To quit or commit; that is the question
Quitting is not an option. That seems to be the cliché tossed around in order to inspire commitment when facing the threat of failure. I have no doubt you’ve come across this saying, or something like it, in some inspirational story in the past. However, I’ve never found this to be true. The truth is, quitting is always an option. It’s an option easily ignored at the start, but it’s always there. Its temptation becomes more appealing over time and when the going gets tough, it becomes harder and harder to ignore.
The truth is, quitting is always an option.
We’re a quarter of the way through the new year and I’m assuming that at the start of it, you decided to engage in some new life-changing endeavor. It may have been the typical fitness goal of losing weight. Maybe it was learning a new skill. Or perhaps, you took on something as ambitious as starting a new business. Regardless, at this point in the year, it’s a good time to ask how you’re doing in your pursuit of it. Maybe three months was enough to successfully achieve one of your goals. Or, maybe you’ve found some good momentum in the past three months that are motivating you to charge forward. If that’s true for you, then your year is off to a pretty good start.
However, you may be in a different spot. Three months into whatever it is you decided to do, you’re now at that place in the process where you’re frustrated with the results you’re seeing. Perhaps, you’re not as far along as you wanted to be and you’re starting to second-guess whether you have what it takes to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do.
Whenever we decide to start something new, the initial phase is always one of the most exciting times in the process. Why? It’s because you get to imagine all of the outcomes for success. It’s the time when you can dream; where no goal seems insurmountable and the possibilities seem endless. But, what’s dangerous about that initial phase is that it’s completely destination-oriented. It’s focused on all of the goals and hardly ever on the work it’ll take to get there. It doesn’t mean that the “dreaming” phase is a bad thing. Your imagination is what helps inspire and motivate you to accomplish great things. The problem is we can fool ourselves into thinking it’ll feel that exciting all of the time. The initial excitement will start to wear off and when it does, it’ll test whether or not you have the desire to finish what you’ve started.
The problem is we can fool ourselves into thinking it’ll feel that exciting all of the time.
Maybe you’re at the point right now. Three months into whatever it is you’ve begun for the new year, your resolve is being tested and quitting is becoming a more attractive option. You’re doubting your ability or if you have the wherewithal to be who you wanted to be or to do what you wanted to do. Success may not only seem out of reach, but it’s starting to lose its appeal.
You’re not alone. Everybody goes through this process. There isn’t a special category of people who never deal with the possibility of quitting or self-doubt. Everybody goes through it, from the most accomplished entrepreneur to the champion athlete. They all go through the process of deciding whether to stay committed or to quit. And, it isn’t any easier of a choice for them as it is for you.
The differentiating factor between those who quit and those who don’t isn’t the experience of being tried to the point where you want to quit. What makes the difference is that those people have the resolve to continue doing what it is that they set out to do. They’re committed to doing it even when it’s not easy; when the fun and excitement is long gone.
How does one find that kind of resolve? I’m sure you’ll find different answers but here’s the one that makes the most sense to me: you’re going to have to love the thing you’re doing. That answer seems trite at first but let me explain what I mean. Love is one of those words that is applied so loosely that it loses its meaning. But, the kind of love I’m talking about is a selfless one. One that means being dedicated to something beyond your own gratification. This kind of love, and the commitment that flows from it, comes at the expense of your own comfort or any of the trivial pleasures you hope to receive.
…it’s no surprise that quitting comes easier to people. It’s a reflection of how much we love ourselves and our own comfort more than we love the things we’re committed to.
To love something in the way I describe is a very difficult thing to do because it runs counter to our own innate selfishness. Therefore, it’s no surprise that quitting comes easier to people. It’s a reflection of how much we love ourselves and our own comfort more than we love the things we’re committed to. But, in order to accomplish anything worthwhile, you’re going to have to fight that inclination with all you’ve got. You’ll need to love your own comfort less than what you’re trying to achieve.
I’ll be honest with you: I’m at this decision point myself. I’m at the point where the initial excitement of the things I decided to undertake this year has faded. Now, I have to ask myself if I’m going to continue being committed to the change I want to see happen in my life. It’s not easy and getting up the next day to keep on moving forward in my pursuits is a challenge. But, this is where life is truly lived. I don’t want my life measured by the moments where I gratified myself. I want a life well-lived in pursuit of something greater than myself. I hope this is your desire as well.
Does this mean that there’s never a time to quit? No. Sometimes there is. I wish I had easy answers for you to determine whether or not it’s your time. However, ask yourself this: is the reason why you’re considering quitting because you’re more interested in your own needs and satisfaction? Or, is it because after having given it your best shot, you’re finding that the path you’re pursuing isn’t the right one for you at this time? If it’s the former, then there’s a good chance you need to suck it up and keep going.
To quit or commit? That’s the question we’re going to have to ask ourselves. If you’re on the verge of quitting, consider this before you do: the change you want to see happen may be closer than you think. It may be just around the corner and it would be a shame to stop right before you see it.
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Originally published at self-less.io on April 8, 2016.
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