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How to Not Quit When Things Get Tough (and Become Stronger)

by Ali

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According to Billy Ocean, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” Note Billy doesn’t sing about the people quitting and walking away when the going gets tough. Billy paints a picture of scaling mountains and swimming oceans; he alludes to pursuing through tough times being a sign of resilience and strength. 

Do you sometimes feel like waving a white flag and surrendering? I’ll level with you; sometimes quitting is the best solution. But if we want to quit just because things are a little challenging, this is a sign that we must build up our tenacious muscles and knuckle down instead. 

This article will discuss what it means to quit and the pros and cons of quitting. We will also suggest five ways to help build your inner strength and prevent you from quitting when things get tough.

What does it mean to quit? 

When we quit something, we give up on it. It may be that we quit our job or relationship. We may quit reading a book if we can’t get into it. Ultimately, anything we give up on without seeing it through is an act of quitting. 

Why do some people quit while others persevere? According to this article, it’s all about our perception of success and failure. 

When we work hard toward an end goal but have no indication of success or encouragement that our efforts are worthwhile, we will likely feel like a failure. If we experience encouragement and support and can see our progress, we feel less of a failure. 

It is our sense of failure which makes us more susceptible to quitting. We give up when we feel our efforts are pointless and aren’t getting anywhere. 

The pros and cons of quitting  

I’ve quit many things in my life. Among an extensive list of things I’ve quit are relationships, jobs, countries, friendships, hobbies, and adventures. I’ve walked out of comedy shows when the comedian thought offending minority groups was the way to get a laugh, and I’ve left one-sided friendships. 

But I’m not a quitter. I don’t wait until something gets hard and then quit. I relish when the going gets tough because I know the reward for succeeding and enduring will likely be even more meaningful. 

In my last ultra race, I wanted to quit at mile 30. My legs were sore; my knee was niggling; it felt tough. Feeling the urge to quit indicated that I needed to draw on my inner strength and persevere. I pushed through the suffering to take second place. 

In our recent article titled 5 Ways to Know When to Quit, you will notice that “things getting tough” are not a reason to quit. 

I’ve seen several social media memes discussing “choose your hard.”  

  • Relationships are complicated, and so is separating. 
  • Exercise is hard, and so is experiencing a deterioration in health.
  • Managing finances is hard, and so is getting into debt. 
  • Being honest is hard, and so is dishonesty. 

Life is hard no matter what. 

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5 ways to not quit when things get tough 

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Resilience and toughness don’t always come naturally to us, but we can train them and build them like muscles

Here are our five tips for holding the line or advancing during tough times without giving in to the desire to quit. 

1. It will pass  

The saying “this too shall pass” is rooted in an Eastern sage’s wisdom. It’s true; everything passes. Tough times don’t last forever, and nor do good times. 

When we maintain a healthy perspective and remain mindful of our circumstances, we are less likely to catastrophize or dramatize our circumstances. Our ability to recognize our difficulties but endure them with confidence that they will pass will help us cope when the going gets tough. 

Next time you find your stress levels increasing and that inner urge to get up and walk away, remember it’s your mind playing tricks on you. 

These tough moments won’t last forever; give it your best and enjoy the benefits of enduring. 

2. Focus on your goals 

If we focus on the end goal and what we hope to achieve, we are less likely to allow the difficulty of the journey to break us. 

Several years ago, I organized a large running event. The logistics were complex, and I relied on volunteers, partners, and landowners. At one point, it seemed like the world was against me. I had volunteers not completing tasks they volunteered for, landowners suddenly withdrawing consent, and partners trying to change the terms of our contract. 

Things were stressful. I wanted to give up, cancel the event, provide refunds, and never take on such an enormous task again. But my vision of the event kept me moving forward. My goal to organize the first-of-its-kind event on the east coast of Scotland helped me find ways to overcome the difficulties. 

In the end, the event was a roaring success. 

3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable  

If you want to achieve a personal best time in a running race, you know you have to work hard and suffer in your training. If you seek a promotion, you will likely work extra hours and commit your full attention and dedication to your job. 

Very few people are handed things on a plate. Everyone who has succeeded has had to work their asses off to get it. We all want a washboard stomach and defined abs, but how many of us are willing to put the work in? 

If you want something strong enough, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You must make sacrifices with your time and learn to prioritize. 

4. Flex your motivation muscle  

Sometimes we don’t even want to quit perse; we just lack the motivation to keep going, so it’s the easy way out. If you still have the same goals and aspirations but only quit because you lack the grit and drive to achieve them, it’s time to work on your motivation

First things first, review your goal and make sure that it is realistic. 

Now go through these steps and ignite the spark in your soul to get yourself back on track. 

  • Figure out your why. 
  • Focus on positive self-talk. 
  • Create a routine and stick to it. 
  • Work with a mentor and stay accountable.
  • Review your accomplishments and track your progress. 

5. Find an outlet for your stress

I know what it is like to quit as much as anyone. Luckily I can discern between the urge to quit because something is not working and the desire to quit because it’s just too hard

When things get tough, I have plenty of outlets for my stress. When we allow the stress to build up, we risk breaking like a damn. 

Sometimes it feels like quitting is the only way to escape the discomfort of anxiety and frayed nerves. But what if I told you you can reduce your stress without quitting? So instead of quitting, how about you focus on alleviating the arousal in your body? 

There are many ways to reduce stress levels; it can be a personal choice. Here are some of my favorite ways: 

  • Exercise. 
  • Go for a back massage. 
  • Meditation and yoga. 
  • Read a book. 
  • Take a walk in nature without your phone. 
  • Spending time with my dog. 
  • Coffee with a friend.  

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Wrapping up 

Let’s face it, sometimes quitting is the right thing to do. But how do we know if the urge to quit is simply because we can’t hack it or if it is the best option given the circumstances? 

Follow our simple five steps to help prevent you from quitting. 

  • It will pass. 
  • Focus on your goals. 
  • Nothing good ever came easy. 
  • Flex your motivation muscle. 
  • Find an outlet for your stress. 

Do you have any tips for how to avoid quitting when the going gets tough? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Ali Hall AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Kindness is my superpower. Dogs and nature are my oxygen. Psychology with Sports science graduate. Scottish born and bred. I’ve worked and traveled all over the world. Find me running long distances on the hills and trails.

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