Confession: I had a bit of a meltdown this weekend.
It happens from time to time; I experience a complete crisis of faith, and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life.
Naturally, I went on a YouTube binge to distract myself from the incessant despair (and hopefully cure my mini existential crisis). And – somewhat shockingly – it worked.
While perusing the Marie TV video library, my idol and life-long girl crush Marie Forleo revealed her sole reason for success: “I just don’t give the fuck up”.
I instantly felt a warm wave of relief wash over me. Phew. I don’t need to know what the hell I’m doing.
I just need to keep moving forward, and not give the fuck up.
The myth of the overnight success
I’d be willing to place a rather large bet that Marie’s not alone in attributing her success to tenacity.
By the time most people appear on our radar, however, they seem like an overnight success.
We think they’ve “blown up”.
But how often – if ever – does this really happen?
Successful people usually get pretty candid about their backstory; including their unique challenges, their failures, and the adversity they overcame.
Marie, for example, is open about the fact that she worked side jobs and hustled for seven years before she made her current business her full-time jam.
Researching failure stories
Researching the “failure stories” of my idols is one of my all-time favourite activities.
It reminds me that they’re only human, just like me.
Reading about people like Steven Pressfield – who wrote for 27 years and worked 21 different jobs before he got published – gives me immense hope.
I mean, if he can do that, I can take a little more rejection.
I can take a little more stagnation.
I can take a little more despair.
Or will you take the easier option – and give the fuck up?
Challenge: do a quick Google search of one of your favourite writers, artists, musicians, speakers, and/or entrepreneurs now. Look for interviews or biography-style articles. Dig deep into their backstory.
As you read, ask yourself:
- What adversity have they overcome to achieve their level of success?
- What lessons did they learn from their mistakes?
- How can you apply this knowledge to your own life?
Repeat this exercise any time you feel like giving up on your dream.
But I want it now
A word of warning; not giving the fuck up means going against the grain.
It means rejecting our current culture of instant gratification.
Right now, we have the world at our fingertips. We can get answers to our questions in an instant, contact anyone around the world, and get food delivered to our door in record time.
These advances have trained us to be, well… lazy.
We’ve become entitled. We expect instant results. We don’t want to work hard.
Hard work isn’t sexy.
But it’s what gets real results, especially when combined with persistence.
Play the long game
In any creative endeavour (including life in general), we need to play the long game.
When we focus on where we’re going – the outcome we want to create – it’s easier not to give the fuck up. Our vision becomes so real to us we can almost taste it, and every day get us one step closer to it.
This is where the real work happens.
Most people are playing the short game. They focus on how they can feel good now – hence the junk we feed ourselves (including drugs, booze, food, and social media).
But when we focus on the long game, something shifts.
We start asking how we can create sustainable fulfilment, rather than instant pleasure. And we our habits begin to align with this.
These are the people who hit the gym, instead of hitting McDonald’s. These are the people who choose to meditate, instead of watching television. These are the people spend Friday night beating on their craft, instead of partying until the wee hours.
These folks are playing the long game.
What isn’t giving up
Giving up is all in the mind. It’s when self-doubt reigns supreme, and we end up abandoning projects, severing ties, or burning our manuscripts.
However, it’s not giving up to take a break.
Intentionally taking time away from our work – so we can return to it refreshed and renewed – is awesome.
For example, I regularly do digital detoxes and attend yoga retreats, where I intentionally avoid writing.
And I usually find that I return to it with more enthusiasm, passion, and creativity.
It isn’t giving up to:
- Take a break (anywhere from 1 hour to 1 month), with the intention of returning to the work
- Travel – or take a vacation – and do absolutely zero work
- Support yourself financially with a regular job (while working on your ‘real’ job in your spare time)
- Put your family first, and fit in your creative work around them
Still feel like giving the fuck up?
If you’re on the verge of throwing in the towel, ask yourself, ‘Will I regret not having continued on this path in 10 years’ time? Will I kick myself for not at least trying to see if I could have made it?’
If the answer is a big fat yes, then pause. Breathe. Reboot.
Take a time out, learn a new skill, challenge yourself, and make your craft fun again.
And if you’re in the early stages of any creative endeavour – including business – let go of the need to ‘make money from it’, and you might find that your joy and creativity spontaneously reappears.
Just don’t give the fuck up.
When do you feel like giving up? What helps to keep you moving forward? Share your wisdom in the comments below.
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