We’ve all been there, down in the dumps ready and willing to pull the plug. In the end it could’ve been the right decision but more often than not we regret things that we relinquish too early.A common hurdle in life, but one less talked about is the stages of quitting. It doesn’t just happen overnight, and sometimes it happens before it begins. In my experience coaching mixed martial arts and self defense for over 20 years I’ve narrowed down the stages of quitting that I run into from time to time: and now a bulleted list, because everyone likes that.
- The didn’t start yet quitter
- The too quick quitter
- The almost made it quitter
- The mission accomplished quitter
The Didn’t Start Yet Quitter:
Right off the bat, we’ve got a quitter who hasn’t even done anything yet, but has already given up in their mind. This type of individual offers up reasons why they can’t begin a new activity or endeavor. In classes we offer like Gracie Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai I have often heard people concur phrases like “Well I’m not good yet…. I’m not in shape yet… I’m afraid people will laugh at me…what if it takes me a long time to learn?” And on and on and on. This line of thought derails your good intentions and prevents you from moving forward. Haven’t even begun yet, but this person is finding a way out.
We’re conditioned from previous experiences that people will make fun of us because we’re new or different. That we might stand out by being the new kid on the block and that it isn’t going to go well. In the modern workplace/academia there’s such a need to be on point and a know-it-all-cause-internets that the sense of exploration and wonder we had as kids is fizzled out like fireworks in the rain. This is probably the most common obstacle for most people, even if they don’t say it, before they come try a class out at RCW. Luckily it’s also the easiest to deal with, all you have to do is TAKE ACTION!
The action you take can be small, something as simple as booking a class, telling a friend you’re trying something new, putting it on your calendar like a scheduled meeting at work. The action step can go in to place, and you can go back to riding the excuse train all day, except now you’ve got an action in place that will probably get you to that new hotness and you’ll realize afterward that everything went amazingly well! Of course it did! Because if anybody made fun of you, or laughed at you, or required you to be highly skilled at a brand new endeavor then you shouldn’t bother hanging out with those kinds of people!
Sure there might be the minor internal quibble that your self-esteem starts to realize that you’re beginning a new activity, but learn to embrace changes and to love learning again and you’ll quickly be on your way.
Too Quick to Quit:
This Too Quick to Quit person… they’re pretty easy to spot, way easier to identify than our first transgressor. Too Quick usually comes in with fire in their eyes and talking the talk. They tell me how great they are and how grateful we should be to have their presence at the academy. They come in 8 days a week and maybe even start to be viewed as the most regular person in the school. Almost too soon, other students and coaches start to buy in and think just maybe this person will be the next life long addict of arm bars. And…. that’s because it is TOO SOON!
As quickly as the fire roared up it dies off from this expectation they can’t uphold. After about 8 weeks they vanish, never to be seen again. Its because consistency and skill are always tougher to come by than talent. This person might even be a serial activity starter, but over the years they’ve never really accomplished anything of substance. To help yourself out of this jam, the first thing we recommend is setting a schedule AND sticking to it. Even if you can come in every day the school is open, chances are you’ll burn out before you begin. Consistency is key, a little bit of discipline and the good news is when Too Quick makes it past 90 days they’re usually tempered and ready for great results.
So Close, Almost Made It!
The Almost Made it type, is the saddest for me as a coach and a mentor. For one I’m in the trenches with my students and have gone through all manner of things with them from cancer treatments and major surgeries to major life events, marriage and kids. It’s a very personal path, but I love the connection we get to have with people in our community and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Almost made it is just about to reach all their goals, is fitter than they ever have been in their life, and their friends think of them as a super hero.
Then it happens, life gets hard. Remember quitting before you started? Almost Made It rekindles the flames of self doubt about the road their on and before checking their map starts acting erratically. They start going to class less, they put in less effort than they ever did before. The excitement is gone from their eyes like the veil being lifted from Wizard of Oz. Often there’s an event that happened in their personal life or in the gym that changed something. Maybe they got the worst of it sparring with a newer person they always owned. Maybe they had an injury playing basketball and the recovery time is the hurdle in itself.
When you make it past the Didn’t Start phase and then knock out the Too Quick commitment jitters, plant a seed in your head on what victory really looks like. Is it an achievement, a belt, a skill level, a fitness level, finding like minded friends, or perhaps a lifestyle? There has to be something in there, some conviction, that when the chips are down you’ll find the resolve to keep going. Pausing your progress after all this time always ends in nothing more than tragic regret.
Deep down this still goes back to the initial reasons to avoid starting something. Most people want an out, we want a valid reason for quitting to relive our burden. That out when you take it is never as satisfying as making it! You can do it, call those friends, talk to your mentors, make a plan and stick to it even if that plan is to simply dig your heels in and be the rock you need to be to succeed.
Mission Accomplished, Right?
Oh Mission Accomplished and still quits quitter is a surprising phenomena. Most marathon runners don’t just run one race and they’re done. They take it to task, feel the rush, and rinse and repeat. Most people who attain an instructorship under Dan Inosanto (Bruce Lee’s protege) or a black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu don’t just drop off. Some do, and it’s a fallacy that’s left over from the Almost Made It mindset.
An out, reinforced by the sheer discipline to keep going it can feel good to take a break, but be careful how long that is or you’ll just end up a quitter. Like Almost Made It, this person fails to have a list of convictions at the ready and reasons why they keep doing things that are good for them. It’s like someone who sets a goal weight and reaches their weight loss number, then immediately stops all the good changes they made and goes back to eating their old lifestyle.
I’ve seen it with Black Belts too, all the skill, time, and dedication required but when it’s accidentally viewed as the end all goal, it’s a let down. As Pedro Sauer says “Black belt is a great place to start learning Jiu Jitsu.” Meaning that you reached the mountain top, and you realize looking down there’s a whole new perspective to learn about in life and it motivates you to keep going. If you thought all the answers were at the top of the mountain, you might be in for a letdown.
The essence of life is in the journey and the steps along the way. Imagine your getting into wood working or music, and you somehow convince yourself after 10 years I will have achieved “it.” IT is impossible to be a stationary goal, it is the accomplishments achieved, the friends made, the learning in itself and those goals are on the move and nothing to be arrived at.
We’re all in this together:
We all face a temptation to quit any number of challenges throughout our life, it’s part of being human. It’s how we handle that process to eliminate our fears and move forward that leads to a life without regret. Also a life filled with new beginnings, new choices, success and thrilling endeavors. Good luck out there!
-By Joe Heller
Head Coach RCW
*Thanks for reading! If you’re in the mood to try something new, we have tons of classes on offer in Portland and the surrounding area. We hold self defense and mixed martial arts classes like Muay Thai, Boxing, Gracie Jiu Jitsu/BJJ, Jeet Kune Do and Kali year round for all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just getting started we welcome you to come train at River City Warriors. You can START right now by taking advantage of our 5 classes for $5 bucks a class deal. Just click the link below to be an action taker and have a great new experience.