To paraphrase the German philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche, that which is essential is “long obedience in the same direction.” This, in the long run, he said, makes life worth living.
Regardless of your thoughts or opinions of Nietzsche, his sentiment has profoundly impacted many, such as Charlie Munger. The former vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, who recently passed away, echoed this sentiment by declaring, “The big money is not in the buying or selling, but in the waiting.”
Munger, who over his 99-year lifetime created more wealth than most of us can imagine, also stated, “You don’t have to be brilliant, only a bit wiser than the other guys, on average, for a long, long time.”
In contrast, we live in an instant gratification society where waiting runs against the grain of our culture. While there are countless examples of people foregoing long-term gain for more immediate solutions, a vivid example is how quickly some abandon their thoughts, dreams and jobs when the going gets tougher than they expected.
In a now-famous interview on millennials, author Simon Sinek said, “The problem is that [millennials] have grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something? You go on Amazon and it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie? Log on and watch a movie; you don’t check movie times. You want to watch a TV show? Binge, you don’t even have to wait week to week.”
But when it comes to work, instant gratification doesn’t apply, and it doesn’t help to build meaningful relationships in life either. In a nutshell, you need to be patient.
“What this young generation needs to learn is patience. That some things that really matter, like love or job fulfilment, joy, love of life — all take time. Sometimes you can expedite pieces of it, but the overall journey is arduous and long,” Sinek said.
As we look at the real estate industry, let’s face it: The past 18 months have been brutal, especially for newer agents. Unfortunately, many who bought into the dream of an independent career with significant financial upside find themselves disillusioned, frustrated and discouraged by their perceived lack of progress.
Operating without long-term perspective, when things get tough, they act like watermelon seeds being squeezed between a thumb and forefinger. As pressure builds, they suddenly launch in a different direction.
So why do some manage to stick it out long-term and succeed while others give up, abandon ship and focus elsewhere?
In a recent PLACE Partner Forum, PLACE co-founder Chris Suarez addressed this issue in a discussion entitled, “12 Ways to Overcome the 12 Reasons You Quit.” Compiled with PLACE co-founder Ben Kinney, the list details the fundamental reasons people quit and specific activities to engage in to avoid departure.
Here are 12 reasons people quit
1. Reacting emotionally
While we might like to think we respond rationally to situations, the truth is most of us react emotionally to our circumstances and then decide to leave based on those emotions. Whether disappointment, depression, anxiety or fear, failure to effectively control our emotions is a primary reason for quitting.
2. Avoiding discomfort
We are creatures of comfort. Many of us, rather than hunker down and power through obstacles, tend to look for ways to avoid the pain required for growth. This is one reason the divorce rate continues to climb; it is a product of a society looking for instant gratification.
Where there is pain (a lack of gratification), we seek escape. Many choose to not commit to relationships or marriage knowing there will be difficult days ahead. If there is no definite commitment, they have a ready escape mechanism in place.
Ironically, all significant gains in life require pain; to look for a way out because of discomfort means you will not grow.
3. Comparing ourselves to others
There will always be someone further down the road than you. Someone will always be smarter, richer, more attractive, more disciplined and so on. In reality, the only true measure should be yourself.
If you constantly use others as the object of your motivation, you will never discover your own personal strengths and uniqueness and, ultimately, personal satisfaction. If you use others as your measure, you will eventually realize the futility, grow disheartened and bail out.
4. Fearing failure
Any forward movement induces the risk of failure. Some of us were taught that failure is not an option, so when things look like they might get difficult, we quit rather than embrace the potential failure as a stepping stone to success.
5. Fearing other people’s opinions
Rather than be true to ourselves, we often strive to behave so as to paint a picture for others we believe they will embrace. “If we act the way we feel,” we think, “others will believe we are stupid or _____________.”
We are so afraid of what we believe others may think that we are constantly looking for ways to adapt our behavior: The way we dress, the things we say, our responses to given situations and so on. In other words, rather than living authentically, we are constantly trying to conform to others.
