Most things aren’t impossible, most people just give up too soon.
The number one reason people don’t get what they want is because they give up too soon. That’s a true stat that I just made up, but I would venture to guess it’s not far off. You’ve probably given up on a lot of things before.
- You didn’t get the first job you wanted – so you gave up.
- The first business you started working on failed – so you gave up.
- The first time you went out for a run, you puked – so you gave up.
- The first time you sent in a writing piece, you got turned down – so you gave up.
It could be anything, but chances are whatever it is, it boiled down to this: you didn’t get what you wanted right away so you gave up.
You called it in. You packed it up and you headed home.
STOP GIVING UP.
Perseverance, next to adaptability is the most important skill you can have. And it’s just that, a skill. Like any other skill in the world, you might be born with a more natural ability to persevere than others, but you can learn to stick with things and persevere if you want to. In fact, the one thing that sets people I know who succeed in the long run over the people who don’t is the ability to persevere, keep going and never give up.
The goal of this article is to get you to stop giving up!
Luckily, like everything, not giving up is a skill you can learn. Here are some strategies for never giving up to help you the next time you want to quit.
1. Go Workout
Table of Contents
A long run can clear your mind in ways that few other things can. Same with a solid session of throwing around a lot of heavy weight. Get moving. Go do something different. Push yourself physically. The best way to get past imaginary limits is to make them as physical as possible and then physically smash them into pieces. When you do that it reminds you that the limits that seem so real in your mind, aren’t real at all. When you’re in the weight room, the iron never lies. It shows you exactly who you are and that with solid hard work you can overcome something you used to think was impossible to do.
The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs.
Friends may come and go.
But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds. – Henry Rollins – Iron and the Soul
2. Watch Someone Do Something Impossible
What can you do? You’re just a little tiny person on earth. Good thing people are capable of doing incredible things.
When it feels like you can’t do anything, it can be helpful to be reminded by others who have done amazing things despite the annoying hindrance of being merely human.
- One person can start a movement that changes a country.
- One person went from getting cut from his high school team to the greatest basketball player ever.
- One person helped start Apple – the world’s most valuable company.
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you.” – Steve Jobs
Go watch someone do something impossible. Then go do something impossible yourself. One person can change the world. Be that person.
3. Listen To Your Go-To Song
Everyone needs a good pump up song. I don’t really listen to music much when I’m working out, but I do need the help to get out the door. Find something that works for you. When things start getting hard, pump up the music, put on your headphones and get after it.
This is my go-to song that gets me out of the door when I’m feeling lazy.
4. Climb A Mountain
Sometimes the real reason for quitting is a complete lack of belief that you can actually do the impossible. Show yourself you can actually do it. Go do something ridiculously hard and don’t tell anyone. Climb a mountain and tell no one. Remind yourself what you’re capable of. Then keep going.
5. Find A Door And Go Through It
This video from David Goggins is one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever seen. If you’ve never seen it, go watch it now (I’ll be here when you’re done)
David’s an ultra-marathoner and in the video he describes that throughout certain parts of the race you feel like giving up when you hit a wall. But the wall isn’t the problem – the problem is giving up. When you hit a wall, it’s not the end of the road, you have to keep going. Go parallel right, and parallel left until you find a door in the wall. Once you find that door, you can either give up or keep going. If you want to finish, you have to open that door. When you do, your mind resets and you break through the wall and you keep going.
Find the door, open it and keep going.
6. Be Honest With Yourself
Sometimes you need to lock yourself in a room, and scream at the top of your lungs.
Do that until you turn purple.
Got that out of your system? Good. Then get back to work.
7. Find Someone To Call You Out
Sometimes you have legitimate reasons for wanting to quit. Lots of times you’re simply making up excuses for when things get hard. Find someone who’d going to call you out when you start coming up with excuses. Someone that’s going to call you on your BS.
A lot of friends want to be encouraging and they do it in the nicest way possible, but unfortunately, nice isn’t always a good thing. Honest friends – people who tell you what you need to hear whether you like or not – are rare and while it’s nice to be coddled, sometimes you need to be called out.
If you need someone to call you out, I try to help out with that. Get on the email list for no BS call-outs directly to your inbox.
Sit around. Put your head in your hands. Curl up in a ball. Cry. Feel bad for yourself. Do whatever you have to. Wallow and throw yourself a pity party. But (and this is important) give yourself a time limit for wallowing.
