There was a time when, for some reason, you decided to take a big leap. You bought a domain, you designed a logo, or perhaps you even quit your job. It was an exciting time, scary too and a bit risky, but you were able to persist because the primary voice in your mind was one that was saying, “Wait a second…I think I can do this.”
If you’ve ever taken the initiative to start something new – a business, a blog, a book, an organization – perhaps this all sounds familiar to you. Every creative adventure seems to start out similarly. There is a sense of determined optimism that guides you. You work late, you gather ideas constantly, and you invest time, money, and energy into this thing you really care about.
But over time, that “I can do this” voice in your mind becomes harder and harder to hear. It’s not that it ever goes away, but rather, it gets drowned out by other louder voices, ones that ask, “Is this really what I want?” or “Is it too late to get my old job back?” or “ Why am I even doing this?”
And let’s be honest here: it’s at this point that a lot of people choose to give up. They trade in their ambitions for something safer, or more likely, they just gradually slow down their efforts until there is nothing left to develop. And you know what? That’s honestly not the worst thing in the world. There is no shame in modifying your aspirations for the sake of, you know, reality. Actually, that’s pretty healthy.
But if you’re experiencing this sort of doubt right now, then dream with me for a minute: maybe, just maybe, you are meant to be doing exactly what it is you are doing. Maybe you are on the cusp of something fantastic. Maybe if you can just hold on a bit longer, you will start to see some real results from all of your efforts. Maybe.
But who can be sure? The hard truth is that there is no way to know for certain that success or failure is around the corner. It feels more like a leap of faith than an exact science. That being said, if you find yourself questioning whether or not you should quit, then here are a few things you might want to consider before throwing in the towel:
1. You started for a reason
All you can see right now are the plans that aren’t working out or the bills that need to be paid or the schedule that just seems totally unsustainable. But think back to simpler times, allllll the way back to the beginning. What was it that made you start this crazy adventure? Were you in a job you hated? Were you encouraged by friends and family to utilize your talents more? Were you attracted to the reality of this new endeavor or simply the idea of it? For better or for worse, tap into the specific reasons of why you wanted to make a change. If those reasons still apply to you, if you still feel connected to your original purpose, then quitting might not be for you.
2. You are not the only one
Starting your own business or pursuing a creative career is a pretty insane thing to do. Like, I’d say you have to be half-crazy to even attempt it because no matter what, it’s definitely not going to be the safest option. At least not at first. When doubt arises, that’s basically when your sanity starts to kick in. In those moments, you begin finding the idea of building your own path a lot less charming and actually way more terrifying. But these moments of self-doubt are not just reserved for the weak or the untalented. Everyone goes through them. Everyone. You might be tempted to believe that your lack of confidence signals a lack of ability, but that’s just not the case. Every single wildly talented person you have ever admired has been through this. They’ve just been crazy enough to keep going.
Related: Why Freelancing actually has more job security than a 9-5
3. Fear is a liar
There are actually plenty of good reasons to give up – a lack of finances, fading interest, a change of circumstances – but fear just isn’t one of them. That’s because, for the most part, fear lies. Fear paints a picture in your mind that isn’t real. It shows you all of the negatives, none of the positives, as well as a lot of unrealistic eventualities that might never come to be. If fear is your only motivator right now, you might not have the best grasp on your situation, so find a way to reframe your thoughts. For example, when I’m feeling particularly fearful, I like to talk to someone I trust who can help me sort out what’s real and what isn’t.
Related: How to make a big, terrifying decision
4. You might need some help
One of the reasons you may feel like giving up right now is because it’s all starting to become too much. There is so much to do, you aren’t sleeping, and you haven’t seen your friends and family in weeks. If that’s the case, my question for you is this: is anyone helping you right now? Because, by the way, that’s totally allowed. So often we try to handle everything on our own because we assume that’s what we’re supposed to do, but it usually leads to quicker burnout.
If you need someone to help you design your website, enlist a designer. If you need someone to consult you, look into a business coach. Plus, there are plenty of ways to receive help free of charge. Join a local community of creatives, attend a meetup, hop on a Twitter chat – whatever you can do to feel less alone, do it. Perhaps with some support, giving up will seem like a far less attractive option.
Related: 8 Steps for hosting a creative meetup