Whether you’re in the middle of starting a business, growing a business, or even when you’re working for someone else, times can get tough. We’ve all had those times where we just feel like we want to quit or throw in the towel.
Sometimes it’s a passing feeling and the next day (or the next hour), we’ve returned to be OK again.
Other times it’s a constant sickly feeling we have in our gut — telling us that it is truly time to move on, or at least, to change something in order to move forward.
How do you deal with it when you feel like you want to quit? Do you get angry, depressed, or regretful of the life you could be having (i.e., FOMO)? Or do you decide to explore your thoughts, get curious about what it really means, and take a proactive approach to making a change?
Here are 10 things to remember when you feel like you want to quit or throw in the towel.
These steps can help you assess your situation for what it is, get clear on what it means, and ultimately decide what you want to do about it.
1. Don’t make emotional decisions. There is a time to make big decisions and a time not to make them. Right after your boss or your client has flown off the handle at you, or when you’ve overdrawn your bank account, or when a big project falls through the cracks — those are NOT the times to make a decision. In short, don’t plan on making your next move in the throes of depression, anger, frustration, or utter despondence. Don’t even pressure yourself to think about it. (We often can’t come up with solutions when we are in this state of mind, so it’s best not to try to solve it – and get even more frustrated in the process.)
2. Get curious about your feelings. If you’re feeling angry or frustrated, what specifically is causing you to feel that way? Is it the way someone talked to you, is it a missed deadline, is it a “failure” on your part? What is the trigger that caused you to get into this negative state of mind? Don’t judge yourself for anything — just get curious about what caused you to feel this way in the first place, and what you took it to mean about you.
3. Don’t play the blame game. Maybe someone didn’t come through for you or didn’t make good on their promises. You can spend time blaming them for your current state. But actively blaming someone else just creates more anger and frustration for you. In fact, it can cause a real downward spiral if you are not careful. Blaming someone else for your feelings keeps you in negative energy and takes away precious time you could use to focus on making positive changes in your life.
4. Let yourself feel the feelings, but not forever. Being positive has a place and time. When you experience a feeling (good or bad), give yourself permission to feel it and allow it to pass. Feeling anger or sadness while forcing yourself to “be positive” can breed resentment, and cause unresolved emotions to build up over time. Instead, let yourself experience the feelings. But don’t let yourself wallow. If the feeling persists over a long period of time, you could be attaching to a victim mentality.
5. Don’t get caught in the shame spiral of “everything that is wrong with life.” This is an easy path to take, and it’s tempting. Going down this spiral often looks like this: Something goes wrong and you start to wonder why you have bothered with it anyway. Then you see that your home life isn’t that great, and you haven’t had a vacation in so long, and your credit cards are piling up, your friends aren’t calling you back, and (insert negative life tragedy here.) Remember to focus on the issue at hand and not make it a global problem.
6. Realize that everyone gets to this place from time to time. Some of the most highly successful and ambitious people feel like quitting along the way. Most of us experience these points of frustration and questioning when we’re in the process of doing something new or when change is on the horizon. Be patient with yourself and know that you are not alone.
7. Don’t completely ignore the situation and wait for it to happen again. Feeling like you’re on the verge of a breakdown or ready to give up is a warning sign that something needs to change. That something could be your surroundings, your work, or maybe just your attitude. Honor the moment for what it is — a calling out to you that a change is necessary. Be willing to get curious about what that change could be. And be brave enough to face whatever comes up for you.
8. Wait until you are clear-headed to make decisions about your life. Once you have allowed the tough feelings to pass, spend some time thinking about the ideal situation that you would want to experience. What conditions would you like to be working under? How would you want to spend your days and weeks? Get really clear about what it is that you do want, without ruminating on what you don’t. Give yourself permission to brainstorm and make room to create the things you really do want in your life.
9. Remember your purpose. Whether or not you are 100% happy in your situation right now, there was a purpose and a reason you chose this path in the first place. What was that reason? It can help you to remind yourself of that purpose when times get tough. Connect to your “why” and let that carry you through the tough times.
10. Create some time for self-care. If it doesn’t seem like change is necessary, it could be that you are simply burned out. Try creating some time for yourself in your life. At least once a day, schedule time to spend on activities that feel nourishing and calming to you — things that revitalize and replenish you. This could mean going for a walk, taking a bath, journaling, making a playlist, doing nothing. Whatever it is, make time for it.
Remember that, whatever happens, you’re in control of how you respond to it. You might choose to stick it out, you might choose to make changes, you might choose to quit. Whatever your choice, honor it and commit to that course of action. We all experience bumps in the road, and it can help to remind yourself that things won’t always be this way. Even when times are tough, we have a choice every day to look at what’s working and build upon that.
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