The majority of people don’t actually quit anything. In my experience, very few people actually say:
- “I quit working out.”
- “I quit my friendship with Mary. We see each other occasionally and pretend we care, but if I never saw her again, it really wouldn’t matter to me.”
- “I show up at my job day after day and do acceptable work, but I actually quit years ago.”
- “I quit my marriage, but I still live with the guy. We are doing ok. I am not putting in any effort anymore.”
- “I show up at family events, but I quit the family. I show up out of obligation, but I don’t do anything to foster the relationships.”
- “I quit my business. I just make sure the doors are open on time each morning, inventory is stocked and the bills are paid. However, I am not doing anything anymore to assure success.”
People don’t actually quit. They just fade away.
Let’s use the example of working out. Initially, there might be motivation for working out. Maybe you have gained a couple of pounds. Or, your high school reunion is coming up. Maybe your doctor tells you that you are headed for a medical train wreck if you don’t get in shape. Then, you have this great idea. “I’m going to do it! I am going to go to the gym 5 days a week and get this old bod in shape.” You start off strong. Maybe the first two weeks you make it to the gym 5 days each week. You might even do this for several months. Then, there is the fateful day when you give yourself an excuse to miss one day. You are too tired, busy, have an ingrown toenail, overtime at work, have to take the kids to soccer, the weather is too hot/cold, have to do the grocery shopping…just about any excuse will work. Besides, it is only one day.
The following week you stick to the plan and make it to the gym all 5 days. Then it happens again. You miss a day or two or three because you have a cold or maybe there is a big wedding to attend out of town. Ooops! Missed the gym again. Now, you begin missing your workouts more and more frequently. But, you haven’t quit! You tell yourself you will get back into the swing of things soon. Things are just hectic right now. Uh huh. Eventually, you even stop thinking about it. No more working out and you never actually admit that you have quit. You just fade away.
How does this apply to less tangible areas such as your job or business? Remember the first day on your new job? You were so excited and nervous. You couldn’t wait to get started on this new adventure. You were on time every day and worked with enthusiasm. Usually, this “honeymoon” period lasts 6 months to a year. It gets harder and harder to get up on time each morning. You are dying for that first cup of coffee and start looking forward to your first break of the day before you arrive at work. The tasks are becoming routine. You pretty much know what to expect each day. Before you know it, you only do enough each day to get by. You do what is required, but no more than this. You don’t actually quit your job, but you have faded away.
Why do people fade away? There are thousands of excuses, but only one reason: lack of commitment. People like the idea of getting fit or looking good, being married, getting a paycheck, owning their own business, etc., but they aren’t committed to doing what it takes. They only stick things out as long as it is easy and convenient. When people say “I am going to work out 5 days per week” what they actually mean is “I will work out 5 days a week until it becomes more work than my health is worth to me.” In reality, they have quit before they have even started because they are not committed to the decision.
Personally, I am trying to be very careful about what I say. When I say “I would like to paint the garage” rather than “I am painting the garage this weekend”, there is a huge difference in my mind. The first is wishful thinking and the second is a firm commitment.
Make a decision once. Not over and over and over. Decide once you are going to work out 5 days a week and then follow through consistently. Decide once that you are going to do your best every day at your job rather than dragging your butt out of bed each morning forcing yourself to go. Decide once to persistently build your business in spite of the obstacles, long hours and learning curve rather than “trying” to build a business.
Or quit. Really and truly quit. Quit your job. Cancel your membership at the gym. Get out of the marriage. Close your business down. Quit relationships. Tell people you have quit. Tell yourself you have quit. Fading away is pathetic. Decide once. And, then do.