5 Things to Never Quit, and 5 to Quit Now

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A Force Fitness Instructor (FFI) student executes box jumps as part of the physical training portion of the course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia (Photo By: Melissa Marnell).

In military fitness circles, you'll often hear that you should Never Quit. While there are some things that we do to meet our short-term goals, there are actually a few things we should quit for both short- and long-term life goals.

Here is a list of the five most important things we should never quit, along with five of the most important things that we should:

1. Never Quit Working Hard

Hard work will outdo talent every day. Keep working hard even when you fail (and you will). A better way to look at failure is to reframe it the way Thomas Edison did. He said, "I never failed. I just found 10,000 ways that did not work."

There are many ways to work harder with fitness training too. You can increase the weight, repetitions, range of motion, speed or distance and make things less stable with suspension training. Keep growing. However, you must have balance.

2. Never Quit Pursuing Recovery

If you are going to work hard, you have to recover hard too. Do things that actually help you grow. With fitness, you will not grow without rest. In fact, the body grows during sleep.

When we break down all the ways to recover from stress at home, work and during fitness workouts, sleep comes to mind first, then nutrition, flexibility and mobility.

You can find additional ways to rest the body, but the big three will yield 90% of the recovery you need. The missing 10% may be found in meditation/mindfulness, ice baths, heat, contrast baths, massage, compression and other stress- and pain-relieving protocols.

3. Never Quit Making 'Me Time'

If you work hard, you have to have balance and do things that you enjoy that are equally relaxing. That can be family time, playing with pets, reading a book or just sitting still. This can be in the form of a short meditation period or a nap for only minutes a day when you're super busy.

The more challenging your life is, the more the balance of an easy day is needed. If you do not recharge your internal batteries, one day you will run out of juice and start to exhibit some of the chronic symptoms of over-stress: high blood pressure, poor medical health screenings, anxiety, depression and even heart attack or stroke, to name but a few killers of the overworked.

4. Never Quit Learning and Growing

There are so many ways to continue to grow as a human. Even long after traditional schooling, you can watch training videos and teach yourself everything including engine and home repair, foreign languages, astronomy, photography and internet design -- even understanding physics and math. Reading books should never go out of style. If you're on the road too much to find time to read, get an audiobook or find time for 10-15 minutes of reading before bed every night.

5. Never Quit Moving

Once you have found the moving and resting balance and start to see the results you prefer, do not stop! You do not need to run races, compete in events, or outlift everyone in the gym. It is great if you can and like to do that, but the goal in life is to just keep moving.

This can be as simple as walks after meals, stretching at the end of the day, yard work or basic calisthenics and dumbbell exercises every other day.

Do not fall into a habit of no physical activity, because it makes any movement more challenging when you need to move. Remember, we get good at what we do consistently. We also get good at doing nothing.

The above "Never Quits" truly make life fun and meaningful, especially when you can find others to share time with to enjoy the benefits of never quitting.

However, the things that tend to counteract all the above are the things in life we should quit.

1. Quit Unhealthy Habits

There are so many things we do that shorten our lives or will make the last years on this Earth quite miserable. Smoking, excessive drinking, over-eating, over-working, over-thinking, over-spending and generally over-stressing all lead to horrible results as we progress through this one life we have.

It is difficult to start or stop a new habit. Many people find success by combining current habits with a new habit they want to create or break. Being able to replace a bad habit with a good habit is easier said than done, but it is also a successful approach to breaking the chain and starting new.

2. Quit Being Overly Critical (of Yourself)

Why be your own worst enemy? You need to talk to yourself (positively) and not listen to yourself (negatively). Making mistakes and failing is part of life. Accept it, grow from it and move on.

Avoid dwelling in the past and stop worrying about the future. Stay present and focused on now, and you will find that to-do list easier to tackle. When in doubt, get moving. Walk, get some fresh air, clear your head and get back to work.

3. Quit Wasting Time

Sure, it is OK to relax and have fun, but being unproductive is not the way to get through a day. Getting serious about goal achievement has to occur at some point in your life if you want to complete anything of substance.

There are countless ways we waste time in our day and in our evenings that cause us to lose track of goal achievement and cut into our sleep recovery. Stop spending countless hours on the phone, computer or television and do more productive things from the "never quit" list. If you need ideas on things to do, check out those top five things above and never stop doing them.

4. Quit Thinking Instant Gratification

There is a process in life. Though we live in a world where we can push a button and have something downloaded immediately or even delivered the same day, life's goals do not work that way.

You cannot start a job and shoot up to CEO in a month. It takes time to learn and master a skill. Relax and give yourself time to grow, progressing logically into whatever you are attempting to do in the short term or long term.

5. Quit Procrastinating

If you feel your wheels spinning but you are getting nowhere, admit you are procrastinating and move on. Naming it helps you tame it and realize it is time to get moving and taking what you want to do in life seriously.

Forgive yourself for past laziness or failure (call them "learning experiences") and move on toward something that really resonates with you and helps you accomplish other personal goals in life (job, home, family, life outside of work, future).

Quitting is just as important as Never Quitting. In fact, you may not get to a point to challenge yourself to Never Quit if you do not quit some of the bad so you can get serious and focus on what you really want to do.

Related Articles:

Building Good Habits

Rebuild Fitness Habits

Diet - Portion Control

De-Stress with Fitness

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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