Giving up. Quitting. Throwing in the towel. A tough option to consider, unless you've decided to stop smoking which is a good thing. It's probably fair to say that none of you like the idea of giving up on your dreams and ambitions, no matter what the reason.
But from time to time we find ourselves gripped by irrational fears and a deep sense of helplessness. Regardless of how hard you try, the fruit of your dreams - that chalice, or Holy Grail - seems just out of reach. At this point you start to question the value of all your hard work and you see only hardship and failure.
Something grates at the back of your mind. At first the sound is tiny, lost in the din of everyday life. Decibel by decibel it grows and it has a message for you. You recognise it as your alter ego - Doubt!
It doesn't take long for doubt to become a constant companion. The rhythm and soothing tones have weight and value. Your dreams are nothing more vapour filled images. You discard your plans. And why not? After all, there's someone else more capable who can get the job done - you might as well leave it to them.
I was there, right on the threshold of pulling the plug to my journey to the South Pole. And I'm not a man who gives up easily, ever.
A short conversation changed my mindset, brought me to back to why I'm doing this and who I am. After a lengthy and sometimes heated phone call I came away with renewed vigour. (Vince, have you ever thought about a career move into motivational speaking? You are a true friend).
Once Vince's attitude readjustment message gelled in my mind I took some time to think about 7 good reasons for not giving up on your plans. Let's go!
If We Give Up Nobody Else Will Make Our Dreams Come True
Yes, someone else might pick up the baton and make part of your dream come true, but they won't achieve every aspect of what you set out to do. When we dream big we're creating a story we want to see through to the end. That tale is personal to us and only we know the subtle variations and interconnected stories that make it different from any other.
Each and every one of us has desires. On paper they might look similar; the how and, more important, the why very rarely is.
We make dreams for a reason. And once you've crafted that image you'd better be prepared to make it come true because nobody else will do it for you.
Quitting Becomes An Accepted Route
Every path we choose is littered with debris. The route we take is sometimes winding and takes us a long way out of our comfort zone. That's fine because if we don't experience trials and hardship we will never learn new and innovative ways to achieve our aims.
And in the same way we learn from adversity we also learn from giving up. The constant use of the phrase 'I can't' creates what some describe as a hardwired neural path. I'm not a fan of this description - to me it's a habit and one that can easily take control of your life.
When we constantly give up on our dreams we are creating a default position. We forget to stop and think, to plan our path. It doesn't take long before we give in to the voice we created.
Because Believing in Unicorns is Fun
Do you believe in unicorns, or do you fall into the camp that says they're just a myth created to entertain children and adult alike? If you're in the latter camp my daughters might disagree with you. And so do I.
Some of my former colleagues might now be questioning my sanity - bear with me for a minute.
Unicorns are very real and for one simple reason: they were created by storytellers whose aim was to deliver a message. The unicorn is a merging of a couple of very real animals - possibly the oryx and a horse, or in some cases the Ghudkhur (an Indian ass).
And our dreams are the same - a union of different stories we make real.
Keep believing in unicorns - they exist!
Giving Up Can Destroy Our Self-Image
Who are you and why are you here? We've all asked ourselves that question at one time or another and most of us have an idea. Some of you probably have your life mapped. A friend of mine, a guy now in his fifties, created a rough plan back when he was in his late teens.
He saw himself joining the Parachute Regiment, moving on to the SAS and finally on to a new life outside of the Armed Forces. And he achieved nigh on everything he set out to do. His self-image is intact.
But when we quit too soon, or too easily, the view we have of ourselves becomes threadbare and transparent. The rich tapestry that is the tale of our lives unravels and soon there is nothing but pile of faded material that was once our dreams.
Because to Keep Going Won't Physically Hurt
We might fail to achieve our aims. It's also possible we could stumble at the very first hurdle. And there is no shame in that. We might feel frustrated or even angry, but at least we gave it a shot.
Look at the world around you - how does it look from where you are? You're reading this post which means you probably have a dream, or a plan, to make some lasting change. To me that means the world seen through your eyes doesn't look complete. And that is why you've started on a journey.
To keep going might see you lose 'friends', money or even your home, but it won't hurt. You'll probably feel the sting of failure and it's something to learn from. The raw weals caused by quitting will hurt you
deep in your soul.
Our Stories Will Never be Told if We Quit
We started on our journeys because we had something to say. The message might be an internal dialogue or a grand message to an audience keen to feel the rollercoaster through the words and images we craft. Pushing on the escape bar when there's no emergency in sight will rob us and our followers of a rip-roaring yarn.
I've been giving public talks for some time now (to both schools and businesses) and trust me when I say there are many people who want to hear about your journey, especially how you overcame seemingly insurmountable odds (like quitting...)
The moment you quit YOUR story dies.
Being Stubborn is a Good Thing
You know what you and want and you've chosen your path. Nobody is going to side-track you because you're decisive and this in turn drives your perseverance to new heights. Yes, when used in a sensible way stubborn can be an excellent tool for getting the job done.
When we make plans we need to know why we're doing it and where the journey is going to take us. We also need to be willing to make hard decisions along the road, when to glide around obstacles and roll with the bumps and hits we're going to experience.
When we practise being stubborn with our self-made plans we make ourselves accountable. And that's no bad thing.
If I'm Not Going to Quit, What Now?
Back to the plan. I have my good friend Vince to thank for nudging me back on track. Once his words had settled I realised that giving up on this current stage of my plan would have a massive and detrimental effect on the next steps I've envisioned.
Throwing myself in a corner and letting melancholy take over is not me. It's not you either