My Secret To Not Giving Up
My secret to not giving up is that there is no one secret. But here are some things that do help me stay focused on my goals.
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
"Always remember, the goals that we have achieved pale in comparison to the daily commitments it took to get there." Dabo Swinney
Talking about goals is sexy and admirable. We can all talk about goals and dreams until the proverbial cows come home, but sometimes, the cows never come home and we're left talking forever. Do you follow?
Goals are reached through consistent effort and smart, strategic planning. Chasing goals is not always sexy or fun. Sometimes it's boring and redundant. Sometimes (or rather, most of the time), it's difficult and requires sacrifice. My two largest goals are to be a paid writer and a sponsored athlete, and I have been chipping away at these goals for years. My secret to not giving up is that there is no one secret. But I'll tell you some things that do help me stay focused on my goals.
- Feeling like giving up is different than actually giving up. You can acknowledge the feeling and not let it dictate your behaviors.
- You need to have a pretty damn good reason to not give up. We all start new hobbies or take up new interests, but if you want something to really stick, you need to love it. As Glennon Doyle said, “If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it.” You need to want whatever it is you're pursuing.
- Identify what motivates you and prioritize that. I once met a fellow runner who told me that he didn't feel inclined to lift weights or cross train, even though he knew it would help him run faster/healthier. It wasn't a priority for him. I do make time for these things, even though they're not always fun, because my desire to remain healthy and run faster outweighs the redundancy of gym time.
- Set small, achievable goals for yourself. My goal when I raced my first 50 miler was just to finish. Once I had a finish under my belt, I built reasonable goals out from there. You need to have a known starting place, and then you can chip away at a loftier goal, with incremental goals in place to help you stair-step your way there.
- Let go of self-doubt. There is no room for that here. Fear and self-doubt will inevitably sprout from whatever ground you're standing on, so you may has well stand in a fertile place. You will feel whatever emotion you focus on, so focus on something good: love, excitement, hope, gratitude, passion, etc.
- Practice builds confidence, and confidence precedes achievement. Not the kind of confidence born of arrogance or cockiness, which is arguably not confidence at all, but the kind of confidence that is calm and steady; quiet and true. The rule of 10,000 hours may or may not be true, but what is true, beyond any doubt, is that consistency breeds confidence.
- Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Not your goals or your successes. Not your triumphs or your pains. Not your failures, setbacks, body, face, brain, family, income, nothing. Comparison is truly the thief of joy, and the more you compare, the more unhappy you'll be. And, the more time you spend comparing, the less time you'll have to focus on you and to pursue your own goals.
- Learn from failure, but don't let it stop you. We've all heard that failure is a valuable teacher, but it still bites, right? It's bold and audacious to aim high. The higher you jump, the further you have to fall. But falling is bound to happen anyway. Put your blinders on and ignore anyone who is not supportive.
- Find people who support and believe in you. Villages raise children and villages accomplish goals. Americans are especially inclined toward individualism, but most of us would not be even semi-successful without the support of family, friends, colleagues, and partners. When you inevitably fall into a slump, your community of supporters will help you out of it
- Know when giving up is the right thing to do. If you're chasing a goal you consistently feel lukewarm about, you might be chasing the wrong goal. If you're chasing a goal because someone else told you to or because of someone else's expectations, you might be chasing the wrong goal. Sometimes, an attitude of "never giving up," is less inspiring and more harmful. Learn the difference.
P.S. Watch a slightly cheesy motivating poem/speech thing about not giving up here, read about not giving up here, or read an article from STMU about Oprah here.
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