I have been trying to write this post for three days now. No… four. Even the draft was started three different times.
I know what I want to say. But I am struggling with how I want to say it.
Logically, I’ve done everything else BUT actually write. You know, the thing I have dedicated my life to do professionally.
I need to start making some money here soon.
And I will.
But I am not gonna lie. I’ve arrived at this narrow edge where I am catching myself looking down — and I’m beginning to believe it was a bad idea to leave my stable paycheck.
Maybe I should just quit. Bringing my dreams to life — was it a pipe dream? No harm no foul, right?
“Take a step back and look up,” my inner voice reminds me, before I take another step forward and plummet into the past.
To get to this narrow edge, I had to battle a lot of storms. A lot of storms I thought I had vanquished into the history books, never to feel again.
But this storm I feel brewing is one of those storms. Oh how easy it would be to just belly flop back into the cycle of despair.
This storm is calling my name.
As easy as it would be to just… let go… return to the past…
I can’t. I won’t.
This is a story of perseverance. Of never giving up when that’s the easiest solution.
This is a story of perseverance. Of expanding comfort zones one step at a time.
This is a story of perseverance. Of following one’s dreams, even when the trail is covered in poison ivy and doesn’t exist on any map known to mankind.
And YET, it has taken me a thousand lifetimes, but I am finally at a place in THIS lifetime where my soul understands the art of balancing future happiness and past darkness.
While I balance, I’m going to share with you some helpful tips on how to become friends with perseverance by exercising your brain and doing something insane to build endurance.
If you are already friends with perseverance, feel free to share a life lesson in persistence that you will never forget.
How to Befriend Persistence
Be aware, these tips are in no particular order. You do you.
But they work for me, so here they are: 7 tips for staying in the game when you feel like quitting.
Tip #1: Be open to “Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn” (Alvin Toffler)
What worked for you once may not work for you now.
What do I mean by that? The shield I put up as a child to protect myself from trauma is no longer needed.
Whether it be because you are in a different phase in life, or circumstances have changed, or XYZ, it’s OK to hold those comfort zones close, say thank you, and then release them.
It’s also ok not to replace those comfort zones. Heck, it’s even ok for some zones to hang on tighter than others. It took a while to dismantle my childhood shield o’ protection. 32 years to be exact.
I am not going to lie to you. Some days, weeks, and months are going to suck like they were covered in glitter that exploded in your washer AND dryer.
Once you are open to relearning a better-for-you coping mechanism — and by that I mean, once you start expanding your comfort zone — nothing can stop you.
You know that. No matter how cliché it sounds.
Some of the things you have to unlearn and relearn are NOT going to be easy. In fact, giving yourself permission to say goodbye to what doesn’t work anymore might be the hardest thing you will ever do.
It’s hard to let go of the things that have comforted us all those dark nights.
If you need someone to give you permission, I would be honored: “I give you permission to let go of the toxic chains holding you prisoner of the past. And permission to break free.”
I wish perseverance was as easy as flipping a glow-in-the-dark light switch.
But it’s not. It’s stressful. And ugly. And maddening.
Tip #2: So hold on tight to your why
Learning and unlearning and then relearning can sometimes be a full-time job in and of itself.
Next time you hit that wall and would rather rage scream as you throw the freshly drained spaghetti at said wall…
…Take a step back. And look.
At the full picture.
At the small noodles.
And then focus.
I promise that something can be changed. That something can be adjusted to help you move forward right now. But sometimes, you need to slow down to see what that something is.
Right now, I’ve hit a wall where I just can’t seem to do the things I need to do. I don’t know if it’s because I’m exhausted. Or maybe it’s because once I open this floodgate, there’s no turning back.
I have been running full steam ahead for the past six weeks.
This slump is all from my own making.
Writing this post is hard right now. So hard in fact, even though I know what I have to write might be exactly what some readers need to hear right now, I’d rather just scrap this whole thing and start over…
…Go a different direction.
Because that would be the easiest option.
But it’s not the right option. At this point in my balancing act, even my soul knows the easiest option isn’t the right direction for my path.
Consciously, I am all in on my current path of perseverance. Anything that strays from that pattern sends a red flag to my brain that shouts, “ATTEND TO ME NOW OR ELSE.”
