When You Feel Like Quitting

Recently I had a coaching call with one of my Executive clients. We’ll call my client, “D.” They run a $20 million dollar per year business that has helped hundreds of thousands of people change their lives for the better, and yet D was overwhelmed, stressed out, and ready to give up.

And even though we don’t have the exact same problems as someone running a $20 million dollar business, we know the feeling of being stretched beyond capacity.

D thought it would be easier if they could just run away. To give up the responsibilities that they now had that had taken them away from what they loved doing in the first place. D would be free of the never-ending deadlines and the constant barrage of requests from people that wanted to take some of their time, energy and resources.

D wanted freedom from managing people, supervising large projects, or running the household staff. It was all becoming too much. In fact, D’s exact quote was…

“Sometimes Craig, I think about shutting the business down, selling our house, and buying a simple place in the countryside – you can buy a beautiful piece of property for a modest amount of money in my state – and just living off our savings until I eventually have to do something again.”

I smiled.

You know how many times I think something along the same lines?

Just the other day, I was visiting my old family farm after a couple of days of intense filming of my latest workout programs. The weather was uncharacteristically warm for mid-November, and it was perfect for walking through the recently harvested cornfields. It was peaceful, very peaceful. Far from the hustle and bustle of Toronto with the 4 a.m. car alarms, 24-7 traffic, late-night yelling drunks, and insane drivers (and all that in one of the nicer areas of the big city).

As I was packed up old Bally the Dog in the back seat of my rental car to bring him back to the big city, I thought to myself, “What’s the worst case scenario in my life? What if I didn’t go back?”

Let’s say my business blew up.

Let’s imagine that I lost all my money, all of my relationships, all my business contacts and even my email list.

What would happen if I were down and out and alone?

Where would I be?

The answer came to me:

I’d end up living in a simple home in the beautiful countryside, with space for the dog to run around, and all the time in the world to read the dozens of books I’ve ordered from Amazon that I currently have no time to read.

Essentially, I’d be living out high school again. And that wasn’t all that bad.


Away went the stress because my worse case scenario is the best case scenario for 95% of the world’s population (if not more).

As is yours.

But that’s not the lesson…

The BIG lesson is that almost everyone thinks of quitting sometimes.

Over a year ago I wrote an article about my business failures, and about how Donald Trump was once not only broke, but in debt to the tune of billions of dollars.

One of my friends, one of the most successful people I know, responded to the article and thanked me for writing it. I didn’t even know he was on my email list, but he said he was getting sick of certain negative aspects of his business, and thought – briefly – of instituting a scorched-earth strategy, shutting his business down, and retiring to ski all day.

But as he read in my email, despite the extremely negative circumstances, Trump didn’t quit. And so neither did my friend.

However, he DID think about it. We all do. We all go through tough times.

And so we must all crush that voice of resistance in our minds.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, the voice of resistance is always around for me. As it is for my client, D. We both come from very humble backgrounds and we now make more in weeks than our parents did in a year. When you accomplish that, you’ll have days where you’ll think, “That’s enough.”

But you can’t quit like that because there is too much work to do, too many other people to help, to many personal revolutions to start. So on our coaching call we worked through D’s problems, and I always work through mine on my own or with the help of ETR Publisher, Matt Smith.

We all must choose to solve these problems because we’ve committed to “Turning Pro,” as Steven Pressfield has told us to do in his book of the same name. And we follow his advice and continue to fight The Resistance every day.

Sure, both D and I would love to retire to our country retreats, and write about whatever topic we want to whenever we want to, without the stress of deadlines or constant nagging from editors or partners.

We would feel like we were free…

…but the feeling would not last.

Because soon we’d realize that what we’ve gained in freedom, we’ve lost in value and worth. What we do – and by we I mean everyone anywhere struggling to build a business or career that adds value to the world – is important to others.

It’s not about us.

It’s about delivering hope, relief, and love to the people that look to us to end REAL problems. Whether your daily value is added to people trying to get out of debt, raise better children, stop smoking, lose weight, organize their life, or be a better person in any form, delivering your information and adding value to the world is more important than our selfish desire to run away from the stress.

So no matter what business obstacle has gotten you down, no matter what seemingly insurmountable hurdle is in your way, and no matter how frustrated you might be with the snail’s pace of progress; remember that this is not about you and your worries, it’s about fixing other people’s problems.

When you realize that, you’ll be energized. Because one thankful email or one kind Facebook comment that says, “Hey, thanks for your help, I couldn’t have done it without you,” will be enough to keep you going through the deepest dip.

