Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Throwing in the towel

I spend a ton of time considering giving up. It is easy to give up. But at the same time it is hard. There are many advantages of just giving in. It is a lot less work to just give up. You also don't have to deal with the criticism of others over your work. There is loads of instant gratification of just letting go.

The down side? I have to deal with myself. I have to face the guilt of abandoning my work. I have to cope with the feelings of failure. I have to be able to sit there knowing that I have completely squandered my abilities, and therefore my life. Any long term benefit I might have gained has also disappeared.

When I get the inner urges to cut out and drop my work, I have to weigh the pros and cons of continuing my work. What usually happens is that I add things up and realize, that even though it is physically harder to keep working it is more mentally demoralizing to give up.

What I have learned over the years, is that even though I tend to lose steam as I work on a project, and want to just give up, because I have grown tired of it; it actually hurts more to give up than to keep going. The thing about physical pain is that after a couple of days it goes away and your are stronger next time. The mental anguish of giving up, and the subsequent failure sticks around longer. It brings you down and holds you back from trying again. And what do you get for all of that depression you put up with? You don't get anything. At least with physical effort you are stronger for it, this is not so with self pity and depression.

I have had to learn this the hard way. I have given up on things so many times, all to the same result. Not only do you have to deal with the negative emotions of quitting, but there is also all of the opportunities of learning and growth that you could have gained if you had just kept going.

If you were to break it down logically like a math equation, giving up just doesn't add up. You start out your life at a base line of 0. When you work on a project you gain confidence, strength, knowledge, and understanding. This adds to your life in a positive way so now you have say +4. This just come for making the effort to start a project. Great you are going somewhere. Now here is where things change. When you give up on something you lose the +4 you got earlier, because you didn't finish gaining those attributes since you didn't finish the work. That puts you back at your base line of 0. Then you get a -2 or -3 for all of the mental anguish you put yourself through. You end up depressed because you gave up. That leaves you below what was your base line existence, all of the bad feelings leave you more empty than when you started out.

If however you were to finish your project you have the +4 for the skills and knowledge you gained working towards your goal. Then you get a +3 or +4 for the positive emotions associated with completing a task. Though you may have expelled a bit more energy maybe a -1 or -2 you still end up with more than if you throw in the towel.

This analogy may not really make sense to you, but when I am having those days where I don't really feel like getting out of bed. It helps me to think about all I can gain just by continuing my work towards my goal.

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