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Why do we give up so easily chasing our goals?

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

November 25, 1980, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard were to fight again.

The first match occurred a few months earlier, where it was a closely contested fight. But Duran was the unanimous winner. People expected the second fight to be the same.

And it was.

But Leonard seemed to be winning this time. His movements and jabs were frustrating Duran. But Duran was still in the fight and not going out easy. Then two minutes and forty-four seconds into the eighth round, the unexpected happened.

Duran quit!

Near the end of the round, while fighting, he turns away and tells the referee, ‘No mas,’ meaning "no more" in Spanish.

The world was in utter disbelief.

How could Duran, a phenomenal fighter known for grit and endurance, give up? Post-fight, Duran said his stomach cramps forced him to stop fighting. Leonard said Duran quit due to getting embarrassed.

A lot of people came up with reasons why Duran gave up.

Regardless of the real reason, it was not a great look for Duran to quit. And when you really think about it, it’s never a good look in our lives when we quit. Whether it’s in front of thousands of fans or just yourself.

And if we're being brutally honest, when we do quit, we tend to do it quickly. Leaving us to abandon our goals and dream without a serious effort. And a reason for this is that we don't understand why we give up so easily and how it negatively affects our lives.

But let’s take a look at the effects of quitting too easily first.

The obvious consequence of giving up too easily is that you don’t get much in life.


But there is something more insidious when people adopt the habit of easily quitting: They degrade themselves in their own minds.

When this happens, their actions are telling themselves that they are not worth much and cannot strive for anything. As soon as there is an obstacle, they wilt immediately. Not really giving themselves a chance to see what they are capable of. And leading to a life of unfulfilled potential and self-resentment.

Which culminates into a personal hell. But if the consequences of quitting too easily are horrible, why do people adopt it so often.

I’m going to lean on my existentialist pal, Colin Wilson, to guide me.

In his book of essays titled, The Age of Defeat, Colin explains that a lot of people in the West have a defeatist attitude.

Meaning, people have lost the heroic and imaginative manner they had as children. And as adults, are too involved in the day-to-day gritty details of life. As a result, they have no goals or challenges they want to tackle. And accept a defeated stature.

Obviously, the essays go into more detail, but I just want to highlight the core aspect of it: Having a defeatist attitude makes you lose before you even try.

With a defeatist attitude, you refrain from making an effort in dating.

With a defeatist attitude, you refrain from asking for a well-deserved raise.

With a defeatist attitude, you refrain from engaging in conflict.

The defeatist attitude is the culprit of why many people don’t live an engaged and interesting life. And the worse part about all of this is that so many people don’t know they suffer from it!

I suffered from it and lived life thinking I just never had what it takes to be great. And it cost me years of living a pathetic existence.

To stop this attitude, we have to adopt three principles.

Regardless of whatever it is you want to achieve, these three principles can guide you in the short and long term.

The first principle in ridding of the defeatist attitude is Persistence.

I know this seems painfully obvious, but how many of us actually live by it? Not many if we are being honest. Anyways, you just have to accept that sooner or later, persistence pays off. The thing about the defeatist attitude is that it makes you quit before you really get a chance to try yourself out. When you quit, you are effectively cutting off all the opportunities waiting for you in the future.

By staying persistent, you will have time as your ally. And through all the trial and error, you will learn and grow. Refining how you pursue your goal or dream. Then when you least expect it, you start seeing the fruits of your labor.

So be persistent!

The next principle in stopping the defeatist attitude is Courage.

If you’ve consumed my content for a little while, you understand that I mention courage a lot. And it bears repeating because courage is the most important virtue you can develop. Anyways, you have to be courageous in chasing your goals/dreams.

Yes, there will be fear, despair, anxiety. But it’s there for everyone. What’s not there for everyone is courage. So you if you embrace the heroic nature that is dormant inside you, then you will understand that forward is the only direction to go.

Too many people with a defeatist attitude allow fear to drive their lives. And with fear comes the passive activity of hoping, where they hope things will turn out in their favor. Giving up their personal power in the process.

But with courage, you are pressing forward. And these courageous actions will become proof to you that you are not only a courageous person but someone who is willing to take action. Courage is the light to lead you to your full potential.

And without it, you’ll be under the spell of the defeatist attitude.

The last principle is Having No Expectations.

