Quitting vs surrendering

Thursday, January 19, 2017 Permalink

I talked last week about my yoga classes and the fact we’re asked to think of a word or ‘intention’ each class. It surprises me when something comes to mind as it’s usually something unexpected. The other day my word was ‘surrender’ and it came at the perfect time as I was stressing about a heap of stuff – some of which was beyond my control. And – as a self-confessed control freak – I was struggling.

But being reminded that it’s possible to surrender control of certain things to fate and that it’s not the same as giving up or quitting, was a comforting idea.

quitting vs surrendering

It might surprise you that I’m still doing my morning pages. Although I’m doing them at night.

In case that sentence makes no sense and you haven’t committed my posts to heart, I’ll give you this subtle reminder about a book by Julia Cameron called, The Artist’s Way. One of the tools of the 12 week course are morning pages – 3 pages of freehand writing. I’m up to week 10 of the book… (so surprisingly I haven’t quit)! But for a range of reasons do my morning pages before I go to bed.

And each day mine include stuff I’m feeling guilty about. Stuff I SHOULD have done, but haven’t. Boy, gotta love the SHOULDS, OUGHT-TOs, and MUSTS.

It’s the control freak in me who loves her ‘to-do’ lists. The very act of writing down shit I should be doing helps me feel in control.

The irony – of course – is that it makes me feel worse when I don’t actually do it.

And I was struck by this very thought the other night. There are things on the list that I’ve included on my #5before50 bucket list as well as things I feel I SHOULD be doing.

‘Pitching freelance articles to paid sources,’ comes to mind. Not to mention the whole ‘write a novel’ thing. Of course on my daily or weekly ‘to-do’ list, the actions are far more doable. They’re bite-sized goals. Like I said… I’m good at ‘to-do’ lists and goal setting.ย It’s the (lack of) follow-through that has me guilt-ridden and anxious.

And the other night by the time I was getting to the end of the third page of my morningย pages, I was stuck for stuff (which is the point of them I believe) and before I knew it I’d written things like…. “I wish I didn’t HAVE to do these things.” I’d written, “Imagine if my non-working days were free for me to do whatever I liked.”

And it hit me. These goals (the lists) are all self-imposed. They’re things I think I SHOULD do. I mean, I think I want to do them… but I’m not entirely sure.

In yesterday’s post about my study I ended it by wondering if it’s not actually the environment – the study itself – that’s thwarting my creativity; but perhaps it’s me.

The whole aim of working part-time is not so I can just struggle financially! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s about having balance in my life. I’ve assumed that would translate as me having more time to write. And perhaps it does and will continue to do so.

However… so much of my current overwhelm; so much of my sense of failure is about self-imposed goals I’m not achieving. Pitching book reviews and articles for money. Writing a novel. Writing more in my local blog.

So… I can’t help but wonder if I tried to remain goal-less for a month or two; if I took the SHOULDs off the table… if I’d be surrendering control and guilt; or if I’d be quitting.

Do you think there’s a difference? Do you think sometimes we should push ourselves when we’re not sure we DO want to do something?

the-lovin-life-linky

I’ve joined Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit and some other bloggers to help promote “ageing positively” and the Lovin’ Life mindset across the interwebs. You can link up via any one of us!

The Lovin’ Life Team includes:
Kathy from 50 Shades of Age
Johanna from Lifestyle Fifty
Min from Write of the Middle.
and Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit.


56 Comments
  • Lydia C. Lee
    January 19, 2017

    What I find, if you remain goalless – is new goals pop up regardless. I am meant to be offline until the end of Jan. I’ve written 3 posts in this time (and have a million more in my head that I’m holding off on) but it’s not a chore when you just decide to do it…so I don’t see it as a bad thing, it just sorts out your drive a little.

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      I wondered about that Lydia… but in an even more twisted way. Like… am I thinking that by NOT setting goals I’ll inadvertently get all enthusiastic about stuff and do them – thereby achieving my goals when I’m not supposed to be!?

  • Ruth Hillman-Booth
    January 19, 2017

    I love this post Deb, and think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Should is such a destructive word, in my work I encourage people to try and eliminate it from their vocabulary… Or catch it and turn it into a “could”.

