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.
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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?