When is it time to call it quits?

Is there a point where you have to accept defeat?

I’ve written a lot about how you need to hang on to your goal, have single-minded determination, and fight like you’ve never fought before in order to make your dream a reality. But is there a point where you accept that it’s not going to happen and move on?

I think back to the time in Peru when I hit bottom. I was tired – more tired than I knew I could be. Battling non-stop headwinds was demoralizing. We were all sick. And I looked ahead at the long, long road ahead and wondered if it was time. Was this the point where I accepted defeat? Where I said, “I’ve fought a good fight. I’ve given it my all. Now it’s time to call it quits.”

cycling peru

Battling headwinds for 1500 miles along the Peruvian coast a huge challenge – a challenge I very nearly didn’t manage to overcome.

And yet even then, when I was lower than the basement floor, I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream. I knew, even then, that my dream of making it to Ushuaia was worth the fight. It was worth battling another couple thousand miles of headwinds. It was worth it… because it was my dream.

But then last summer, when we attempted to hike the 500-mile Colorado Trail, I accepted defeat. I wasn’t enjoying it (I wasn’t enjoying battling headwinds on the Peruvian coast either). I was tired and sore (I was tired and sore on our PanAm journey as well). Making it to Durango just didn’t seem worth it.

hiking the colorado trail

What it came down to was that I just wasn’t as committed to the Colorado Trail as I was to the PanAm. When times got tough, I made the decision to bail.

I’m not sure what the difference was. Was the PanAm a bigger dream? Was I more committed to it?

As my friend, Jenn Miller, said, “100% commitment means that it will hurt more to lose the dream than to lose your status quo.”

I think she’s right. And sometimes, the status quo isn’t all that bad. That’s when it’s okay to accept that your dream isn’t going to happen. That’s when you accept that it’s okay to not follow through.

What do you think? When it is time to say it’s okay that it’s not going to happen? Have you given up on a dream before? Why?

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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4 Responses to When is it time to call it quits?

  1. Wendy October 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    I think that when the dream, no longer seems as important as it once did, that is the time to decided if it is something that you still want.

  2. Andy October 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with admitting defeat. People need to know their boundaries. Although it is good to push it to the limit, it can also be good to reassess and make sure you are doing the right thing.

  3. Alex | Partial Parallax October 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Overtime people change, situations and events alter and although you may set out whole heartedly to do something things can change in unexpected ways along the way. Sometimes it’s fine to put something on hold and come back to it or just let it go but again it depends on how you feel about it.
    Sometimes deciding to give up on something can help you realise just how important it is to you making you battle harder for it after.

  4. Xavier Desrosiers March 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    It depends on the moral purpose of the project.

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