    My word – and I have an engraved stone that I see most days – is trust. Trust in the process, myself, and in others. But mostly myself!

    Could you ponder (be with) your bucket list goals and work on how to achieve them in your spare time instead of the self imposed work?

    And you know, sometimes it’s just healthy to choose to stop something.

    Rx

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      Ah yes, and I think I have trouble working out what I actually want to achieve vs what I think I should. In yesterday’s ‘study’ post I got to the last sentence… about what it is I want to be doing or achieving and really had to stop and wonder what it was I DO want to achieve / think I should be achieving. It’s somehow gotten lost along the way!

  • Carol Cameleon
    January 19, 2017

    There’s something I read this week about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, which is sort of what you’re talking about here I think. And that pushing yourself is vital to achieving. However, if you’re forcing something, I firmly believe that you have to put your hands up and gracefully ‘surrender’. So there you have it, there’s my answer! Thanks for hosting #LovingLifeLinky

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      There’s something in that Carol. To go back to yoga (or pilates etc) instructors will talk about something straining but that it shouldn’t hurt and I think you’re right… there’s something to be said for pushing the boundaries / our comfort zone but not forcing it. Very very true. Of course as an overanalyser I tend to (over) wonder if I really don’t want something or if I’m just being lazy / apathetic.

  • Kathy Marris
    January 19, 2017

    I like the sound of surrendering as opposed to quitting. I think there is a big difference between the two. We all put so much pressure on ourselves to be too perfect at times and we should take some of this pressure of and surrender a bit more. I also write “to do” lists and if I don’t get things done I always think “tomorrow is another day” and this allows to rest easy. Don’t worry be happy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      It’s funny Kathy because our yoga instructor was talking about control and I thought, “Yes, that’s my word. Well, the opposite. I need it to be the opposite of control.” But for the life of me I couldn’t think what the word was… and then ‘surrender’ came into my mind and I thought it seemed right. A purposeful way of giving up if you like.

  • Jo
    January 19, 2017

    You’ve achieved heaps in the last few years, maybe right now you’re meant to create a gap where goals used to be to see what will fill it.

  • HandbagMafia
    January 19, 2017

    Ha, yes. I do this all the time, push myself for things I’m not sure I want. Ire,ember feeling like that about sponsored posts but I was sure I had to do them, though not sure why. I’m not doing them anymore and it feels much better!

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      Ah yes, there’s a tremendous sense of relief that comes with deciding NOT to continue with something / do something that doesn’t feel right.

  • sizzlesue15
    January 19, 2017

    I’m a goal oriented person and feel such a buzz when I achieve it. However, this year I’m trying to simplify my life and I’m understanding that as you say we place self-imposed goals and pressure on ourselves which may or may not be good for us. I’m learning SLOWLY that if I decide not to do something it doesn’t mean I’ve failed it might just mean that my mental attitude is not right and I will be kind to myself and take the pressure off. If it doesn’t feel right don’t keep using valuable energy which could be used in more positive ways. #teamlovinlinky Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond.

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      Oh yes… I just read your post and it resonates so much Sue!

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    January 19, 2017

    If I had a word for 2017 (if) it would be “DON’T”. Don’t do stuff you would rather not do. I’ve set no goals and am letting the universe decide for me. My philosophy is that the universe knows best. Our instincts know more than we do and there is power in our intuition.

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      I love this idea Michelle. I go on about ‘intuitive living’ and decision making and stuff and yet I’m always such a control freak. I really do need to let go more.

  • Anne
    January 19, 2017

    I think it is good to take a step back for a while. Take the pressure of yourself and who knows you might come up with some new you want to do.

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      True Anne. But also scary!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ingrid Ingrid
    January 19, 2017

    This is such a though provoking post. I realise I place a lot of stress on myself to achieve the goals I have set myself but wonder what would happen if I didn’t set any official goals. Will I just have more goals popping up in my head constantly? Will I achieve nothing? Will I achieve more?