And when you keep going, you’ll keep helping. As you help, you’ll grow and become better. As you get better, you’ll help more people. As you help more people, you’ll hear more positive feedback. And this fuels you through the dips, through the hard times, and through the slow grinds.

Never stop, never give up, never run away and never give in to The Resistance.

We all go through tough times. But we all get through it with social support, wisdom from our mentors, and mostly, by taking action.

“Do the work,” as Steven Pressfield says, no matter how tough the work is.

It’s what really matters in the end.

Let me know what you do when you feel like quitting.

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with research of proven methods in your career, in your business and in your personal life. He has created a unique system to show gratitude and appreciation to stay on track for these goals each and every day. Click here to follow the exact 5-minute system you can use to improve your life.]
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  • WOW! This post is exactly where I’m at. I just turned 54, and I’m one year away from potentially retiring (if I want to take early retirement at a reduced pension). There are days when all I think about is my freedom. But your line, “What we do is important to others. It’s not about us,” hit me broadside. I actually like what I do. I’m appreciated. But I’m drinking from the cultural fountain of perceived autonomy and false idealism. For a Monday morning, I’m jazzed to go to work today!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      That’s really great to hear Grant, thank you!

  • Thanks for this article, Craig.The year 2012 was very successfull for me, but I was tired and exhausted very often. And I was thinking about quitting some of my projects as well. But I am affraid, without all this work I would be unhappy very soon. So I had just to read your article 🙂

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks Jana, stay strong.

  • K/Bugg

    Love you, CB! And all the great masters you bring to us!
    While my intent in subscribing to ETR is not to grow a business empire (though my son & I do use the info for improvng the family business!) the most important ‘work’ I do involves teaching people how to live better lives, how to be ‘rich’ in all the other aspects of life.

    All of us who do this ‘work’ are not paid in $$, but the pure joy and satisfaction that comes from helping people is the greatest reward—-as you well know! That you made it clear in your article how vital it is for us to keep in mind all the ways we benefit others by the work we do is truly the key to all endeavors.

    Any who are purely selfish and self-centered will never experience this joy and will give in to what you call ‘The Resistance’. Never put yourself at the center of your universe. We all know that is the surest way to be miserable!

    Once again, Thanks! I have read ETR for years and it has brought me much benefit as well as put me in touch with much of the health info I benefit from everyday. Then, in turn, I share it with others…..Love how that works! 😉 Keep it up!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you, thank you, happy to help.

  • Scott Johnson

    Great post, Craig! This post literally made my day! I own a training facility in Lafayette, CO and have found myself going through the motions the past few weeks, almost wanting to give up. And I know that exact voice you’re talking about “the resistance”. I know what I was meant to do and it’s great having people like you and posts like this for reassurance!

    Thanks! Scott

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Well done Scott, stay strong.

  • edna

    Thanks for the article, great timing and great topic. I’m finally beginning to do what I love and I can feel it, as Steve jobs said. And others can feel it too. And I’m resistant lately and exhausted and have thought about finding that “real job” my family used to always want me to have. Thanks, really inspiring and motivating for a Monday.

  • Tonya

    Talk about a word in season…perfect timing! I had just told my friend this morning that I have an intense, burning desire to run away from home and let everyone wake up one day and wonder…”wonder what happened to Tonya?” Thanks, Craig…you’ve saved my (grown) children from being orphans…at least for one more day. 🙂

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Happy to help, Tonya

  • Great article, I especially like the part about the worst case scenario not being all that bad. A realization like that can be very liberating indeed. When I feel like quitting I turn back to the reason I started in the first place, has anything changed. Most of the time the answer is no and then quitting is not so appealing anymore.

  • I recently had quite a set-back that sent me reeling, and I felt like quitting. But what you said about helping people is so true. People are looking for help, and we have the answers they need. Thanks so much for the encouraging words.

  • ShirleyN

    I read Pressfield’s book and agree with most things in his book. What I am a little concerned about is stress. What I’m reading is an overwhelming feeling of an uphill battle. There are people who can handle this by delegating and others who are not open to giving up control. Those people end up with health related issues and eventually must make some changes. What I am wondering is if there is always pressure and that pressure starts to eat you up should that be a sign to quit?

  • Barbara Houston Garrett

    Thank you for this! I just got through with your Time Management and am painfully facing the reality of spending a lifetime of doing other people’ s $10 an hour jobs, and for far LESS, actually. I’ m trying hard to change, but this means dealing with the displeasure of all those folks to whom I’ m now telling “no.” I guess it takes more guts than I thought it would not to be everybody’ s “mama.”Maybe everybody won’ t love meme fears surfacing.Embarrassing for a 60- yo! Anyhow, thanks for this. I have more important things to do than other people’ s errands!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Stay strong, Barbara.

