- The odds are too stacked against them.
- They see how far they still have to go.
- They look for reasons why they can't do something.
- They are playing to not lose.
You might remember the story in the book "Think and Grow Rich" about a man who gave up on his quest for gold too soon.
Day after day, month after month the man went prospecting for gold in the hills of California. He was full of confidence and was certain wealth was just on the horizon. He dedicated himself to reaching his goal. He woke up early, used simple tools, and worked tirelessly throughout the day. He found a few pieces of gold here and there, but nothing life-changing.
But the burden became too great. He lost his enthusiasm and decided to sell all of his tools and give up. The prospector who bought the man's tools then began working on the same mine shaft as the man from whom he had purchased his tools. He hired a surveyor and a geologist to inspect the land. It turned out, the first man was a mere THREE FEET away from a large gold deposit.
I sometimes wonder if we get goal-setting all wrong. Sometimes we focus so much on how far we have to go that we never really take the time to ponder how far we've come. In this story of the man searching for gold, what if the prospector had taken the time each day to reflect on the massive mine he had so meticulously carved away? What if, sometimes, the work itself is the goal?
I think most people quit, not because they feel that they aren't capable, but because they get overwhelmed by how far they still have to go. Most people quit because of the anticipation, not the work. Most people quit because they fear they won't hit the expected results—as established by 'others'—not because they feel they lack confidence or skill. We begin to doubt and lose faith in our abilities only when we focus on the result as opposed to focusing on the journey.