There are moments in every endeavor when we feel it isn’t working. How do we know when it’s really time to quit and when to keep going?
I’m debating whether I should quit my daily publishing experiment. How do you decide when to quit? Here’s what’s going into my decision process.
Today is Day 44, and I’m Feeling Stuck
After 43 days of my daily publishing experiment, I’m struggling with an internal debate about whether I should quit.
Specifically, I’m struggling with whether this is serving me.
Ok. That’s not exactly true.
It’s pretty clear that this experiment, in its current form, is not working for me. (There are many reasons for this, which I’ll address in a separate article.)
The debate raging in my mind is whether to quit now or to keep going, knowing, as I do from my previous experiments in daily practices, that I’m in the stickiest part right now, and trusting that this needs more time to unfold.
Dilemma vs Choice
Of course, I know that having only two options creates a dilemma, not a choice. It keeps us stuck in an endless looping, and this is exactly where I am: in the endless cycle of “on the one hand …, but on the other hand…”
Pros vs Cons
One hand vs the other hand
This vs That
This is the duality reality. Bilateral thinking is a no-win situation.
A real decision requires at least three options. There is always a third option (and usually multiple other options). The third option here feels like finding a better way, although, in the moment, I’m not sure what that might look like. It could also mean finding more flexibility in how I define “publish.”
So this is what I’m working through.
I feel like this is an issue that will require me more than one sitting to resolve.
Why It’s Complicated
As much as it is obvious in this moment how this experiment in daily publishing is not serving me, it’s also quite clear to me that it is serving me in some way.
If I wasn’t getting something from it, I wouldn’t be struggling with a decision; I would simply stop doing it.
The Missing Piece of Behavior Change
This is the piece most people overlook in trying to change behavior. Everything we do serves us in some way, or we don’t do it. When we feel stuck in changing, it is because we don’t want to give up what we are getting from the behavior that we say we want to change. This is true whether that behavior is smoking or surfing Facebook.
And it’s even true where the thing we think we want to stop — in this case, publishing — is something that is a struggle for us to do in the first place. The truth is that it would be easy for me to quit this experiment now. I’m only at day 44. I’m not even at the half-way mark to the “lock-in” point, the point at which it becomes a challenge to stop a new behavior.
So in that respect, this would be really easy to stop right now.
But it’s not easy to stop because a part of me doesn’t want to stop. I feel like I’ll regret it if I stop now. I have a sense that I will feel as if I let myself down. I’m not sure exactly why — I need to explore this more — and that’s part of what I need to resolve before I make a decision.
So this is where I am.
These are my options:
- quit the experiment, and possibly risk feeling like I betrayed myself by quitting
- keep it going, and trust that the ways that it is getting in my way will resolve themselves as I continue
- find a better way to meet this goal of publishing daily, which I’m not yet sure what that would look like
- redefine what it means to “publish” daily,
- possibly some other option I haven’t yet considered
How do I choose?
Here is a glimpse of my process, and some of the questions I’m asking myself. (These are numbered for clarity; I don’t necessarily review them in this order.)
(1) Examine the source of the tension
How this practice of daily publishing not serving me?
- Why do I feel like I want to quit?
- Is it just that it’s proving to be hard? Am I just tired?
- Or am I seeing something deeper that is telling me this isn’t fully aligned for me?
How is it serving me?
- Why do I still feel compelled to publish every day?
- Am I trying to prove a point? Am I trying to disprove a point?
- What is my commitment to this practice allowing me to escape?
- How is this practice keeping me safe?
- Am I using this practice as a crutch to keep myself from doing the thing that I am really scared to do?
(2) Revisit my outcomes
Daily publishing is a goal — it is even a SMART goal — but it’s a process goal, not an ends goal. All goals must serve outcomes. When you lose the outcome, you lose the goal.
This is especially true with process goals.
- What was I trying to accomplish through publishing daily?
- Have I merely lost sight of my desired outcome?
- Is it possible that this practice is not the right goal to serve my outcomes?
- How is this practice leading me, or not leading me, to my outcome?
(3) Investigate what is influencing me
- What stories am I telling myself about why I “should” continue or “should” quit? What stories am I telling about the behavior itself? What stories am I telling myself about what it would say about me and who I am?
- What stories are others telling, that I am believing, about why I “should” continue or “should” quit?
- Why am I believing these stories?
- What’s the pain in quitting? What’s the pain in continuing?
- What’s the fear beneath the pain? (There’s always fear underneath. Always.)
- What is true, for me, at this time?
(4) Extract the wisdom
- What am I learning from this experiment?
- What wisdom have I gained, about myself and about this behavior?
- How can I better leverage my strengths in a way that will serve my outcome and my process?
(5) Connect with my desires
Honestly, I almost forgot this one, until someone reminded me today on a coach training call. This, in itself, is telling. It reflects one of my patterns: in moments when I feel stuck between “shoulds” I often don’t stop to consider my desires: what would help me feel most fulfilled.
On the surface, I “want” to do both things. I want to quit and I want to continue. But what about beneath the surface? Once I dig beneath the beliefs and expectations, what do I really desire to do? What fills me up?
It’s hard to disconnect this from the outcome, but I think I must. If I didn’t have the outcome I have, what would I do? Once I get clear on that, I can work backward to see how I can fit my desired actions into my outcome.
(6) Revisit my options
Armed with the information from these inquiries, I can revisit the options and decide my next move. Perhaps more options will emerge that I haven’t yet considered (this often happens when I work through issues in this way).
This is my process and my path.
A bit more complicated than simply “giving up” or “pushing through.”
Knowing myself as I do, figuring it out will probably entail a lot of writing, walking, and meditation. That’s one way I keep my streaks going 😉
This is day 44 in a daily publishing experiment. Thanks so much for reading. I hope this has been helpful to you.