No matter the goal, there will be a time when you want to give up. Knowing the bizarre reasons why people give up will help you stay the course and fight for your goal until you win.
Stuck in the past
There’s a whole segment of the workforce stuck in the past.
A guy I used to work with sounds like an encyclopedia. Every time I call him he starts to retell stories from IT projects he worked on in 1999.
He wants 2023 projects to work like that.
He wants to be in charge. He hates the new democratic ways of working. He’s always right. He’s the most “experienced.” He’s the expert. Get on your knees and worship him. He’s the king. Wrong.
If you live in the past you get stuck there.
Just because something happened a certain way before, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way forever. If you want the present to be the past, you’ll likely give up on your dreams because it’s an impossible scenario.
They move as fast as a snail
The modern dream requires speed to achieve.
My new neighbor is a strange fellow. He wants to talk for hours and hours while I’m backing out of the driveway. He hasn’t learned to respect people’s time and become self-aware.
You’ve been lied to.
Money doesn’t run the world … time does.
The rate of change has gone parabolic so unless you learn to move at the new faster pace, you’ll get left behind to eat the leftover scraps. Harsh but true.
- Move faster
- Act with urgency
- Pretend you’re going to die in a week — because you might
Expecting fast results
Impatient people piss me off.
Whatever your dream is, make sure you have the right time horizon. Let me say this for the 1000th time. Nothing magic happens in a week or even a month. The right timeframe for a meaningful goal is 5+ years.
When you think like that you approach the goal differently.
You play the long game and set yourself up for success. You won’t fall into the trap of sending rude DMs to get business, or only talking to people you can make money from in the next 10 mins.
Long games over short games, always.
Mindset is everything.
How you think determines how you’ll act.
That’s why it pays to study basic psychology to get access to the operating manual that runs your brain. Otherwise you’ll stand there thinking you’re special, when in fact, you’re just one of the pee-bodies like me that make up the 7B+ people on earth.
The best thing a person can do for their mindset is train themselves to see the positive in every situation. Another tactic is to tip the scales of your thoughts to lean more towards positivity than negativity.
Otherwise you become the Karen screaming at a pot plant for not smiling because you’ve had a bad day.
Choose the right mindset. Practice it.
Not enough belief in themselves
I interact with a lot of writing students via email. They constantly tell me they’re not good enough or they don’t have enough experience.
When I ask them to describe their 9–5 job and the work they do, they transport into this vivid description of their career experience.
I sit there mesmerized.
But they think their work experience doesn’t matter or it’s not special enough. The problem is a lack of belief. It’s easy not to collect the data points in your life that prove your value.
Like people will say “Oh, only 100 people saw me give a presentation.”
Only 100. That’s a lot of people!
Don’t dismiss these milestones. Instead, keep track of wins and use them as inspiration for when you feel like giving up.
They fear what could happen
It’s easy to accidentally try and predict the future.
When you want certainty that the path you’re taking is the right one it leads you down a dark path.
Before you know it you’re overthinking, overplanning, and procrastinating while watching Youtube videos of people’s reactions to eating their favorite chocolate cake.
Unless you’re a fortune-teller and own a teleportation device, you’re best to have faith in the decision you’ve made and see where it leads.
The fact the future is uncertain is what makes it interesting.
See failure and rejection as a sign to stop
Some people see mistakes as the end of the world.
They can’t believe they failed. They’re horrified by rejections. So when it happens they see it as a sign to stop and give up.
“See, I was right. I’m not good enough.”
In reality, failure and rejection are signs you’re on the right path. They demonstrate you’re in the game rather than a bystander waiting for stuff to happen.
The higher the rejection rate the more you learn.
The higher the number of failures the closer you are to figuring out what works and doesn’t.
Negative experiences shape the future. They’re how we truly learn. They provide more wisdom than a 4 year college degree based on theory.
Refuse to change
Some people are know-it-alls.
They won’t change because they must be right at all costs. And when new technology hits the market they’re the first to get infected with the skepticism virus. Everything is a scam or a get-rich-quick-scheme.
“We didn’t have AI before and we won’t have it in the future. It’ll be illegal.”
This refusal to change secretly makes them an unidentified alien. No one can relate to them anymore, so loneliness sets in.
Before they know it they’re 70-something and years away from being buried in the cemetery.
If you have a dream you’ll have to change a lot to achieve it.
They believe their unique victim story
It’s easy for failure and rejection to become part of your identity.
This is how you become a modern-day victim, in a culture where everyone feels oppressed, when most are light years away from oppression.
A reader emailed me yesterday and said “I’m too old to join your masterclass. I recovered from cancer ten years ago. I’m on a fixed income. My life is a mess. No one will hire me.”
All of that is just an excuse.
You can think of reasons to achieve your goal or reasons not to. Either way the choice will predict the future.
What hurts with the victim mindset is it can lead you to seek sympathy. You can hope for charity, or worse, expect charity.
But 99% of people aren’t going to save you because they’re trying to save themselves. That’s the brutal truth I didn’t want to hear in my 30s.
Give up the story. Write a new one.
Believe the world owes them something
Nobody is coming to save you. Especially not the president of a country.
Whatever you’ve gone through, the world owes you nothing. You’re already ahead by the simple fact you’re alive and reading this. Once you realize this at a subconscious level many common worries get vaporized.
If you had to make it on your own … what would you do?
Never dream big enough
I’m guilty of this.
My early adult dreams were far too small. Unless the goal is big enough it’s unlikely to motivate you to take action. Small goals feel small so they’re easy to give up on.
Dream bigger. Even if you shoot for the stars and only reach the moon, it’s still better than where you would have landed had you dreamed smaller.
They work to the bone
Hard work is one of the greatest lies of the modern era.
Sure, you need to work hard, but if you overdo it, you’ll crash and burn. I prefer to have defined moments of momentum and lighter moments to contrast them.
In the heavy work periods I use flow states to move forward. In the lighter moments I use rest and mindfulness to counteract the energy losses incurred while doing deep work.
Hustle culture lied to you. Too much work will cause you to give up.
Believe their problems are unique
Kelly’s a nice person I met on LinkedIn. She DM’d me to ask about publishing a book on Amazon.
She has issues with proofreaders, the publisher gave her a low advance, she has to market the book, and she’s gotta take time off work for the book launch which could affect her 9–5 job performance.
The implication was that nobody in the history of humanity has faced this problem before. But this is a common problem.
Most problems aren’t unique.
I once faced this book launch problem. My students have too. And many of my writer friends are facing these problems right now.
Remind yourself no problem is unique, then what’ll happen is you’ll find communities of people with the same problem and get help.
This will prevent you from banging your head against a brick wall and having to get paramedics to patch up your sexy head.
Do this instead of giving up
The root causes of giving up on your dreams are overthinking, high expectations, and negative self-talk. Take a break from this hell.
Build a new network of friends who are the opposite of your former self. Be kinder to yourself. Have a little faith. Treat life like a series of experiments. Make a few small bets. Dare to dream. And have more fun.
Life is only hard if you make it that way by giving up so easily.