From the Experts: Tips on how to deal with the desire to give up

Ahead of #WalkNZ, when the reality was starting to sink in that I was about to start solo walking 3,000km down the length of New Zealand, I went on Twitter and asked the adventures and experts who had already been there, done that for their advice for when the going got tough and how to deal with the nagging thought that you should give up. This is what they said… (and it can relate to any goal or endeavour your embarking on, not just adventures).

“Acceptance is key. Sometimes you feel shit and it’s ok to feel that way. The more you fight that feeling the more you struggle. Try find at least one positive in the situation – or sing. If that fails, remind yourself everything is temporary.” Pip Stewart @Stewart_Pip

“Set small targets and incentives to reduce procrastination. Call home/speak to friends on a low day. Talk to sheep if there’s no signal. Finding the positives or an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is a really powerful one! Focusing on the small steps is key when the big goal seems overwhelming. One day, one mile, one hour at a time. Keeps the momentum. Most of all, have an amazing trip, you’ve got this!” Alex Staniforth @alex_staniforth

“Break your goals down, focus on the “day by day”, visualise arriving at each check point and remember – the bad times haven’t come to stay, they’ve come to pass, so ride through them.” Ash Dykes @AshDykes

“Main tips: 1. Have some power anthems to pick you up when you need it 2. Break it into small chunks when it feels overwhelming – tackle it bit by bit 3. Ice cream (always) 4. Know that we’re all rooting for you.” Laura Kennington @KenningtonLA

“Without wishing to sound too motivationally cheesy, I try to remind myself that the biggest/best things that have happened in my life have been on the other side of fear and self-doubt, and that overcoming the v low self-esteem of my childhood has taken persistence and bravery.” Ben Saunders @polarben

“1) Every day, however you’re feeling, make a list of Good things about Today. 2) Imagine an Invisible Peloton of all your friends/ family around you, pushing and pulling you on 3) Find some mantras that work for you 4) Look at how far you’ve come on the map 5) Give yourself a hug 6) Scream/shout/cry as needed 7) dance/play/do something different 8) Be kind to yourself.” Sarah Outen MBE @SarahOuten

“Personal method is to play out alternatives: imagine the process of quitting, going home, and feel the sense of regret that it’d bring. Then: try to recall the privilege that I have to choose such a life/endeavour. Usually works.” Leon McCarron @leonmccarron

“Tough going is usually just a case of continuing to take one step at a time. But what if giving up might be the right thing to do for other reasons? Anyway – don’t make any significant decisions when tired, hungry or emotional (or any combination thereof).” Tom Allen @tom_r_allen

“When times are tough try to see the beauty in small things. For the other 85%, enjoy!” Dave Cornthwaite @DaveCorn

“Think of all the people who will be sending you words of support during tough moments. And know that it’s ok to feel rubbish sometimes…you’ll get good days and bad days so just let it be.” Bex Band @Bex_Band

“It’s so simple … don’t think – just walk – one step at the time and to shut down your negative mind start counting your steps. This tricks got the power of keeping you mind busy meanwhile you doing what you have to do #justwalking #happytrailsister.” Sarah Marquis @sarah_marquis

“I like to break the journey down. Counting steps, focusing on the obstacle directly in front of me. It’s important at the end of each day to reflect on what you’ve achieved/overcome. Encourage yourself the way you would a companion, we’re always harder on ourselves than others.” Chris Thompson @christhompsonex

“Things I find helpful on long-distance trips – remembering why you’re doing it, how you would feel if you gave up and went home, taking the time to just stop and appreciate where you are (unless it’s a really grotty place, in which case audiobooks & podcasts were lifesavers!) Also don’t underestimate the power of just stopping for a snack and drink break and sheltering from sun/rain… Doing that has saved several of my expeditions when I’ve felt like giving up!” Anna Blackwell @_annablackwell

“Connect with NZ charities, media and groups who are close to your cause. That’s what I would do. It’s focus, purpose, people and new friends. Perhaps some FB live Q&A chats to help you see back home and feel positive energy. Letters from friends to open on the route.” Jason Rawles FRSA @jasonrawles

“I’m not exactly sure whom said ‘The best way to eat an elephant, is one bite at a time’ analogy but it helps me when taking on a big challenge.” Chris Shirley @ChrisiShirley

“The next step is always the most important. Especially with anxiety (common for those with epilepsy too). Find something to ground you in the moment rather than the ‘what if’. I found myself counting steps and singing out loud a lot!” Francesca Turauskis  @FranticT

“Break down your goals to tiny increments, learn how to change your inner voice to get rid of unhelpful self talk voices. Focus on completing the daily processes to the best of your ability. Good to know your why but the daily processes are key.” Adelaide Goodeve @AdelaideGoodeve

“I used to get discouraged easily on my earlier long-distance walks. For me, what works is to have a clearly defined objective and to focus on what I want to achieve. The only trail I’ve quit in the last few years was my HRP section hike, due to illness. I also find that being more committed helps, i.e. the easier it is for me to escape from the trail (nearby bus stop when I’m knackered and the weather has been foul for days) the more likely I am to bail out. That’s one reason why I like more committing routes now!” Alex Roddie @alex_roddie

“If I felt like quitting I tried to imagine what I’d say to friends to explain. I also found talking decisions through to the camera really helpful, Just saying it aloud sometimes made me realise which was the right solution.” Emily Woodhouse @TravellingLine

“I like to repeat mantras out aloud, & use positive self-talk (internal). Also pertinent to your cause, I picture myself as a child, when I felt a little timid and underconfident, & think about how far I’ve come.” Dr Ash Routen @AshRouten

“That’s not something that occurs often for me–usually during road trudged or bad weather. Then I just tell myself things will improve.” Chris Townsend @townsendoutdoor

“I always set short targets and rewarded myself frequently with snacks. Kept refocusing my mind on what I was doing it for. Encouraged others to join me for short sections – the power of talking takes your mind off of the boredom and pain.” Glyn Dodwell @G4CFS


“The decision to give up or to continue pushing on is all in the mind. It might feel like the torrential rain is making you doubt yourself or the endless walking is breaking your resolve but the ultimate decision you make comes not from outside ourselves but from in our heads.

This is the reason why some people achieve when the odds seem stacked against them.

Hard times will come to an end, things will improve, and equally, in time, our thoughts will change from despair to renewed commitment.

Everything will be ok.”

Katrina Megget @katrinamegget



One thought on “From the Experts: Tips on how to deal with the desire to give up

  1. Pingback: Answers to your questions on the North Island section of the Te Araroa Trail | Katrina Megget

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