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78 Comments

Worth It All

Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s all worth it. You’re out in the woodshed, slaving away on this thing you love, night and day. But does anyone else care?Will anyone else care?

At times, you may be tempted to pack it in. You’d like to return to normal, to the way things were before this new way of life came along.

The problem is, what’s really normal? And would you really be happy if you gave up now?

Sometimes it’s OK to pack it in and move on. That’s what most people do, most of the time. But how do you know if giving up is the right choice?

Thankfully, there’s a simple answer.

You know when you think about the future. When you look ahead and ask yourself what it’s all about. “Self,” you ask, “Do you really want this more than anything else? Are you really willing to stick it out here in the cold woodshed to make this thing that may not go over well?”

And this is how you’ll know.

If the answer is no, it’s not worth it, and it turns out you don’t really care anymore, then that’s OK. No need to feel guilty, and no need to keep slaving away in the shed on something you didn’t actually love after all. Just move on. It happens to all of us.

But.

If you give the opposite answer—if you determine that it is in fact worth at all—then you’ll know in your heart what to do.

One way or another, you’ll need to stick it out. You’ll need to find a way to make it happen. You’ll need to head back to the shed, for as long as it takes, and regardless of the results on the other side. Screw the outcome; it’s all about the process.

That’s how you’ll know.

Oh, one more thing. Once you make your decision, stick with it.

Everyone experiences doubt, but never allow doubt to determine the direction. Giving yourself over to doubt is a sucker’s game, and you’re no sucker.

Full speed ahead, or give up and move on. Those are the only options.

Comments here.

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    78 Comments

    • Curtis says:

      Inspiring…

    • Thanks for the pick-me up, this starting a blog thing is hard work. I need to stay motivated and keep at it.

      Cheers,

      Chris

    • Patrenia says:

      It is full speed ahead! There is work for me to do and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. 🙂

    • Taking a ‘temperature test’ on a commitment is very practical. A few months ago I was ready to give up, but lucky for me, I had friends around me to help me bridge the interval. They showed me that although I believed that circumstances had changed, in fact, they had not. My commitment had changed. This is what pulled me through: “All great attempts are attended with risks” – Plato. Thanks again Chris for a great post.

    • Tanja says:

      Very recognizable! Thanks for sharing. We’ll keep ploughing on in the shed. I’ve noticed there’s no other options available anymore (however relaxed the ‘other’ life might seem) for us!

    • Akinsola says:

      Wow, I think about this all the time and have stucked with what I believed in.

      I know my dreams are worth it and don’t waste my time doing things I am not happy about.

    • Sue Graham says:

      Thank you. That was amazingly timely for me.

      Sue

    • gordo says:

      Thanks, needed that…

    • Thanks for helping keep things in perspective Chris! At times lack of a following or lack of encouragement can really drain your energy. But if you focus on the end result and want it more than anything, you will keep moving forward until you get there.

    • Lisa says:

      The timing of this post was perfect. Getting my business off the ground has been slow going, but looking forward to the future- and what it will be- still gets the excitement stirring. Thanks Chris!

    • Your message comes at a time when I need to hear it — again. I need to remember the fact that incremental steps taken in the same direction will eventually climb a mountain, even if some of them are lateral or small or even slide backward. Thanks, Chris!

    • Betsey S. says:

      Sometimes it is hard to keep going on – just remember that life is what you make it and if you can help others (even just one person) it was all worth it.

      Full speed ahead I say!

    • Sharon Simpson says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you x 1 million! I’ve just started a major project which I’ve been planning for months and I’m desperately fighting the voices of self-doubt which are threatening to overwhelm me as I work. This couldn’t have arrived in my email at a better time. PS I found you via your book which I love and which helped me to take another step forward on my path. Thanks for all the inspiration.

    • Laura says:

      Your words inspire and keep me moving full speed ahead. Thank you for dedicating your life to giving the,”invisible permission” for others to dream, be activists, and enhance the lives of others. You are the change, and I am too!

    • Allan Clow says:

      Nice post. This is something that we forget all too often. Starting something does not justify finishing it. Walking away, whether from a project, a person, a place or whatever it may be, is one of the hardest things we can learn to do.

