The Science of Not Quitting

 “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi ~

Part of the challenge I see is how we start out from the gate. We set our goals. We set our standards; then we make our plans, and there we are, at the starting line—and then “BANG!” the starter’s pistol fires and we’re off and running as fast as we can.

There are days when life is too tedious. Our plates are full and there’s more on the way. There’s work leftover from yesterday, and yet, today comes with its own priorities. The problem I see is that we’ve already set a pace for ourselves. We’ve already set the standards but eventually, the pace becomes unrealistic. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Remember the old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race?” Yet, here we are, blazing a trail because we fear the ideas of falling behind. And, too, there is another helpful suggestion: Work smarter. Not harder. But the pace has been set, right? So we run and we run and then ultimately, we start to slow down because we can’t keep up. We lose our breath. We lose interest as well as our perspective. We start to analyze and criticize, and next, we quit because the idea of a successful reward seems too unlikely. Then what happens? Do we struggle with despair? Is it shame or regret? Or how about our self-esteem; what happens with this?

There are people who start their first day at work and put their best foot forward. They have plans and strategies. They have a system for the way they will handle their workload. And they say “Yes!” They say “Yes” to everything because (of course) they just started—and everyone says yes when they start. Nobody wants to be a disappointment or fail their three-month probationary period and lose their new job. We want to look good. We want our supervisors and managers to be happy with their choice. We want our bosses to be satisfied because they picked us over the other applicants.

Unfortunately, people will often take on more than they can handle. This is how we fall behind. Or, if we keep up, it is easy to lose our thinking; it’s easy to become sidetracked and misplace our priorities and personal organization skills. It is easy to become resentful or anxious and worried but more than this, where is the long-term sustainability?

I heard something brilliant this morning:
“Your work ethic is like a muscle.”
This needs exercise
Do not expect to run a marathon if you can’t run around the block. Do not expect to do 100 push ups if you can hardly do 10. This is brilliant, and yet; this is simple. We all know this, yet, here we are at the starting line of a marathon (AKA: Life).

It is easy to find ourselves on the losing end of decisions. We can find ourselves stuck in the biases of “Resulting” or focusing on our outcome biases and our status anxiety—we can lose to our own perceptions. We can mistake emotions and thoughts as fact; in which case, we can jump to conclusions or overreact—or better yet, we can react, based on conjuncture and yet, we can find ourselves trapped behind the ideas of subconscious failures. Meanwhile, we missed our pace. We see that we are falling behind. We interpret this as a possible lead towards failure— so what comes next? Do we give in? Do we quit?
Do we keep going and overburden ourselves?
Do we rethink our decisions and judge them based upon our outcomes?

Just breathe.  Allow yourself to find a comfortable pace.
Let’s break this down and see where this comes from.

Think about the New Year’s resolutions and how only a few of them are ever kept.
And why is this?
One could argue that the value of this decision lost its worth.
One could argue that the change brought on a lack of comfort.
One could argue that there were reservations about the change and therefore, the effort might not have been wholehearted.
One could say that failure seemed inevitable—so, hey, might as well quit now.

Keep in mind: Quitting is only a symptom. And this goes far beyond our status in the workplace. This is more than our first day at the office. Our work ethic is no different from an instrument. We need to tune this. We need to nurture this. But more, we need to hold ourselves accountable to this in a realistic measure. Otherwise, we find ourselves lost to an unobtainable pace—and this goes far beyond work. This goes far beyond exercise. This goes beyond diets because this includes all of the different aspects of our lives.

How do we address this?

  1. Mindfulness:
    Let’s start here. Put simply, let’s start with an honest approach to us. Let’s remove judgment—let’s look at ourselves and evaluate truth over suspicion or fears and our insecurity.
    I am a fan of the idea that one has the freedom to challenge their assumptions. Rather than challenge our anxieties or the anticipations—instead, let’s understand assumptions and investigate them without resistance. And by the way, breathe. When you find the stress level is high, always breathe.
    Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Nice and deep, long and slow. Plus, I would like you to remember that this is only an honest and personal assessment—this is not a trial or personal execution. So put away the weapons of self-destruction and let’s give ourselves a break.

  2. Find your R.A.S.O:
    Our goal setting abilities need to be realistic. I have listed this acronym before. This is your Realistic, Attainable, and Sustainable method to reach your desired Outcome. This will consist of small, incremental and daily goals as well as basic short-term goals that will lead to long-term achievability and accomplishments.
    As well, this is your pace that will allow you to obtain personal sustainability.
    it is important to understand purpose and goals, direction, and passion. What do we want our future to look like? When is it our turn to create this future? Most importantly, when are we going to give ourselves the permission to take action and make this so?

  3. Learn When To Say Yes or No:
    Healthy boundaries are crucial to our well-being. It is clear that we want to be liked. We want to be involved, invited and included. However, it is also clear that we have to run at a realistic pace; otherwise, we face an inevitable burnout. We run into resentments and at best, our performance will be subpar but at worst, we our health and well-being is at risk of turmoil.

  4. Stress Management:
    Stress is a killer! Anxiety is highly common, so let’s not pretend that stress is not real. However, finding coping skills and allowing for moments that entail self-care is not only productive; this is lifesaving.
    Set up your surroundings. Create a comfortable atmosphere. Reach out to those who support you most and understand the influence of your support circle. Choose to fill your circle by identifying a select but helpful team of people who can both push and comfort your best efforts.

  5. Understanding Burnout:
    This is why we are here. We face life on a daily basis because we have no choice in the matter—at least not an attractive one. However, by understanding our symptoms and stressors, we can also identify and evaluate the patterns of our decision making abilities.
    Did we say yes to too much?
    Did we consider our best interests in our decisions?
    Or, was people-pleasing a factor in this?
    Another question that might be worth asking is are we living and working the life we want?
    Or, is this just the life we “Have” and there’s nothing else we can do?
    Let’s look at or habits and our history. Is our burnout habitual?
    Now, let’s see which habits support our best interest and which habits distract us from our best potential.

Personal improvement has become very important to me. However, in fairness, change can be uncomfortable. Our minds are based on trained behaviors and routines. This is what we use to create a sense of comfortable understanding. This is how we navigate through our day. But also, this is where habits come from.
We want to understand. We want to be adaptable without discomfort—but unfortunately, life does not come without discomfort nor does life come without change or challenges.

So, let’s go back to the idea of treating our work ethic like a muscle.
We have to exercise this. We have to hold ourselves accountable but moreover, we have to allow ourselves to be mold-able and teachable; and furthermore, we have to permit ourselves the time to learn and to improve. Otherwise, we find ourselves at the start of a race; and when the starter’s pistol fires, we burst out of the gate and then run out of steam before we even make the first turn.
Sustainability; it’s for the future

Be Teachable!

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