3 Psychological Hacks To Keep You Going When You Want To Quit

Have you felt like quitting on a goal because it just seems too hard to keep going?  You are not alone.  There comes a point for most people where they feel like giving up.

What you are facing is the “messy middle” as Michael Hyatt calls it.  You're past the honeymoon momentum of having just started something, and the finish line just seems way too far away.  That messy middle can feel like quicksand and is often where most of us quit.

I say “feel”, but I don't mean physically.  It is actually a thought that can trip us up as our 'feelings' are triggered by the thoughts we have.  Therefore the key to moving forward is to manage those brutal thoughts in our head.  

Here are three psychological hacks that can keep you on the road to your goal, and get you back on the wagon when you (inevitably) fall off.

1. Focus On The WHAT, Get Clear On The WHY

Get really clear on the outcome your want to achieve.  Write out the goal and review it every day.  Write it on post-its everywhere that you are likely to look (for weight loss, a post it on my fridge helped!).  More than that, get clear on your picture of success and visualise it in glorious technicolour with all the sights, sounds and smells you can muster.  What does success look like when you achieve your goal?

Just as important is the WHY behind the WHAT.  When you can get super-specific and clear on why you want that outcome, you engage your emotions which are the fuel that move you towards your goal.  So, why is the outcome you want so important to you? Why does it matter?

Reminding yourself frequently of why you want that goal or outcome, especially before any work session, when you feel like quitting or when you begin your day, means you are far less likely to allow the self-doubting thoughts in.

2. Create A Mantra

Originally used for meditation, a mantra is simply a word or a phrase that you mentally repeat to yourself.  In this context, a mantra can help you keep going in two ways.  Firstly, if you create a mantra that reminds you of why you want to get to your outcome, you keep the goal and the  ‘why’ central in your thinking.  Secondly, the mantra itself can create a pattern interrupt that drowns out the automatic negative voices that make you want to quit.

You might use a mantra in the moment to help a physical challenge that you want to complete.  Usually, we are physically capable of much more than we believe and many sports people use this technique to overcome their perceived limitations and stay focused.  This can work for us mere mortals as well!

For example, Lisa Nichols - the renowned inspirational speaker - tells a tale of how she used a phrase from her grandmother - “Quitters never win, and winners never quit” - to set an American national swimming record.  

In the longer term, we can use a mantra on a daily basis to stay focused on the what and why of our goal.  These are called affirmations and are positive phrases that you say to yourself that assume that your outcome has come true.  If you then say, write or read this mantra/affirmation to yourself several times a day, you go some way to counter the the voice of doubt in your head.

3. Tame The Gremlin

Rick Carson calls the source of doubt and resistance the Gremlin.  Yes, that’s right…just like the ones from the 1984 movie!  Imagine one of those disgusting little critters in your head telling you can’t do something.  Now, who do you want to be in charge of your life?  You or your gremlin?

In childhood, the point of the Gremlin was to keep you safe, but you are an adult now, and the Gremlin is largely no longer necessary.

The best way to tame your gremlin is to get to know it.  The chances are that you mistake its voice for your own. However, if you start to actively acknowledge where and when that internal doubting voice crops up, you will soon get to know it and recognise its pattern.  

When you know your gremlin, you have the power.  From there,  you can choose to listen to it, tell it to go away or do something else creative with it.  For example, one Maverick artist we know visualises putting her gremlin in the filing cabinet in her office whenever she sits down to create.  "You ain't coming out today, dude!"

This might sound weird but what is actually happening is that you are choosing a productive, resourceful mindset of being over an unresourceful one.  You might even find that you have more than one gremlin, you might have a whole family.  The thing is that they are essentially like pet dogs - they mean well, but you have to show them who is the leader of the pack!


leave a comment below and tell us how you get through the 'messy middle'!