How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Giving Up
Months into my blogging journey, I started to feel the urge to walk away from the whole thing.
No matter what I did, the stats on my site weren’t improving. My readership wasn’t growing as fast as I liked, hardly anyone commented on my articles, and engagement on my social media pages was nonexistent. It seemed like people just didn’t care about what I had to say.
A voice at the back of my head taunted me: “This was such a failure, might as well throw in the towel now.”
Another voice, more comforting this one, said: “You gave it a good shot. Maybe this just isn’t for you.”
It Wasn’t the First Time I Felt Like Giving Up
I’m quite familiar with the feelings of overwhelming frustration, hopelessness, and defeat. Like the time I kept failing my math tests in grade 8 (by failing I mean getting a “C”, since that’s equivalent to an “F” in Asian culture). Or the time I couldn’t even finish a 5 km run in gym class.
But nothing felt worse than the time when I found out that my cancer treatment would take months longer than originally anticipated, all because my blood count wasn’t recovering as fast as the typical Leukemia patient. Wait, there’s worse—being told that I’ve relapsed barely two years later, after being declared cancer-free for only a short while. Oh, and how can I forget—just as life started to feel normal again after I defeated cancer not once, but twice, I was diagnosed with a serious and progressive lung disease.
How I wanted to just throw my hands up in the air and shout “you win!” to the universe and resign myself to my fate then.
But I didn’t. I kept going. I kept fighting my health challenges and I kept writing my blog, even though there were moments when I came close to waving that white flag.
What gave me the fuel to hang on and keep moving forward?
I kept reminding myself of 5 important lessons I had learned about life and motivation.
And what, exactly, are they? That’s what I’m going to show you next. If you’re struggling with a goal, a personal crisis, or just life in general, read on. These tips may give you the boost of motivation you need.
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5 Things To Remember When You Feel Like Giving Up
1. It’s Not “You Can’t”, It’s “You Can’t Yet”
If you haven’t watched this amazing talk by renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck, YOU NEED TO. It will open your eyes to the powers of “yet”. This is one of the secret weapons that have helped me (and continues to help me) face problems head-on and persist till the end.
What is the “power of yet”, you ask? Well, without completely spoiling her talk for anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s a concept called “the growth mindset”. Instead of looking at ourselves—our skills, knowledge, and abilities—as carved in stone, a growth mindset allows us to think of ourselves as a “work in progress”.
And it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to confronting obstacles. Her research in the field of motivation shows that those with a fixed mindset are more likely to avoid challenges in the first place, and they give up more easily when they’re up against one. Those with a growth mindset however, see challenges as opportunities for them to learn and grow. They tend to persist longer on a problem and have more fun doing it!
Now here’s a simple way you can cultivate a growth mindset:
Next time you catch yourself say the words “I can’t”, change that to “I can’t yet”. The same goes for “I don’t know how to do …” or “I’m not good at…” Whenever you come across a self-limiting thought, try adding “yet” to the end of that sentence, repeat it a few times and let it sink in.
Do you feel the difference?
2. Look at How Far You’ve Come, Not Just How Far You’ll Have to Go
When the road ahead looks daunting and you know you still have a long way to go, it’s natural to feel like giving up.
When I first started hiking years ago, my only concern—whenever I hit a tough spot in the middle of a long hike—was “how much farther do I have to go?”
I’d pull out my phone, turn on the Google map, and if I see that blue dot showing I still have a long way to go to reach the end of the trail, I’d suddenly feel so tired that I just want to collapse to the ground.
One time, after checking the map and realizing we were still at least 2 hours away from the destination, I said to my husband and usual hiking companion: “Let’s turn back. I can’t do this anymore.”
He looked at me, then pointed to the map on the phone, and said: “We have a long way to go, that’s true. But look at how far we’ve come.”
I followed his finger as he showed me where the trail began and where we were then. My eyes widened when I saw that the line connecting the two points was so long. At that moment I realized we had come such a long way that turning back would take almost the same time as moving forward.
I was so focused on the distance ahead of me that I lost sight of how far I’d walked—and all the obstacles I had conquered on the trail—to get to that point.
