What I do when I feel like giving up.

What I do when I feel like giving up.
Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 / Unsplash

Today is a hard day.

I wake up every morning thinking, "I'm not perfect, but I am consistent." But today, it feels like a slap in the face.

Because right now, as I sit in my chair, back straight, and tap at my keyboard, I do so begrudgingly. I don't want to write today.

Today, I feel like giving up.

  • I didn't feel like waking up at 5 a.m.: my feet were dragging.
  • I didn't want to say my morning prayer: my faith was lagging.
  • I didn't want to make my boys breakfast: my parenting was sagging.

I read a cool study the other day about grit being the characteristic most closely linked to success. I could use some grit today.

So what do I do on days like today? I remind myself of a couple things.

My Mind Gives Suggestion, Not Commands

Every thought that rolls through my mind is like one of those hip-sushi-conveyor-belt-restaurants. You know the ones where roll after roll scoots past your table on different colored plates, and you pluck off only the ones you want to eat?

Today, a wide selection is whizzing by my mind table: Want to try, I'm too tired to wake up today? or You can pray later! The chef has whipped up a fresh plate of Snap at your kids because you're tired.

If I pause in these moments, I can often recognize them for what they are. Mere options, among other possibilities.

  • My mind is also suggesting I can feel really good about my accomplishments.
  • It suggests I will feel better after I wake up and get moving.
  • It implies that the moments with my kids or on my knees in prayer are adding up to something special.

Nothing your mind offers are orders. Only suggestions.

My Discomfort Doesn't Last

I started my running regime up again last week. It was absolutely terrible. I sweat more than I remember; I felt like blowing junk; my body hurt literally everywhere.

This happens every time I start something new.

It's uncomfortable, sometimes painful. But it never lasts.

This morning, I am maintaining my perspective: Life is easier today than ever in human history. I live a relatively pompous life. The limited amount of pain I feel is short-lived and likely shapes me best.

Good Work Pays Dividends

Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "Far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." This is my ultimate trap: I want to do helpful and respected work, but I often put off the hard work that leads to it.

We all want to be an Olympian, but only some want to put in the daily grind.

Sometimes, the simple act of showing up and having the courage to do the work, even in an average manner, is a victory worth celebrating.

Life Be That Way

Life is always a mix between giving in to the easy way out and pushing through the pain of discipline. It's not a stretch to say that our lives and identities depend on this fragile balance.

What is life if not the sum of a million small battles and choices to fight or give up each day?

I don't want to waste this moment. This is not a run-through. This moment is just as much a part of my life as any other. I want to spend it on something that will make me proud.

So, what do I do when I feel like giving up?

I show up.

Do I always show up with my best? No.

But over time, I find that the grind's consistency pays more than I could ever have imagined.