When I look back at most of the tough projects I’ve attempted in the past five years, there is one thing that always happens: it gets so hard that I want to quit.
I’m learning Polish right now (apparently for the thrill, since most Polish people speak English), and soon after memorizing around 600 words and phrases, I hit a wall. My brain resisted learning new words. The noun cases and verb conjugations remained somewhat incomprehensible, and I wondered if the language was actually made for humans. The other night, in the middle of an audio lesson, a thought entered my head…
“This is pointless. Just quit.”
I wanted to quit Spanish too, but I stayed with it and remain conversational to this day.
I wanted to end my first trip to South America after one month, but stayed with it for five more and was rewarded with an experience of a lifetime.
I wanted to quit the game in the first year because it was too hard, but I kept going and developed a skillset that will stay with me until I die.
Anything that has ultimately brought value to my life, I have wanted to quit before I reached my goal. I was ready to put things aside and take the easy way out. But I’ve never trusted myself. I ignore the voice that tells me to quit, as loud as it gets, even if failure seems imminent. I refuse to listen to my brain when it whines that something is too hard.
If something isn’t worth doing, you’ll just forget about it. It fades from your life without much thought, but when your desire to quit comes from frustration, from something being too hard, then you absolutely must continue.
When the “just quit” voice popped in my head during the tough Polish lesson, I knew right then that it was something I had to continue. I decided not even to take a break. Now that a new year is upon me, I’m thinking of what project or journey or goal I’ll get into where—in a moment of weakness or temporary defeat—a voice will tell me to quit. Then I will smile and know I made the right decision in attempting it in the first place. If at some point I didn’t want to quit, it probably wasn’t worth doing.