Are You Getting Through or Breaking Through?

There are two crucial phases in life. To live a good life, we must act in accordance with which one we’re in.

To explain those, imagine that you’re on a small boat in the middle of the ocean.

Getting through

Now picture yourself in the middle of a storm. You’re far away from the shore, all by yourself on a tiny ship, and you don’t know if you can make it through the next few hours.

Sometimes, life’s like that. During rough times, people switch to “getting through” mode.

And that’s the right approach! If you’re faced with a storm, you don’t have time or energy to focus on a big journey. When you’re struggling or grieving or dealing with setbacks, just getting through the moment is a huge accomplishment.

In our Americanized global culture, there’s not a lot of space for holding on. When asked how we are, we’re expected to say: “Fine.” (Even if we’re not.) It’s not enough to keep the boat steady, we’re expected to make great headway… even during a storm.

But you can still validate yourself when you’re in a rough spot. You can acknowledge yourself for all ​the small things you’re doing — for instance, not falling out of the boat.

As Winston Churchill probably didn’t say: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” When you’re in “getting through” mode, try to follow this advice.

Breaking through

Now imagine the storm is over. The clouds have cleared, there’s a nice wind in your sail and the sun is shining. It’s time to head to your next destination, make great headway, enjoy the experience.

When life is good, it can feel like that. That’s when people switch to “breaking through” mode.

When you’re in “breaking through” mode, you might aim for new heights of success, accomplish ambitious goals, and break through internal barriers. This is a time to boldly go for what you want. As Michael Jordan put it:

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

When you’re in “breaking through” mode, it’s time to make it happen.

How to deal with these modes

Both modes are a normal part of life. We all experience them.

“Breaking through” periods are more fun, so if that’s the life phase you’re in, enjoy! “Getting through” phases can be really rough. If you’re in that situation, I’m sending you my love and compassion.

→ If you’re in “breaking through” mode, what’s an ambitious goal you could aim for?→ If you’re in “getting through” mode, what’s something nice you could do for yourself?

What is something you could dare to do imperfectly this week?

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Louise is the founder of Leader for Good. She's a former lawyer and academic who moved from Germany to the United States where she started her own business. Today, Louise loves helping her coaching clients and students connect with their passion and purpose. You can find out more about her coaching business at
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