A classic example is The Barbie Doll Syndrome, which has led to significant low esteem and even anorexia. At its core, basing your life on another’s perceived opinions is an extremely frustrating and demoralizing way to live and will push you out of situations where you believe you cannot measure up.
6. Wanting to be perfect
Who doesn’t want to be perfect? Unfortunately, perfection is unattainable.
As a professional musician, I have an ear trained to hear nuances others miss. When listening to an orchestra, it is not uncommon to hear missed notes, untuned instruments and more. While orchestra members seek perfection, it is not possible.
Understanding this, orchestras still perform knowing that at any moment, all it takes is one sour note out of the millions in any symphony from any of its 80 to 100 musicians to lose perfection. While the conductor may cringe, in most cases, people in the audience never hear the mistakes and instead enjoy the overall experience.
Unfortunately, if we seek perfection in our current environment, when it becomes obvious it cannot be attained, instead of looking to maximize our potential despite the flaws, we start looking for a way out.
7. Bowing to challenges
Stuff happens. Markets go up and down. Life gets tough. The question is will we let the obstacles defeat us, or will we push through knowing that, with the right amount of effort, the solution is out there waiting to be found?
8. Lacking patience
Enough said above; this is a chronic disease plaguing society.
9. Folding to outside pressure
Not only do we put pressure on ourselves, but outsiders pressure us as well. Whether bosses, friends, partners or coworkers — there is no end to external influences that can shape our opinions about our effectiveness in any given endeavor. If we perceive there is external resistance to our efforts, instead of relying on our own opinions and strengths, we are tempted to pack it in.
10. Lacking communication with those who matter
This is often cited as the number one reason relationships fail. If we believe we are not getting adequate communication and feedback from key individuals in our current environment, we will be tempted to find a more conducive and communicative situation.
11. Failing to change
If we believe we can go about business as usual after suffering through a global pandemic, we are only fooling ourselves. Everything has changed. Failure to adapt will set us up for disenchantment and a desire to go elsewhere.
12. Succumbing to ego
Ego means we believe we know more about our circumstances than those who surround us, regardless of their experience. “This isn’t working for me,” we say, “so obviously it doesn’t work.”
Rather than seeing the problem as ourselves, in our minds, we transfer responsibility to others or the system we are in. Humility would cause us to stop and ask, “What is it about me in this situation that is not working?”
In contrast, here are 12 keys to avoid quitting
1. Understand challenges
Challenges are a normal part of life. A butterfly must struggle to get out of its cocoon to strengthen its wings for flight. In the same way, life’s challenges help refine and strengthen us.
When I was younger, I would lie awake at night wrestling with problems, filled with doubt and depression. I have gradually learned that I will still be alive in the morning. I will make it through the next day, coming weeks, months and even the entire year. I have learned that, in a month, the problem I was struggling with will be in the rearview mirror, and I will go on living.
It does not mean I treat challenges with indifference. Instead, I realize there is a way through, and though it might not be obvious today, it will present itself as I look for solutions across my network. Rather than quit or let challenges best me, I can press through, be at peace and, more importantly, sleep at night.
2. Build resilience
Prior to the development of structural steel, building heights were limited. Once engineers began realizing the qualities of steel, they began to design ever taller structures, knowing that the steel had the flexibility and resilience to handle the increases in wind that came with higher structures. The buildings they designed could flex and bend but not break, as had been the case with concrete or masonry buildings.
In like manner, those who are resilient can bend when issues come their way, realizing that as the winds of fate differ from day to day, they can flex and adapt without breaking.
3. Create a support system
We were not designed to go it alone. Those who succeed never do so in a vacuum; they are surrounded by others who encourage, nurture and support. Whether peers, support groups, coaches or mentors, those who persevere do so because of the support, direction and encouragement of those around them. Don’t have a support system? Build one now.
