Quitting Keeps You Stuck

Katya , 07-03-2017

I wanted to talk about how quitting is a habit and justifying quitting is a skill. What did I just say? Quitting is a habit and justifying quitting is a skill.

I talk about this all the time. We get good at what we practice. So if you're practicing overeating, you're getting better at overeating. If you're practicing drinking chardonnay, you're getting better at drinking chardonnay. If you are practicing quitting, you're getting better at quitting. If you're practicing justifying why you're quitting, you're getting better at that.

You're developing skills that will help you quit in the future. Isn't that crazy? So quitting is something that too many of us have too much practice at.

If that's you, I'm going to tell you the good news. In order to quit something, you have to have committed to it in the first place, so that means that there's something inside of you that wants more. There's something inside of you that believes you can have more, so that's a beautiful thing.

But quitting is your answer to that, and that's why you're not getting it. Quitting sounds like a terrible thing for most of us because it prevents us from getting what we want, but there's a reason why we keep doing it. The reason why we keep doing it is because there is a benefit to it, but we have to understand it from our prefrontal cortex. You can see why our primitive brain would think quitting is a great idea.

Our primitive brain would prefer we don't start anything in the first place. Our primitive brain is like, "Stay in the house. Everyone is going to die. Let's just stay safe. Is there any pleasure? Can we eat anything? Let's just do that." Your primitive brain is like, "Listen, get a snack, watch some Netflix, we're going to be fine. Lay in bed." Right? How often do we do that, you guys? That's not our fault. It's our primitive brain telling us, "Listen, stay in the cave. There's lions out there. We're all going to die."

Most people come to me because they want a result in their life ( like losing weight, getting a 100% on a test, getting a new job) and they are unable to get it, right? So the first issue that I see for most people is that there's a lack of conscious planning. There's no future thinking. There's no commitment. It's just complete apathy and “let's see what happens.”

But here's what I want to tell you: even when you don't make commitments, you are making a commitment to staying the same. You are making a commitment to just letting life happen to you.

Some people get this idea in their head of something that they want, they believe they can have, but they don't commit to it. Or, the second thing that I see a lot of times, is that people make commitments, they write down goals, and then they constantly quit. They have no follow through. They don't take action. They quit, some of them even before they start.

Some of them, the first sign of failure, the first sign of the need for resilience, they quit. They justify. This is the skill of quitting. They get good at justifying. They get good at making excuses. They get good at not believing that it's possible. They get good at giving into false pleasure.

Quitting is a false pleasure. It is an indulgence. Think about this, when you're running a marathon and then you quit and you get to sit down, there's a moment of relief. When you commit to a huge goal and you're not meeting it and you quit, there's a relief. The pressure is off, right?

When you're running for student government and you're neck and neck and you're afraid you're going to lose and you quit, there's a relief. You didn't have to lose because you quit, right?

Only you know what your quitting looks like, and I want to tell you something. You probably don't call it quitting. You probably justify it and say, "Oh, something came up. Oh, I was just too busy." Whatever, just notice. If you're trying to lose weight, every single time you quit, what did you call it? Were you really good at justifying it, really good at making excuses? "It was the holidays and then it was my birthday and then I just had too much going on," right? What do you use as your reason for quitting?

When you truly commit to something, quitting is not an option. You remove it as an option. A lot of people get nervous when I say stuff like this, and the best example that I use, for most people that are my clients, is the example of committing to a spouse or a boyfriend or a girlfriend. When you commit to your spouse, kissing other people is no longer an option. It's not something you worry about. It's not something you think about.

There's going to be tons of cute people. There's going to be tons of good looking men. There's going to be lots of opportunity, but it's not an option so you don't even see it. You don't even look for it. It's not even relevant. You're not like, "Oh God, that guy is so cute. That guy is so cute. Oh my God he's right here and I'm married and I can't kiss him!" Right? Cute dude, not an option to kiss him, so not even going to think about it, right? It's not even in my repertoire. Just focus on Andrey, focus on my boyfriend, and that gives me so much freedom. I don't have to worry about every guy that comes into my space. I am already with someone. It's done.

So that's a commitment that doesn't feel restrictive to me. It feels like freedom, and that's where we want to get you to. When you commit, you remove quitting as a temptation and this gives you freedom. It also removes you having to worry about failure.

So many times, we spend so much energy worrying that we are going to fail. The only way we fail is if we quit, right? So we're so worried that we're going to quit. We spend so much energy worried that we're going to quit. I say, just don't quit, then you don't have to worry about it. It removes all the worry about it. You're just like, "If I get to a point where I fail, that's when I double down. Quitting isn't an option, so I don't have to worry about failing. I don't have to worry about quitting because I've taken it away as an option. There is no temptation to quit because quitting isn't an option. It's great. I'm just focusing. The only time I start worrying is when I consider quitting, and if quitting is not an option I can't even consider it. Done. Freedom. I don't consider doing things that don't support the thing that I'm committed to.

Remember, if we don't ask more of ourselves, what will our brain tell us to do? Our brain will tell us to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and don't expend too much energy. When you take that primitive brain and you put it in an environment like this where there is a lot of things to indulge in, a lot of pleasure to spin around in, and a lot of opportunity not to expend effort, and a lot of ways to avoid pain, you will not evolve.