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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Why Quitters Can Become Winners Too

Why Quitters Can Become Winners Too

At the age of 25, my career accelerated when I was promoted from an engineer to a manager within a growing I.T. company. At the time, I was the youngest manager in the firm steering a diverse team of engineers. It was my dream job to lead a team of professionals using my passion and knowledge for coding in order to add value and achieve big things. It took four years of hard work to end up getting promoted to the top where I continued to produce bigger and better projects in new and exciting directions. I was living my dream.

Yet two years later I quit my job.

Everyone around me couldn’t understand why after all my hard work and dedication. I was going places on a fast track to bigger and bigger success. But I decided to quit despite all this and a while later, I found Lifehack.

The True Courage Behind Quitting

Quitting isn’t all about giving up when it feels like you’re failing. Quitting in the face of potential success is one of the most courageous things you can do.

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We grow up being taught that what isn’t broken needn’t be fixed. This shapes our belief that you should never quit while you’re ahead and it comes out of fear of the unknown. Quitting your job, for example, could negatively impact your career and spill into your personal life and finances. And because of this, we choose to stay safe, living in our comfort zones despite it not making us truly happy or fulfilled.

    However, while the idea of staying in our comfort zones feels generally warm and safe, we’re really just staying for the sake of not changing. While we do this, we’re not fully considering opportunities to grow and improve ourselves which is a big factor in creating our personal happiness.

    Leonard Schlesinger, president of Babson College and coauthor of the book Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future sums this up by saying,

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    I find a lot of people paralysed by their unhappiness with their current reality.

    It’s this paralysis that stops us from taking that leap of faith into the unknown and keeps us stuck in the same job despite it feeling mundane or easy. Daniel Gulati, tech entrepreneur and coauthor of Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leader, believes

    most people stay too long in bad jobs because the corporate world is geared towards keeping us in roles, not matching individuals up with their ideal roles.

    In other words, we’re simply not growing and not creating situations where we will thrive and move forward.

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    The Real Reason You Feel Stuck

    If you feel like you’re stuck in life, the chances are it’s because you’re choosing to resist quitting what isn’t working for you and ultimately not preparing for the change quitting would bring.

    You may believe your main reason for not leaving a job or any unhappy life situation is because you haven’t figured out what it is you really want. However, this kind of thinking is flawed. You won’t learn or discover your ideal career, for example, by sitting around thinking about it. If your current situation is making you unhappy, it’s important to find that inner courage to look for something else.

      It’s only in this kind of action and headspace that the true breakthroughs will happen. People who do the same job day in, day out but not ever finding real meaning in what they do, will never be the people who flourish and succeed no matter how hard and persistent they work.

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      The Magic of Quitting and the Growth it Brings

      The idea of quitting is instilled in our minds as a negative thing. Quitting is negative when used as a way to flee away from challenges and responsibilities. But in some cases quitting is a necessary path to success. It’s all down to embracement rather than fear. Successful people quit to win and embrace new challenges – not because they fear change.

        Sometimes, quitting is exactly what you need to do in order to find what’s best for you – something you may never find doing the same things every day: “If you don’t know what to be gritty at yet, you need to try lots of things – knowing you’ll quit most of them – to find the answer” (Barking up the Wrong Tree by Erick Barker). In other words, don’t fear quitting as a failure, just see it as another step closer to finding your purpose.

        And the true magic of quitting without fully seeing the next step is urgency. We all know that feeling of urgency that brings about uncomfortable fear but it’s this sense of urgency that creates the space to find the next thing that really matters to you. That path that’s really worth your investment, passion and time. That path that you’d never find staying in your comfort zone.

        Change Your Mindset on Quitting

        The main idea to take away here is quitting for growth not quitting to flee from challenges. Make quitting meaningful by asking yourself these questions in order to fully know your reasons for quitting:

        • What makes you happy?
        • What can’t you stop talking about?
        • What makes you think that it’s worth suffering for?
        • What are you really good at doing?
        • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
        • What would you do for free because you love it so much?
        • If you had 12 months to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now?

        We all know deep down, what makes us happy and what doesn’t. We don’t always have the courage to change because fear and worry takes over. But to truly live a happy life, quitting something that’s no longer serving you or allowing you to grow should be viewed as a necessity rather than choice. Don’t view quitting as a negative, see it as a chance to win at life and boost your value to the world.

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        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on January 21, 2021

        10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

        10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

        “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi

        “Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile.” – Brian Tracy

        “Just do it.” – Nike

        The most important and satisfying things in life usually aren’t the easiest ones.

        The good news: In today’s hyper-connected world, we have access to all the information we could want to help us achieve our future goals. We know what foods will make us healthier (would kale or quinoa be as popular without the internet and Dr. Oz? I think not). We can also estimate for ourselves the benefits of starting retirement savings early – and the implications for the lifestyles of our future selves (that boat at 65 means fewer vacations in your 20’s).

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        We almost always know what we should do thanks to endless knowledge at our fingertips. But actually doing it is an entirely different kind of challenge. Most of us can relate to that feeling of inertia at the start of a big project, or the struggle to consistently make good, long-term choices for our health, or saving for the future. This mental tug-of-war we experience has evolutionary roots. While knowing this might bring comfort, it doesn’t help solve the problem at hand:

        How can we flex our willpower to become better, faster, smarter, and stronger?

