I keep seeing those images and quotes on feel-good social media sites about never, ever, ever giving up. You know the ones. The words are either illustrated or paired with a picture of a woman running.
Some go on to say that the moment you feel you want to give up or quit is the moment just before the miracle occurs.
I actually love these little titbits and sayings, and I often live by these kinds of punchy, directional statements. But we all know they alone are not enough to keep us motivated in the long run. As a recent experience showed me, we need a bigger reason to keep our tenacity fired up.
Last year I entered a running and surf-swimming race called the 3 Points Challenge. I am a runner but I am not a swimmer, and the training I’d done beforehand did not see me in the ocean more than it did the pool so I was feeling unprepared. Turns out, ocean swimming is vastly different to pool swimming!
The first leg was a 500m swim and half way in, I just didn’t think I could go on anymore. The next wave of people were overtaking me, the swell was ENORMOUS (or perhaps that was just my perception) and my freestyle had turned into a combination of backstroke, breaststroke and even a bit of sidestroke. I was tired, so tired.
But then I remembered my aim. This was an interim meet, preparing me for bigger and better challenges in terms of fitness. This was something I entered quite last minute to experience as a stepping-stone to further competitions. It was one rung on the ladder.
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Something else that helped: I swam so far off the circle that I ended up near a volunteer official who encouraged me in a big way. I remember saying, “I just don’t seem to be moving.” And she said, “You’re moving, trust me, you’re moving. And you don’t have much further to go. Just change your course a little.”
So I dug in and kept going. And I got to the sand. And then I got to my shoes. And then I started running.
The experience taught me some techniques for staying motivated when it all feels too much. If you’re close to giving up:
- Remember the reason why you started. What’s your vision?
- Remember to focus on taking just ‘one more step’ instead of picturing the whole, possibly overwhelming challenge.
- Ask for someone else’s perspective – they may just offer you a shining light or the encouragement you need.
- Change your course just a little – it may just be that you need to adjust something so it’s not so hard.
Being reminded by a quote to “never give up” can help spark your motivation, but regaining that bigger-picture tenacity depends on your thoughts and actions in the moment – just before the miracle occurs.
What has helped you get through those times of wanting to give up?