraction from what really matters. That’s why it’s helpful to take some time to answer the following questions:
1. Why am I pursuing this goal in the first place?
2. What do I hope to gain from this activity, project, or business?
3. What are the consequences of giving up now?
4. What resources do I have at my disposal?
5. Are they sufficient for the circumstances?
6. If not, where can I find the right resources?
7. How badly do I want this?

Answering these questions honestly will help you come to some conclusions. You may decide there is no point pursuing your current course of action because the pain outweighs the gain. Or you may be more determined than ever to make things work because you can see how much value it will add to your life. Either way, you’ll be clearer about your next course of action.

So the next time you’re faced with tough times, stop, take a moment and reflect before you decide on your next steps. And remember, tough times don’t last, but tough people do.