Don’t Give Up

by Henrik Edberg

Don't Give Up
Image by Mitya Kuznetsov (license).

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Some days are light and filled with inspiration. Some days are simply routine.

And on some days you may feel like just giving up.

Giving up on your new habit of working out or eating healthier. Giving up on your blog or business because you haven’t had the results you expected or wanted. Giving up on feeling better about yourself. Giving up on dating because you can’t seem to find the right person or maybe even have a good date at all.

Winding up in those situations are part of making positive changes in life. But what you do when you feel like giving up will determine a lot about where your life will go.

In today’s article I’d like to share the tips and insights that have helped me to hold on or to change direction on those difficult days.

It’s darkest before the dawn.

This thought has helped me to hold on when things have felt very difficult and I felt like giving up and going home. Because I have found it to be true.

When things seemed to be at the lowest point with my blog and business, with my dating life or with my motivation in life in general something always happened.

Probably quite often because being at that low point forced me to change something in how I did things.

But maybe also because life seems to have some kind of balance if I just keep going. If I just keep taking action instead of giving up and doing nothing then something good always happens.

Seeing this repeat itself strengthened my belief in taking action and to keep going even on rough days or weeks. And it brings some comfort even when things look pretty dark.

Tap into realistic expectations.

This one has also been very important.

Tap into realistic expectations not by listening to advertising that promises you quick results. Not by listening to the perfectionism - from the people around you or yourself - that allows no mistakes or failures.

Tap into it by listening to the people who have already gone where you want to go. Listen to the people who know what works and how you will stumble and fail along the way and can tell you how long your journey may take.

You’ll probably not get an exact blueprint. But the things people can tell you in person or via books and blogs can be a great guidance.

Remind yourself why you are doing this.

It’s easy to lose the big picture in the busy everyday life. But if you feel like giving up then try reconnecting with why you are doing what you are doing.

Write it down. Maybe it is to support and keep your family safe. Maybe it is to live healthier and longer. Or you may do it to see the world and explore new things.

Then, whenever you feel like giving up pull out that piece of paper with your most powerful why(s). It often helps.

Reconnect with the basics or change the path slightly.

When I have run into a plateau or a longer rough patch these two things have been helpful:

  • Simplify and reconnect with the basics. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the information out there about any change you can make in life. That can lead to confusion and trying to do too many things at once.
    In those situations it has been helpful for me to simplify. To just focus on a few or one of the things I have learned are the basic fundamentals in this area of life. To improve my social skills those things were for example to keep a positive attitude and to assume rapport.
  • Learn more and course correct. Reconnecting with the basics often works well. But sometimes it has been helpful to change my course slightly instead. To examine how I do things, what results they bring in and to compare it to how people who have gone before me have done things.
    To be honest with myself and admit that maybe one or two things or small parts of that I am doing are not working so well. And to replace those things for a while –  based on what others have done in the past – and see if that works better. Even if it means that I have to get out of my comfort zone.

Just for today!

Here’s a little phrase I got from Brian Tracy that I often use when I’m having a bad day with a new habit. I say to myself: Just for today I will XX!

Replace XX with what you will do just for today such as getting exercise, getting going with the most important task first thing in the day or eating a healthy lunch.

By telling myself that I only have to do it today I release the mental burden of the past times I did it and future times when I will do it. And so the task becomes much lighter and the inner resistance melts away.

Plus, it also reminds me that the period that I am investing in changing a habit is not the rest of my life. After 30 days or so the habit will mostly be automatic so it is not something I have to do on willpower for the next few years or decades.

And guess what, when tomorrow comes I’ll probably have a good day again with less resistance and I will most likely feel like doing the task again.

Quit and try something else.

Sometimes it is not time to give up. But it may be time to quit what you are doing and to try something else.

If you feel like giving up or you are bored a lot, if you feel no real passion or excitement or curiosity about a change or your current path then ask yourself the two questions below. Because then it may be time to quit doing this and to spend your time and energy on something you truly want to do.

Am doing this because I truly want it? Or am I doing it because someone told me to or because so many people around me seem to have done it or are working on it?

What you want isn’t easy to know before you get started though. You may need to try different paths before you find one that fits you. And just because everyone around you seems to love jogging doesn’t mean that you have to love it or that you have to give up on the habit of regular exercise.

