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How to Not Quit (when it matters most)...

Whether we like to admit or not, we all have stories of moments when we quit. Even the most ambitious and successful amongst knows what it feels like to give up on a dream, even when inexplicably, we most want it.

What happens & how can we not quit when it matters most? Read on to find out more.

Woman ecstatically crossing the finish line with her hands upraised and a big smile on her face, runner panting behind her


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Happy first week of February to you all! We are officially a month into the new year, and a month into our pursuit of a better us, a better year, with hopefully, better goals! So it’s the perfect time to have a little heart-to-heart about the numbers:

91% of people do not make it to the finish line of their New Years Resolution. Only 9% of us achieve our goal.

Startling, right? But the next statistic is even more shocking.

Studies suggest 64% — that's about two-thirds of us — never even make it past the three week mark.

In fact, by January 19th, most of us have quit.

So by now, in the first week of February there’s less than 26% of us still going strong. And that number will only get worse as the year moves forward. All of which begs the question:

Montage of hardworking female athletes, tired, happy, but most importantly not quitting.

How can we know so much about goal setting & achievement and still have such poor results overall?

And I say this as someone who’s been there in the three week quitters crowd myself from time to time. In fact, by the numbers above, so has every coach, motivational speaker, and influencer you’ve ever admired or looked up to. Though many of them are loathe to admit it, failing and quitting are an incredibly common problem, even amongst our aspirational heroes. Which brings me to an interesting story… It’s about Dr. Emily Balcetis, a professor of psychology who studies motivation at New York University. Her studies focus primarily on predicting which strategies and tools lead to goal success or failure. So when she found herself at a Brooklyn gym one day, not so long ago, filled with new moms, high school students, seniors and even a team of Olympic contenders all training to run in a marathon she had one burning question:

What made the difference between the accomplished runners in the gym, & all the others who simply gave up? Who never crossed the finish line, despite training for it?

You see, Emily had a theory. Studying goals for years she had noticed that the most common tactics people used to achieve goals: Positive self-talk, reminding themselves of their “why” ie why they were pursuing this goal and why it was so important to them, and putting up reminders of their goal All of it required a lot of effort. Effort that only increased the labor of the goal, and that studies were increasingly showing didn’t work. Motivating yourself using these techniques required a lot of effort and energy, outside of the original goal. So she wasn’t surprised that people would quit, burn out, and lose their initial excitement under the weight of all that extra effort. Her theory when it came to these accomplished, elite runners was that they didn’t do that, and that it had something to do with their focus and not wasting energy on these other tactics outside of their goal. They must be able to either to hyper focus on more variables in the present, like, how far from the finish line they were, how close other runners were to it, what the weather was doing, the bumps in the pavement, etc… OR... Or they must very good at focusing ONLY on that finish line way up ahead, to the exclusion of all else.

But she was wrong. ...On both accounts.

When she asked the accomplished runners around her about their focus many of them said when they tried to focus in the way described above, their results were worse. So what is it they were doing that made them faster

and more likely to cross the finish line?

Runner after runner described focusing on things like, “the shorts of the runner just ahead of them that they wanted to pass.” Or “the road sign just a little ways up from them.” They didn’t pay attention to other runners positions, to the weather, the road conditions or even on the final finish line.

They focused instead on the win just in front of them, right within their reach, to the exclusion of all else.

And when they reached that milestone, they set another tiny one just ahead of that. Over and over again. Surprised, Dr. Emily Balcetis set up a study to ask hundreds of other runners — professional, amateur, even ones just starting out the very same question. And what she found was that the runners who had this same “tiny win" focus were the better runners across the board. The were faster, had a better pace, and they finished more races all while reporting 17% less pain during their runs. Better yet, the more a runner used this kind of focus, the better of a runner she was. The correlation seemed pretty obvious. You know, there’s an old adage about climbing a mountain:

To get to the top, you only need to focus on where to put your foot next.

Getting just one toe-hold after another is often a better strategy for getting there, than trying to visualize the top or focus only on the peak ( and often how far away from it you seem to be). In fact, research seems to back up this wise old saying. Studies show that the closer we are to achieving a goal, and the more within reach it seems to be, the more likely we are to keep going. Which explains why when we have a big goal and we only focus on the end result which may be weeks, or months or even a year or more away — we tend to give up faster, and lose motivation more quickly. So should you give up on big goals and big juicy dreams? Not on your life. But maybe once we set them, we should take a page from our runners and shift our focus from that vaunted, much coveted finish line, and into the present moment. On the win right in front of us, right within reach, if only we stretch forward just a little bit to achieve it.

And once we get there, we reach for the next one.

And the next. Over and over again.

One foot in front of the other.

That’s the key to staying the course, and keeping motivated, over days, weeks, months and even years. Now I hope this story and this new science of motivation is getting you as fired up and as excited as I am. And if you like this kind of stuff I’ve got good news for you.

I am building a juicy, fun course on all of my best tips & tricks to get you fired up about your dreams & motivated to achieve them. The easy way, without wasting energy on trying to stay motivated! So stay tuned for that in the coming months!

As always have fun, & keep focusing on the small wins!

As every runner knows, they add up.

See you all next Week!

All my love,

Desiree Sommer


Desirée Sommer is a former Interior Designer & Writer dedicated to helping those around her to Beautify, Style & make their lives Fun again! She happily resides in the rural beauty of Idaho with her pet pooch Bree, where she gets to take epic hikes, and plot her next big travel escapade. Her favorite things include traveling, fil eam & anything French or Italian. Oh, and dancing! Always dancing!


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