      May we ask if there was anything specific that inspired this post?

      Cheers!

      – Allan

    • Ree Klein says:

      Question asked…it’s onward and upward for me!

      Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

    • Kate says:

      I love this…so so true. There have been many times when I have asked myself this question, should I give up? Is it worth it? Who am I kidding?!

      Doubt is a powerful feeling, much like fear – if you can overcome it then the rewards are endless.

      Thanks for writing this – it comes at an apt time.

    • Ilina S says:

      Great post! In moments like that when I’ve debated giving up, I also thought about my future self. I thought, would I regret not trying? Would I regret not giving it my all, even if it fails?

      Usually the answer is yes, so it’s not even a question anymore. I much prefer the peace of mind of having tried my best but failed, than wondering for the rest of my life about what might have been.

      Well, ideally I’ll try my best and succeed of course 😉 Don’t want to diminish the importance of the result – it’s not intentions, but the results of those intentions that change the world.

    • darlene says:

      Thanks for that encouragement Chris. I’ve been in the woodshed for 17 months now. I’m happy to even have a woodshed! Actually i do art in my little barn turned into an awesome studio. The process is so gratifying i wont stop. Its getting people to notice, to buy, to agree with me that its good. Thats the tough part. The part that sometimes overwhelms. Its a tough solitaey road we choose when we decide we’re done with life as we’ve always known it. But the deep soul satisfaction of going to the barn every day and getting paint all over my hands is like nothing else!

    • But what have you done whenever, knowing that you’re on the right path, you just unconsciously (or not) keep trying to avoid to take that first (or second, or third, which is actually my case) step to carry on following that path? I know what I want, I’m doing a lot of it as a hobby, but I just don’t freaking take that final step into trying to start to make money from it…

    • Cherilyn says:

      Completely agreed on the point that the process is the key. Deciding what to do or love based on what gets approval is a no-win situation. Energy is wasted chasing instead of knowing and making.

      However, many people (women especially) have to set down projects and dreams and pick them up again over the course of their lives. Full speed ahead or nothing sounds great, but doesn’t always work with competing, compelling interests.

      Thanks for the inspiration to keep the embers alive!

    • Kristy says:

      This email couldn’t come at a better time. I’m in the process of going back to school for a career change and you hit the nail right on the head. Thank you!

    • Marcy says:

      I love how you make it simple. It really is how much you care and lining up with your decision. Back to the shed remembering my voice and how much I want to give to the world.

    • Kathleen says:

      You’ll know if its worth it..even if you choose to give it up, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. If its occupying your thoughts, I think its worth a valiant effort.

    • Carolyn Lang says:

      This is awesome and the best thing to read on my birthday 🙂 thank you chris

    • Tomer Alpert says:

      I had moments like this everyday for the past year while we were building Felt: personal, handwritten cards mailed from your iPad. To fight the critic inside, I would talk to my GoPro some nights; just to externalize the voice. Self doubt is something I manage most days. I’m using techniques such as viewing my life backwards and asking if I think what I’m doing is worth it. The answer has been “hell yes – all in”.

      So onward; all in.

      Thanks for posting, Chris.

    • Thanks for this article. I really needed to hear this message today. I’ve felt like throwing in the towel, but I will press on. Sometimes it’s a matter of repackaging your products – which I’m currently doing!

    • Norm Stoehr says:

      My acid test over the last seven decades has been to ask myself a simple question: If I had all the money I’d need, would I still head back to the shed purely for the pleasure of it, and do it for free? If the answer was yes, then the self-doubt demons were kept at bay.

    • You gotta feel the burning passion in your heart.
      This passion must nurture + energize + uplift + inspire & be strong enough to create a momentum forward with action.

      Sometimes however hardships and lack of results will dampen the fire. To get back in touch with the passion and to decide if it’s worth it to keep going, I like to close my eyes & tap into my heart. If I feel a “yes” I keep going. If the whisper is a “no” it’s time to move on…

    • This email brought tears to my eyes. I feel like you wrote it for me. So often I just want to stop this madness and just go find another 9-5 job so that life will be “easier”… I miss the days when I could “get off work” and go grab a cocktail with friends.