You can’t wallow forever. Give yourself a set time to wallow (preferably not over 24 hours) and then get back to it and do something.
9. Think About Why
Ask yourself, “Why are you doing this again?”
You should have a really good reason. Otherwise, pause, take a break and figure it out.
Then keep going.
10. Just Quit
You don’t have to finish everything. If you’re doing the wrong thing, you should be quitting. But you need to quit the right things – not everything. If you quit everything, you either need to get better at choosing what to start or learn to adapt and perserve more.
It’s also good to note that quitting an activity, doesn’t mean quitting altogether and giving up. If you quit something, do it because you need to focus on something else or do something better. Don’t simply quit because it’s the easy thing to do. Quit because you’re quitting the right thing.
11. Tree Counting
Whenever I do long distance races, there’s always a point where you want to stop. When that happens, I start counting trees. How it works is that while running, you pick out a tree 50 yards in front of you. You tell yourself to keep going until that tree. As soon as you hit that next tree, pick another tree out and keep going. Repeat as necessary.
12. Take Cold Showers
If you want to give up because you’re afraid to take the next step, take 30 days of cold shower therapy and get used to stepping into something you’re scared of and realize that it’s never as bad as your imagination makes it out to be.
13. Forget About It
You got rejected, turned down or met some other minor setback? Forget about it. Literally just forget about it. Move on to something else instead and put that out of your mind.
In my mind sometimes, I think things were really, really easy, because looking back on things I tend to forget all the hard parts. I look at whatever I did and think “well that wasn’t so hard.”
Of course it’s wasn’t now that you’re done with it!
But there were a ton of times along the way that things were difficult, but I just put them out of my head. It turns out, I have a very short term memory of all the times I’ve screwed up, failed, and been rejected. It’s not that they didn’t happen – it’s just that I didn’t let them stop me. I put them out of my mind and kept going, with whatever added wisdom I picked up from that experience.
For example: When I first started writing online, I sent a bunch of samples to a few blogs that I thought were great, only to get rejected time after time after time. I’d spend a week on an article only to get a “no thanks” back from a blog I thought was amazing. So I quit, packed up my laptop ran to my room, cried for a few months and never wrote another thing again, right?
Well, actually I just made my own site and started writing. And I still wasn’t any good. I was bad when I started (really bad), but I’ve gotten less and less bad as time goes on. As I’ve improved I realize those sites that I thought were amazing, weren’t that amazing after all. They were good, and they were right (the pieces I sent them weren’t great) but they weren’t blogging Gods and their judgment of wherever I was at the time, didn’t mean I couldn’t improve and get better. I still get rejected all the time, but I just keep going.
If you’re facing a setback, rejection, or failure, sometimes it’s easy to turn on your short term memory and continue anyways.
14. Reframe Your Story
Reframing your story is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Rethink the lens you’re looking at your life through. Instead of worrying about the struggle you’re in the midst of, remind yourself you’re a character in a story. Characters experience conflict and the conflict you’re going through is part of what’s going to make your story so great in the end.
Your current circumstances are not final outcomes.
Your circumstances define the conflict, but not the final result. The harder the struggle, the greater the story. The more triumphant it is in the end when you overcome the conflict you find yourself immersed in.
When other people give up, you keep going and remember that there’s more to the story than what you’re experiencing right now.
15. Keep Your Head Up.
The crap you’re going to seems so immense because you’re focused directly on it – looking directly into and analyzing every piece of crap that flies your way. When you raise your head up, you look beyond the mess you’re stuck in right now and see the bigger picture and sometimes that’s all you need. Keeping your head up allows you to see the simple solution to the problem that you used to think was ridiculously complex.
16. Realize You Get To Do This
You get the opportunity to do this. To be able to change your life, try something impossible and actually do it. There are people all over the world that don’t get the opportunities you do.
It’s sounds ridiculous, but there are people throughout the world that would kill to deal with the pain and agony of starting their own business, being healthy enough to run a marathon or the freedom to choose what job they want to spend their life doing.
Realizing that most of the world doesn’t get the opportunities you do, lets you take advantage of the ones you have rather than complaining about how difficult they may seem.
