When to Quit: Why are you doing it?
Exercising should ultimately be about moving your body. Using your body. Making it stronger, more flexible. Keeping you fit, healthy and mobile, well into old age.
How good do you have to be to do that?
Not at all really.
Ok, you might have dreams of becoming the next Michael Phelps, Linford Christie or Usain Bolt, but you have to ask yourself, how realistic is that?
Now, I don’t want to discourage you from competing in your chosen sport, quite the opposite. But make sure you keep things in perspective.
With the amount of time you have to train, the other commitments in your life, is it really likely you’re going to be competing in the next Olympics? Are you really going to be the next Britain’s strongest woman?
Being crap at something shouldn’t put you off trying.
Enter a competition even if you’re going to be last. Do that 5k run, even if you have to walk for some of it. You’re moving your body, doing something you love to do.
When to Quit: Who are you doing it for?
Exercising is about spending your free time moving your body. So, when I ask who you are doing it for, the answer should be obvious.
But sometimes it’s not so clear cut.
Maybe you’re carrying on with your exercise class because you’ve got loads of friends there.
Maybe you’re training a particular sport because your mum and dad would love to see you on a podium with a gold medal neck around your neck.
Maybe your trainer is trying to live out their dreams through you, convincing you that this is the only sport for you.
But really, is any of that enough?
Remember, it’s your free time. No one else’s. You’ve got to get yourself to that class or the gym.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks you should be doing. The only yardstick to measure whether you should carry on doing something is, does it make you smile.
If it doesn’t try something else.
When to quit: You used to enjoy it…
But what happens when you used to enjoy what you’re doing?
Sometimes the hardest thing to admit is that you’ve stopped enjoying something you previously did.
Any change can be daunting, and if you’ve been doing something for a while, maybe you’ve built up a friendship base, become quite comfortable with the type of training, it can be even harder.
You may even battle feelings of not being dedicated enough. Or not being strong enough mentally.
But the truth is, it’s ok to change your mind. To move on. To grow.
As humans, we adapt. And the things that challenge us, that interest us, adapt with us. They morph into something new. Take us to new places.
And that’s good. It’s natural. It means you are pushing your comfort zone. Wanting new challenges. Not settling for the familiar because it’s comfortable. You’d rather live your life fully, changing the things that no longer serve you.
I am often envious of people who have had a hobby for years. Those who know the ins and out of something. I myself have never done anything that long. I stick with it for as long as it holds my interest. And when it doesn’t I find something new.
I used to think of that as a weakness. But it really isn’t.
The weakness would lie in not changing. Not having the courage to move on. Carrying on with something that is no longer bringing me joy.
So, if you’re no longer feeling the love, a change might be in order. It might be a small change, perhaps a re-focus.
For me it was a refocus of strength training away from strongwoman towards more body weight strength.
Whatever that change maybe for you, it may be as good as a rest.
When to Quit: Do you just need some tuition?
So, if you’ve decided you definitely don’t want to quit, but are a bit frustrated about lack of improvement, why not get some help from a coach.
Private sessions give your coach, trainer, teacher, the opportunity to look at your technique. Really examine what you are doing, and suggest ways to improve. They may also give you exercises to do on your own that will strengthen your weaknesses.
If private coaching isn’t in your budget, think about online coaching. It’s usually a lot cheaper, and whilst your technique may not get the scrutiny of a 1-2-1 session you will get a tailor-made plan that will keep you progressing.
When to Quit: Do you want to?
With all of that in mind, how important is it really that you are good at your sport?
The most important thing is that you enjoy it.
Who cares if you’re good at it? If you’re enjoying it, trying your best and moving your body, that’s what matters.
Yes, you’re going to have days when you really can’t be bothered. When you feel like you’ve stagnated, or even gone backwards. But if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll push through those difficult times.
And you may even get to a better place. A stronger place.
Give yourself a break. Literally. A week off can do wonders for your clarity.
Why are you doing it?
Who are you doing it for?
Are you still enjoying it?
Once you know the honest answers to those questions you can make a better decision.
But NEVER throw in the towel just because you think you’re no good. Honestly, you’re probably better than you think.