On knowing when to quit, becoming wise, and perfecting technique

How do you know when it’s time to quit or when you should dig your heels in and keep going?

I’m not a big fan of quitting. In my experience, most people quit way too early, before they have even a chance of seeing any progress.

Progress takes time. Much more time, in fact, than most people think or are willing to give.

If you’re trying to lose weight, two weeks is not enough to see whether your diet is a good fit.

If you’re trying to build strength, one 30-day challenge will only get you so far.

Athletic skills — and most other things in life worth pursuing — take years to master. My personal handstand journey is proof: I’ve been on my hands for over seven years, and am just starting to feel the level of control and consistency that make me feel like I kind of know what I’m doing.

But that doesn’t mean quitting is never the answer.

Trying to achieve too much at once — not quitting anything, no matter what — can be more harmful than helpful.

The truth is, we can only do so much in our short lives. I’ve learned this the hard way, previously trying to focus on too many goals at once, eventually realizing that I was making progress on nothing. As a result, I’ve since simplified my life — and my goals — significantly.

The shift from viewing quitting as “giving up” to viewing it as simplifying and focusing is a game changer. With this approach, Quitting can become a hidden superpower.

After all, we only have so much attention and focus to devote to our goals and activities during any given day. We all have responsibilities, and we all need to sleep, eat, exercise, and have some social interaction and relaxation time on a daily and weekly basis. This gives us only a finite amount of time to pursue our bigger goals. Which means that in order to get to know ourselves better and find what really clicks, we need to learn to quit.

As Rich Kaarlgaard writes in Late Bloomers: The Hidden Strengths of Learning and Succeeding at Your Own Pace

“Quitting is power. Quitting, done for the right reason, is not giving up. It’s not submitting or throwing in the towel. It is saying that a job just doesn’t suit us. It is trying something and not liking it. In this way, quitting is actually part of the process of discovery. We define who we are by quitting, whether it’s a club, school, job, or hobby. Forced adherence or unquestioned devotion leads to atrophy—to slowly dying. But quitting is the process of growing, the process of living.”

Conscious quitting isn’t about giving up. It’s about getting clear about our priorities and our goals. It’s quitting one thing so that we can free up time and energy for something more important.

What I’m reading —

Wisdom Isn’t What You Think It Is by David Brooks in the New York Times

Most of us would like to be thought of as wise one day. But what makes someone wise?

Maybe, says Brooks, it’s less about how much knowledge a person has accumulated than it is about being able to guide others (or themselves) to greater heights through gentle encouragement.

Writes Brooks:

“People only change after they’ve felt understood. The really good confidants — the people we go to for wisdom — are more like story editors than sages. They take in your story, accept it, but prod you to reconsider it so you can change your relationship to your past and future. They ask you to clarify what it is you really want, or what baggage you left out of your clean tale. They ask you to probe for the deep problem that underlies the convenient surface problem you’ve come to them with.”

What I’m listening to —

The Complete Peaceful Warrior’s Way by Dan Millman

My dad gave me a copy of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior when I was in my early twenties and it made a huge impact on me. I actually wasn’t aware that Millman had other books until recently when I discovered this audio gem.

Described as a “spiritual path in the modern world,” this audio program addresses some of my favorite topics — like integration of the body, mind, and spirit, finding purpose and meaning in life, and developing self-confidence. It’s not as much science-based as it is intuition-based. If you haven’t read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, I’d recommend reading that one first before diving into this one.

A quote that inspires me —

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

What I’m training this week —

Kicking technique and control.

I’ve been kicking for a little over six months now. It’s still humbling to me how difficult it is to balance on one leg. I’ve been working mostly on technique and slowing things down, trusting that power and speed will come with time.

Three new workouts from last week —

Boxing Strength + Conditioning Workout (12 minute; equipment-free)

Full Body Bar HIIT Workout (12 minute; plyo box, pull up bar)

Heart-Racing Bodyweight Challenge Workout (Challenge; equipment-free)

And here’s an outdoor bodyweight workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to knowing when to quit,

– Krista Stryker


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