Try walking, biking, playing badminton or table tennis instead. Try a new way of doing what you want and see if it is a better fit and more enjoyable for you.

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Daphne Gray-Grant October 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Really good post today. It made me reflect on the time I spend coaching writers. If I could persuade them to do only one thing, I think I’d chose the comment you made above: ” Not … listening to the perfectionism – from the people around you or yourself – that allows no mistakes or failures.”

So many people want to be perfect. Instead, it’s far better to be a little bit imperfect — and just get something done!

Henrik Edberg October 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thank you Daphne! Good choice, I think that is one of the most common issues people have no matter what they do.

jitu October 23, 2012 at 5:13 am


Henrik Edberg October 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Thank you, glad you found the post helpful!

Kernel's Corner October 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

Henrik, can you really read my mind or what? Just this morning I was about to give up on one big aspect of my life and lo your latest post tackles some points to turn this negative feeling into something beautiful. I do believe it’s only the hardest when you are at the very fist stage of giving up something, and at that moment it may seem the best course to take, but don’t be snared by its enticing appeal. Try to hold on a little more.. and then a little more. Until of course you exhausted every option that the only last resort is to find other options. But when one suddenly sees the light of another option, just like what you said in “Quit and try something else,” then you face another problem that has something to do with “letting go”. Now the next question is: Do you have any articles on this that I can read? It is very much needed at this moment. Thank you so much in advance.

Henrik Edberg October 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for sharing and for the kind words! Here’s a post I wrote a couple of years ago about letting go:

Hope you’ll find something helpful in it!

Kernel's Corner October 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Thanks a lot. I’ll savor every words.

Kernel's Corner October 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

I have to stop reading at some point and fulfill the need to recompose my self, because the tips on letting go are just too strong an true.

But after widening my thoughts you actually are right. But personally, it feels so hard to take the initial steps. Something or a justification would always discourage me.

But I have to thank you. It is really helpful. I need to read it again and again every time discouragements pop-up whenever I take the first steps of letting go of things.

David October 24, 2012 at 1:59 am

I really enjoyed the article, somewhere somehow I felt like this article is directly speaking to me after having to experience a huge downfall in terms of productivity. Changing the situation is an option giving up is totally not gonna change the situation to the better but will create more and more problems

Henrik Edberg October 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Thank you for sharing, David! I’m glad that the article spoke to you and hope it will help you with the productivity.

Chiara October 24, 2012 at 5:16 am

Good days come, bad days seem to stay. The truth is, they last the same and when they end, another awaits! I think an important lesson I’ve learned is to just.. walk away (for a bit). Contrary to what many believe, the world won’t end if you walk away from a project, take a day off of running your business, or just finish the cupcake you’ve already started stuffing into your mouth. Tomorrow is a new day, with a brighter morning (or not) and you get to start all over again.

Henrik Edberg October 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

That is very true. Thank you very much for adding that helpful tip and insight, Chiara!

Derek Kuhlman October 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Great tips on staying motivated! I was always told growing up that for every low point you have in life, there is an equal high point that is soon to follow! The other point that really made sense for me was “Reminding yourself why you do this.” This makes so much sense. We all tend to get caught up in what we are doing. We get so busy and frustrated that we tend to forget the reasoning behind doing what we are doing. Reminding yourself why you are doing something you are doing can inspire and motivate you to keep going!

Thanks for the post!

Henrik Edberg October 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, Derek!

Daniel Aipa October 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Aloha. Thank you for this post. I’m just beginning out on an entrepreneurship journey and at times need to reconnect with simplicity and basics. There is so much information out there and ideas that sometimes I feel myself getting overwhelmed. This was a great reminder to calm myself and re-focus.

Mahalo. Aloha. A hui hou.

Clay October 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Thanks for the great piece of motivation! I couldn’t agree more, this is often when I’m about to give up that somethings happens. When I became aware of that, I totally banished the word “give up” from my vocabulary.

vinaya October 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

nice post :-)
helpful for me…

Krista Foley October 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I love this! It’s always hard to stay motivated and patient with seein results. Getting overwhelmed makes me prone to give up or be less productive. I love the comments that we need to simplify it all, and just focus on today. Breaking it up and taking it in small doses definitely helps!

