How To Not Give Up When Things Get Hard!!
So my friend Joe (not his real name but I wanted to protect his identity) recently started a fitness program.
Joe wanted to lose weight to look and feel better.
He wanted to have confidence.
Joe isn’t overweight but he would love to be free of certain insecurities that he has with his body.
He sent me a text telling me about how excited he was to start this new fitness program.
Keep in mind, this is about the third different one he’s tried… just this year.
And the results — or lack thereof — were pretty much the same.
Here’s how it played out:
He started out positive.
Joe went to the gym 5x in the first week for two hours a day and also removed all the carbs from his diet.
During the second week, Joe faced a minor obstacle.
His workout buddy Chad went on vacation with his family for a week.
Joe didn’t want to go to the gym by himself.
1 day passed…
Joe called me to go to the gym with him but I too was out of town.
He spent the rest of the week at home eating pizza, ice cream and watching Netflix instead.
He felt a massive amount of guilt.
But he also felt that maybe he didn’t need to lose weight or maybe he would just wait until next summer to do it.
Joe made excuse after excuse.
You may call him weak but many of us follow down the same dark path when trying to achieve our own goals.
If You Start Something, You Finish It
There’s a scene in the movie Lovely Bones that everyone should watch.
The movie follows a girl named Susie who is murdered and watches over her family from the in-between, and is torn between seeking vengeance on her killer or allowing her family to heal.
Even though this scene is probably one of the more boring scenes in the movie, the dialogue teaches a valuable lesson.
It’s an intimate father-daughter scene where Susie’s father Jack is seen scale modeling.
Susie thinks he’s a boring dad and asks him if her mom knew about his “boring” obsession (scale modeling) before she married him.
Jack responds by saying, “Susie, hobbies are healthy. They teach you things.”
“Like what?” Susie replies.
“Like if you start something, you finish it,” he continues, “You don’t stop until you get it right, if you don’t get it right, you start over again and you keep on going as long as you have too. That’s the way it is. That’s what you do. It’s perfectly normal.”
Why Do We Give Up So Early?
While I know there may be many reasons behind why we may give up on doing something…
Often times when we look deeply enough we’ll see that the main reason is a lack of concentration.
Lacking concentration can make a bad student in school.
It can make a bad businessman.
It can make a very dangerous political leader.
Concentration is a discipline that was taught by the Ancient Greeks.
It helps us achieve continuity in our own effort.
If we are scattered instead of concentrated then we will start many tasks and finish few of them because the lack of concentration will make us get tired quickly.
Jack defines it perfectly.
“If you start something, you finish it.”
And if you don’t want to finish it then don’t start it.
The Ancient Greeks liked this discipline of continuity because they believed that everything should be done to proper end.
Imagine if the men building your house, decided they wanted to quit before it was done…
Imagine if midway through you’re haircut your barber decided to quit…
We expect them to buckle down and concentrate until the job is done so then why don’t we hold ourselves to these same standards?
When Things Get Hard, We Want To Quit
I’m just as guilty of this as anyone, so it makes it easy for me to explain.
I have a serious problem with this.
The other day I was trying to put up blinds in the living room.
The blinds weren’t snapping into place like I thought they should have.
I said F*ck it.
I put the blinds down and told my girlfriend to do it. (I know, terrible, right?)
My girlfriend said, “Man you give up way too easy and fast.”
I had to actually sit down and think about why though.
Well, I know why…
I’m impatient, I want fast results.
I’m hard on myself, I want to be perfect.
But on a deeper level, I simply lack concentration.
Had I just took a second to concentrate on what I was doing I could have fixed the problem.
How do I know?
Well, my girlfriend took less than a minute to get the blinds up perfectly.
I’ve noticed that when things don’t go my way, my first thought is to say forget it.
That’s the easy thing to do.
This has happened to all of us — although hopefully not as easy as it happens to me — we find something new in our lives that seems intriguing or we have a new goal that we set out to accomplish…
We obsess over it and believe it’s something that we want to master or achieve.
We get so excited to pursue it in the beginning but we lack the concentration needed to finish it.
As soon as it gets hard we give up because that’s the easy thing to do.
Seth Godin refers to this as the “dip” which is a temporary setback that can be overcome with persistence… or for lack of a better term, concentration.
“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” — Vince Lombardi
We reach the dip, our emotions take over, and we want to quit.
But instead of giving up so easy we need to concentrate and persevere through.
Perseverance Can Be Difficult…
Especially when we are unsure of the road we are taking.
But it becomes easier to do when we are honest with ourselves.
We need to be honest with ourselves when assessing the goal that we are chasing.
We need to be honest about the difficulty and amount of time that it’s going to take to reach our goal.
We need to be honest with ourselves when we determine how important this goal is to us.
If we aren’t honest in the beginning then we don’t stand a chance when things go wrong.
This leads to negative emotions that will take control and disrupt our concentration and later cause us to quit.
But it’s not necessarily our negative emotions that are the problem.
The problem lies in the failure to learn from them and transform them into positive emotions.
You see, emotions — whether positive or negative — are always going to exist…
But instead of allowing them to control us — or worse, ignoring them — we need to sit down quietly and study them.
