A Simple Sentence to Overcome Fear and Quitting

On your journey to monetizing your know-how and building a lifestyle business, you will encounter fear. Fear comes in various forms: constantly quitting; chronic procrastination; going from one project to the next (shiny-object syndrome) and continually searching for “the perfect opportunity”.

What do you do when fear strikes? The consensus is to take action and that’s true but hard to apply. Fear can stop you in your tracks and prevent you doing the very thing needed to overcome it. Before you can effectively take action, there is something you need to do before taking action becomes possible. Gritting your teeth, positive affirmations, a “warrior attitude” don’t work – at least not in the long-run. You’re in a battle of wills between your actions and your emotions and emotions always win. The harder you push against fear, the harder it pushes back. So what’s the solution?

I will try before I quit.

Yoda was wrong. There is a “try” and it’s vastly underrated. In fact, devaluing the act of trying has produced a generation of talented people too frightened to pursue their goals in case they don’t make it. Thanks for nothing, Yoda – “unhelpful advice-giving you will stop“. It’s OK to try. It’s noble and brave and should be respected.

I will try before I quit. This simple sentence will help you achieve more in your life and reach more of your goals than you realise. But it only works if you are sincere in your effort and honest with yourself. We aren’t the Effort Police. All we can ask is that you don’t cheat yourself but, instead, go all-out and be sincere in your effort.

This simple idea works for the following reasons:

  1. It’s both prevention and cure. The willingness to try before you quit does two things: (a) it reduces fear by lowering the stakes, and (b) it makes taking action – the true antidote to fear – much easier. You still have the safety net of quitting if you really want to but not until you’ve taken sincere action in the direction of your goal.
    There’s an added benefit: “I will try before I quit” builds momentum. You are not seeing sufficient progress and so you quit; you quit because you are not seeing sufficient progress. “Just try” helps break this vicious cycle. The act of trying will bring results and results will help you stay the distance – or at least go further than you would otherwise.
  2. It redefines success. If success to you is building a six-figure business by year end; landing that dream partner; winning that medal – then a lot of pressure comes with that. The result is binary: you either get the end result or you don’t. That “all-or-nothing” thinking intensifies fear and also reduces happiness. (All-or-nothing thinking is why professional athletes often “choke” performing simple actions).
         However, if you stop defining success as an outcome and simply see it as “ongoing process of just being willing to try, regardless of the result”, fear is minimised. You no longer have to achieve a particular result, you just have to try in good faith to achieve it.
  3. It’s doable. Anyone can try. Not everyone can reach their goal but anyone can put in sincere effort for a short period of time. Stop thinking in terms of “must”, “have to” or “should” and just think “I will try”.
  4. There’s an end in sight. Quitting has not been taken off the table. It’s a safety net. If you’ve tried and it’s not working or if the pursuit of your goal is making you miserable to where you hate your life – then stop. Reassess. Choose a different goal. It may be that if your goal makes you so unhappy, you’ve chosen the wrong goal. This sentence is not a straitjacket but a simple reframing of your mindset to help you achieve more.
  5. Repeat the process. Motivation is a fickle thing. Some days, you wake up and you can take on the world. Other days, you can’t get out of bed and everything seems pointless and nothing seems to work. It’s not you. Everyone feels that way sometimes and each time you’re faced with just two choices: try or quit. All we ask is that you try before you quit. Apply this rule every time fear makes you think of giving up.

Takeaway points

  1. To achieve more and go further adopt the attitude, “I will try before I quit”.
  2. If you are in a rut, if you are constantly quitting and getting nowhere in life, it’s because fear is stopping you taking consistent action. Adopting the attitude of “I will try before I quit” automatically makes you take more action. Action is what will change your life for the better.
  3. You’ve tried. That was the deal. You have two choices now. You can quit or you can carry on. If you decide to quit, always look back at what you’ve achieved first. You may surprise yourself.

Action steps

  1. Dale Carnegie was a wise man. In his life-changing book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, he gives the following advice. (It was designed to overcome worry but it applies equally to anyone trying to accomplish a worthy goal or to manage their fear). Take a piece of paper and write the answers to the following:
    – What’s the worst that can happen?
    – Imagine it has happened. Can you mentally accept it?
    – How would you calmly improve on the worst?
  2. Before you embark on any (ad)venture, know what’s the most you stand to lose. Can you (and are you willing to) pay that price? Don’t risk more than you are able to lose. Fear comes about because you have either risked too much or you feel you have risked too much. The downside may be real; it may be imagined or it may be exaggerated. Whatever it is, be clear as to what it is. Successful entrepreneurs do not enter into any ventures without knowing how much they can lose. If you can define and manage “the worst-case scenario” you can eliminate most of your fear.
  3. The ultimate antidote to fear is taking action. Identify the one thing you can do that will turn the game around for you. What has stopped you doing that thing? Break it down into small steps – of which the first one you can take immediately. Action kills fear.

Photo credit: The Development of Birmingham via Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0

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