Whenever you’re trying to accomplish something requiring delayed gratification you find yourself in this scenario at some point.
You’ve been doing the work. You’ve been consistent. You’ve progressed. But you either hit a wall or your progress is so slow you feel like quitting altogether.
Truth be told, anyone who does anything of consequence in life feels like quitting over and over and over again.
Even though I’ve accomplished more than I thought possible a few years ago…I constantly feel like quitting. But I don’t and I know I never will. Why? Because I know the urge to quit isn’t a sign I should quit and I use the following strategies to keep pushing forward no matter what.
1. Focus on how far you’ve come
Have you seen those before and after photos of someone who’s worked out for a year? The contrast between the two photos is stark. The person in the photo, however, usually doesn’t realize how much they’ve changed until they see the comparison themselves.
This analogy applies to any goal or path you’ve been diligently working on.
Maybe you’ve hit a plateau or endured some setbacks. The obstacles can become so frustrating that you figure it’s time to give up on your dream. Before you abandon your mission, take some time to think about how far you’ve come already.
Look at how things were when you started and how they are now. Sure, you may have fallen flat a few times, but you’ve definitely made a great deal of progress as well. Realize the amount of strength it took you to get started in the first place and try to cultivate it again to push you towards the finish line.
2. Run your race
As I’ve discussed before, comparing yourselves to others can make you miserable. It’s particularly harmful when you’re attempting to do something unconventional with your life.
In this scenario, you’ll find yourself behind your friends, family, and peers who are climbing up the ladder. If you do something unconventional there is no ladder and until you succeed it will look like you’re wasting your time when you could’ve done something safer. Best to just run your race at your own pace and ignore what everyone else is doing.
You chose your path for a reason and you have a vision for your life that no one can see as clearly as you. Trust your instincts and run your race at your own pace.
3. Master patience
Patience is the ability to remain positive even when things aren’t going your way. The person who masters patience can have everything they desire. The greatest obstacle to creativity is impatience, the almost unavoidable desire to speed up the process and make waves.
You have to constantly remind yourself that anything of great value takes diligence and consistency. Focus on the process more than the results. Even if you’re making all the right moves, it may take the universe some time to catch up to your accomplishments.
The true key to effective patience — stop beating yourself up throughout the entire journey. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needlessly beat myself up only to find my current self wanting to tell my past self to calm down.
So I’ll tell you. Calm down. You’re okay. Be patient.
4. Focus on what you can control
Luck plays a role in success. Sometimes the ball won’t bounce your way. People will be unfair, unkind, and unworthy of your compassion at times.
You’ll get screwed over, passed up, and people who don’t work as hard as you may find more success in the short term. Knowing and accepting reality gives you the edge in the long run. People make life harder when they fail to understand how the world works. You can’t wish circumstances outside of your control will change. You can, however, teach yourself how to both understand and withstand the world you live in.
5. Look to others for guidance
There’s almost no situation that you’re going through that someone else hasn’t gone through before. People have dealt with depression, heartaches, obstacles, and setbacks all throughout history, and there is someone out there who has a story that you can relate to. Find someone who pushed through a situation that was similar to yours. What did they do to overcome their circumstances? Use other people’s experiences to guide you and model yourself after those who have achieved the outcome you desire.
6. Learn from your mistakes
Your mistakes can be used in one of two ways. They can either be a reminder of your inadequacy, which will ultimately stop you dead in your tracks. On the other hand, they can be useful in refining your strategy going forward. Mistakes can oftentimes be the best thing that ever happened to you. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you actually are worse off if you glide to the top with no obstacles or mistakes along the way.
Becoming successful too quickly and without difficulty can lead to hubris. You’ll think you have the “magic touch.” Then, when you finally do experience some failure you won’t know how to deal with it. Make your mistakes your allies and become smarter and stronger because of them.
7. Weigh the pain of effort against the pain of regret
“I hated every minute of training, but I said ‘Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” — Muhammed Ali.
The pain of effort towards reaching your goals pales in comparison to the colossal heartache of regret. Whenever you feel like quitting, think of how it will feel to look back on your life and know that you gave up on something you truly wanted. Feel the pain of that regret now and use it as fuel for motivation, or suffer from it in reality for the rest of your life.
8. Look to your friends and family for support
Express your dreams and aspirations to those around you that are trustworthy and who truly care about you. Ask them to help you stay accountable when you feel like you’re almost at the end of your rope. Humans are social and need to rely on one another for support. Post a Facebook status asking your friends for uplifting messages. Send an email to colleagues asking them for help and advice. No man or woman is an island. Gather support from the people around you.
9. Build resiliency
I am a believer in the Nietzschean notion of that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. When you’re able to get knocked down and get back up to again, you prove to yourself how strong you really are. I think many of us underestimate our capabilities, especially our ability to be resilient and persistent. Colonel Sanders was said to have dozens of failed businesses before he finally made it big with KFC.
He could have quit after several failures, deciding that his lack of success meant that he simply wasn’t cut out for business. Instead, he used his failure to develop a resolution that wouldn’t allow him to quit. You’re only a failure when you give up completely.
10. Start with why
When you feel like giving up, ask yourself why you started on this journey in the first place. After a time, struggles and obstacles may cloud your thinking and you can begin to lose sight of your “why.” Go back to the beginning and rediscover your initial passion.
The deeper your why the stronger your resolve will be. Do you want freedom? Do you want to make an impact on a certain group of people? Are you in love with what you do?
Revisiting your why helps you find balance and stability on a chaotic journey.
I have days where I feel like giving up on writing altogether. During those times I asked myself why I started writing in the first place. I’ve always had a lot to say.
I view the world with a lens I believe can help other people. I’m obsessed with words. Writing is the only thing I do where I feel like I shouldn’t be doing something else. It’s my love, my joy, and my pain — funny how one usually doesn’t come without the others.
You have a why for what you do too. It’s not superficial. It’s deep. We all have something that burns inside of us whether we know it or not. Go to that source often because it’s one of the few places of refuge you have on the long and arduous path you’ll travel on the way to a life well-lived.
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