When you get discouraged, should you quit or ride out the Dip?

Should quitting be an option?

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My head is full of advice.

There is a lot of superficial advice about lifestyle success floating around. I have accumulated so much over my long lifethat now my head is so full of it that it is all I can do to keep it from ruining my life. Confusion and taking the wrong advice is more to blame for where I am in life than my intelligence,morals or my work ethic. My working life started fine but at different times drifted into dead ends where I often either denied reality or just accepted that I didn’t deserve better.

But I’m still confused

Today, as I build my retirement business and retirement lifestyle model, I am feeling discourged. The excitement of beginning a new venture is past. The plan is coming together. I know my goals and vision but I am in the Dip. Seth Godin wrote a wonderful little book about the Dip and what it means for success. Simply put, the Dip is the long period where you master your abilities and focus before you finally reach success. It is also the place where most people quit.

Am I in the Dip?

Right now, the work has started to become routine. I achieve moderate success with the pieces of my plan that are in play but I have a long way to go and it looks like work and not excitement. I don’t know how long I will be in the Dip and I don’t have any guarantee that I will escape. Should I interpret my status as hopelessly digging a hole and stop digging or get excited about my vision and lean into the Dip? The answer will make all the difference.

Straight talk about quitting

Quitting is a lifestyle choice for most people who habitually quit anything that takes too long or seems too hard. People who make it to the top didn’t quit when the going got hard. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t quit things that weren’t going to make them number one. The trick according to Seth Godin is to know which things to quit and which ones to lean into.

What to do?

I don’t think I’m in a cul de sac right now. It is possible, though, that I am spread too thin and that it is time to cull some activities out of my life- the ones that don’t contribute to getting me to number one.

There is still a place for quitting but as I build my retirement lifestyle and implement my business plan, I have to decide which of my activities contribute and which distract from my mission.

Is there a lesson?

I think the lesson for retirees is that like everything else in life, success doesn’t happen overnight. Changing relationships, finding focus and new activities and making new friends takes time. Along the way, it will be easy to quit and fall back into the easy routines and non-challenging behaviors that are comfortable. There is a price to pay for success and part of it is putting in the time and effort long enough to become great at something important. It could be as simple as making your wife happy when for forty years, you have taken her for granted and put her down. There will be a big Dip in that effort. Don’t make a mistake and quit when she doesn’t believe you.

Aim to be number one in your retirement lifestyle.

Lean into the Dip and persevere.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Bill Murney March 2, 2011, 11:46 am

    Ralph, I have been in the dip for a while now. I am waiting for the sun to come over the horizon and show me the way out.

    Still In The Darkness, Ashton-under-Lyne, UK
    Bill Murney’s last Blog Post ..Chuggers

    • Ralph March 2, 2011, 11:57 am

      If it is really the Dip, you need to put your shoulder to it and push hard until you get our. The sun won’t come out first.
      If you haven’t read Seth Godin’s book, I encourage you to get it. You can read it in an afternoon and I think it will help you get your bearings.

  • Satisfyingretirement March 2, 2011, 6:53 pm

    I hope you don’t decide that blogging is one of those activities that you decide to cull from your life. You unvarnished view of things is refreshingly honest.
    Satisfyingretirement’s last Blog Post ..Fresh LinksRetirement Planning &amp Successful Transition

    • Ralph March 3, 2011, 5:26 am

      Thanks for the kind words. So far I plan to persevere.

  • Hansi March 3, 2011, 8:11 am

    To Dip is to Die. Or rather to stay in the Dip is to Die. Well said Ralph.
    Hansi’s last Blog Post ..Alternative Advice

    • Ralph March 3, 2011, 8:22 am

      Did I say that? To stay in a dead end is to die. If it is truly a dip then you either work through it or quit. I don’t think you can stay in it. Now you are getting me all intellectual.

  • Marcy March 4, 2011, 7:29 am


    “I have to decide which of my activities contribute and which distract from my mission.”

    Excellent advice.

    Also, what words I say or is said around me contribute to my mission or distract me from my mission.

    One thing about being in the Dip, you learn a lot. Not fun being in the Dip!! I wonder if digging in the dip hits a hot spring, fountain of youth or gold. Hmmmm, maybe? Climbing out vs digging. Digging :0)

    Climbing out of the dip could possibly get you back to the same scene you had before you hit the dip.

    Gotta dig it!

    • Ralph March 4, 2011, 7:42 am

      It’s easy for me to get caught up in thinking too much and acting too little. I personally think that pushing your way through the Dip will never take you back to where you started because of what you learn in the process. Backing out of a dead end may take you back but it seems to me that if you know enough to recognize a dead end and back out you at least know not to go back that way again.

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