Giving up isn’t really what you want to do – but the problem is you just don’t know how to keep going. Take heart, for here you’ll find the strength, courage, and hope you need to fight those “I want to give up” feelings.
My first teaching job was in Africa, at an American school for missionaries’ and ex-pats’ kids. I taught Grade 8 Language Arts and high school Journalism; it was the hardest three years of my life! I wanted to give up for a variety of reasons, but I’d signed a three-year contract. I was committed — but it wasn’t the teaching contract that taught me how to keep going.
Here, I’ll share the most important things I know about digging in, persevering, and staying the course even when you want to give up. Whether you’re facing a painful health crisis, emotional family situation, difficult work problems, or a painful relationship breakdown, you’ll find the seeds you need to keep going…even when you want to give up.
What’s your story? Talk about it. Write the details, work through the ups and downs, ask your questions and wait for the answers. My favorite way to figure out what to do when I’m facing something hard — especially when I want to give up — is to write down my questions and reasons for giving up. This helps me see the truth…and the truth is what helps me keep going.
How to Keep Going When You Want to Give Up
When you say or do something, from that moment forward your brain is primed to want to continue to say things or take actions that are consistent with your decision.
Decide that you aren’t giving up until X happens
I moved to Kenya, East Africa when I was 29 years old. I was single, and I really wanted to be married — and I knew there weren’t many single available men at the school I’d be teaching at. So I was depressed about that…but being single turned out to be the least of my problems. I’d never taught before; in fact, I barely had time to complete my last class for my Education degree when I moved to Africa. I also learned pretty quickly that teaching 13 year olds isn’t one of my strengths.
My main motivation to keep going even though I wanted to give up on Africa was the three-year contract I signed. I knew I could break the contract anytime; in fact, one of my fellow teachers broke her contract after eight months, but I decided to honor my teaching commitment.
What do you want to give up on? Set yourself a time limit, and decide that you’ll keep going until X time has passed. You can re-evaluate your progress and the situation after that time has passed…but until then, you’ll keep going. And, you’ll do the best you can in the situation you’re in, with the resources you have.
Remind yourself why you’re doing this
People often ask me why I wanted to live in Africa — and it was that reason that helped me keep going even when I wanted to give up. The reason was this: I wanted to Live Big. I wanted to look back on my life and know that I had challenged myself and experienced interesting things. My “why” was for adventure, purpose, and meaning in my life. And if I gave up on Africa, I’d be giving up on my why. And I couldn’t do that! So, to tell you the truth, it wasn’t my three-year teaching contract that made me keep going….it was my reasons for being in Africa in the first place.
Why are you in this situation? Write down your reasons for choosing this experience. Maybe you wanted to try a new job, or you fell in love and impulsively moved in with someone. Maybe you took on a role in your family (a caregiver, perhaps?) that nobody else could do. Maybe you’re taking care of your ill husband or alcoholic brother. Why are you in the situation you’re in? You’ll know how to keep going when you want to give up if you can answer your “why.”
Explore your expectations
Here’s my new favorite quote: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” – Colette.
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Are you facing the worst of times? That’s your Africa. Are there the seeds of the best of times in Africa? You better believe it.
Also…I think you’re struggling because you expected things to be different. Reality isn’t matching your expectations, so you want to give up. For me, the reality of living in Africa was much harder I expected because I had to face my own weaknesses, flaws, and insecurities. It was horrible! I really hated it. I didn’t want to keep going because my expectations were ripped to shreds.
What did you expect from this relationship, job, family situation, or problem you’re facing? I’m 100% sure that your expectations haven’t been met…and that’s why you want to give up. But you can’t or won’t give up, so you have to figure out how to keep going. One of the best ways to do that is to let go of your expectations and allow reality to be what it is.
Hear the Roar of Something Greater
My friend, from whence comes your strength, courage, and hope? Don’t rely on your willpower to stop you from giving up. Your willpower will only last until noon, or perhaps dinnertime. Then it’s gone, for it is finite. Don’t rely on other people to give you strength, for they are weak. Humans will let you down — they let themselves down all the time! God bless ‘em, but they aren’t a reliable source of strength.
Take a deep breath. Look up. What do you hear? God, that’s what. He is the Roar of Something Greater who can sustain you, who can teach you how to keep going even when you want to give up.
You know you can’t do this alone, yet you keep trying. This is normal, a natural human condition. But why settle for normal when you can be supernatural, amazing, miraculous? Why settle for toil, turmoil and struggle when you can rest in the love of Jesus, the grace of your Creator, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit?
Here’s how to keep going when you want to give up: spend time getting to know Jesus. Accept Him, and He will Blossom you into who you were created to be.
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