Updated: Mar 25, 2020
When should you keep moving forward?
I played high school football and I wasn’t very good, but I liked it. I liked football because it kept me in shape and alert. My parents encouraged me to play and my brother was a very talented football player known as the “Caped Crusader,” which gave me more reason to keep going. I played all throughout high school, the team getting better each year due to the fantastic coaching staff.
Our coaches would rev up the team before the game to the point where your own energy boiled with excitement to match theirs. Come game time, we put our outside lives aside and worked as a team. Seeing the team improve made me feel energized and more ambitious, but I also had some moments where I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit because I thought I could spend more time focusing on art and drawing. Had I given up on football and pursued my art, I may have never experienced the importance of teamwork. When we set aside our differences and worked together, we put our skills and focus on offensive strategies and defensive solutions. We were experiencing professionalism and it created a bond.
Football wasn’t my purpose but it taught me valuable lessons. Perseverance led me to a better version of myself by understanding the value of teamwork and pushing through the toughest times. Experiencing anxiety and emotions that we feel we couldn’t control; we were able to let go of those emotions by focusing on the present. Looking back on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is at the very top of the pyramid. Motivation increases as our needs are met for growth. I should have quit if I wasn’t feeling the improvement for myself. If you are working toward a goal that isn’t impacting your growth, quit. Quitting isn’t a bad thing, you should have some peace of mind cutting your losses short. Learning from your failures builds Grit, coincidentally the title of a book written by Angela Duckworth that explains the combination of passion and perseverance.
It is easy to lose sight of our purpose when our passion is running on empty. At some point, we must make a decision to give up or persevere. Most of the time it's just easier to give up than to take a risk; at other times we have invested so much effort, money and time into one idea that it creates a sunk cost. How do we persist and keep moving forward? When you’re worried that it will never work or that you will be humiliated; this is when we know we are experiencing resistance, what the author Steven Pressfield describes several times over in many of his works. Before we make a decision to quit or press forward, let’s understand the difference between purpose and passion.
Purpose defines our joy, meaning, and well being. Perhaps we are in search of our life’s purpose; there are a few ways to define our purpose. We can find purpose with some frameworks such as the Japanese concept called Ikigai, which means “a reason for being” or asking yourself some deep questions. TED speaker Adam Leipzig would ask: “Who are you? What do you love to do? Who do you do it for? What do they want or need? How do they change as a result?” If you just answered all of the questions you now have an excellent elevator pitch. Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, would call it our why.
Daytime talk show host Mel Robbins describes passion as energy. If you are looking for passion, stop. Passion is not long term. Mel teaches us to find what energizes you and follow it. Passion motivates you and intrigues you but dissipates over time. When your passion becomes routine you may start to run out of energy. Our energy could be driven by love or hate, combined with emotion and compelling us to act on an idea or action. Use passion to motivate your why and push yourself. Mel encourages us to force ourselves to start our day and not to wait for the right time. The right time hardly ever comes without hard work and persistence to reach an opportunity. Mel explains that you have five seconds to act on an idea, after that, you may hit the brakes and never give it life. Improving yourself builds energy to your success. So, ask yourself how much grit do you have?