So many times in life we feel like quitting. Maybe, we’ve been pursuing the same goal for a while, and it feels like we’re not getting anywhere. Sometimes quitting the best option. But most of the time when we quit we’ve given up too early. You can probably remember times you were about to quit and then something unexpected happened to turn the situation around. Maybe you were just about to quit your job search, and an offer finally came through. And, if we look back on some of the times we actually did quit, it’s only with benefit of hindsight that we see how close to the finish line we actually were. If we had just hung in a little longer . . .
Research shows people are most likely to quit when they’re close to the finish line or in the final stages of a project. Why? Most people underestimate the difficulty of the final stretch. The initial enthusiasm and novelty have worn off. Fatigue and doubt have set in. If you’re a runner, you know your mind fatigues long before your body does. Then, you see the finish line and motivation to continue arises again. The problem is that for most of life, unlike a race, we don’t know where the finish line is and often can’t see it. To make sure we’re not taking ourselves out of the race too soon, here are some tips:
1. Break large goals into smaller ones. In other words, break your marathon into a series of smaller races or sprints. This has the net effect of moving the finish line closer to you. Keep track of your progress on these smaller goals and celebrate these finishes. This keeps your motivation up to go the distance.
2. Reframe quitting as a “time out.” Semantics are important. Quitting is final, a time out is temporary. When you’re at an impasse and feel defeated, make the decision take a time out, and work on something else. Give yourself an opportunity to regroup and after a break, you’ll probably choose to continue working on your goal.
3. Coach yourself. What you say to yourself impacts your stamina and motivation. Here are some of my favorites: “Think long,” and “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
SO, the next time you feel like quitting, try these tips And remember, “It’s not over till it’s over.”
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.