No matter how smart we are and no matter how well we plan, things will go wrong.  Sometimes it is our fault because we forgot something we should have known.  Sometimes someone else is the cause of our tough times.  And sometimes it is simply an accident.

But, no matter what the cause, there are 5 things you can consider to help you get though the tough times.

1. Be honest with yourself and your situation.

As you think about where you are, how you got there, and where you’re going now, you need to be honest with yourself and your situation.

When you find yourself in a tree, you need to know how you got there because the lion that got you there might still be there.  This is by far the hardest thing for some people to do.  Honesty can be brutal and many people avoid it at all costs.

But, I truly believe that, on average, the people that succeed in getting what they want are the most honest about who they are and what are the obstacles that prevent them from getting what they want.

2. Think about how things can get better.

No matter how bad things are at the moment try to think about how things can get better.  If you run out of gas, think about how at some point in the future you will get gas.  If you lose your job, think about how at some point you will find a new job.  If you get hurt, think about how at some point you will not feel the pain.

Thinking about a positive future helps in any number of ways.  It helps to visualize creative solutions to your current situation.  It helps to keep you keep you moving forward, to not give up.

3. Keep working to solve the problem.

Calvin Coolidge said it best when he said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. This will press on and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

The reason persistence is so powerful is that you can never know where the limit of your capabilities are until you push yourself to the limit of your capabilities.

As part of this it is critical that you take action.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.

4.  Learn while you are waiting for something to happen.

As you work to solve your problems there will be periods when you are waiting.  If you run out of gas and you’ve call someone bring you gas you will have to wait for them to arrive.  Use that time to learn as much as possible as to why you are the situation.  Action is only a small percentage of your activity.  Most of your day is spent thinking.  A job interview may only take an hour.  All the time driving to the interview, getting ready to go the interview, and talking to others about the interview are great opportunities to think about what you can learn from your current situation.

5.  Work on avoiding the same situation in the future.

It is often said “luck is the residual of hard work.”  Successful people tend to work on fixing the things that got them into the situation in the first place.  In sports, a baseball player that has trouble hitting fastballs, will work on hitting fastballs.  In business, a manager that has trouble with budgets, will work on building better budgets.  In relationships, a person that has trouble connecting with others, will work on their communication skills.

By being honest and learning as much as possible about how you got into the situation you’re in, you can develop an action plan to avoid getting into that same situation again.