Why you need to struggle if you want to progress


Kevin Mangelschots

  1. Struggle means we have to progress to deal with the situation

    The quote, “embrace the struggle and let it make you stronger. It won't last forever” written in black letters on a gray background. A quote by Tony Gaskins.

    I can recall many instances where I’ve struggled and was forced to progress to deal with the situation at hand.

    For instance, I had to face the hard truth that I had to deal with my depression by actively evolving myself instead of blaming it on my genetics, or outside sources.

    And while we’re typically not that keen on working hard, putting in the time, and having to figure things out, they do provide the perfect condition to develop ourselves so that we can deal with our circumstances more readily.

  2. Provides ample opportunities to learn

    There are fewer reasons to learn new things, and fewer opportunities to acquire new lessons when everything is going exactly the way we intended.

    I’m not saying that you should intentionally fail or struggle for the sake of it. But we just get to see more of what’s not going according to our plan when times are hard, which means we have to adjust accordingly.

    These are all chances to acquire novel knowledge, formulate a new plan of action, and try out new strategies to deal with these difficult events in our lives. All activities we probably wouldn’t have taken when life was going perfectly fine.

  3. We learn more from difficult circumstances than from easy times

    The quote, “you learn more from failure than from success. Don't let it stop you. Failure builds character” written in white letters on a background.

    We learn more from difficult circumstances since rough patches in our lives motivate and coerce us to gain new insights that we wouldn’t have gotten when times were easy.

    There are multiple reasons for this. We’re incentivized to learn, we have more chances to acquire new knowledge, and we need a novel understanding to deal with the circumstances and to reduce stress.

    Anxiety and fear can be great motivators. Everyone knows these uncomfortable feelings because we’ve all experienced them at some point during our lives. Perhaps at school when delivering a presentation, when starting a new job, or perhaps when you had to meet your parents-in-law for the first time. Because those sensations feel so awkward and anxiety-provoking, we typically want to avoid them by developing ourselves.

  4. We gain valuable new insights

    Struggling makes us adopt new perceptions that we desperately need to deal with our inconvenient, or challenging state of affairs.

    What’s even better is that we can use that novel view, and generalize it to other related issues in our life currently, or use that understanding at a later date when new problems pop up.

    One of the beauties of life is walking the path of continuous self-improvement. As such, adopting a new, clear apprehension about a topic or life in general will make us feel better in time because we’re now one step closer to the truth. But remember, while the truth may hurt at first, it will eventually set you free.

  5. Struggle allows us to figure out what doesn’t work

    Struggle always leads to progress for the simple reason that it allows us to figure out what doesn’t work. Even though we might see that as a failure, it will always get us closer to the appropriate solution because we can eliminate at least one action that doesn’t function as intended. Or because that behavior doesn’t produce the outcome we wanted.

    Failure is the stepping stone to success. I have experienced many failures myself before I achieved what I wanted. For instance, I flunked my first year at college, only to turn it around because I used it as fuel to better myself and to graduate with my degree in occupational therapy without further issues.

  6. We have to think critically and self-reflect to solve the issue

    Thinking critically and self-reflecting on our behavior and thought processes are great ways to advance as individuals. That’s because both these skills are vital and required if we wish to better ourselves as human beings.

    Life’s complex. Far too grand to understand it all during just one lifetime. But what we can do is increase our rate of development and apprehension if we’re willing to apply our brainpower to these topics by actively thinking about these things.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The word “FAQ” made with wooden letters.

What does, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress” mean?

If there is no struggle, there is no progress means that difficulties and challenging times are necessary if we wish to develop ourselves because they motivate, and force us to improve.
That’s because hardships are uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking. These are sensations that we wish to avoid by actively bettering ourselves to the point where we can deal with these situations more effectively.
Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Good things aren’t just handed over to us because we want them to. We will have to work very hard, and for a long time, while actively using our cognitive abilities to attain what we so desire.

Who said, “Without struggle, there is no progress”?

Image of Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass famously said the following quote, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress” when giving an emancipation speech at Canandaigua, New York on August 3, 1857, for the 23rd day of remembrance of that event.
He said so because he was expecting the Civil War to take place.
He was a leader of the anti-slavery movement, a slave on the loose, and the editor of the social reformer newspaper called The North Star. Not only that, but he became a diplomat for the government of the United States after the Civil War took place.

Examples of, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress”

An example could be that we fail to lose weight when attempting to diet because we keep succumbing to our desire to eat calorie-dense cheat meals and to ingest more calories than we’re burning.

But even though it’s hard, we persevere and end up losing weight eventually because we become more disciplined, and persevere through the hard times.

Final note

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Without struggle, there is no progress, that’s for sure. And while we typically don’t particularly enjoy challenging situations, try viewing them as the ideal opportunity to learn something novel, and to prove yourself as a strong individual capable of pushing through hard times.

That’s because we often learn more from our failures, errors, and troubles than we do when everything is smooth sailing since we’re pressured to improve to handle these inconvenient circumstances.