Today, I’m writing about giving up. Ostensibly, in relation to your dreams, but what I’m about to say is just as relevant to giving up on a quest to lose weight, a relationship or even a contest, as it is to a cherished life-long goal.
Before we start, though, let me first outline my credentials. While I don’t have a track record of quitting on the projects I undertake, due to the difficulties of making a living while walking an unconventional path, I’ve thought about, and wanted to, give up on many many occasions.
I wanted to quit tennis coaching when I first started and realised that some lessons were more about controlling a bunch of rowdy kids than teaching them anything about a sport.
I wanted to quit practicing hypnotherapy many many times after I’d delivered, what I believed, was a perfect session yet the client would surprise me by saying that absolutely nothing had changed.
I’ve even thought about giving up on my dream of becoming a best-selling personal development author after spending years writing a brilliant book only to find that, initially, no one was interested in buying it.
As a result, I’ve questioned my life choices on many occasions. I’ve been down. I’ve been paralysed by self-doubt and as much as I’ve wanted to create a life that gave me both happiness and freedom, I’ve spent a large part of my early adult years questioning whether this was actually possible.
were to be found, at regular intervals, in my mind.
I’m imagining that your predicament is somewhat similar. There’s something you love doing, or that’s really important for you to succeed at, but you don’t seem to be making any progress. You’ve tried 100 different approaches but nothing has worked. As a result, you’re starting to question yourself. You’re beginning to wonder whether you’re just not cut out for this particular passion.
And then a painful feeling hits you. It’s a feeling of loss. The thought of giving up on this thing you love so much, although seemingly inevitable, tears at your core. What do you do?
Let me give you some advice.
Ask yourself the following 3 questions and take some time to find the answers.
I guarantee you’ll gain clarity on your situation and be in the perfect position to assess whether it’s time to move on or continue despite the odds.
Sit down and get comfortable. Take a few moments to get out of the mental fog surrounding the uncertainty of your predicament. Then, imagine you have a 10 year old child in front of you. Now this 10 year old is still pretty innocent but they are starting to understand a few things about the world around them. They’re beginning to form ideas about what they want to do with their future and they’re acquiring the ability to work towards a goal and experience either the joy of having achieved it or the pain of falling short.
They look to you for guidance. They look to you for support and they look to you for wisdom.
What message are you going to give them?
What are you going to tell them regarding what they should aim for in life and how high they should set their sights?
Is it going to be, ‘Play it safe son. Don’t expect too much or you’ll be disappointed. Dreams rarely come true so it’s better to accept a moderate level of happiness and success and don’t aim too high.’
Or is it going to be, ‘You have to live for what you believe in. If you’re passionate about doing something then you MUST pursue it and find every way possible to make it work.’
I’d be surprised if it was the first statement (otherwise why bother having kids?) and yet it’s amazing how rarely we live up to our ideals. That’s why I call this question the ‘perspective shifter’. It places you outside your predicament and forces you to asks questions about what you want your legacy to your children (and the world) to be.
Often the advice you would give another is the advice you should take yourself. That’s why this question is great for when you’re feeling like the road is too tough. It forces you to look to the bigger picture. It reminds you that you must carry on with your quest because it’s the right thing to do. This should snap you out of your funk and reconnect you with the reason WHY you started in the first place. Expect a massive burst of inspiration to follow.
And if you end up telling that 10 year old to ‘be realistic’ then perhaps you need some time out. Take a break and discover whether it’s your goal that’s making you miserable (in which case it would be good to change) or you’re just getting temporarily overwhelmed by the task in front of you (it happens to all of us).
It seems an obvious question but far too many people give up on something they love while still holding the metaphorical ace up their sleeve. You have to exhaust all of your ideas (but not necessarily resources!) before you can consider giving up.
Answer these questions:
When you can get through this entire list and come up with nothing (and only then), it might be time to quit and try something new. If you can find answers and, most importantly, are still in love with what (or who) you are doing, then you must continue.
Furthermore, watch this very brief video with Richard Branson. Seth Godin puts a question to him about giving up and his answer echoes my thoughts above.
Why do you want to succeed so badly, find love so much or lose weight so desperately?
Is it because of the money? Is it the companionship and to have somebody in your life? Is it to fit into your old clothes?
Wrong on all accounts!
You have a desire to achieve certain goals for one simple underlying reason – to feel good!Nothing else. You have an idea/vision of how great life will be once you have secured that goal and you pursue it in the belief that the goals attainment will make you feel that way permanently.
You need to understand this. You need to understand that your primary drive is to feel AMAZING.Then you need to understand that you don’t need goals, a girlfriend/boyfriend, to be your ideal weight etc. to feel this way. You can work on and develop your ‘feel good energy’ independently of any external stimulus.
So, what’s my point?
My point is this. When you’re feeling exhausted, desperate, that there’s no hope and low on energy then take a break. Have a complete mental, physical and emotional time out from whatever it is you’re pursuing and focus on your energy.
How are you feeling at the moment? Probably pretty bad and if that’s the case then start to build your energy.
Remember that your dream shouldn’t be making you feel this way. You should be approaching it with a sense of joy and excitement. And then remember that these feelings are what you’re really searching for in the first place – so allow yourself to feel them now.
Now how do you feel?
A lot better, right?
So how do you feel about giving up? Have you had some new ideas about how you can advance in your quest? Do you feel more motivated? I bet you do.
This happens because your focus has shifted from how difficult achieving your dreams can be to allowing yourself to feel good. Now keep going with this feeling until you either a) feel inspired to start taking action again or b) are inspired about a new project or person.
But remember this. You can NEVER give up on your quest to feel good! It is more important than any material reward you’ll ever achieve and must be worked on every day.
This should put things into perspective and help you make the correct decision to keep your life moving forwards.
I really hope these 3 questions have given you some clarity on your situation. I can only tell you from my own experience that, looking back, I’m very pleased I didn’t give up on my dreams during the numerous occasions I felt tempted to do so. Because I’ve stuck at the things I love, I’ve had a positive impact on numerous peoples’ lives both through my book and coaching, had some amazing and fun experiences and, most important of all, proved to myself that I have the ability to move my life forwards.
None of this would have happened if I’d given up.
What might you achieve if you just stick at it a little longer?
(Image taken from BK’s photostream flickr.com)
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