Do you ever feel like quitting? Most of us do at one time or another. Sometimes the list seems longer than we can imagine ever accomplishing. Other times we are overwhelmed with worry and fear. Often, we face problems that appear unsolvable. Limited time, funds, resources and energy can all make us want to toss up our hands and quit. At the same time, simply quitting is rarely an option. While we may be able to walk away from a task or challenge temporarily, there will likely be negative consequences associated with such a choice.
So, what do we do when we feel like quitting? How do we keep going when we feel hopeless?
The other day, I heard this song by Skillet on the radio:
What caught my ear were the words in the chorus:
I could easily picture an anchor holding a boat steady in the midst of stormy times. With this tune still in my head, I then heard a story on the news about an initiative being launched by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. This project encourages people struggling with depression to sign what they call the “Please Stay” pledge, a commitment to stay alive rather than commit suicide. Apparently, suicides have been on the rise during the pandemic, and Lady Gaga – in cooperation with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta – are trying to offer encouragement to those who are struggling. The reason this newsclip caught my attention was because it, like the song, references anchors:
“An anchor is something you can hold on to for another day or minute — it doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, it can be a smile from a stranger, steak tacos, rugby…”– Please Stay
In other words, an anchor is any small, positive element of life that gives us the energy to keep showing up. The website says, “Anchors are everywhere, you just have to start looking.”
At this point, I had now heard two references to anchors in a very short period of time. When this happens, I tend to sit up and pay attention. The message I was hearing was that when we feel like quitting, we might just need an anchor.
With this in mind, I sat down and made a list of what pops to mind when I hear the word anchor. This is what I came up with. An anchor:
- Keeps us from being swept in an undesirable direction
- Prevents us from banging into things and getting damaged
- Holds us in place when storms hit
- Is strong, heavy, dependable, and not easily swayed
- Allows us to focus on what we can control (i.e. inside the boat)
- Holds us tight while we wait for the storm to pass
- Relieves the pressure to control everything by ourselves
- Can be pulled up when we are ready to move on
These are some pretty appealing qualities!
In keeping with the idea that anchors are everywhere, and that we all need them from time to time, I decided to make a second list of possible anchors; things we can look forward to and lean on when we are lacking the internal fortitude to simply “guts through” a difficult time or situation.
Here are a few ideas:
- A visual image that makes us peaceful or hopeful
- A favorite food or drink, such as a cup of hot coffee and our favorite bagel when we get up
- The voice of a friend whom we know cares about us, will listen without judgment, and will encourage us
- A song or soundtrack that cheers us
- An accountability partner who won’t let us off the hook when we start to make excuses
- The guidance of an expert, who can see solutions that we cannot
- A dependent, such as a pet or child, who needs us to perform certain tasks
- A familiar routine that builds our confidence and gives us a sense of empowerment
- A treat or activity with which we reward ourselves for persevering
The list is literally endless.
My take-away on this mental excursion is twofold:
- We all go through storms that beat us up, overwhelm us, exhaust us, and make us feel like quitting. We shouldn’t be surprised by these.
- When tough times hit, we have the ability to identify and cling to one or more anchors to steady us and help us get through.
As Winston Churchill said,
One final note: there is a difference between quitting and choosing to mindfully walk away. There are many situations we face for which the best course of action is to exit. This can and should be done with planning and intent. We should never allow ourselves to be anchored to a situation that is dangerous or unhealthy.
* * *
Are you going through a hard time? Do you feel like quitting? What anchors have you clung to that have helped you in the past?
29 thoughts on “When You Feel Like Quitting”
Love this advice and definitely have had my moments over the years. But agree that when you feel like quitting, sometimes it is justified to mindfully walk away and others it is those anchors that do truly make all the difference if need be to keep afloat. Thanks, Seana for the reminder here ?
Hope you had a very happy Mother’s Day, Janine, and that you don’t need any anchors this week:)
This is brilliant. I know this is going to help more people than you can imagine. Who doesn’t feel stuck or desperate, even out of sorts at one time or another?
I love the idea of anchoring. It reaches our sensitivities and gives us hope. Your ideas bring us to the basics. Such as, a song, a person’s voice, the calming effects of stroking our pet, a cup of coffee, that will help keep us anchored for another day, hour or minute. How inspiring!
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I am so happy that you mentioned pets because I think they are a powerful anchor. Pets touch us and comfort us in a way nothing else can, and I know for many, pets have kept them afloat through those storms!
I love this idea to use anchors to keep us going forward. Looking at the big picture was always helpful to me. To do this, when I was in college, I went to a park on top of a hill that overlooked the area and just meditated and enjoyed the view. This literally allowed me to see that my problems were smaller than I was making them out to be.
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I love this idea, Sabrina – a special spot to go! This can be so powerful. I had a friend who used to do the same by going to the beach. The vastness of a large horizon can really help us keep our troubles in perspective. Thanks so much for sharing this anchor!