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      I know Ingrid. I’ve got a blog post drafted somewhere about my bucket list, in which I say it reads more like a ‘to-do’ list. It’s not fun or aspirational, it’s just stuff I feel I SHOULD do. Perhaps I need to ask myself why. I like to think other priorities or passions might come to the fore!

  • Kat @anaussieinsf
    January 19, 2017

    That’s really interesting. I’m a “to-do” lister but I wonder if my listing is different to yours. I usually write everything out so that I don’t forget something and I can put my mind at ease that everything that needs to be done is done.
    If your lists are more about what you think you should be doing maybe you’re being too tough on yourself. I read somewhere about making incremental changes. I guess those would be your “bit-sized” goals but paring them back to just one goal. So for example just focusing on pitching articles. Or just focusing on your book. #lovinlifelinky

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      I suspect my challenge is I’m not sure I really want to pursue either Kat. Or perhaps I do and am just scared or lazy. Perhaps they’re just things I think I SHOULD do….

  • charliegirl
    January 19, 2017

    There is a definite difference. Two years ago around this time I asked a friend who knows me intricately if I was quitting and giving up in a certain situation, if there was more I could do. And she answered me frankly and explicitly. It was a reminder of self-doubt and self-criticism, and a reinforcement of my own character. If I were to do what you are doing, every night I would have a list of just work items that I SHOULD HAVE done. I already feel like a failure as a teacher – and my administrators remind my partner and I that “scores just aren’t where they need to be” along with the other barrage. I am already not liking how working where I am (in particular) is making me negative. Sometimes you just have to let go and surrender…and move on.

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      Yes, I can definitely think of some times I’ve surrendered and it’s been a good thing. I like to think I would know if I’m being honest with myself… so deep down I’d know whether I was giving up (quitting) or whether I was making the more strategic decision to surrender!

  • kimbacaffeinate
    January 19, 2017

    Fantastic post Debbie. I think a lot of folks spend too much time worrying over the things they cannot change. My word this year is Moments. I am choosing to make the most of moments and not fret over chores, tomorrow and five years from now.

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      Oh you’ve reminded me I saw / heard a good quote about moments recently Kimberly. I must try to dig it out of the recesses of my mind.

  • writeofthemiddle
    January 19, 2017

    OMG your brain kinda works like mine! There are lots of things I feel guilty about: not pursuing my photography like I had in mind; not monetizing in some way; not setting up income sources that I have in mind; not being productive enough in each day. Sometimes like you I need to revisit what I actually want vs what I think I should want!! #TeamLovinLife

  • Denyse Whelan
    January 19, 2017

    Are you in my head too? I know what you mean by the goal setting and the blah blah of the shoulds and all that. I live between the fine lines of ‘getting it right’ for about a day and then stuffing up and over-thinking the next day. I read and heard recently that when we continue to follow the story lines in our minds we are doing ourselves no favours. So, I am trying (I know that words probably isnt right either) to let the day unfold with LESS planning. You and I come from work places and family life where the structure was in planning, work, evaluation, praise and more of the same..on repeat. It kind of doesnt work when you are easing your way into a more balanced and freer lifestyle. So, my point is this “if it’s not helpful or enjoyable or rewarding” why are you continuing it?
    I have followed far too many formulas since trying (again, that word) to find a more comfortable existence within myself. Some are helping and helped. Others not so much. I started morning pages and hated it. I left it for a while, then returned to write a page (my hands hurt too much for 3) some afternoons or evenings. Just because Julia says it worked for her, it doesnt work for everyone…I could go on, but I am sure you get my drift. Maybe stop. Just stop and do the have to list (work, shopping for supplies) and review the want and need to list as you go along. Just my few thoughts! Denyse

    • Debbish
      January 19, 2017

      You’re right about the structure Denyse. I know – when I’m worried about stuff I have to do – I start doing itineraries… so timing things – which is really quite ridiculous given how little I sometimes have to do. Stopping the lists would be a good thing. (Interestingly I’m really bad at making shopping lists and stuff!)

