You Can Make Progress In Hard Seasons

Hard Seasons-Productivity

Some seasons of life are very hard! Maybe you are in the midst of one of those challenging seasons right now. I want to encourage you! Even in hard seasons, it’s possible to make progress.

Nearly eight years ago I ventured into one of those truly hard seasons. It began with a crazy kind of fatigue unlike anything I’d previously experienced, along with a serious lack of appetite. For this energetic someone who not only loves to cook but enjoys eating, this was unusual.

Then there were random bouts of experiencing flu-like symptoms, or at least that’s what I assumed it was except I would come down with it every couple of weeks. This version of the “flu” came with other unusual symptoms including my arms and legs going numb. Frankly it was frightening!

My preference is to manage my health as naturally as possible, but after five months of mysterious symptoms, my chiropractor, who practices a variety of natural and homeopathic methods, encouraged me to get a full blood work up. That’s when I knew it was time for a fresh approach.

Long Story Short…

It turns out I was battling Lyme disease, and quite a battle it was! Lyme disease is complex and affects nearly every aspect of your health. And for those who may not know, ticks are just one way to get Lyme disease. You can also get it from spiders, mosquitoes, and more!

My battle went on for nearly two and a half years. In that season, my life was turned upside down. Suddenly I struggled to sleep at night and I was exhausted all day.

I’m happy to report that I’m feeling wildly better with only a minor symptom or two lingering thanks to some wise and timely medical care. My energy, breathing, and appetite have significantly improved!

Health challenges definitely wreak havoc with your productivity, especially when you are left zapped of energy and uncertain of what’s ahead.

Other Hard Times

Not all hard and challenging seasons are health challenges. Other hard seasons include…

  • Moving
  • Major life transitions
  • Death of a loved one
  • Difficult relationships
  • Financial setbacks
  • A divorce or crisis with your kids
  • A trauma

While each challenge is unique, the overall effect is similar. Hard seasons drain your energy, motivation, and ability to focus.

Moving Forward

Under normal circumstances, life goes on whether you have the energy for it or not. You still have work to do, perhaps a business or household to run, but how do you keep life moving forward when you are barely moving?

The temptation in difficult seasons is to abandon what you’ve been doing and bring your regular life to a halt. I want to encourage you to take a very different approach!

In spite of the ups and downs of my Lyme adventure, I successfully kept my life and work moving forward. In fact, as a coach it was a surprisingly profitable season for me! Evidence that God was working on my behalf in some amazing ways!

Tough Times Are Discouraging!

If you’re facing a tough time right now, I feel for you – I really do! I know firsthand what that’s like. It’s frustrating and discouraging!

And I want you to know that you don’t have to give up. Hang on to your dream, the work God’s given you to do, or whatever He’s entrusted you to steward! You probably need to make some changes, but progress doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt!

As I navigated my hard season, here’s what enabled me to keep moving forward:

1. Sticking To My Routines

No matter how tired I was or how yucky I felt, I stuck to my morning routine! Every day I kicked off my day by reading my Bible and talking to God. The more horrible I felt, the more I experienced God’s sweet presence!

Next, I planned my day, taking care to be very realistic about what I could handle. Then I would exercise, because that’s what I’ve always done. Before the health challenges, I would walk six miles in our hilly neighborhood, do cardio intervals, or some combination of the two. Exercise has been my way of relieving stress, thinking through life, and something I thoroughly enjoyed!

During the difficult season, my work outs looked very different. Typically, I practiced yoga, stretched, or simply did breath work. In light of what I was used to, it felt pathetic, but I invested the time anyway. It turns out those activities are de-stressing activities and now even though I am well, I still include them in my work outs!

On the days I felt better, I did a little more. On my worst days, I let simple stretches count. I listened to my body, not my feelings, and kept exercise a consistent part of my life.

Now that my health has improved, the intensity of my work outs has continued to pick up, and it isn’t something I have had to fit back into my life because I never let it go.

2. Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are always important, but when you aren’t operating on all cylinders for whatever reason, they are all the more necessary! In fact, you may need to set new boundaries that enable you to conserve your energy and that leave you with more margin.

Previously I required very little sleep, however, in that season I found myself not only carving out more time for sleep, but also giving myself permission to take naps.

I also limited my adventures out and my extra commitments. At that time, simply taking a shower completely drained me! I also set boundaries around my coaching and writing. And I chose to respect my limits and leave some tasks undone.

3. Knowing My Priorities

Because we had recently moved and were remodeling our home, I still had a basement to unpack, things to organize, work to keep up with, decorating to do, and that’s just the some of what was vying for my attention! Knowing what my priority was made it possible for me to narrow my focus. The rest could all wait.

4. Ditching Multitasking

Hard seasons are draining seasons, and as a result you aren’t able to apply your full energy to tasks. That’s why it’s even more important to give a task your full attention – no multitasking! Besides, multitasking is not as effective as you might think under normal circumstances. Not only does mono-tasking improve the quality of your work, it allows you to be a more present person in the process.

5. Delegating, Delegating, & Delegating!

I confess, I like getting things done, and I like to do them myself! Yet with limited and unpredictable energy, I was truly at the mercy of others! I needed help! That’s a hard place to be – at least at first, but allowing my husband to help me out with chores around the house like vacuuming, cleaning up the kitchen, washing floors, and more, taught me to communicate more effectively around how I wanted tasks done.

Turns out, my husband is a pretty good listener and his help was invaluable. And while I need his help considerably less these days, he continues to help out, and that’s pretty sweet!

I mentioned before how much I enjoy cooking, but cooking is taxing! Normally, I cheerfully prepared holiday meals, but in that hard season I asked my family to chip in. Turns out that holidays are a lot more relaxing when you have help and others kind of like making food and sharing it – a win, win for all!

Here’s something else I learned to delegate – asking people to pray for me!

Learning to delegate during hard times – that’s a necessity; delegating during the good times…that’s not a bad idea either!

6. Practicing Self-Care

Prior to contracting Lyme disease, I had allowed work to consume the bulk of my time. I dedicated very little time to self-care. It didn’t take long to figure out that I needed to make some major changes! I began regularly scheduling massages, reading, or assembling puzzles, and engaging in other activities that fueled refreshed my soul.

Self-care is critical no matter what’s going on, so before you enter a challenging season, be sure you are taking steps to weave self-care into your life!

Making progress in hard seasons is possible and the lessons learned in those seasons are invaluable! These lessons actually apply to any season of life!

Are you facing a health challenge or some other difficulty? Which of the six tips I’ve shared would enable you to continue making progress in spite of the difficulties?

Maybe life is pretty good right now? Which of the above tips if implemented now would help safe-guard your life when challenges come knocking on your door?

How have you kept making progress in hard season?

© Can Stock Photo / PixelsAway

Originally posted on 4/25/17, this post has been updated and revised just for you!

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.


  1. Sierra on May 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I can relate to this when I was experiencing my worst morning sickness. I had to put many things on hold that I just didn’t have the energy for during this time. My whole routine looked different and revolved around a lot of extra sleep and time resting. Making sure I still fit in my quiet time, even if for only a few minutes brought me hope and peace. And this time did teach me to ask for help more and be okay with not doing as much. Made me realize how much value I put into being “productive”. Realizing you are still valued and loved even when you can’t produce much is wildly freeing.

    • Marvae on May 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Those moments when you don’t feel your best for extended periods of time definitely help you to prioritize, ask for help, and reveal what you value! It is “wildly freeing” to discover that you are valued and loved even when you aren’t as productive!

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