17. Make Quitting Not An Option
Just decide that you’re not going to quit. This is so effective, and so simple, but hardly anyone does it. Just decide you’re not going to quit.
No matter what. Period. End of Story.
If you get punched in the face. Keep going. If you go bankrupt. Suck it back up and keep going. If you get laughed at, mocked or pushed down. Just get back up. Get back at it and keep going. Be relentless.
Fall down seven times. Get up eight. – Japanese Proverb
Decide that quitting is not an option and, no matter how many times you fail, it won’t be an option.
There you go, 17 strategies for persevering and not giving up. Now go do something impossible and don’t quit!
Did I miss anything? Any strategies that work for you, that you’d like to add?
photo credit: Erik Charlton cc
Thomas Frank says
I think #7 – having someone to call you out – is one of the most important strategies we can use to keep ourselves going.
I’ve been running every day since April started, and I probably would have skipped some days by now if I didn’t have my running group on Twitter who would yell at me if I did.
Shauna Stacy says
Great post! Number 17 is the best one, IMO. As soon as you make the baby steps to your impossible thing an option, each step becomes a negotiation, and – ultimately – a chore.
Cole Bradburn says
“Your current circumstances are not final outcomes.” Boom.
Reframing your story is a great idea. I hadn’t thought about that before, and can see how powerful it could be.
I love this site specifically for posts like this promoting action. Reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, it’s the action of doing that matters.
I had this thought when reading:
Perseverance + Adaptability = Resilience.
Tyler Hurst says
Start a fight…and lose.
Paint a picture.
Go to the batting cage.
Imagine, and let yourself FEEL everything, something illegal and brutal.
Go play a first-person shooter.
Find the humor in it and laugh. Everyone will think you’re crazy, but who cares?
I read that story by Henry Rollins at least once a month to stay motivated. He is a great human and has made incredible music. Great post!
Alan Reeves says
My personal favorite is #14 – Reframe Your Story. This one has served me well throughout the years. You can reframe your failures as learning experiences, hard times as character building exercises, and even stupid risks as something not to do again. It’s not easy at times, but sometimes, it is one of the only choices you have.
Your ability to reframe your story is greatly helped by your willingness to gain a new perspective and your desire to learn from your mistakes.
Thanks for the list Joel. I don’t agree with all of them, but it is a great list.
Jarie Bolander says
My favorite is “just keep moving”.
Anytime I feel like quitting, I pick an easy task or object and push to make it. Kinda like #11 when you run and you just want to make it to the next light pool or bend in the road or aid station.
Having someone call you out is another great one. In fact, I like telling people so I can’t back out (e.g. #17 Make Quitting not an option).
Amy Schmittauer says
I love how quitting being okay and quitting not being an option are both on this list. It sounds crazy but it also makes perfect sense. Thanks Joel.
Nate Pennington says
Awesome post Joel. Love it and love the message of this blog. It correlates to what I have done in my running career thus far and this is the whole reason around doing anything well. Take risks. Christ taught in the exemplar method and put forth a message so powerful and universal I had it tattooed on my arm 10 years ago. Mark 10.27…with man this is impossible, not with God, ALL things ARE possible with God.
You may not be religious and that is fine but the universal truth lies in forgetting what the world says is impossible and following the innate ability already instilled in within birth..find it, nurture it, read blog of impossible things and surround yourself with people who have driven to the truth day in and day out by doing things that truly test the human limits.
All the best and thanks,
#3: Go-to song. I have two, one is Henry Rollin’s “Shine”. The phrase “no such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time, no such thing as down time, all you got is life time… go!”
The other is Social Distortion’s “Reach for the sky”. The chorus being “Reach for the sky, ’cause tomorrow may never come.” I have listened to this many times before but the first time I heard it after we lost our eldest son (KIA in Iraq,2-May-2008) it just laid me out on my ass. Since then it’s been a great motivator.
The Mad Quacker says
Great post Joel. Your posts keep moving to a higher level. Skip the improbable and keep doing the impossible.
Thanks for not quitting and attempting to motivate the world.
The 9th is where all starts to me. The other ones are but a reflection of being clear in the Why. I think we don’t recognize something supporting us if we aren’t clear into the reasons of doing what we wanna do.
I’m utilizing #8 today =P lucky I have the other 16 to pick me back up tomorrow!
