Surviving the Dip: How to Reach your Goals by Being a Quitter
I recently read an incredible book by one of my favorite marketers – The Dip by Seth Godin. It was so fascinating that I read it cover to cover in one single sitting.
Then I read it again just to soak up any details I missed.
I’ve referenced Godin’s work before because 1) I’m a huge marketing nerd and 2) I feel that there is a strong connection between marketing and motivation.
It all comes down to psychology. Figuring out why we do the things we do.
Anyway, Seth is a huge inspiration for this post and I cannot possibly begin without recommending his book and his sensational work in general.
But what the heck is the dip?
And am I really suggesting that you have to become a quitter to have a chance at reaching your goals?
Short answer – kind of. But let’s explore it a little deeper, shall we?
Why Quitting is Important
Let me begin with a little story.
It’s about a good friend of mine named Sean. Years ago, Sean really wanted to get into law school. It was his goal to get accepted to a big name school.
Good news – Sean was smart.
He also had a tenacious work ethic. Unlike anything I’ve seen before. He could sit down and bury his head in those books for 14+ hours at a time.
Bad news – the average acceptance rate into law school is about 10%.
1/10 chance…not the best odds. But Sean pushed on knowing that law was his calling. He paid his dues.
And he made it. He was part of that 10%.
Now some people might say he was lucky.
Others would say that it was his work ethic that got him there. That his shear will and determination to do everything he possibly could to get into that law school got him a spot.
I say that Sean was a damn good quitter.
In addition to being smart and hard-working, Sean had to be a quitter. In order to do what was necessary to reach his goal, he had to quit countless other pursuits.
He had to quit playing some of the sports that he loved.
He had to quit going out with his friends as much.
He had to quit seeing his girlfriend.
He had to quit these things to give himself a chance at succeeding in what he desired most.
(Watch the movie Whiplash to get an idea of what I mean.)
Now sure this is a bit of an extreme case but it highlights the point…
To be successful, you have to be a good quitter.
You have to know what you want, why you want it, and then be willing to quit everything that stands in your way to reaching your destination.
But that’s easier said than done…
Getting through the dip…
“Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.” – Seth Godin
Think about the last time you started something new. The last time you embarked on ajourney to achieve something important – like lose weight.
Things were really exciting at the start, weren’t they?
You were motivated. You were in action-taking mode. You were out there every day. You were convinced that you finally found the solution that you were going to see through to the end.
Ten days later, that feeling disappeared.
Suddenly it was replaced with doubt. Reluctance. Procrastination.
Before you knew it, the goal was abandoned.
Game over. Insert coin to play again.
The truth is that we’re really good at starting things. We’re just not very good at sticking to things for very long.
We really suck at commitment.
We don’t give things a chance to work.
We don’t stick around long enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel and reap the rewards. We quit before getting to the finish line.
Image Source: davidmcelroy.org
So what is the solution? How do you stick to something after it’s no longer new and exciting?
Seth Godin calls this surviving the dip.
And it is one of the most crucial parts of any journey.
The dip is is where success happens. It is the barrier between those who try and those who succeed.
Every path has a dip. At least every path that is worth taking. If there is no dip, you’re probably wasting your time.
But if you can get through the dip, results await.
Image Source: The Dip by Seth Godin
Now here’s the interesting thing about the dip…
It forces you to put in the effort without any expectation for results. Just take a look at the image above. For the first half of your journey, your efforts must increase even when your results plummet.
Do you see the disconnect there?
The problem is that very few people are willing to work their ass off for no results, even if it’s just temporary.
And when faced with the dip, most people choose to change course.
It’s just the easy way out.
But if you are committed – if you are consistent with your efforts – the results are within grasp.
Fortunately, there’s a simple technique you can use to set yourself up for success from the start of your journey. A tool that will ultimately help you ride out the dip.
It’s called the ‘Quitting Strategy’.
Setting up your ‘Quitting Strategy’…
“Successful people don’t just ride out the Dip. They don’t just buckle down and survive it. No, they lean into the Dip. They push harder, changing the rules as they go. Dips don’t last as long why you whittle at them.” – Seth Godin
To be successful with your health and fitness goals, you have to completely change the way you think about quitting.
Let me tell you a story about a guy named Dick Collins (ref Godin).
Dick is an ultra-marathoner.
Before each race, Collins goes through a little decision-making process.
He decides the exact conditions that would cause him to stop and drop out of the race that day.
Read that sentence again.
He decides ahead of time what would cause him to quit.
You see what that does?
It takes thinking out of the equation.
If you’ve ever run a long race, you know the mental battle that’s happening at each and every step, particularly as you get deeper and deeper into the race. Every runner contemplates quitting at one point or another.
This is the dip of the race.
And the most difficult thing to do is make rational decisions when you’re in the dip.
When you give yourself the choice of quitting, you’re very likely to take it.
But by setting up your quitting conditions ahead of time, you eliminate that choice. You don’t give yourself the opportunity to talk yourself into quitting.
You see how powerful that shift in mindset is?
When you decide ahead of time what your quitting conditions are going to be, the game is simple…
You keep going until a) the exact quitting conditions you set out from the start are met or b) you achieve what you set out to do.
You can use the same strategy to help yourself stay committed to any goal.
Before you embark on your next journey, figure out the exact reasons or conditions that would cause you to quit.
Here’s a simple template that you can use:
“I will only quit [your goal/journey] if [enter your conditions here]. Otherwise, I will keep going.”
You must make sure that your conditions are specific and realistic.
Bad strategy: “I will quit my journey if I don’t feel like I’m getting the results I want.”
Too generic. Too much room for error.
Better strategy: “I will only quit my journey if I don’t lose 5lbs of fat by July 1st.”
See the difference?
Just like good goals, specificity is key.
Note: the template doesn’t take obvious things like injuries into account. If your body is telling you it’s not ready for something, listen to it.
Be mindful that your conditions can change over the course of your journey. What may be a condition today may not be a week or month from now.
Once your conditions are set, sticking to your routine becomes a simple matter of if-then: if my conditions are met, then I will quit. Otherwise, I will keep going.
Really powerful stuff.
Now here’s what I have for you…
I’ve got a printable version of the quitting strategy template prepared for you. It’s the same one that I use with my clients to get them prepared for their journey. You can print it out, write out your quitting strategy, and use it to your advantage.
If you want a copy of the template, here’s what I need you to do:
- Share this post using the social buttons on the left (or below)
- Leave a comment and tell me what you are having a hard time quitting right now. And be specific. I’m really curious.
Do those two things for me and I’ll personally reach out to you and email you a copy of the template.
Header Image Source: wallpaperswide