image: Ngoc Tang
Ever feel like quitting? Ever feel like whatever you're working on doesn't matter and it would just be so much easier to throw in the towel?
If so, this is for you. And for me.
Because I feel like quitting — a lot. I often want to give up when the shiitake hits the fan and I can't figure out technology, the internet doesn't work (which happens almost daily here in Mexico), when my blood sugar drops and I get tired, when clients cancel (or there are slow weeks without many clients) or when people didn't show up to my (pre-covind) art shows, or when they do yet don't buy anything... well, you get the idea, right?
When things aren't going the way that I think they 'should' I get a serious case of it-doesn't-matter and want to quit. Yet, today, I'm not going to quit. Today I got out of bed at 0615 to sit down and create an acronym that you and I can both use when times get hard, or challenging. It's an acronym using the words KEEP GOING, which I'm spelling KEEPAH GOING (best said with a heavy Italian accent) You'll see why I spelled it that way in a minute... Let's get started.
K is for kindness. When you're frustrated, upset or just frickin' lost about what to do next, be kind to your Self. Take a hot bath, go out in nature, pour your Self a cup of tea, call a supportive friend. Have a number of 'go to' self-care actions available (you might want to keep a list on the fridge or on your nightstand in times of need.)
E stands for Everything is Figureoutable. Based on this amazing book by Marie Forleo that I read this week. Her tried and true philosophy for the past 20+ years is that everything is figureoutable. When life gets difficult, as it sometimes does, it's immensely helpful to know that regardless of what we're facing, there's always a solution. Saying "everything is figureoutable" out loud to your Self several times a day can really help when you're tempted to quit. I highly recommend the book!
E is also for Engage. Many of us who are working by ourselves or trying to get a new project or business off the ground are doing it alone. The good news is that there are dozens of groups, both in person and online, where you can reach out for support, ideas, and encouragement. I always loved the adage 'it takes a village' and remember that it refers to more than just raising a child. It can also refer to the support that each of us needs to keep going. Engage with others who can help and support you in times of need, OK?
P is for Patience. Likely one of the more difficult steps in this program, especially if you feel like you've been at it for awhile. When I was first getting my feet wet with improv, I hired the incomparable Meridith Grundei to lead a workshop at our theatre space. "The first five years of improv are the hardest," she said. The first five years? What? I wanna be good NOW. Yet, hearing her words allowed me to take my time in learning the craft, to be patient, to grow. So please be patient with yourself, OK? This is gonna be vitally important in the long haul. And likely your project, business idea, or proposal is going to take twice as long and be twice as difficult as originally thought, yes?
A stands for Action. Thanks for allowing me to be creative with the spelling, but I really, really needed an "A" in this acronym. Anyone who's known me for more than like 17 seconds knows that I'm a total fan of taking Action. Especially Inspired Action — those actions that lead us in the direction of our dreams. Wanna write a novel but spend all your time cleaning the litter box and reading the news? Instead, try this: Be really clear about what your dream is, and then break it down to small, micro actions. Then take 1 action a day. And the next day, do the same. Guess how many actions you'll have taken in a year?
H is for Help. In working with clients over the past 30 years I've witnessed how challenging it is for some of us to ask for help. We have this idea that we're supposed to figure it out on our own or that asking for help will make us look weak or that nobody wants to help us. (Let me say right here that if you don't have anybody in your life that wants to help you, then your first action might be to look for some more supportive friends! :) Asking for help is going to make this journey so much easier. So I ask you: in what area of your life or business can you ask for help today? Great! Go ask. I'll wait...
G is for Gratitude. Trust me on this one, OK? Having a sense of gratitude is going to be immensely helpful for you in your quest to keep going. You're welcome to keep your gratitude practice really small, and subtle. "I'm grateful that I have 15 minutes to record this PR video. I'm grateful I know how to silence my phone so I won't be interrupted. I'm grateful that I have a community that cheers me on when I get stuck." And the really beautiful part about this: when you're focused on what there is to be grateful for, you'll discover even more things to be grateful for. There's research supporting the idea that daily gratitude exercises "resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy." Sounds like a good tool to have in your toolbox when you feel like quitting, yes?
O stands for Ouch. Because sometimes when things go wrong or they're more difficult than we thought they were going to be, or you get sidelined by illness, it's totally appropriate to acknowledge that. To step back and say "Ouch. That totally busted my butt and I lost money or time on this project and I was way in over my head..." or whatever. Sometimes sitting on the couch and licking your wounds for a day or two is totally part of the process. Give yourself the gift of acknowledging your 'ouches'.
I is for Inspiration. We're blessed to be living in an age where we can find inspiration 24/7. There are countless churches, mantras, blogs, websites, memes, facebook pages, affirmations, podcasts and youtube channels to help keep us inspired. Bookmark a few of them, keep a "I'm Not Quitting And Here's Why" file in your file drawer with inspiring notes, ideas, blogs (you can print this one out or bookmark it) to keep you inspired when times are dark and dreary. A few years ago, when I was in a coaching program, I was required to ask 15-20 people to answer this question: 'what are the qualities you most love about me?" Afterwards, I created an email with their responses and emailed it to myself. You're welcome to do the same. It's amazingly powerful!
N is for Noticing. When you feel like your career/project/Spanish lessons/musical endeavors/online course is proving to be too difficult and you wanna quit, notice your self-talk. Notice what you're saying to your Self, what stories you're telling, what you're complaining about to your friends. Just... notice. Because if it's true that words have power, then the words that you're using are creating whatever it is that's currently showing up in your life.
Try this: Watch what you're thinking. What you're telling your Self. Because the philosophy 'Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life' is a total game-changer. Recommended reading is anything by Byron Katie, especially Loving What Is."The Work" (her four questions and 'turn arounds' process), has saved millions from toxic, habitual thinking, including yours truly.
G stands for Get Out of Your Own Way. Oh. My. Goodness! Anybody here ever get in their own way when they're trying to achieve one of their dreams? Can I see a show of hands here? (I'm literary typing with one hand now, while my left arm is high up in the air.) Steven Pressfield has a theory that what's actually happening when we get in our own way is that the ever-present resistance is rearing it's ugly head. But, this will only happen every day — and to each and everyone of us! And the best way to fight resistance? Show up and do the work. If you don't and resistance wins, then no one will ever get to benefit from your unique gifts. You'll be robbing the World of your words, your music, your paintings, your own special brand of GF chocolate chips cookies with macadamia nuts — or whatever gifts are uniquely yours. And contrary to what you may have told your Self in the past, the World needs you.
So please, KEEP GOING!
And now it's your turn. What's your "go to" idea, tool, self-talk, mantra or hack that you use to not quit? Any of the ones above — kindness, everything is figueoutable, engagement, patience, taking action, asking for help, gratitude, acknowledging your 'ouches," finding inspiration, noticing your self talk or getting out of your own way — especially speak to you?
Thanks for reading.
Blessings upon blessings to you!