  • Johanna
    January 19, 2017

    Found your thoughts on this so interesting, and it struck me how necessary structure is for some people and how unnecessary it is for others. I find that I suffer from overwhelm if I have too many list items written down for a day, and prefer to write down things over a week which as far as I can I tick off as the muse tells me to. Some things have to be done of course, others may not ever get done because my heart’s really not in them, although at the time I think it should be. These sort of things generally get done when I ‘take myself by surprise,’ and just suddenly start doing them. In fact a lot of things get done in my life because I think I play little tricks on myself so I end up doing something which I didn’t really want to do. Writing my ebook is one of them! #teamlovinlife

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      It’s interesting Jo. As I read your comment I was thinking, “Yes, I like structure.” But… in reality I work best when things are unexpected. I draw up my lists and never stick to them, but despite stressing about no exercise for days, late yesterday I pulled out my old jogging trampoline and walked/ran on that for 20mins or so. Completely unplanned and very happily.

  • Janet Camilleri
    January 19, 2017

    As you know, I’m creating a list of 50 things I want to do this year as part of my #festivalof50. However, I’m very aware that I won’t be able to achieve all of them – and that’s okay. I figured it was better to have something to aim towards, than nothing at all! And why should a milestone birthday only last one day – this way I get to capture that feeling many times throughout the year!

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      I went to the #5before50 cos I thought 5 things wouldn’t be very overwhelming. Plus they’re all BIG things so will take a while. I may need to rethink it though.

  • Alicia-OneMotherHen (@alleychook)
    January 19, 2017

    I am a list maker, only of the things I have to get done, like feeding animals, putting the bins out, taking my son to work, washing. All the other things come after that, and at the moment none of the ‘big’ things get a look in.
    I am hoping when the girls are both in school(in a week and a bit, happy dance) I can finally concentrate on me. Funnily enough yoga is one of those things I hope to squeeze in, for me.

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      I put the big and small things on my lists which is quite ridiculous really. So, it almost implies everything is of equal weighting, but it’s not the case of course. ‘Work’ gets written in from 8-5 for example but so does ‘washing’. Very strange. (And I do hope you do get to yoga!)

  • budgettraveltalk
    January 19, 2017

    Well this post makes me feel quite inadequate. I don’t set goals for myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas about what I want to do, I just don’t formalise them into a list. I think I do this so that I don’t feel I’ve failed if I don’t achieve them. If I were you I would stop making lists. But then I do make some lists!!! Shopping lists and packing lists and lists of places to visit when I’m travelling, but I’d call them mere suggestions lol.

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      I think that’s great Jan. I’m not sure my lists serve any point other to make me feel as if I’m in control. I also tend to catastrophise about them… and find I race through the things on there in no time at all and yet I’ve laid awake thinking about this huge mountain of stuff – that takes 15mins!

  • Lyle la Ruche
    January 19, 2017

    Once upon a time, I was at a professional development session aimed at preventing burnout where the presenter warned us, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself!”

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      Ha! Very true. It’s a terrible habit and I do try to work on it, but it’s ingrained!

  • robjodiefilogomo
    January 20, 2017

    Such a great thought to ponder Deborah!!
    I’ve decided I’m too old to do the things I don’t want to do (well, most of the time). Like cleaning the house—I still do it but not as diligently as I “should”—see, we all use that word-ha ha!
    I love setting goals, but then if they don’t get done, is that bad? It shouldn’t be. ๐Ÿ™‚
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      I’m a fan of outsourcing Jodie though yet to figure out if I can continue to do it as a part-time worker. I get a cleaner in once a month and have someone come and do my lawns every month as well.

      And yes, it shouldn’t be bad if the goals don’t get done. If they’re imperative surely we’ll achieve them or they’ll be done somehow?!

