Like many of you, I collect words to live by. If something catches my eye in a book, I jot it down. The same goes for podcasts, YouTube videos, and movies. If something moves me, then I save it for later. I use them in my writing, and I read them when I need guidance. The stories and quotes I accumulate bring me comfort and inspiration when I need it most. They also bring life and depth to my work.

One mantra I’ve had on repeat lately is:

“Stop giving yourself options”

As I analyze successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and authors’ habits and routines, I keep coming across a recurring theme of persistence. Their goals aren’t that different from ours, and most of them aren’t any smarter than we are. The key difference is that they show up every day. 

Rain or shine. Healthy or sick. They show up.

They don’t give themselves options.

Their determination is what sets them apart. The athlete knows the day will never come when they wake up pain-free. Every day they have to play injured, tired, or sore. They beat on their craft relentlessly and seem superhuman as a result. 

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer” – Albert Einstein

Where most people, myself included, fall short is giving up when times get tough. Or worse, when success doesn’t come as quickly as we hoped. We do things when conditions are perfect. When we feel motivated, well-rested, and free of distraction. Therein lies the problem.  

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Anytime I start something, I focus too much on the result. I think, “once I lose the weight, I can go back to eating Domino’s pizza and drinking Guinness.” I give myself options when it comes to working out, eating right, writing articles, you name it. On the off chance, I make it to the finish line, I slowly lose my momentum and give up my hard-earned results. My epiphany is that you never “make it.” And even if you do, you can’t let up. You set your eye on the next thing, immediately

David Goggins says, “Life is one big mind game, there is no finish line. Don’t push yourself now, just to relax in the future. Push yourself your entire life! You never arrive, don’t be satisfied, don’t be soft.”

Now that I’ve wrapped my head around this concept, it makes the daily grind easy to tackle. Like you though, I still have my rough days. I still get caught up thinking about the results instead of enjoying the journey. When you have rough days, make an effort to push forward anyway. Getting through a half-ass workout or writing a few crappy pages is better than nothing. Momentum is everything.

P.S. H/T to David Goggins for inspiring this post and for inspiring me to stop giving myself options.