        The bad news: you can’t Google your way out of this one.

        Or can you? A fascinating body of research (much of which you can turn up online through popular press and academic articles) sheds light on how to hack your willpower for better, easier results in all areas of your life. The Willpower Instinct, a great book by Stanford prof Kelly McGonigal, provides a deep dive into these and more topics for anyone keenly interested.

        Here’s the short version: we can make the most of our willpower through two types of hacks. First, there are ways to turbo boost your willpower. Second, there are ways to hack the system so you make the best use of whatever (sometimes infinitely modest) willpower you have.

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        The following 10 tips draw on both of these toolkits.

        1. Slow the heck down.

        Most regrettable decisions (the splurge at the mall, the procrastination on the project, the snacks in the break room) happen when one part of our brain effectively hijacks the other. We go into automatic pilot (and unfortunately the pilot in question has a penchant for shoes, Facebook and cookies!). Researchers suggest that we can override this system by charging up the other. That is, slow down and focus on the moment at hand. Think about your breathing. Bring yourself back to this moment in time, feel the compulsion but don’t act on it yet. Try telling yourself, “If this feeling is still just as uncomfortable in 10 minutes, I’ll act on it.” Take a little time to be mindful – then make your decision.

        2. Dream of ‘done.’

        Imagine yourself handing in the big project, soaking up the appreciation from your colleagues or boss. Or crossing the finish line for the half-marathon you’ve always wanted to run. The rush, the aliveness, the wind on your face, the medal …

        That’s a lot more fun and motivating to think about than how much work it is to get out of bed for your long, Sunday morning run!

        Re-orient your brain by summoning more motivating feelings than just “not running this morning is more enjoyable than running this morning.” If your goals are meaningful, this will help.

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        3. Make your toughest choices first.

        Scientists have found that willpower is like a full bathtub that’s drained throughout the day. So, why not start your toughest challenges when you have a full reserve? Get that project started or fit that workout in before you even check your email or have breakfast. Bonus: the high you’ll get from crossing off your hardest ‘to-do’ will help you sail through the rest of your day.

        4. Progress = commitment, not a license to backslide.

        A lot of times people will ‘cheat’ right after taking positive steps towards their goals. (A common version of this trap is, “I worked out three days in a row, so I deserve this cookie.”) Most of us can relate to this thinking – but it’s totally irrational! We’ll often trick ourselves into setbacks because we think we deserve them, even if we don’t really want them and deep down we know they’ll work against us in the long-run.

        How can you counteract this effect? Research finds that if you use your positive streak to recommit (“If I worked out three days this week, I must be really committed to my health and fitness goal!”) rather than an excuse for wiggle room, we don’t take the same cheat options. Cool, right?

        5. Meditate.

        Meditation is an expressway to better willpower. Bringing your attention to your breathing for 15 minutes, or even five, flexes your willpower muscles by applying discipline to your thinking. It does this by working two mental ‘muscle groups’: first, the set of muscles that notice when your attention is drifting, and second, the set of muscles that bring you back to your task at hand. Over time, even small amounts of meditation will help you build the discipline to easily do what was once hard – like pushing through a long stretch at work.

        6. Set mini-goals.

        Which seems more doable: committing to three 20 minute runs this week or a half-marathon? Mini-goals are brilliant because they’re easier to achieve and boost your commitment to continuing. When we size them up, we see them as achievable rather than daunting. Each time you succeed at one, it boosts your sense of efficacy and personal integrity: not only are you capable of doing what you set out to do, but you followed through on it. Nice.

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        The beauty of mini-goals is that over time, mini-goals – and the momentum you’ve built by doing them – can quickly turn into super-goals. So that half marathon might be more likely to happen, and sooner and more easily than you think!

        7. Eat.

        Low blood sugar decreases your ability to make tough decisions. If you’re running on empty physically, you’ll also be running on empty mentally. (Yes, this one’s somewhat ironic if your goal involves changing food patterns – but even so, letting your blood sugar drop too far will only sabotage you over time.)

        8. Sleep.

        Research shows people who don’t get enough sleep have a tough time exercising their willpower. Sleep is critical for a healthy brain – along with just about everything else. So to optimize your willpower muscle, make sure you’re catching your zzz’s.

        9. Nix the self-sabotage.

        Making yourself feel bad hurts, rather than helps, your willpower efforts. Researchers have found that compassion is a far better strategy than tough love – telling yourself “It’s OK, everyone has setbacks sometimes,” will help you bounce back more quickly than negative self-talk.

        10. Take the first hard step.

        As a new behavior becomes a habit, it is more natural. You have to use less and less willpower to ‘make it so.’ When you’re starting a new pattern that feels hard, remind yourself that the first steps are truly the hardest. It will probably never feel harder than it does in those first few choices. In the case of repeated behaviors, like exercise or saving money, it takes weeks for new habits to take hold. By that point, the habit will be so ingrained, you’d have to try hard not to do it.

        Featured photo credit: Kym Ellis via unsplash.com

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