How to Stay the Course

Staying the course isn't easy.A few weeks ago, I asked how people combat discouragement and stay the course. One commenter made a statement about having faith despite the naysayers and obstacles. It was a simple statement, but simple statements often have profound implications.

When I think about having faith regarding what one does, I think about certitude. I think of steadiness. I think of having an anchor. No matter how many doubts arise or how terrible the discouragement and feelings of failure are, the certainty remains: I am doing what I am meant to do. I must continue the work. I must prove faithful to it, even if I am assaulted and beset on every side. The circumstances don’t matter. What matters is that I am faithful.

What also matters is having a vision and being focused on it. No matter if I’m blown off-course by a circumstance or person, I can find my way back. The vision remains, and it points me in the right direction. It may take time to regain my course, particularly if I’ve been blown far, far off it, but I can find my way. I may have to fight forty-foot or taller waves, circumnavigate rocks or icebergs, or ignore the sirens’ song, but I will find the course again.

Another part of staying the course is being accountable for my actions. It doesn’t do to set sail without telling anyone my plans. It’s a good way to find myself stranded in unknown waters. People need to know where I am and where I am trying to go. I need to know that no matter how lost I might become that someone will come rescue me or, if not rescue me, at least keep me company on the boat.

How do you stay the course?

Photo: gentlemanbeggar (CC BY NC SA 2.0)


  1. Staying the course can be difficult. Each day I try to move forward, if only a little bit.
    My goal is a successful writing career as a novelist. This means writing, editing, arranging for covers, publishing, and then marketing the books. The fun part is the writing. The other task are just as important and sometimes I find it a chore to make myself put down the pen (metaphorically speaking) and work on the other tasks.
    Still, I tell myself that if I can get a little bit done on one of the tasks I don’t enjoy, then I’ve made great strides.
    I guess I better go do some editing, because now I’ve made myself feel guilty…which is a good thing.

    • ExtremelyAvg Haha! Accountability in action. I like it.
      Yes, the small steps are important. We have to do what we can each day, no more, no less.

  2. Really good coffee (or green tea if I’ve already had my two cups), really good friends who kick me in the ass, and my own reminders not to let negative self talk get in the way. Of at lease, to recognize it when it’s here and kindly wait for it to leave. 🙂

  3. Damn good question! Tough one to answer. 
    I try to surround myself with like-minded people and find the answers I need in talking to my friends. My negativity bubbles to the surface occasionally and when that happens I take some time to fight it back down before moving forward. Accountability is as much a crutch for me as it is a motivator. There have been times where I have had to move on and stopped myself because I felt accountable to someone or something which has held me back. Perspective, seeing the options and weighing them against what I want to achieve, usually gets me going in the right direction.
    On the lighter side, a good mantra for knowing when to get moving is when you find that you are the smartest person in the room you need to find a new room. Ha, ha!
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Having a vision is key! Last summer I allowed myself to get sucked into the snarkiness of the popular crowd online and I wrote some blog posts that strayed from what we’re trying to do at Spin Sucks. I really regret that, but it allowed me to focus on the vision. Every time I sit down to write, I think, “Does this get us closer to our vision?” If the answer is no, I don’t write it. Sometimes that means people don’t agree or they criticize, but I know what we’re doing is right so it’s easier to stay the course. Much easier.

  5. Mary Stephenson says:

    Hi Erin
    I think we all get drawn off course at times.  Deciding what options you have if you don’t stick with what you are trying to accomplish.  If the consequences are not that big of a deal, we will be more inclined to take the easy route and abandon goals.
    I find that if I don’t stick with what I am trying to accomplish, the outcome will not produce anywhere near what I want in life.  Got to try staying focused for the long haul.  But I do think it is good to take a break away from the strict plans we have for ourselves.
    Very good thoughts.

    • Mary Stephenson Yes, we do need to rest. It gives perspective and refreshes. I just finished reading C.C. Chapman’s book Amazing Things Will Happen. He calls time outs “idling.”

  6. I put one foot in front of the other, each and every day:) Cheers! Kaarina

  7. I stay the course by realizing I fell way off it and need to take a step back. For me, I realized my blog had a tone I did not like so I am thinking about starting a new one with a different focus. The trick for me was realizing I got too far from my original purpose and that I needed to take an honest look at it.

    • NancyD68 I think of that as recalibrating. We have to take an outside look at our work and see if it’s actually doing what we intended or if we discovered what we actually were supposed to be doing in the midst of a seeming tangent. It’s hard to be that brutal with ourselves, but it’s necessary for growth.


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