This dream life-building journey I’m on is dark and full of terrors. So naturally I’ve had to learn how to keep going when you want to quit.
I wish I could say that the dream sustains you.
It doesn’t. Not by a long shot. In fact, there are days when I resent this dream. I find myself wondering if there’s a day job out there that I will always be happy with, and one where I won’t feel the urge to write.I wish I could say that the dream sustains you. It doesn't. Not by a long shot. Click To Tweet
I know this day job doesn’t exist. I have worked in six different industries over the past 10 years, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no company I can work for that will appease my soul. So I keep pushing to make stuff happen.
So, I find myself super worn out and tired and ready to give up all the time. That’s why I’m talking about how to keep going when you want to quit. Because I know that you’ve been there too. Or, if you haven’t, that you’re well on your way.
I think burnout and frustration are things we don’t talk about enough. And I think a lot of us push ourselves until we break. Or we run out of steam and are left wondering if we really wanted to do any of this in the first place. Like the desire we had at the beginning was just a phase.
Maybe it was. Or maybe the newness of it all was the thing that gave you the initial jumpstart. Whatever it is, it can be hard to keep going, especially when it feels like nothing is paying off and you’re no closer to that destination than you were when you started.
Now, I will say this: If you want to quit and you know that is absolutely the right decision for you, then do it. There is no shame EVER in quitting anything. But you should only quit if that’s the thing you truly want to do.If you want to quit and you know that is absolutely the right decision for you, then do it. There is no shame EVER in quitting anything. But you should only quit if that's the thing you truly want to do. Click To Tweet
So let’s get into it.
How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit
001: Remember why you’re doing it.
There was a time when I basically deleted all the blog posts on this blog and left this as a static site. At the time, it’s what I wanted, or so I thought. I’d spent a lot of time and energy emulating other bloggers, and it turned out their road to success had much more to do with being gregarious sorority girl blondes with nice clothes and good pictures.
Naturally, as a cave-dwelling troll beast, I couldn’t duplicate their efforts.
So I deleted everything and focused on fiction writing. You can read a little bit about it here. At the time, it’s what I needed. I got a clean slate. And I got to revisit what I wanted.
It turns out that I didn’t want to be a straight lifestyle blog. I wanted to write about things I cared about, and I have never really cared about clothes or makeup. (Seriously. I wear the same Megaphone Summit t-shirts all the time and have never bought a bottle of foundation.)
But as soon as I had that moment of clarity, it’s like a switch flipped. And suddenly I wanted to dive back in. It turns out that I didn’t really want to quit, I just needed to remember why I was doing it in the first place.
I’m not saying that just revisiting your original intention is going to be enough to clear out the cobwebs, but it may help you get some perspective, and give you energy to keep going or move in a new direction.
002: Get rid of the naysayers.
Here’s a deep, dark secret about me: I’m a person who likes to fit in. Or, at least, it was a survival strategy that helped me get through my childhood and many terrible day jobs. So, I can make myself amenable to anyone, and this often leaves people thinking that I’m a very good person that they’d like to hang out with.
It also makes me feel like I’m the human equivalent of a Walmart — a one-stop shop where they have everything, but nothing that really jumps out at you.
And living this way also leaves you surrounded by people who don’t really know you, understand what you’re doing, or really care for you as a person because they’ve only known you as a placeholder.
Naturally, I had to get rid of a lot of people in my life who just couldn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing. And you know what? 100% of those people don’t even know that they’ve been cut off. It was just that fucking simple and easy. And it makes me a lot happier.
I know it can be hard to cut people out of your life. But that’s only when that person really wants to be there. My naysayers are mostly only there on occasion, as acquaintances. I’ve lost nothing, and have gained space in my life for better friendships and people who believe in what I’m doing.I know it can be hard to cut people out of your life. But that's only when that person really wants to be there. Click To Tweet
003: Reevaluate often.
Literally nothing will work all the time. And as you evolve on this journey, you have to keep changing what it is that you’re doing. I can only make the same YouTube video so many times. I can only write so many posts about writing or books on writing. I can only post the same duckface selfie to Instagram every other day…
Okay. So maybe that last thing isn’t true. I have never duckfaced.
But the thing is that everything goes stale. If you only offer up the same thing over and over, then you’re not going to get anything new. And if you’re trying to grow or build something, you have to keep doing new things to expand your audience. I think this is the reason why like 85% of people burn out. They keep doing the same damn thing with the same damn style and in the same half-ass manner, and they never learn from it.
That’s why you have to reevaluate. You have to figure out how to reach the people you want to reach. You have to see what the same old, same old is accomplishing, and determine if that’s all you want.
You know that trite saying about the definition of insanity? Well. You don’t if you keep doing the same thing over and over again.
004: Look at how far you’ve come.
It can be really hard to keep going when you feel like you haven’t gotten very far at all.
I do this a lot. I tend to feel like I’m in the same place that I was when I started this journey. And that’s mostly because it takes a lot to get where you’re going, and you have to break it up into a ton of really small steps, which can make it feel like you’re making no progress.
But if you look back to where you were when you started, then it’s easy to see how far you’ve come. I do this a lot lately. And if I’m being honest, I have no idea when this journey officially began. But I do know that there have been a series of steady mindset shifts and a lot of punctuated equilibrium when it comes to progress. It’s good to look back at busy seasons and big milestones and know that you did it.
This can feel like you’re walking through a scrapbook of your life, but it’s a great way to remember that you’ve come a long way, baby!
For example, if I were to think back to the beginning of 2015, I can see how different my life is now. I’m happier. I know what I’m doing more. I’ve been working toward this goal of mine pretty hardcore. And I don’t feel so helpless and incapable anymore. And I’ve got a clearer picture of what I want and what it will take to get there.
005: Know that instant gratification isn’t what you’re looking for.
Frozen pizza and binge watching Netflix is great. I won’t ever say it’s not. The pleasure it gives my brain is unmatched. And yet, it’s not a meaningful pleasure.
(That’s what she said.)
You can live your whole life only doing easy things. You can eat processed foods and watch easy-to-understand comedies that don’t take anything out of you. You can wear yoga pants all day and never really get dressed.
Our lifestyle, as first-world consumers, is pretty damn comfortable. And that’s why it’s so hard to do what makes you uncomfortable.
But you don’t want that. If you’re wondering how to keep going when you want to give up, it’s this: Make peace with how hard it will be and know that the people who like comfy jobs with guaranteed paychecks and a break room and shitty jokes from Kevin in accounting will never know how good it feels to work for something like this.
It’s easy to give your entire career and energy to a major company that may even offer you a vested 401K after an absurd amount of time. It’s hard to build a life making money doing something your soul has to do to survive.It's easy to give your entire career and energy to a major company that may even offer you a vested 401K after an absurd amount of time. It's hard to build a life making money doing something your soul has to do to survive. Click To Tweet
How Do You Keep Going?
What’s the one thing that’s kept you going on your creative entrepreneur journey? How do you shake off the blues when you feel like you’re never gonna make it? Got tips for those just starting out? How have you been able to stay the course this long? Let me know in the comments.
I’m not even 100% sure what’s keeping me going aside from unhealthy coping mechanisms (hello pinot grigio and late night munchies). I do know that getting away from toxic bullshit (uh, except for the aforementioned items) and toxic people has been a huge help. Having the freedom and flexibility to try new things, meet new people, and make decisions that are right for me has been crucial to my personal growth and overall well-being.
Such good points, Kim! It’s like getting a fresh perspective can change everything.