What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting

Suzanne Falter-Barnes has some helpful steps to consider taking when we feel like throwing in the towel.

Sooner or later, I can guarantee there will come a day when you decide the results aren't shaping up quickly enough, or neatly enough, or clearly enough and you entertain thoughts of quitting.

Since by now you know the evils of quitting, I'll focus instead on what to do to help you hang tough. Here are steps to make sure your decision is the right one.

1. Take a break. Take a weekend or a week off from your project to think about what you're doing. Often just some absence from the work, especially if you've been chipping away at it every day for a long time, is enlightening. You can gain just enough perspective to evaluate what's truly going on. You might even want to take time to ask yourself the questions at the end of this article. Then, instead of acting rashly, you can act rationally.

2. Take a spiritual retreat. In the spirit of all the great religious seekers who ever wandered a desert, take a day, weekend, week or even more time if you can to tune in, spiritually. This could be a friend's weekend house by the beach (if you go, make sure you've got some time to get away by yourself), a yoga retreat, a nearby nature sanctuary or state park that permits camping or even a monastery or spiritual sanctuary.

By removing yourself from the hustle bustle of everyday life and going into a contemplative quiet place, you can really make the deep, life-altering decisions such times demand. I urge you to choose a place that is not only nurturing and soothing to your spirit, but one that allows you plenty of space, time and quiet to sort out your thoughts.

3. Write down what's going on. Your journal could be your greatest ally in this process, if you make time to empty your brain of all those frightened, frustrated thoughts that are kicking around in there. There is nothing worse for the creative flow than 'brain jam', the condition where your thoughts become so intense that they clog up your ability to think rationally. Too much thinking can paralyze you from any kind of action, and so you miss the opportunity to  move forward. Again, take a look at the list of questions that follow and answer them for yourself in writing.

4. Get support. Just like an AA member contemplating going on a bender, you need to call your 'sponsor' or greatest supporter and get help. This is precisely why you lined them up in the first place—so when the chips are down, they can talk you on to the next victory. If you feel squeamish about appearing in front of them in your most bedraggled state, remember that you would want them to come to you if they needed help this badly.

5. List the pros and cons. If none of the above seem to work, sit down with a piece of paper and evaluate the pros and cons of quitting your endeavor. Be brutally honest with yourself, and make sure each list is complete. Don't leave a single pro or con unconsidered. Then walk away from your list. Take a look at it again in a few days, when you've had time for your thoughts to settle. Your perspective should be clearer and the answer obvious.

Try This . . .

Ten Important Questions To Ask Yourself When You Feel Like Quitting

    1. What have I learned from my work in the past?

    2. What am I learning now?

    3. Have I generally been a quitter in life?

    4. What would I leave behind if I quit?

    5. What will I never know about if I quit?

    6. How will I feel about this at the end of my life?

    7. What do I need to keep going?

    8. What do I still need to learn?

    9. How will I feel if I can achieve my goal?

    10. How will achieving my goal help other people?

For information on how to actually leave your job, find the energy and track down the mental space to live your dreams, check out Suzanne’s e-book, “Living Your Joy* How to Find the Time, the Money and the Energy to Live Your Dream (And Still Pay the Bills!)” available at http://www.howmuchjoy.com/livingyourjoy.html

Suzanne Falter-Barnes is the author of How Much Joy Can You Stand? A Creative Guide To Facing Your Fears and Making Your Dreams Come True (Ballantine Wellspring) Her free ezine, The Joy Letter, brings you a crisp, fresh burst of inspiration for your dream every week or two. Sign up at http://www.howmuchjoy.com/joyletter.html and receive her valuable report, “Thirty-Five Guaranteed Time Savers”. It helps you create time to finally live your dreams.

© 2002 Suzanne Falter-Barns http://www.howmuchjoy.com/

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