  • Thanks, Craig! You remember to stop and read, too, okay? That’s important axe-sharpening time. A Kindle is a marvelous thing for making the most of 15 minutes here and there scattered throughout the day. I just splurged on one and discovered that my “no time to read” has changed dramatically into an average of 2 full-sized books a day, all from time stolen between appointments. However, it is NOT the best thing for typing, as I tried to do above in the carpool line. I wish and pray for you continued success and happiness!

  • ttcert

    Thank you Barbara!

  • Ken

    What a great reminder to keep on going! When I come to this point with my responsibilities, I take a time out! I take a day and completely separate myself from anything that deals with those responsibilities. I take a break… During this time, I reflect on how blessed I am to have what I have…an amazing wife, 2 incredible children, and The Lord Jesus in my heart forever. This helps me hit the reset button and provides me with what I need to return to my responsibilities.

    • ttcert

      Well said, Ken!

  • Enjoyed the article. This is a simple fact about “successful’ professionals that must people don’t know. They think of quitting all the time. I’ve debated the scorched earth idea many, many times. Some of this comes from not saying “No” enough or taking enough time to recharge.

    • ttcert

      Thanks Jonathan!

  • Kevin

    The end of the year saw my major competitor go out of business. My work flow is flooding and I’m fast becoming overwhelmed. The early morning writing sessions to launch an e newsletter seem to be more and more an indulgence than anything else. Then I read this article. Thanks.

    • ttcert

      Stay strong, Kevin, keep on pushing on!

  • Anissa Harris Green

    When I feel like quitting, I “pause”. I spend a day or two with no thinking, no phones, no computer, no cooking, no kids, no husband. I attend to me and get myself back together with prayers, positive thoughts, journal writing, shopping, traveling. Then I come back to it (the stress/problems) with new initiative.

    • ttcert

      That’s a really great idea, thank you!

  • John Thomson

    Today, January 13th is the most important date of my life. Amongst other bad traits I had been a quitter all my life. But on this date, 36 years ago, I left prison behind for the last time. A prison school teacher told me God could change my life, He did and hers too, she has been my wife for 34 years. The support she has given me along with many more invaluable friends and steeping myself with the knowledge from writers like Zig Ziglar and my faith have kept me from ever quitting again. Thank you for your excellent articles that point me towards success.

    • ttcert

      Wow John, incredible story. Thank you for sharing.

  • Tejas

    Wow I felt like quitting last week, I even said it in my own head! I said MAN I QUIT THIS!….I actually quit my part-time job as a delivery guy, but Im on my way to find another job.

    When I feel like quitting I sleep in late, and hang out with friends, and watch videos on the computer. Sounds like the life right? NO WAY….I was in such a mellow state where my mind or body wasn’t being exercised…and it felt horrible because I felt like I was slowing down in life.


  • Robert Stroud

    When I feel like quitting, I think of my responsibilities to the people who have helped me the most. They are still going. Still doing. Whether they are retired or not. My mother is a retired school teacher and she is still busy. She tells me that she is busier new than she ever was in the past. And she is a happy as ever. I would not want her to slow down and “retire”. It would probably make her very depressed to do so. I have learned a lot from her.
    Life has a lot more in store for us and we should continue to enjoy it as long as we can.

    • ttcert

      Well said!

  • Karen Lopes Graves

    When I feel like quitting I read your articles. Period. Thanks Craig.

    • ttcert

      Thank you!

  • Liza

    HI Craig,
    Thank you for your article, it was simply timed perfectly…….However, I can only let you know what works for me to get out of the ‘quitting syndrome’, once i have worked it out for myself. The positive part is that it does help to know that everyone experience such moments !

    • ttcert

      Stay strong, Lisa! Let us know how it goes.

  • ttcert

    Great way of looking at it, thank you!

  • ttcert

    Be the help the world needs!

  • Michael B

    Thank you Craig! I have been a personal trainer now for 20 years and recently, I have been feeling a lot of uncertainty around my ‘financial’ future and have thought about quitting. I feel so overwhelmed that I have ‘so many’ things to do and decisions to make, that’s it’s actually paralyzing. I know in my heart, quitting is not an option, but I just don’t know how much longer I can keep ‘pushing’ on. Best

    • ttcert

      Michael, stay strong, and follow everything from Bedros Keuilian at http://www.PTPower.com. The fitness industry is a great industry to be in!