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    January 20, 2017

    Ooooh, Now you’ve got me thinking. This is one of those mulling it over posts that has me leaning back in my chair staring into space.
    I hear the control freak thing. My to-do lists are very important to me and i simply MUST do the things I say I’m going to do. If I have put them on the list I commit to them. I’ve seen myself run from task to task simply because it’s on my to-dos. One day I came running up the stairs panting with only an hour left before my next appointment/meeting because I was running out of time to make the cup cakes I’d decided I was making. I was racing around the kitchen getting bowls out and turning on the oven and madly got the cakes done. But why? It wasn’t somebody’s birthday. It wasn’t because I’d promised to provide morning tea. It was simply because they were on my list of things I had to get done. So I broke the land speed record so I could tick another thing off. Crazy lady stuff. I’ve since realised I can relax a little if I don’t get my to-dos finished each day. I simply make a decision to reassess my self imposed to-dos and cross some things off as no longer having relevance. I still find it hard though! I’m far too committed for my own good.
    #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      Oh yes I can understand that Leanne. I had a conversation yesterday with someone about the whole ‘to do’ list / goal thing and said much of the stuff on there is stuff I committed to that I didn’t need to commit to. Generally if I need groceries, or need to do the washing or pick up something, babysit for a friend etc… I’ll do it. The stuff I struggle with is the other stuff. The self-imposed stuff.

  • Jess
    January 20, 2017

    I love this! It makes me wonder what rules and habits and even hobbies I am holding onto because of some weird rule I have created for myself. I think stepping back will allow you to get a feel for whether it is something you really miss or not!

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      I’ve got an entire other post about my weird rules – particularly things like watching TV or reading during the day. I don’t even really understand them!

  • Vanessa
    January 20, 2017

    I think distinctions like this are actually very important to make. It irritates me when I’ve seen in job ads things like “no quitters” and similar. Actually, sometimes quitting is smart. If you’re jogging to 10,000 steps per day and are coming up on a cliff, stopping would be very smart. Black and white rules ignore context and reality, which is why I’m not a fan of them (and this could be related back to the word of the year type discussion too!). I think it’s far more important to know why you’re hesitating about something than to complete something for the sake of a ticky box; that could be where you identify a habit that you don’t actually like or that doesn’t support what you want your life to look like.

    • Vanessa
      January 20, 2017

      And this is clearly a topic I feel a lot about, given that I have half a book written on “F^&* Shoulds”

      • Debbish
        January 20, 2017

        I started monitoring my shoulds and musts and ought-tos for someone a couple of years ago and my language and writing is riddled with them! #eek

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      Yes, isn’t there a country song… “Know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em?”

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    January 20, 2017

    I find those periods of being without concrete goals help me stop to smell the roses, so to speak. I then find myself able to ‘return’ to my life which is pretty goal orientate. Not big goals by the way, just lots of small things to make me feel as if I’m moving onwards and upwards.

    SSG xxx

    • Debbish
      January 20, 2017

      Yes… I’m not sure what I value / need more: the big goals or the little ones. Clearly this is something I need to think more about. Or not think about at all I guess! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Linda
    January 20, 2017

    I did Morning pages for a period and found them very revealing –
    But… I felt the important thing was that they were done as you first turned over in bed (before tea or coffee) and so you’re still in the alpha brain wave state when you’re not fully compos and so the pen flows across the page with no thought of sentences or punctuation and your sub conscious streams out giving your true inner being a chance to be heard before the logic brain slaps you on the wrist for thinking of anything so stupid or so totally impossible –
    I didn’t re-read mine for months – but when I eventually did I was surprised how certain threads repeated themselves and so revealed to me what really was my hearts desire – from which I changed my course!
    I hope yours prove as positive ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Debbish
      January 22, 2017

      I really struggled to get mine done in the mornings Linda as I’m always running late or just forget. I like to think doing them at night means I do a big braindump. I’m actually at week 10 which requires me to go back and read over some of my pages, so that will prove interesting.

  • Adam Rafferty
    April 15, 2017

    Debbish

    I found you searching “quitting vs surrendering.” A few ideas, take em or leave em..

    1) I dig a blogger named James Clear – I think it’s him that says focus on processes and habits rather than goals. Good good stuff, check here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2S2mhOisso

    2) Also the SHOULDS in all caps ๐Ÿ™‚ made me think of Tony Robbins (I am not a big fan of his, fyi) but he says when we use “should” we end up “should-ing all over ourselves” haha!

    All the best

    Adam Rafferty

    • Debbish
      April 17, 2017

      Hi Adam and thankf ro visiting! I will have a look at the YouTube clip – thanks for that, and I definitely hear you re the SHOULDS and MUSTS!

I'd love to hear your thoughts