This is such a powerful post, Seana. I know I have felt hopeless from time to time and have felt like the task ahead of me was insurmountable. I am not a quitter and power through these times – sometimes grasping at straws but still grasping and forging on. The thing that helps me the most is my gratitude list. When I feel like I’m facing tough times I cycle through my gratitude list. I keep a journal and everyday write down the positive things that have happened during the day. I refer back to this from time to time when I need to find the strength and motivation to keep going. Thank you for the image of an anchor. I will hold onto that.
I keep a gratitude list as well, Diane. It really can be so helpful when we are struggling. Mine reminds me that God is there, listening, aware, caring, loving… all that I need to hear and call to mind!
Seana- This is such a deep post and speaks to so many issues- mental health, suicide, quitting, feeling so overwhelmed that you can’t find your way forward. And certainly, there are no quick fixes. Reaching out to a mental health professional when suicidal, depressive, or anxiety-producing thoughts are present is essential. Or, if you are observing someone in need, encourage them to get help. And then developing those personal tools like the ones you mentioned is another part of being able to navigate life’s storms.
I also like what you said that there ARE times to quit- as in when situations or relationships are unhealthy or dangerous. Then the anchors need to be pulled up, and it’s time to sail away.
Such a good point, Linda. I’m a huge fan of mental health professionals. I love that, as a society, we are understanding the need for support more, and removing the shame from getting what we need. We can all be voices encouraging people to pursue the right, most helpful, tools. Amen!
Such a powerful piece! We tend to think of anchors as holding us back instead of holding us fast.
Ah, good point Jonda. They can do both, I presume. I tend to enjoy thinking of their positive aspect, keeping me afloat and from heading in a dangerous direction. 🙂
Such a great metaphor. Especially the way an anchor can prevent us from “banging into things and getting damaged.”
That’s for sure true for me, Carol. Sometimes it might be a habit or routine that alone keeps me from a bad choice. I’ve found the idea of an anchor has resonated with many people I know, so thought it was worth sharing!
Boy, did I need to read this today. Sometimes you just get caught in a storm with nowhere to go. It’s great to reflect on how we can come out ahead (and at times stronger). Love this post!
Glad you found it encouraging, Margarita. We all go through those storms. We all need something to cling to every now and then, right?
I really do get that, and what you said about food or coffee upon waking is 100% mine. And music.
I watch this anime show Kipo with the kids and there are people who have been experimented on and they turn into these giant beasts when angry (it’s weird but good) and in the show, the main character has an “anchor” so that she can always turn back into a human. And it’s a photo of her family at first, and then she realizes that it’s her friends who are her anchor.
I love this “anchor.” A photograph can be a terrific anchor because it represents a link to other people. Haven’t heard of Kipo, but now you have captured my interest, so I think I’ll be checking it out!
I love this image of how we must keep going. That is really what we have done through these uncertain times despite being overwhelmed. Truly things get messier before they get easier.
It’s been a rough spell for sure. Many people have felt disoriented, out of sorts, stressed, and otherwise “off.” I think we are still learning the impact that the pandemic has had, and probably will learn more and more as time goes by. Sometimes, we need to anchor ourselves to a mental health professional. Other times, we can find something in our own sphere that really gives us what we need to keep going.
Thank you for the post. I didn’t know about the Please Stay pledge. Sadly, I heard that a friend’s husband passed recently by his own doing. So sad. It’s wonderful that there is an outlet. I have been thinking of my friend and how quitting affects others.
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I’m so sorry to hear this, Janet. So often we don’t know what is going on inside other people, even those with whom we are close. We tend to hide our shame and insecurity, when bringing things out of the open is the best way to begin the healing. Some of us need a mental health professional because we are struggling so much. Others can find encouragement and a “reason to stay” in something within their sphere. I would guess many need both!
What a beautiful way to look at the things that can steady us, keep us moored to what is important, even in the most difficult times. And it’s really important to have multiple anchors, especially the big ones, in case of a tragedy where one’s main anchor is lost at sea.
Thank you for these beautiful reminders.
Ah yes, having more than one is definitely a good idea. If your anchor is your spouse, and he/she passes away, then you are lost again. I have a mix of both small things that I look forward to, and then people and beliefs that keep me afloat. The key is to seek them out and put them in place!
I absolutely love this. Thank you so much for sharing. There are several people in my life who struggle with depression and anxiety. I look forward to sharing this with them.
People truly struggling with depression and anxiety may benefit from the assistance of a mental health professional, but this may still be a helpful tool as they find a way through!
Beautiful post, Seana and so many thoughtful comments too. My anchors include meditation, walking, my routines, music. When they all seem too much, music is the one that reminds me I’m connected even when I can’t see it. Can’t wait for our choir to be able to sing together in person once more!
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Music is a book one for me too. I’ve taken to listening to a specific playlist int he mornings and it just calms me down to turn it one, especially when I wake to an email inbox full of fires! My daughter feels the same about her choir. Love that you sing and bless others with that talent!
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