I write this at the end of a year and the beginning of another one. Each time I reach such a milestone, I usually do some evaluation. What was worth doing last year? What changed? How this change impacted me?
During some of this rather informal evaluations I spotted an intriguing thing. It started as personal story but then evolved into something bigger. In today’s post I’m going to talk about this bigger thing that emerged. Precisely, I’m going to talk about the art of not quitting.
Blogging As a Commitment
While I was browsing through my posts on this very blog, I started to spot some similarities. Some commenters appeared more often than others. Of course, many of the people who comment on this blog are quite active in the personal development field too. I even become friend with some of them. It’s quite normal for them to comment on other blogs. But beyond these constant presences there were also some sporadic appearances.
A comment every now and then. An impression and then gone. Out of curiosity, I started to visit the blogs of those intermittent commenters. The same impression emerged from their blogs: a post every now and then. A quick effort and then gone. Nothing.
What happened to those blogs? They were not abandoned, but obviously they were not fully functional either. And then it hit me: they were drifting in the suspended limbo of “what if?”. “What if” I’ll start a blog and become famous? “What if” I’ll start to make some passive income? The “what if?” realm is a realm of neglected desires. A place with a lot of high hopes but almost no action to back them up. A desert space filled with stubs and unfulfilled promises. It’s quite depressing in this realm, if you ask me. Nobody’s really there anymore. Because those people quit. They quit their blogs and their presence on other blogs. They quit their project. They quit one of their dreams.
How To Stick With It
Quitting is the fastest way to screw up your life. And yet, so many people are doing it. And they do it for a reason: because it’s easy. It’s far more easy to abandon your goals then to stick with them. It’s easier to find excuses than to do work. It’s easier to blame it on the “life got in the way” than to actually make your dreams alive.
I’ve been there too. I was one of those lazy quitters and I must tell you: I didn’t feel well at all. On the surface, it’s easiest to quit, that’s true. It’s easy to be lazy and wait for things to happen instead of pushing the world to make them happen for you. But deep down, quitting is more like a disease. A chronic type of pain which is slowly eating you up.
This is how I started to fight quitting. By realizing it’s a disease, something that will literally make me ill. Have you noticed how lazy people have headaches? That’s not by hazard, I can tell you. Being a quitter will work against your normal physiology, it will stop some natural processes, creating whirls of free, unused energy, which will most likely transform into body imbalances. Which we also call illnesses.
So, I had to come up with a treatment. A medicine for quit quitting. (It’s amazing how much you can do when you realize your physical presence is at risk.) Here is my 5 steps recipe to quit being a quitter.
1. Clearly Decide What You Want
If you really like scrubbing twitter all day just scrub it, don’t pretend you’re a blogger just to procrastinate on twitter while pretending you’re promoting your blog. If you really like watching TV, just sit on the couch for the whole day and watch TV. Don’t pretend you want to travel the world and you’re doing some research.
Deciding what you want do is the cornerstone of every successful activity. If you want to be a successful blogger, well, take note that being a successful blogger means: writing good content, answering to comments, commenting on other blogs and promoting your own blog through social media. And that’s just a basic definition.
Write down what you want to do in a visible place. Put it on the wall in front of you. I want to travel the world. Or I want to become a social media consultant. Or I want to become a successful blogger. The most important thing generated by this simple action will be your energy focus. You will be focusing your resources in only one point, dramatically increasing your chances to succeed. Like the focus of the sunshine through a magnifying loupe: it can really light a fire.
2. Small Chunks Pays Big Time
Slice it up in daily manageable chunks. Long term results are more often the cause of small, constantly repeated actions. A sea is the sum of all the small creeks, after all. The beautiful snow is made by millions of snowflakes. A rainbow is light transformed by billions of raindrops. Just do what you have to do daily, regardless of how you feel about it.
Half an hour of writing each day will be 365 halves of an hour. And that will be 182.5 hours of writing. At a rate of only 500 words per hour (but in time you can easily get to 1000 words per hour) that would be 91.250 words written in one year. Let’s make it a round 100.000 words. Can you even imagine yourself writing now 100.000 words of good content? I thought so.
But if you slice it up in daily chunks of repeated actions you will add up. You will build brick by brick. Step by step. While browsing through my blog admin interface I saw that my blog have now more than 450.000 words written. For a moment, I couldn’t even imagine that number. Yes, you will have good days and bad days. Sometimes you’ll write 100 words, sometimes 2000. What matters is to do it daily.
3. Fail Fast, Fail Often
So you can understand if it works for you. If you don’t really fail on a wrong path, you can’t really know the good one. So, in order to be sure you are on the right track, be bold. Yes, you can fail. That’s one more reason to do hell out of your best in order to avoid failure. To mobilize every inch of resources available. It means going to sleep every day with a clear heart: I did everything I could today.
One word though: I’m not in this big trend of “let’s have a big failure to be ready for success” which seems to have spread lately, but I do find failure indispensable in the learning process. Getting too intimate with failure can lead to a friendship and I don’t want that. I accept failure as necessary and I welcome it every time it occurs, but man, what I want is success. Capital letters if you didn’t get it for the first time: SUCCESS!
4. They Don’t Know Shit About You
Nobody knows what you really want. Nobody can live for you. There is only one person in the universe who can live for you and that person would be, of course, only you. So, every time you get resistance from other people, resist to it. Don’t let it bring you down. As long as you already have your dream clear in your mind, as long as you’re already doing what you have to do daily, in small chunks, as long as all your small failures made you even more confident in your path, don’t trust anybody but you.
This is especially necessary not only when you get rejected, but when you get accepted too. When you start to get praised. When people start to notice your work. When they start to accept you. Remember, nobody knows what’s in your heart. Don’t stop at the first sign of success. Don’t settle for an intermediary victory. Don’t accept the good while indeifnitely postponing the best. Nobody knows but you what success really means to you. Live it up to the fullest. If your goal was to become the best blogger in the world, don’t stop when you’re an A-lister. Even if being an A-lister means centuries of evolution for you. Go for what YOU want, because they don’t know shit about you.
5. Be Happy About It
Chose one special moment to enjoy it. The end of the year will do it for many of us. Just look at what you did and be genuinely happy for it. Appreciate yourself. Appreciate your results. Smile at them. Smile at yourself. You did it!
If you skip this step, all of the above will be useless. Appreciation is the invisible fuel of your actions. If you don’t appreciate what you’re doing, you’re not pumping enough fuel into your machine. Sooner or later it will stop.
It’s the beginning of a new year and I’m looking back at what I did in 2009. And I’m incredibly happy about it. I could explode with happiness and I’m not joking. Now I can see that every 10 minutes stolen from distractions are paying off big time. Every decision to work instead of procrastinating is transformed into real, visible value. And I’m happy for every “I can’t do this thing now” transformed into “well, let’s do it anyway”. I’m proud of what I did.
And that’s the whole secret behind how to quit becoming a quitter:Â you can’t quit something you’re proud of.