I’m a total stranger and I want you to know that this post gave me goosebumps, made me cry and helped me more than anything with my determinations. I needed these words so bad. I don’t know you, I just came across this post by google search, but I want you to know you made someone very happy and helped them when nothing else would. You’re a hero! Thank you so much!
As a young man I studied martial arts. The first thing the instructor would do as we lined up in formation was have us at attention and he would yell at the top of his lungs:
“Students, NEVER GIVE UP!”
We, as students would then shout back at the top of our lungs:
“NEVER GIVE UP!”
“NEVER GIVE UP!”
“NEVER GIVE UP!”
Three times just like that. We did the exact same exercise 90 minutes later after practice. same thing:
“NEVER GIVE UP”
“NEVER GIVE UP”
“NEVER GIVE UP”
It is an extremely powerful (and even spiritual) feeling when you have 35 people all shouting as loud as they can, trying to make the walls shake with the volume, to eradicate any possible doubts completely out of the mind, and fill the mind with only one focus…all united in one thought of determination no matter what…
“NEVER GIVE UP!”
In my 12 years of running a one man business I have had many set-backs, they seem to never stop. But each time I get hurt, I go back to the time when I was a student of the martial arts and I remember vividly standing at attention and yelling at my spirit,
“NEVER GIVE UP!”
Strategy #8: If you ever have a set back and doubt begins to creep into your mind, I suggest you stand at attention, look directly forward, eyes penetrating and yell at the top of your lungs three times in a row;
“NEVER GIVE UP!”
Your brain may not hear it at first but with practice, your spirit will, and it will take you one step forward. And when you yell those words at the top of your voice imagine an enemy figure, a dragon, personify the obstacle with a physical being and stare at that enemy so he can feel the intensity of your commitment.
In the martial arts yelling (Ki-Ai) is actually a physical way of releasing internal energy towards overcoming danger, fear, or an obstacle. It is very powerful when you learn how to use it as a tool for perseverance.
It seems a very good exercise 🙂 thank you for sharing it.
Joan Casey says
This Is AWESOME!!!!!
Never give up without a Fight is My Addition to this!!!
Thank u so much for posting this!!! I will seriously never give up!!
I love my life and love people who appreciate other people.. 😀
I want to inspire people too in my young age im only 19 years old (in Asia that’s still young). Thank u very much 😀
This article is unbelievable. Thank you Joel.
Amazing article. Seriously, things don’t happen because people give up too easy. This article just made my life more easy. Life sucks, everybody agrees. But not always. Not if you work your ass off to get what you want!
what you do when everyone says to quit but you dont want to?
First, you’re EXACTLY right. One simply has to possess the courage to ABSOLUTELY never give up. Unlike a ball game or a horse race, nothing in the perpetuity of life is EVER OVER until you die. There are ALWAYS more versus in the song, always more chapters to the book. I don’t care if it takes 20, 30 or MORE years. You simply NEVER give up.
Bravery isn’t the absence of fear, its the courage to go on in the face of it. If one never gives up, the seemingly impossible CAN be attained.
This is an excellent article. I’ve written for a national magazine and many newspapers and your work is very well written and highly inspirational.
Throwing in the towel is NEVER an option; very fine and well written article.
george owino says
Rithvika Mili says
It was an awesome post!!
It really made me realize who i am now…
You have to believe it in your self, that you can do it! And you are the one whos gonna make it come true!
GET UP !! BUT NEVER EVER GIVE UP !!
Chris Jones says
I just rad your article on 17 ways to not giving up and it’s good. I already knew these things but sometimes a person needs to have his memory refreshed. I’ve been apart from my family for a little over 2 months and have another month to go. I moved for work and to better my family’s lives. I’m staying with friends and that is a help, but being apart is the worst feeling one can go through. I’ve been trying to find a place for us to live and hit 1 roadblock after another. Everybody knows who doubt is, he’s that little guy that hops on your shoulder and tells you you’re making a mistake. He’s trying to make you give up. It’s not in my nature and I have thought about it a lot. Everytime I do, I think about my wife and kids. It hurts me to think about them because I cant see them or hold them, but I think about the future that they will have where we are moving and that keeps me here. I can’t afford to give up. The only thing I ask is for is prayers and it seems like they are going unanswered. I am a Christian but I’ve gotten to the point that if God is not going to help me in my struggles now, then fine, I’ll do it myself. If anyone has any pointers that would be great, I’m not giving up but I do need encouragement. It’s not something I am getting a whole lot of. Thank you for writing the article. Maybe in time I will see God’s hand in this but right now it feels more like I’ve been abandoned. Still, I will not curse His name. Maybe, He is teaching me something, I don’t know. But I will win this struggle with help or no help.