It’s like playing mental Tetris, moving pieces around to see what might be able to turn that red flag into a green light. I’d even settle for a flashing yellow.
It is NOT going to be easy.
Our brains are three-pound muscles of power that need to be exercised, stretched. Just like the rest of our physical bodies.
Expanding comfort zones is akin to breaking bad habits. Just google “brain and habits” and you can find 226M+ results that describe that exact relationship.
At first, training your brain to subconsciously see a solution that isn’t there — IN YOUR FACE — call it MacGyver-Sight (which is not a thing but, since I said it, is now a thing).
Anyways, at first it’s going to feel like the gears in your brain are buried in molasses.
Unlearning and relearning is a skill. Some days, you’re going to want to quit. Hell, you might even quit. Maybe more than once.
And that’s OK.
Even if you decide that you want to quit XYZ forever, go for it.
BUT, if you’re going to regret not trying again, find YOUR reason why. And hold on to it tightly.
Because some days, your why is the only thing that your brain can latch onto in the darkest of nights. And some days, it’s the only thing that will push you so far past your boundaries, you will never want to turn back.
Tip #3: Do something INSANE
I wrote what I wrote. But with a twist.
Challenge yourself to not back down.
Look, I LIVE to make plans and then find the smallest excuse that will allow me to back out at the last minute.
Whether it’s skydiving or learning how to swim, writing a book or learning how to draw something more than fancy stick figures. Sign up. And DO it.
Doing something insane doesn’t have to be about conquering fear. It may be about doing something you’ve always dreamed of but worried that others wouldn’t approve. Like learning a new language, eating dessert before dinner at a fancy restaurant, or petting all the dogs at your local animal shelter.
Just pick something that feels insane to you. Push yourself. And when you hit a wall, step back, look, breathe, focus. Then find the kink in the rusted chain and apply that WD-40.
I know a thing or two about doing something insane. I am not talking about quitting my stable, soul-sucking job. Though that was insane.
I officially joined the GISH community last year. It’s a week-long international scavenger hunt where participants have to complete insane tasks. Like underwater haircutting and creating a giant D120 dice.
I had been a bystander looking in for years. I desperately wanted to be on the inside — join the cool kids club. So when the pandemic hit and the first mini-hunt was announced, I jumped all in.
The mysterious list dropped that Saturday morning. My best friend had passed away three days prior.
So I not only paid money to torture myself. I did it at the worst possible time.
I could have easily ghosted my team and done nothing. Since the sign-up fee supports a special cause, I would still be doing good. But I was so consumed by my insane desire to be part of this community.
The only thing I could do was go balls to the wall, pushing myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself.
And I did.
I didn’t stop until my eyes couldn’t stay open anymore. And then I bawled myself to sleep. I was lost. Confused. I wanted to quit everything. I wanted to run and never come back. Because my human was gone.
How do you grieve during a pandemic? I still haven’t figured that out. But I implore you to do what I say and not what I do.
I mean, you’re likely to burn yourself out at first. That is just how we humans operate. But I want you to know that after the first few times of burning out, you will find your balance.
Whatever insane thing you end up doing, it’s not going to be easy. Babies don’t know how to run the moment they are born. Finding your balance will feel like mastering synchronized swimming in a puddle of quicksand.
The art of perseverance — the art of relearning — is learning how to push yourself to the max and find your boundaries in reverse.
Tip #4: Find your boundaries in reverse
The good news is, once you start stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone, the more flexible your boundaries become. And as you become comfortable in your new comfort zone, your soul will know when it is time to stretch again. Push the boundaries once more.
Of course, each new push will require you to find your center of balance again. But I pinky-promise that finding the edges will be quicker and easier and less end-of-the-world-esque.
How do I know? Because GISH made me do it. I went hog wild for the first five hunts I participated in (4 mini’s and 1 full). Like, 16-hours-of-sleep-over-seven-days type of hog wild.
But this last hunt — full hunt #2 / GISH event #6 — I knew what to expect:
- Learn new skills
- Superglue a finger to my eyebrow
- Get frustrated that plan A thru Y didn’t work
- Subsist off four hours of sleep a night and any quick junk food at my disposal
This last hunt, I found my why. And that was to be happy. Excited. Creative. Proud.
