Anytime you try to grow, chase a dream, or reach a goal, chances are, there will be times when you’ll feel like giving up.
When you’re depressed, your goal is to become happy. It could be a toss between leaving your job or getting a promotion. Perhaps, you’d want to make more money in another way. You may want to go back to college or want your intimate relationship to be closer. But not all things will go your way, and those are the times when you feel like giving up.
It’s part of the process of moving beyond where you currently are: physiologically, psychologically, emotionally, and financially. When you stretch yourself, you are developing, learning, and growing. And…at times, it will hurt.
For example: you may need to –
- become a better listener
- learn new study habits
- become certified in your field
- learn how to work as a team member
- become more assertive
- have more confidence
- become more independent
Those periods of frustration, disappointment and failure come with growth. They occur when you’re trying to accomplish something you haven’t tried before. Exasperation, being let down, or the feeling like you don’t have what it takes, are natural.
You’re Just Beginning
When you start learning how to play tennis for instance, you’re probably not very good. You’ll hit some good shots; you’ll hit lots of bad shots. Even if you have a certain amount of beginner’s luck, it won’t last. You’ll have to deal with being “bad” as a beginner at the game.
Then, you progress…you begin hitting better shots, win a few games, your backhand and forehand come along, and your serves seem to be working at a level they’ve never gone to before. That’s when you may hit a plateau – or even worse – you seem to regress.
This is when most people give up playing tennis. But it’s NOT just tennis.
These people are likely to give up almost anything once they hit a plateau. They give up trying to find a new job, make their relationships better, or finish just about anything. They will make up reasons to justify giving up:
“I don’t have the time anymore”
“Spending this much time investing in tennis is just not worth it”
“It’s too hard. I’m really not interested in tennis, I’d rather spend my free time relaxing and taking it easy.”
However, if you push through the plateau and develop your skills by taking lessons, practicing, and trying new techniques, you’ll break through your impasse and continue to improve.
When You Feel Like Giving Up: Stop!
So what do you do when you feel like giving up?
- Take a psychological step back from what you’re doing: get the “noise” out of your head. Work on stopping thoughts about quitting and all the rationales that go along with that line of thinking. You’ll get back to whatever you believe is important. But for a period of time, stop overthinking.
- Self-reflect by asking yourself questions like:
“Have I reached this place before? Does this feel familiar? What am I feeling hopeless about? What roadblocks am I facing? What am I doing, or not doing, that’s getting in my way? What do I need to develop about myself to move forward? Do I know? If not, how can I find out?”
Then try your best to decide what changes you need to make and practice those changes.
- Remind yourself it’s temporary. Realize that if you’re persistent, you will weather the storm of doubt.
- Realize this is a natural part of growth. Questioning the validity of what we’re doing comes about when, for whatever reason, we want to give up.
- Figure out what you have to learn to keep moving forward. This is part of the process and it will probably not be obvious at first. You will have to dig deep into yourself and figure out what you need to develop yourself, and keep moving towards your goal.
Go out into the world and figure out what you have to do next. Do you have to go into therapy? Get a life coach? Call Uncle Matti who has experience in what you’re trying to accomplish? Take a course? Search the web? There are a good number of possible ways to start moving forward.
- Stop focusing on the end goal – at least for now. Concentrate on what’s next. Take a step back, think “what will I do from here?” and go.
- Give yourself a pep talk. Know that you can do this. It’s going to be difficult, but you’re going to figure it out eventually. This may sound hokey, like a Saturday Night Live skit – but it can be a successful strategy.
- Allow yourself time to feel discouraged. Simply tell yourself, “This will pass. It’s only temporary. I’ll give myself a few hours or days to feel this way. Then, I’ll figure out what I need to develop about myself that will help me work through this plateau.”
- Take a short break. Sometimes when you feel like giving up, you’re just too close to whatever you’re doing. Realize that you need to get some rest. Take care of yourself for a few days. Stop worrying about what’s happening for the meantime.
Take a vacation from all the intensity. Go to the beach. Watch mindless television. Go to the movies. Read about something that has nothing to do with anything that you’re doing. Getting some psychological distance, at times, is very important.
- If you’re still stuck, get some help. Go out into the world. Go into therapy, read, or go online. Get the support you need. Use whatever resources necessary to “figure out” how you’ll move forward.
Take a Break – Then Move On
We’re typically not aware when we’re in the thick of things. This self-awareness that we’re in the middle of a process, flies right out of our heads. It’s like we used to say in the South:
“When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember the original objective was to drain the swamp!”
That’s exactly what happens to us when we are about to give up.
Thoughts run through our minds, such as:
“I’m not sure this is worth it,”
“I really don’t have anything to contribute,”
“I don’t know what I really want to do,”
“Maybe, I’m just not cut out for this,”
“It’s taking too much time and effort,”
“I’ll never be successful at this,” and
“Who was I kidding? This is ridiculous.”
When these and other thoughts become part of your thinking, what often follows is the idea to give up.
Accomplishing anything is a process of ups, downs, overs, and unders.
We’ve heard of this a million times before, but we aren’t usually aware that failing on something is part of succeeding in what you’re trying to do. When you feel like giving up, step back, breathe, and then move forward.