the post is a year old and i hope you get to read my feedback. God in our lives is made with our choices. God is not a person or someone which can be comprehended by a perishable being such as we are. to make him help you you must make decisions which are dark in nature, or very light, or balance of both in order to achieve your goals. God does not deny us happiness and prosperity, however the rules of this world are based on precision and nothing-is-for-free rules, pay now or later but it has to match what you wish to take.
long term goals extend into eternity, short term ones are not as important but consume time so we choose wisely.
you are correct, if you stuck then God does what your inner calls for, to teach you a lesson which may cost you your life. in essense you are learning with the help of the God what you chose to learn.
i hope you heard me. go as far as you have to, just don’t hurt others as you do. hurting yourself by extending your personal limits must be the key.
Thank you so much for this. This definitely helped me stay focused and not give up. I have been struggling with completing things I start. i tend to give up easy when I can’t get it right. I think i need someone to call me out, I recently started doing push ups and sit ups and I haven’t missed a day so far, it has been a week. Im very proud of myself for that. Once again thank you this is going to motive me even more :))
I’m sorry to say, perseverance isn’t the “guaranteed” way of getting what you want anymore. I was once interested in becoming a filmmaker. I went to Los Angeles, spent ten years trying to get to where I wanted to be. I never got there. There were always things people were never willing to give me. And don’t tell me “I had to get it myself,” because that’s what I’d been doing from the beginning. So I quit. Perseverance doesn’t always work, because in some cases, people must be willing to acknowledge your accomplishments and your diligence. If they never do that, you don’t stand a chance.
Joel Runyon says
There are other ways to become a filmmaker besides hollywood.
Azzarra Shea says
Number 17 struck me like lighting. I bet he’s right, for some of us, quitting is not just an option but a decision, we are willing to make because we never tried hard. Tips when you think giving up is the answer: Never decide when you are awfully down because you might regret it for the rest of your life. Think and Visualize, weigh things first then that’s the time you decide if you want to give up or not. Remember – Winners don’t quit and Quitters don’t win.
Mark Hallam says
I think it would be better if you used lesser known examples than Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Michael Jordan. These people are rare and not common. It would be better to use fairly unknown people, who have succeeded, as people could buy into this much easier. You might think this is negative thinking but it ain’t, it’s just that people need to believe something is possible before they start it.
You say here ‘There are other ways to become a filmmaker besides hollywood.’ This is exactly my point. When you only look at the most extreme examples of success, you only see one path, when in fact there are many paths.
I might not be able to get a job as a web designer, but maybe I can become a freelancer?
I have never commented on a blog post but this one deserves it. I was about to quit on something that i deeply want because it seemed impossible but not anymore. Thanks. And that last comment reminds me of Eminem’s song “Success is my only motherfucking option failure’s not “
Luna Darcy says
Thanks for this. I’m inspired. Great pieces of advices and I agree especially with the wallowing part.
Thomas Rich says
You have just spoken through me..Thank you this so helpful.
This is just an amazing post. Thank you for motivating me again. Oh, and yes, you write wonderfully.
Shawn Lim says
Love your story in #13.
This is exactly what I needed to hear right now.
I will just forget about all the rejections and setbacks.
Just focus on my dreams and my goals and keep moving forward.
Thanks for sharing this inspirational piece. 🙂
I found this article because I was writing out my prayers for myself and my children and it really hit me that i quit everything. I googled why do I quit everything and this piece came up. God directed me here, I know that because it helped me more than anything ever could. Thank you for never giving up despite the rejection and persevering. If you hadn’t written this, you would have missed the opportunity to bless countless people. By the way, cool theme song. Mine is survivor by destinys child. Be blessed and thanks
Rv singh says
I just know…slave of mind,slave of situation Too..that’s LIFE.
& another thing “nothing fucks more then time” remember it when you lose hope,motive.
Some time we are powerful thing of this galaxy & sometime just little shit..😎
Remember and flow…..