Perseverance is an admirable quality, instilled in us from a young age. Popular phrases such as ‘rest but don’t quit’ or ‘winners never quit, and quitters never win’ make it clear that quitting should never be an option. The reasoning behind instilling this mindset into us as children is logical, you’ll develop good work ethic, you’ll learn new things and it’s great to achieve.
So, what should you do when you feel like giving up?
1. Believe in yourself
One of the most popular reasons for giving up is a lack of self-efficacy. We can be quick to judge ourselves and feelings of self-doubt are quick to creep in if we feel we are not performing as well in a task as we would like to. Your mind is powerful. Never perceive hard times as failure. Remind yourself why you want to achieve this goal, be proud of the small wins and simply believe that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
2. Seek advice from others
Hearing others’ perspectives is often one of the best solutions for facing any problem. You may be so focused on your journey that you may not realise that there are several other paths which would allow you to achieve your goals. Also, reaching out to others who have previously overcome the hurdles you are facing and be able to offer you advice and strengthen your resolve.
3. Fight against instant gratification
Our brains have been trained to seek instant gratification because, in the past, immediate benefits meant we were more likely to survive. However, in the modern world this can lead to a tendency to give up easily and get frustrated when we are not able to get what we want immediately. Success is no longer instantaneous.
Giving up is often equated with failure which can make meeting your goals feel like the only option but, as adults, we are able to better evaluate situations and therefore do not need to limit ourselves to one option. If you feel like giving up on a task it is important to reflect on the reasons why and keep trying; perseverance may be the key to achieving your dreams! However, there are certain circumstances in which we should know when to quit and research shows that knowing when to give up is a key skill that can lead to better mental health.
It can be a challenging concept when mantras of not quitting are drilled into us throughout life and many of us get trapped by the sunk cost fallacy. We will stick with a project which is unlikely to produce great reward and continue to devote more time, money and effort, simply because we are already invested in it.
When combatting wanting to give up, take some additional time to reflect. Have I set realistic expectations for myself? Is this making me happy? Is it how I want to be spending my resources?
“Quitting is not giving up, it's choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it's realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time.” - Osayi Osar-Emokpae
A willingness to pursue a goal, despite negative effects on your relationships, health or peace of mind should not be viewed as a badge of honour. There are many situations where quitting is the best option. Quitting can open new doors, giving you the opportunity to establish new goals, provide good lessons which you can apply in future challenges, provide someone else with a new opportunity or simply allow you to spend more time doing that thing you really enjoy. Redefining our perception of quitting is key to living a happier and more fulfilling life and recognising that it’s time to quit can be a great sign of strength and integrity.
We should always try our best but the ideal of never giving up can be taken too far. Quitting isn’t a decision you should take lightly but it's one that shouldn’t be associated with shame or weakness either.
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