4 strategies for not quitting in the Dip

‘Some people fold after making one timid request. They quit too soon. Keep asking until you find the answers.’  Jack Canfield

Okay, so you are in a Dip, and extremely tempted to throw in the towel and be done with the damned thing. Sounds like you need some help. Here are four things you can do to motivate yourself not to quit:

1. Decide in advance when you are going to quit. I’m guessing you’re thinking to yourself ‘what? I’m about to quit right now! I thought you were going to tell me how to motivate myself not to!!!’ (or similar angry outburst). Here’s the thing. How about you don’t quit right now. But you decide at what point you will quit. For example, you could say something like: ‘I’ve got no money left in the bank, the phone people are threatening to cut me off etc. and no food, but I’ve still got 20 cans of catfood left (which I had bought for poor Mitzi, bless her, I wonder how she’s liking the pet shelter) and I can sell my stereo and my guitar. But once I’ve eaten all the catfood and spent all the money I’m going to make on selling my stuff, I am going to quit. Oh yeah, and till then I’ll keep going as hard as I can to try to rescue this project from collapse.’ Keeping going while having a plan in place about when you are going to quit focuses the mind. The reason most people quit in the Dip is that without having a firm set of circumstances in place under which they are going to quit, the easiest thing to do is to quit right now, when maybe a week or two is all your project still needs to get on the other side of that Dip.

2. Write down the reasons for starting your legacy project. Again, I know you’re thinking you have no time to write things like that down, you’re swamped in paperwork etc. as it is. But here’s my response to that: reminding yourself of the reasons why you started your project in the first place will put the big picture firmly back in your mind. It could be that you might not even have to do some of that paperwork – could it be that you got sidetracked into thinking you have to do it when it is not essential to completing your project? What I’m saying, in essence, is this: reminding yourself of the reasons for having started the project works both to get you back on track, and to reignite your motivation when you are ready to buckle under the pain and quit. I am reminded of a line in the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling: ‘If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone’. This is how you force your heart and nerve and sinew: by reminding yourself of the bigger things in life, the things that set you on this path in the first place.

3. Focus on the long-term benefits of not quitting. If you’re like most people, short-term pain has more impact on you than long-term benefits, which is why it is important for you to amplify the benefits of not quitting in your mind. Read 3 benefits of getting through the Dip and relate that to your own legacy project. How will getting on the other end of the Dip change things for how your project is received? Take the pain now, so you prevent having to take a lot more pain later. 

4. Ask yourself these 3 questions. i) am I panicking?; ii) who am I trying to influence?; iii) what sort of measurable progress am I making? If your answer to i) is ‘yes’ (be honest with yourself when answering that question), then it is likely that your thoughts of quitting are prompted by short-term rather than long-term considerations. This means that if you are trying to make a decision now whether or not to quit you are likely to make the wrong decision. Give yourself a breather, go through steps 1-3, then reassess the situation while thinking of the long-term. In relation to ii) and iii), the point of asking these questions is so you can assess whether there is any way out of this Dip. If the success of your legacy project depends solely on one person or organisation, and they have already repeatedly said ‘no’, you are in trouble. If, on the other hand, your legacy project depends on the stamp of approval of a market, keep going. As Seth Godin says, people within a market influence one another, which means that every little bit of progress you make increases exponentially the more you advance. This means – find ways to keep going to get to the other side of that Dip.

These are four strategies you can use so as not to quit. There are times, however, when you should quit. I will tell you more about that in tomorrow’s blog post. For now, stick with the Dip and focus on getting through it.

The time is now.

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at www.alexaispas.com