One of the problems with expectations is that it makes you needy. Needy in the sense that you are over-reliant on some external factor to determine how you feel. As a result, with expectations, you aim for perfection. Which leads to overthinking, procrastination, and eventually non-action.

However, contrast this with no expectations, and this allows a person to be in the present and focus on taking action. Yes, mistakes will be made, but an emphasis on action and not results will yield learning experiences and success as a by-product.

When people have expectations they tend to suffer from frustration, because they are not getting the results they hoped for. And with a defeatist attitude, this makes one quit without trying a little more.

That being said, isn’t this all too simplistic for why people quit easily?

Sure, this might be a little too simplistic. But the best things in life are simple. Of course, there are countless reasons why people quit, and sometimes it’s for good reason.

But good quitting is the exception and not the standard.

If you want success in anything, then you have to ensure you don’t quit too easily. When you look at a lot of the people that have found success in whatever area, you will notice they didn’t have a defeatist attitude.

If Michael Jordan had a defeatist attitude when he got cut from his high school basketball team. Then the NBA would have been robbed of the greatest basketball player of all time.

I say this all the time, life is simple, it’s people who complicate it. And if you simplify your life by not only shedding off the defeatist attitude but by applying those three earlier mentioned principles. You and your friends will wonder why you are able to capture goals/dreams, while most aren’t.

Even for me, I noticed a stark contrast in my fitness journey when I had a defeatist attitude and when I didn’t.

Fitness journey

Some context, I used to be very skinny. I mean, so skinny, it was not healthy. Anyways, at 20, I decided to work out. I went to the gym with friends a couple of times. However, with my defeatist attitude, I gave up quickly.

Then next, I hired a personal trainer, paying $2000. I went to a few sessions, felt good, and finally thought I was going to jacked. But I quit soon after starting.

I didn’t go back to the gym for a full three years.

In fact, I only went back to the gym after getting heartbroken and wanting to make a change in my life.

This time, I just stuck with it no matter what. I didn’t care about gaining muscles, making gym friends, etc. I just cared about committing myself to the gym and seeing this through no matter what.

Well, months go by, and people couldn’t recognize me anymore. I put on so much muscle, my best friend who I haven't seen in months, walked right past me. Because he didn’t recognize me.

I was happy with the transformation.

And it taught me a valuable lesson. I didn’t need a personal trainer, a fancy gym, or workout partners. All I needed was to not have a defeatist attitude.

That alone helped me commit to being fit. Mind you, there was a lot of trial and error in figuring out the best workouts, nutrition, etc. But because I had no expectations, was persistent and courageous. I was able to get results that surprised me.

However, there was one mistake I almost made in my fitness journey.

And this is a mistake that many of us make once we think we get over the defeatist attitude and habit of quitting.

The mistake of thinking you’ve done enough.

Once we initially get over the habit of quitting, we naturally start to get some results.

And once we taste these results, we just stop.

Although it might feel like a success due to reaching a new level. It’s still a failure when we stop the journey due to thinking we accomplished enough.

And that’s a fallacy we have to be aware of. When I was working out and getting some results, I thought about cutting back my workouts. Because it felt good to get some success. Yet, I only felt this way because I was not used to getting any results.

In the past, we didn’t get many results due to all the quitting. So getting results now feels intoxicating. But we can’t get drunk off of pseudo-success. We need to commit to the journey long term.

Because at the end of the day, when you quit, you are cutting yourself short with what life has to offer.

And that will always be tragic.

Yes, be happy for the results you get initially, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you are done.

And speaking of done, let’s finish off this article with a summary.


  • Quitting too easily stops you from reaching your full potential and from getting future opportunities.

  • The reason we have the habit of quitting too easily is due to the defeatist attitude.

  • To get rid of the defeatist attitude, you need to live by three principles: Persistence, Courage, Have no expectations.

  • There can be many reasons why people quit. But we cannot accept quitting as the default in our lives, as this will derail our goals and dreams.

  • A common mistake people make when they initially overcome the defeatist attitude and/or quitting habit is being content with getting some results. This fallacy of accomplishing enough comes from not being used to any results (due to the habit of quitting easily).

A lot of people don’t go as far as they want in life due to having a defeatist attitude and quitting too easily.

So as you plan your next project or goal, live by those three principles. And sooner or later, you’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish. A much better surprise than Duran quitting.


The Charismatic Nerd


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