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What I Do When I Want to Give Up

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What I Do When I Want to Give Up

I’m having difficulty today. If you’ve ever tried to stay consistent with something you care about, my issue may be familiar to you.

Since November 12, 2012, 939 days have passed. That was almost 2 years and 7 months ago when I first published an essay on JamesClear.com. Every Monday and Thursday for the past 939 (usually lovely, sometimes frustrating) days, I’ve posted a new post. Week in and week out. Month after month after month, Year in and year out.

I’m tempted to give up today.

But what about today? Today, however, I am having difficulty. I don’t feel like writing today. I don’t feel like keeping to my schedule today. Today, I don’t feel like I have any amazing ideas or that I have anything to say or enough time to turn good ideas into outstanding ones. I want to give up.

According to University of Pennsylvania research, grit is the trait most closely associated with success. Today I could use some grit.

Here’s what I try to remind myself of when I want to give up:

Your Brain Is a Suggestion Machine.

Consider each concept as a suggestion, not an order.Right now, my head is reminding me that I’m exhausted. It implies that I quit. It is telling me to pursue a less difficult path. However, if I pause for a bit, I can come up with new ideas. My thinking also suggests that once this work is completed, I will feel extremely good about myself. It implies that if I stick to the timetable, I will respect the identity I am developing. It implies that I can complete this activity even when I don’t feel like it.

Keep in mind that none of these recommendations are orders. They are simply alternatives. I have the authority to choose which alternative I will pursue.

Temporary Discomfort

Almost every habit you carry out is over quickly in comparison to the time in your usual day or week. It will take you approximately an hour or two to complete your workout. Your report will be finished by tomorrow morning. This post will be finished in a few seconds.

Life is today easier than it has ever been before. If you didn’t kill your parents 300 years ago, you’d die if you didn’t grow your food and build your own house. Today, we moan about having forgotten our iPhone charger.

Keep things in perspective. Your life is wonderful, and your discomfort is just fleeting. Allow yourself to be enlightened by this difficult situation.

You will never be sorry for doing good work.

Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Far and away, the best gift that life has to offer is the opportunity to work hard at a job worth doing.” So often, it appears that we desire to work easily at a worthwhile job. We want our work to be useful and appreciated, but we don’t want to fight with it. We want flat tummies and strong arms, but we don’t want to complete another regimen. We want the result, not the failed attempts that led up to it. We’re only interested in the gold, not the effort.

A gold medal can be desired by anyone. Few people aspire to train like Olympians.

Despite our opposition, I have never found myself feeling worse when a hard task is completed. There were days when it was difficult to begin, but it was always worthwhile to finish. Sometimes, just turning up and having the confidence to perform the work, even if it is mediocre, is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

This Is Your Life.

Life is a perpetual struggle between succumbing to the ease of distraction and mastering the agony of discipline. It is not an exaggeration to argue that this delicate balance defines our lives and identities. What is life if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily struggles and small decisions to either fight or surrender?

At this moment when you don’t want to do the work? This is not a chance to throw away. This is not a practise run. This moment is as much a part of your life as any other. Spend it on something that will make you proud.

Allow the World to Decide

So, what do I do when I want to give up? I arrive.

Do I give it my all? I have my doubts. But it’s not my responsibility to judge how excellent or horrible I am.

My role is to complete the task and then let the rest of the world decide.


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