4. Evaluate and celebrate progress
When we are discouraged or disheartened, we tend to paint everything black. Instead, we need to constantly be on the lookout for wins, no matter how small. For some, the win for the day could be getting out of bed. Celebrate progress, whatever shape it takes. Like building any structure, it happens one brick at a time. Over time, the wins will add up.
5. Develop adaptability
Any plan is only as good as the circumstances allow. If we plan to eat at a restaurant on any given evening and hear on the news it burned to the ground, our plans will need to change. We will still eat, just not there.
In this scenario, the goal has two components: Eat, and do it in a specific place. While the destination part of the goal no longer works, the eating part still does. Be flexible and adaptable as circumstances unfold, but keep moving forward to achieve those parts of the goal that are still attainable.
6. Seek feedback
There is a proverb that states, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” In a nutshell, we grow as we seek feedback from those around us.
I have lost track of the number of times I have had a brilliant idea that, upon sharing it with others, has been revealed to be full of flaws. By allowing others to provide feedback, I have not only saved myself from immense embarrassment, but their feedback has also transformed my ideas from good to great.
If you are thinking of quitting, run the rationale by others; chances are, you have lost perspective and your negative thoughts are keeping you from seeing the value in staying the course.
7. Be humble
Chris Suarez stated, “To be honest, as I look at what causes people to quit and resign, hardly ever have I seen someone quit where it wasn’t rooted deep in ego.” Afraid of looking bad or fearing the stigma that goes with perceived failure, they bail.
Those who are truly humble, on the other hand, do not live in fear of what others might think of them and their actions but willingly accept input and direction.
8. Cultivate self-reflection
When we indulge in negativity, we often fail to take the time to stop and analyze how we feel and what transpired to get us to that place.
Charlie Munger once said, “Neither Warren nor I is smart enough to make the decisions with no time to think. We make actual decisions very rapidly, but that’s because we’ve spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking.”
Thinking of quitting? Take the time to stop and truly think about why you have come to that decision. Instead of reacting with your emotions, consciously stop the bus, get off and process. Then do No. 6 above.
9. Practice mindfulness and stress management
Stress is a killer. Some, assailed by stressful situations, believe that the only answer is to flee. Stress can actually be managed and turned into an asset. Instead of using stress as a reason to exit, use it to improve your quality of life by following stress management suggestions from the Mayo Clinic:
- Learn skills such as problem-solving, focusing on important tasks first and managing your time.
- Improve your ability to cope with difficult events that happen in life. For example, you may learn how to improve your emotional awareness and reactions. You also may learn how to increase your sense of control. And you may find greater meaning and purpose in life and have more gratitude and optimism.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise and prayer.
- Improve your personal relationships.
10. Learn from setbacks
Every setback or failure, if viewed correctly, is a stepping stone to success.
The story is told of an employee who made a mistake that cost the company over a million dollars. Assuming the worst, he went into his manager’s office to hand in his resignation. Rather than allowing him to quit, his boss stated, “Why would I fire you when I’ve just paid such a huge amount for your education? Just don’t make the same mistake again.”
Failure is not a reason to quit. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to it.
11. Develop long-term perspective
True success involves a long-term view. While it is true there are lottery winners and instant success stories out there, the odds are so small as to be considered negligible. It’s one of the reasons cheeses that have matured over years cost more than a product that was manufactured mere months ago: It’s just better.
Businesses always have up-and-down cycles. If we quit now, we lose the opportunity of being there to reap the benefits of the rebound.
12. Conduct regular check-ins
Gary Keller famously stated, “Accountability is the breakfast of champions.” So true. Regular check-ins with a supervisor, coach or mentor will help us stay on track and provide the encouragement needed to keep us inspired and moving forward.
Working on our own with no accountability is comparable to being in solitary confinement; there is a reason that in most prisons, it is considered the ultimate punishment.
We all face the desire to quit at one point or another in our lives. Those who recognize the signs for what they are and push through are the ones who ultimately succeed. If we quit the race early, we will never end up in the winner’s circle.