So if you’re constantly counting the steps ahead and thinking to yourself: “How much farther do I have to go?” It’s time to stop and shift your focus. Take your eyes off of the road in front of you and the goalpost far off in the distance. Instead, look back on the steps you’ve already taken to get to where you are, and celebrate the long way you have come.
3. Everyone Has Their Own Pace
It’s hard to not feel bad when you compare yourself to others who are on the same journey.
Remember the story I mentioned earlier about the delay in my cancer treatment? When my doctors told me that my progress was slower than expected, I was devastated. I found myself anxiously comparing myself to every patient I knew around me. The more I compared myself to others, the more I became frustrated with myself.
Why am I not progressing as fast as everyone else? I kept asking myself. At one point I wondered if I’ll ever get better.
But as my treatment and recovery continued, I started to see things from a different perspective.
I realized that every one of us is a unique individual with a unique set of circumstances that determines our experiences and outcomes in life. It’s impossible to make a truly accurate comparison when everyone—from their genetics, environment, diet, and habits—is so different.
I learned to accept the fact that I was recovering at a pace that was slower than average, and that my treatment would be longer than anyone anticipated. But none of that mattered as long as I was moving in the right direction in my journey back to health.
If you’re worried about the speed of your progress compared to everybody else, don’t be. Like the tortoise and the hare story, some people who make a lot of progress initially don’t always achieve a better result in the end, whereas “slow and steady” is a tried-and-true recipe for long-term success.
And even if you never catch up to someone, so what? The view on the journey is the same, you just have more time to savour it.
4. You’re Not Alone
When you encounter a difficult hurdle—one that you can’t seem to leap over no matter what you do—it can make you feel hopeless and alone. You feel like you’re the only one who fights to float when everyone else swims effortlessly. And that by itself is enough to make you want to quit.
A big part of why I felt like giving up on blogging was because, for a period of time after I started, I kept my struggles to myself. I didn’t tell anyone that I was having a hard time coping with feelings of inadequacy and dejection over my blog. I was embarrassed that my blog wasn’t doing as well as I had hoped, and even more ashamed about the fact that it bothered me enough for me to shed tears over it. And because of that, I thought I was the only one wrestling with these negative emotions. Eventually, these feelings just wore me down.
Finally, I began to reach out to other bloggers and openly talk about my struggles.
Most of them were not only helpful and understanding, but they also shared with me how they felt the same way either at that point, or not so long ago in their blogging journey.
Their stories provided a great deal of comfort and reassured me that I was not the only one grappling with the challenges of blogging. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to keep the flame in the candle of your willpower from burning out—knowing that you’re not alone in whatever it is you’re facing.
So before you give up on something because you think everyone else but you have got it all figured out, reach out and talk to someone. If you’re willing to be open about your struggles, I’m sure you’ll find that you’re not alone.
5. Persistence is the Answer
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” —James N. Watkins
What image comes to mind when you think of the word “success”?
Is it along the lines of somebody with a glowing, confident smile, standing at the top of a mountain, in the centre of a podium, or on a stage in front of thousands of enthralled audiences?
That’s great, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to have a moment like that? But what we often don’t realize is that there were probably thousands, tens of thousands, or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of hours of blood, tears, and sweat leading to that moment of glory. Do we get to see these “behind-the-scenes” footage? No, we don’t.
Which leads me to my next point: Persistence is the answer to success—whether it’s achieving success in your health, career, family life, or everything else. Sure, some people get lucky and don’t have to work as hard to generate a certain result, but that’s the rare exception, not the norm.
For most people (and that likely includes you and definitely includes me), there is no magic bullet. There’s only one thing that’ll help you get to that goal or that desired state of being: consistently putting in the work.
So when I felt like giving up on blogging, I once again reminded myself of the power of persistence. It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that, but I’m glad I did. Now I’ve built something I’m proud of—something that aligns with my values and gives meaning to my life’s story.
What more can I ask?
Before you go, be sure to leave me a comment. Because well—ahem (cough)—it really helps me keep blogging. 🙂
And be sure to check out this post where I talk about the one method that made a huge difference in my persistence. With this method, anyone who finds it hard to focus, commit, and follow through with something (raise my hand), can learn to stick to their goals.