Not Born to Quit

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There’s something you learn once your child begins to walk. They get into everything! This is so true with my daughter. We’ve had to move books, movies, and other things higher so she doesn’t get into them. What’s (sometimes) funny to watch is how my daughter still looks for ways to get the things we put out of her reach. She is persistent and resourceful. She really doesn’t know when to quit. If you watch any child, you’ll see a similar persistence. They’ll do what they can to get your food, a toy, attention, and are especially persistent when learning to crawl and walk. As I’ve watched my daughter, though, I realized that she really doesn’t give up. It occurred to me that every single one of us is born with an innate determination not to quit. We are born persistent.

If we’re not born to quit then the question is, why do so many of us quit (sometimes quitting often) even when it’s something good for us and that we want to do? Now the particular details vary from person to person, however the short answer is in how we’ve conditioned our minds, particularly how we’ve learned to view ourselves and mistakes.

Mistakes are a part of life. From the time we tried something on our own or tried taking our first steps, mistakes were part of our life. We would fall and make mistakes, but we all seemed to instinctively know that a fall was of no consequence; we would eventually get there and walk. As we get older, though, many of us start interpreting events in a negative way. When we make a mistake we interpret it as meaning we are a failure or no good; we’ll never learn or achieve that goal we’re after. On top of that, we can start worrying about what other people will think if we make a mistake.

These thoughts bring about unpleasant emotions, such as jealousy, fear, insecurity, and worry. These emotions are messages from the body to let us know that those doubtful and negative thoughts are not healthy for us. Unfortunately we can interpret these emotions incorrectly and associate them with an event; “I felt bad because I made a mistake”. If these or similar thoughts are repeated they create stronger and stronger connections and neuro circuitries that lead to beliefs that mistakes are bad, people will make fun of you for trying, it’s easier to quit, or any number of similar beliefs. With these beliefs in place we look for ways to avoid mistakes, which leads to developing a habit of quitting.

As an important note, although it may go without saying, there are times we do need to quit. There is nothing wrong with quitting or leaving abusive environments or relationships, harmful habits, or unethical situations. These are things we can get rid of, looking for help if necessary. These situations are NOT what I’m referring to when I talk about not quitting.

Any goal we have must be based on good principles if we are to have internal peace, happiness, and health. Persistence in negative conduct leads to sickness, pain, and often times suffering for ourselves and those around us. Look no further to history for those who persisted in their negative goal and brought suffering to millions. On the flip side, though, look at men and women such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and many others who refused to quit on good goals and brought service, freedom, and change to millions.

Another important thing to remember is that there is a difference between quitting and course correcting. Just because you have a certain goal, doesn’t mean you can’t change it. It’s fine, and even healthy, to review goals regularly to see if they still align with your vision for the future and your values. It’s okay to leave a job, hobby, etc. behind in order to pursue something else. So long as the reason is based on good principles and there is internal peace with the decision. If that’s the case then there is no need to feel bad or worry about what others will think. The key is making sure that it is a value-based decision and not driven by ego, pride, revenge, etc. It’s also good to periodically review goals to make sure that the reason why you are working toward them is based on good principles. If they’re not then it’s time to reevaluate the goal and the reason why you want to achieve it.

Another reason people quit is because of a lack of flexibility. There is never a straight line to success in anything. Striving for anything we currently don’t have always requires us to grow; this means making mistakes, evaluating our strategies, learning, and making the needed changes. One of the wonderful things about accomplishing new things/goals is not so much the achievement itself, but rather the growth that comes during the journey. So when going after something, be patient and be ready to learn and change.

Remember why you are striving for your goal. A goal with a compelling reason helps us when we don’t feel like working on our goal. For example, I exercise regularly, but not just to stay fit. I do it to stay strong and healthy for my family. In moments when I don’t want to exercise, I visualize playing in the park with my daughter when she’s 5 years old or I’ll imagine dancing with her at her wedding. It gives me a boost to exercise. And just as goals need to be based on good principles, so do our reasons behind them. When they are, they provide additional motivation that is both inspiring and healthy.

We are born determined and persistent; we are not born to quit. When we see life as an amazing learning experience it is easier to not quit on our value-based goals. We are able to repair relationships, develop greater character, change bad habits, do much good, and indeed even change the world. It takes time and effort, but you can recondition your mind for persistence. You can accomplish all of your good goals, becoming an even better person in the process. So don’t quit on yourself; you have more potential inside you than you even realize.

 

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5 Lessons from my One-Year Old

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It’s amazing what you can learn from children. I have a 1 year old (14 months old, to be exact). Being a father has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t trade the world for my daughter. As I’ve been trying to teach her, though, I can’t help but find myself being taught by her. So, in honor of her, I’d like to share 5 lessons I’ve learned from my 1 year old. Continue reading

Lessons Learned From Motherhood

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I didn’t consider myself to be a selfish person before I became a mother. In fact, I considered myself to be a caring, compassionate, and considerate person. While that may have been true, I have since learned that the person I was before knew little of what it meant to be selfless. From the moment I held that beautiful baby in my arms my thoughts and actions became consumed with what’s best for her. All at once it became less about me and all about this divine gift I was blessed to finally have in my arms. While everything did change the moment my daughter came into my life, that doesn’t mean I suddenly became a completely selfless person in that same instance. I believe that we can have moments that bring about change instantaneously like the birth of a new child, but I also believe that not all change can happen at once because change is a continuous process. I am still learning how to be a mother, as I’m sure I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.   Continue reading

Rearview mirror

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Have you ever noticed how small the rearview mirror is in your car? I noticed this recently, and it got me thinking. Compared to the windshield, the rearview mirror is tiny. Why do you think that is? Maybe, because what’s behind you is not nearly as important as what’s in front of you. It’s the same with our lives. Even though we had to go through a certain experience or take a certain road to get to where we are, our past is not nearly as important as our present and our future. Continue reading

“That’s Just the Way I am”

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“That’s just the way I am”. Have you ever heard someone say this? Or, have you ever said this yourself? I think most of us have said some variation of  this. We use it to explain why we are shy, loud, angry, etc. But what are we really saying? Whether consciously aware of it or not, this phrase basically says, “I have no control over who I am or my behavior, and I cannot change.” Is this true? Is our nature and actions bound by something we have no control over? By genetic expression, culture, or the past? Absolutely not! Continue reading