We must ask ourselves — “Why am I frustrated right now?” “Why do I want to give up?” “Who is affected by me giving up?” — instead of just saying that this isn’t for us or that we can’t do it.
Negative emotions are just like problems in the sense that if you ignore them they will pile up and come back stronger.
Transforming negative emotions is much easier said than done but it’s vital in our quest for concentration and self mastery.
With that being said, here are some things that can begin to help us figure out how to transform those emotions.
1. Instant Success Is A Lie
First, we must stop looking for instant results.
Instant success is a lie.
What looks like instant or overnight success is always preceded by years of struggle and hard work.
We all see Jeff Bezos as the richest man in the world and CEO of arguably the best company in the world…
But we often fail to acknowledge this Jeff Bezos:
The guy working in this little office with Amazon.com spray painted on a piece of paper on the wall.
People often see our YouTube channel with over 1.4 million subscribers and think we got lucky or it happened over night…
But what they don’t see were the days that I was sneaking into my old high school gym, filming my own videos with my iPhone and propping up my phone on some boxes because I didn’t have a tripod.
Reaching your goal is going to take time.
Anyone who tells you different is a liar.
2. Stop Chasing Perfection
As much as we want to be perfect, it’s just not going to happen.
But this is a good thing.
When one reaches perfection then there is no more room for improvement.
If there’s no more room for ascension that means there’s only room to descend.
You’re never going to be perfect.
You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay, as long as you learn and grow from those mistakes.
3. Stop Chasing So Many Goals At Once
One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was trying to chase too many goals at once.
It didn’t allow for the concentration that’s needed to reach each goal.
This lack of concentration caused me to have one foot in a bunch of different projects but never fully in any of them.
This caused me to become scattered and none of those goals were accomplished.
Now I like to aim at no more than 3 goals at one time but even then, those goals are related to each other.
So reaching one helps lead to reaching another.
Very rarely will I focus on more than one goal that’s unrelated to the other.
I’ve found this to be the best way to achieve each one.
4. Choose Goals That Are Important To You
This leads perfectly into the next focus — make sure you are choosing the right goal to chase.
Go in with this mentality:
If I told you that you couldn’t live your life happily if you didn’t complete this one goal, what would it be?
If you can live your life happily without accomplishing the goal you’ve chosen then you’ll lack the desire needed to achieve it.
This will prevent you from ever reaching it because it’s that inner will and desire that will help you concentrate, persevere, and persist in the long run and even when you feel like giving up.
5. Realize That It’s Not Always Only About You
Yes, it may be YOUR goal…
But how does not reaching that goal affect those around you?
Imagine if your goal is to make more money in your business so that you can provide for your family but you decide to give up.
Not only do you suffer but your spouse and kids do as well.
Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. had given up and decided not to write this amazing speech?
(Don’t you just get chills from watching that?)
I think it’s safe to say that America wouldn’t be what it is today.
6. Change The Action Steps But Not The End Goal
If you’re trying and failing, maybe you just don’t have the right strategy.
Maybe the diet and workout plan Joe was following just weren’t right for him.
Does that mean he shouldn’t want to — or doesn’t need to — lose weight?Probably not.
Don’t beat yourself up and quit on your goals because you fail.
Failure is a lesson in itself.
Learn from it so that you can continue to grow.
Make changes to your plan and keep moving forward towards your goal.
7. Improve Your Support System
We know that negative emotions will be there when trying to persevere towards new goals…
So it’s important that you surround yourself with positive people that support you so you can receive some good emotions along the way.
You don’t need the negative thoughts and emotions of others to combine with your negative thoughts and emotions when times get hard.
If there are people around you that aren’t always going to be accepting of you moving towards your goals then you may need to remove them.
Rap stars talk about it all the time…
How everyone in the hood loved them when they were broke and on the same boat as them…
But as soon as they make it, those same people pray on their downfall.
Misery loves company.
You have enough obstacles to overcome.
You don’t need the people around you to become another obstacle in your path towards achieving your goals.
You don’t need people that will be critical of you and feed into your insecurities.
Once you rid yourself of them and surround yourself with positivity it will be much easier to concentrate and stay consistent.
All That Matters
Don’t dwell on the past.
We’ve all made mistakes.
We’ve all given up.
Don’t let that define you.
Write down ONE goal that you are serious about achieving.
Once you have that goal written down, concentrate on it.
Also remember these 7 things:
- Realize that the results are not going to come instantly. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
- You’re not going to be perfect along the journey. Nor do you want to be.
- Understand that it’s not just about you. Ask yourself who else is affected if you don’t reach your goals?
- Write down ONE goal that you are serious about achieving… not ten.
- Make sure this goal is important enough to you to want to persist even when times get hard. Can you live your life happily if you don’t accomplish it?
- If things aren’t working don’t change your goal, change the plan.
- Improve your support system. You don’t need other people’s negative thoughts and emotions on top of your own.
If you take anything away from this article, let it be this:
Shit’s going to hit the fan, don’t give up.
Instead, concentrate on the task at hand and don’t stop concentrating until you finish it.
If you want to hear more from me you should check this out!