How not to quit once it gets tough
October 27, 2019
There’s an awesome book called “The Dip” by one of my favorite authors, Seth Godin.
What is” the dip”? It’s the time when things get tough and when most people give up on whatever they started. It’s when you start a business and keep struggling, but nothing works or when you start a blog, and nobody reads it or when you are learning a new skill, and you don’t seem to improve a bit anymore.
In his book, he brings an example of a dip incorporated into the system on purpose.
Young aspiring want-to-be doctors, after going through a rigorous studying, preparation, and selection process to get into the med school, finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Little do they know that this light - as Slavoj Žižek once put it - is actually the freight train about to hit them head-on. At least the majority of them. This train is called organic chemistry - one of the hardest subjects in the curriculum - if not the hardest.
Organic chemistry is not the most important subject in the curriculum, but it creates a dip where most aspiring surgeons drop out, leaving only the students who don’t just fantasize about becoming doctors - they really want to become a doctor. They want it bad enough to pass the subject.
This is both good for the students and the school. The teachers don’t waste their time, energy, and knowledge on people who don’t deserve it and who are not ready to put in the work in the first place. It also saves the time of the students as they learn early on if they’re cut out for this or not.
There are dips everywhere, and they’re almost guaranteed to come on your way sooner or later. Expecting the dip is, in my opinion, already half the battle won. All you have to do is survive the dip - as it doesn’t last forever. Sometimes the dip can last for a couple of years, but if you keep at it, you will overcome it. It just takes time.
If you recognize the dip, it gives you the motivation to keep going. It doesn’t take you by surprise. You expect it! You understand that it’s supposed to be tough. There will be real light at the end of the tunnel at one point.
However, sometimes, there’s a dead end. You start something but want to quit not because it gets tough but for other reasons. E.g., if you lost all interest in the thing, it’s meaningless to keep pushing on. It’s not the dip - it’s just a dead-end. So, sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. Be honest with yourself when asking yourself about the reason for quitting.
But even if you have to cut your losses, it’s not for nothing. You still get to keep all the lessons you learned, and maybe you can incorporate these lessons in some related field.