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Following the Rules

When to Quit a Project – Seth Godin’s The Dip

One of the biggest problems I have is quitting. I’ve quit almost every project I’ve ever started: jobs, I almost quit college 15 times, even friendships, and every time I had second thoughts afterward, but last week I read this book that changed my mind about quitting.

It’s called The Dip by Seth Godin, and in this book he outlines the path we all take when starting any new project:

The Dip

When to quit and when to keep going.

You start in the bottom left of that graph and, for a little while, you have a lot of good luck. People return your emails, potential customers give signs of interest, and you mention the project to everyone you know.

Then, things get hard. Meetings fall through, emails go unanswered, and you lose enthusiasm for whatever you’re working on.

It’s not just projects you start. Everything worth doing, from learning snowboarding to getting elite lawyer status, all have this dip to throw out people who don’t care enough.

Seth Godin gives advice on how to get through it, and here’s a video explaining the concept:

How to Get Through The Dip

1. For any project you’re going to start, come up with parameters that outline exactly when you’re going to quit. Do this BEFORE you commit to anything.

2. Make a list of reasons you’ve quit projects in the past.  Think hard about what’s stopped you before and write out strategies that will get you through negative thought patterns before they come up again.

If nobody is buying, maybe you need to listen to potential customers and change what you’re selling. If you feel depressed, do one small piece of the project, take a shower, and go back to sleep. If work stops being fun, remind yourself why you’re working so hard, then go take a walk or hang out with a friend.

The point is to write the list while you’re emotionally stable, then refer to it when you lose motivation or feel like it’s not working.

When you get a chance, check out the book. Here’s a link to the audio version. It’s less than $10, and you can get through it in 45 minutes if you listen at three times speed.

I hope this helps.


P.S. If you haven’t already, send me an email or call 972-922-9817 and tell me what you’re working on. I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

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