P.S. My sister and I have started a blog that gives short positive reflections each day that I’d love for you all to check out. It really does help to constantly reflect on positive quotes and articles, such as your blog!

Will October 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I love how you talk about how its “darkest before the dawn.” I feel like most of my biggest life changes and epiphanies have come to me at the lowest points in my life. It is when I reached these moments in my life, that I realized big changes were about to take place. This as an excellent and motivating post my friend! Great read, Thank You!

Steve October 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

It’s these kind of posts that remind all of us it’s important to keep going, even when the waters get hard to navigate.

I think we could all take a step back and remember that no matter what we have going on in our lives, it could always be worse.

Be thankful for those struggles, because they make you stronger and your reaction is what decides your true character.

I blog about these types of struggles pretty often, but I also have plans set in for how to deal with them. I’d recommend anyone who is looking for some extra guidance to take a look.

Mike Smith October 27, 2012 at 3:30 am

Hi when I started on developing an online blog, I was told that within three month I should see results start to flow. Well the short and long of it was that it did not happen, and you feel maybe it won’t. But then someone like yourself comes a long and you get inspired once more and you remember the saying “never never give up”
I’ve found being grateful to so many people like yourself, gives you a lift, and you again accept the challenge and move forward. I’ve still got a long way to go, but with each bit of new knowledge that comes my way, I’m revitalized and ready to take up the challenge once again.
Thank you

Elaine Enlightening October 30, 2012 at 12:53 am

Great article! Today was the first day back on track after 3 weeks of sporadic activity with my business due a family crisis. I was excited to get back to my routine today, but felt a bit weary of mind. One tip I haven’t heard of before that you mentioned is to say, “Just for today, I will XX.” I like that and will use it. Thank you!

Graham Dragon October 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Not giving up is so very important, as you say, provided you are doing what you SHOULD be doing in the first place. So many people start something without really knowing why they are doing it – and that is an almost certain recipe for failure, as they will usually stop the first time an obstacle appears. As you say, Henrik, it is so important to write down all the reasons you have decided to do it, and then refer to that list when the going gets tough. A good article.

William Veasley October 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Henrik: Hey man, thanks for the awesome powerful advice! I agree with you on your article. Even when doing what I love, I still go through many rough days, but I always try to keep pushing. Sometimes I take longer breaks than expected, but totally giving up is not an option. Hopefully i’ll become determined and strong and stay focused when rough times hit because that is when I will feel the strongest and probaly be the happiest.

Best Wishes,
William Veasley

Bora Yun October 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Great post!
When things are not going to well, I think that the biggest challenge is to keep faith and positivity… Like you said, when your efforts don’t turn into immediate results, sometimes you can end up doubting everything else and feeling guilty about yourself for not measuring up to your own standards. I like your tips on being persistent, like when you just tell yourself you’re doing it “just for today”. Thinking about the future can sometimes make things seem complicated and burdensome.. I suppose everyone needs to just love themselves a little more when this happens, and just relax..and have patience! Even if we don’t know how everything is going to work out, we just need to have patience until we figure it out

Heidi November 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

i really needed this today and probably everyday. thanks so much it was just what i needed to hear.

Gary November 7, 2012 at 2:15 am

In tragedy and despair, when an endless night seems to have fallen, hope can be found in the realization that the companion of night is not another night, that the companion of night is day, that darkness always gives way to light, and that death rules only half of creation, life the other half.
-Dean Koontz

KarenYvonne November 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm

My friend always tells me, that if your “why” doesn’t make you cry, then you need to find another reason why…

Fatima November 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Dear Mr. Henrik,

I would like to thank you for all the rich and inspiring posts you have been putting up. Each one is a blessing for people like me, who needs a bit of a nudge in order to get back on track, or to find one’s own path.

Lately, I have been asking that same question to myself, “Am I doing this because I truly want it?” Because of all the stress, the option of giving up has been nagging me for days. But I have to admit, I am lacking in time management skills. That may be the no.1 factor why I am getting so much stress. I love my job but I guess I need to manage my time well so I can balance between my job and my personal life.

Again, thank you very much. More power to you.

fetty November 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

i lov those quotes they give me confidence and made me happy may God bless you dear

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