As the week came to an end, I knew, beyond a doubt I would be doing things I never thought I could do. And I would be proud of my failures. Because GISH is a community that honors and supports everyone wherever they’re at.
The point of doing something insane (relational to your life of course), is to experience what it feels like to do something you didn’t think you could do.
The immense feelings of pride and satisfaction, of persisting even when your husband is looking at you like you are insane for doing something insane (like handwashing yellow skittles to make them white for eyes) — it’s worth it.
Tip #5: Put yourself first — for once
The oxygen mask metaphor has been overplayed because it works.
Doing something new — new to you, your family, your community, heck, new to the world — is exhausting.
Pushing boundaries and breaking cycles is scary
Pursuing a dream to make the world a better place and believing wholeheartedly that you can offer the world a game changer is dirty work. Just think of all the moving pieces you have to orchestrate behind the scenes that allow you to follow your dreams.
From the tasks that never make it to the top of the to do list, to the overwhelm of it all.
Being a solopreneur is not for the faint of heart. You have to find the point of no return and balance that with trying not to burn out so you can find the point of no return over and over again.
Dive all in? Step in one toe at a time? Side shimmy cross the wooden relic of a bridge?
Whatever you do (unless it’s a life or death situation), don’t hold your breath and take off running, hoping the tight rope is wide enough.
Slow down. Be prepared. Look at all of your options. And dammit, put your oxygen mask on first.
Tip #6: Celebrate the ugly hits
I saw this on Twitter when I took a break from writing this post to feed the kids, because they’re real-life hungry hungry hippos.
It made me question why I was writing this article.
My intention here is to NOT make anyone feel overwhelmed. To make you think you’ll have to always work hard at what you want. To pound into your head that nothing comes easy.
I don’t want to pat you on the back for how well you take a hit.
In fact, I will pat you on the back for how ugly of a hit that was.
A lot of us have mental health challenges that already make life hard, that makes doing ANYTHING hard.
Some of us have to battle depression and anxiety and migraines and overcome XYZ. Every. Single. Day.
So I get it. It’s exhausting. I 100% agree with the original poster of this tweet. I want to be able to jump in an inner tube and avoid all of the rapids.
Man, my life would be so much easier without all these Class 5 Rapids I keep finding myself in the middle of.
I actually dream of never being called supermom ever again.
Most days I feel like an utter failure at parenthood AND adulthood. Combined.
Funny story. Life does not come with a manual. We try and try again. That’s called survival.
I am writing this story about perseverance because we may be tired of having to constantly fight to survive, but you need to know you’re not alone.
Maybe my tips won’t be helpful. Maybe they will be.
My hope is that they give you another way of looking at the world — a different lens to look through, or a different perspective to see the possibilities.
Which brings me to my final tip for how to befriend persistence…
Tip #7: Keep failing upwards
Fail-ing. Not fall-ing. Like “Man, what an Epic FAIL!”
The more you push your boundaries, the more you are going to fail. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Albeit the first couple failures might hurt.
But eventually, you WILL reach a point where you begin to slow down without realizing your slowing down. And you will start planning out what could go wrong (not in a doomsday manner) and then either:
- You start paying closer attention
- Or double-checking, triple even
- Or choosing to do something completely different because you’re not comfortable with the risk
All of those scenarios have one thing in common. The more you fail, the more you learn: About yourself. About the problem. About the possible solutions — what absolutely won’t work and what might.
Every time you fail — and every time you get up again — you’re moving forward. It may seem like you fell down a flight of stairs, but you got up again.
And I bet you double-checked your foot placement this time.
Let’s Do This Thing!
Consciously choosing to persevere and continue on — even on the stormiest of days — is akin to hopping on the hot mess express. Nothing about it is Vogue cover-worthy. And it’s definitely not clean enough for the centerfold spread in Good Housekeeping.
But consciously working every day towards the human or solopreneur you want to be is gold medal-worthy.
And you deserve to stand on top of your podium with your head held high because, no matter what, you did exactly what you set out to do. Whether it was to quit (not give up) and go back to the drawing board, or dive headfirst into the unknown.