Why Simply Not Quitting Can Get You Ahead

And even if you quit, it’ll be on YOUR terms

“If you can go through this pain period, you make it to be a champion. If you can’t go through, forget it. That’s what most people lack.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

There are good days. There are bad days. And then, there are bad days.

Some of these bad days are really tough. You might consider resigning after a mindblowing loss, missing out on a really potent deal, blunt feedback, or a disheartening quarterly review.

It’s a great aspiration to improve every day. Most of your days should be about small, constant, improvement. But…

Don’t push yourself on your hardest days. Instead, just focus on getting through it. Do whatever it takes to ensure you don’t give up yet. Enduring through the day is the goal.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard.”
— Steve Jobs, The Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program Oral History Interview

By staying on course and staying consistent, you’ll slowly pull ahead of the people who are stunned by these inevitable failures.

Marathon Steadily While Others Burn Themselves Out

The most enthusiastic people throw themselves headfirst into an effort, only to find their energies diminish. They almost always inevitably burn out. It’s not sustainable.

If it’s not harnessed properly, this passion is why teams and individuals lose focus. Their ambition drives their unsustainable haste, which hurts them in the long run. They’re not consistent. They’re fragile and once failure comes knocking, they’re not prepared. They tap out.

In reality, they’ve practically knocked themselves out of the running before the opportunity to succeed even came up.

Time has a funny way of weeding out the people who don’t understand that resilience requires a bit of flexibility and recovery. It’s okay to feel bad on shitty days. Embrace it.

Just don’t quit yet. Don’t give up yet.

You’ll inevitably think, Will it always be like this? No, it will come to pass.

Maybe take a short break, but don’t leave the country. Explore inwards.

Simply outlasting some of your competitors improves your odds at succeeding at whatever you’re trying to do. Sometimes you do have to take a step back, and leave work early, in order to leap three steps forward the next day.

Adapt with the Tincture of Time

A doctor explained this concept to me in an article we worked on for Lifehacker:

[Our] bodies have an amazing ability to heal themselves and many issues improve with time (although this can be a hard sell in a society used to fast results and immediate gratification).

He was talking about physical pain, but I actually think this is true of many mental or emotional challenges as well. Your mind and spirit naturally comes up with solutions.

The more challenging the obstacle, the more time it takes. Some things just can’t be rushed.

Time also helps you adapt. And it’s great for getting through learning challenges, but not great if you’re unknowingly adapting to a toxic environment.

Look Forward

It makes sense to take some time and recover. But you inevitably have to get your head out of the sand. Bill Walsh writes in his book The Score Takes Care of Itself:

“When the inevitable setback, loss, failure, or defeat comes crashing down on you — losing a big sale, being passed over for a career-making promotion, even getting fired — allow yourself the “grieving time,” but then recognize that the road to recovery and victory lies in having the strength to get up off the mat and start planning your next move.
This is how you must think if you want to win. Otherwise you have lost.”

Take a bit of time to properly recover, then plan out how you might be able to regain your momentum. You’ll be surprised at how much control, and hope, that even just a little planning can bring back into your life.

And, as one of my clients suggested, in addition to grieving time you should also set some time apart for gratitude. (Great topic for another day…)

When You Should Give Up

My friend quit his job. He just snapped from the accumulated monotony and tension. He didn’t think twice. He gave the job up.

Unfortunately, this snap decision put him in a bad place for the couple of months following. It might’ve been a smoother transition if he took a couple of sick days off and stuck with it, since he’d still have a source of income. He might’ve bought himself some time to job hunt more aggressively.

There’s no hard and fast rule for giving up.

Obviously, if you find yourself enduring too much and too many days in a row, maybe it’s time to consider quitting.

When you quit, do so not out of impulse or recklessness. Quit on your terms, based on your timing, and when you have some better options in hand.

You have to cut toxic stuff out of your life, and putting up with it causes unnecessary short- and long-term pain.

But most other times, failure is just an indication of how close you’re getting and that you’re a step closer to succeeding.

Don’t give up today.


Herbert Lui is the Creative Director at Wonder Shuttle, a content marketing agency that makes impressions instead of buying them. Their most recent product is the content canvas. It’s a framework that marketers and strategists use to create useful, contagious, content.

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