      These days of constant struggle for a dream that might not even work and wondering how to pay the bills are so hard for me. I find myself tearing up more and more now but for some reason I can stop. My clients and my readers are my life and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

      I just hope the reward comes sooner than later.

      For now I am heading back to the shed

      Thank you so much Chris

    • Annie says:

      “Giving yourself over to doubt is a sucker’s game, and you’re no sucker.”

      Fantastic! That’s exactly the kick in the pants I needed today. Thanks, Chris.

    • As a ‘serial entrepreneur’, I’m very familiar with that ‘why am I doing this’ feeling and wondering if I should just get a ‘normal’ job. On a couple occasions I’ve given up and gone back into the mainstream work world only to find myself wanting to slit my wrists within about a year of it!

      Taking the solitary road many of us take of living and working in an alternative style requires more dedication and hard work than some traditional avenues of life. However, a great man (or woman?) once said ‘to thine own self be true’ and each of us owes at least that much to ourselves.

      Sooner or later I think we all figure it out if we’re really meant to do what we love.

    • William Holt says:

      Love it. Very timely for me.

      Back to the shed to do the work I am meant to do and be!

      Thanks Chris one more time.

      William

    • Morgan says:

      I really needed to read this right now. Thank you for this!

    • Chris, I’ve recently gone through something akin to this – not quite that extreme, but plagued with self-doubt from a bit of financial challenges. What helped me get through it, knowing that my higher Vision to awaken others to their Divine essence and return us to our Being (rather than constantly Doing) was more important to me than anything, was getting support from a community (or even more than one community), and connecting to others who believe in my vision.

      I invite others to do the same… and I support all of you in your bigger visions! This is a good forum to get re-inspired.

    • Patti says:

      Beautiful words. Let’s all get back to the shed!

    • Helen says:

      I really needed to read that! Right then! Thanks Chris. And what’s even more propelling is seeing all these other people ^ needing help too. We’re not alone and we’re worth it!

    • Steve says:

      Great post. Of course, every one of us needs encouragement at some point. Consider these – among my favorite quotes…

      “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison

      and one with a little more ATTITUDE:

      “The question isn’’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn Rand

    • Anonymous says:

      So what do you do when you don’t really want anything that bad? What are you supposed to do when you don’t feel passionately about anything? If you don’t really care about anything all that much then what is your option?

    • Deanne says:

      I’m grateful to have my biggest supporter helping me through when doubts strike. My husband thought I could use your post today and he was absolutely right. I think the thing that is difficult in creating that vision you speak of is truly understanding why we are pursuing our dream. When I am aligned with this the answer seems easy. When other ideas get in my head (like making money or finding fame) I sabotage myself and it doesn’t seem worth it. So, before I ask myself your question (which I appreciate you framed as a real question, not simply a kick in the pants) I plan to spend some time today meditating on my real motivation for my writing. I hope it is okay if I do this on a lovely beach, with a fruity drink in my hand.

    • Simone says:

      Just what I needed right now!

      Thanx 🙂

    • Muffadal says:

      I can really relate to the importance of the commitment piece of this post. We live in a crazy world with infinite options and a crazy paradox of choice when it comes to just about everything. I think the most important element in being able to commit has to do with what you talk about in this post of it ‘being worth it.’ Do you have any other thoughts about ways to stay strong on the commitment?

    • Damon says:

      Have you been spying on me? Letting doubt control my direction has been one of my biggest down falls over the years but lately I have been attempting to beat it back. It never ceases to amaze me how a few hundred words can impact your way of thinking so much. Thank you for the inspiring post.

    • Beautifully said, Chris. Your last two sentences are powerful. I know so many people who approach their work half-heartedly. And they get half-hearted results.

    • Dave Fox says:

      I went through this dilemma a few weeks ago and decided to stay the course. Then, the woodshed got pretty ugly … borderline unbearable, but I slogged through anyway under a crazy deaand the early results are good. Now begins the fine-tuning.

      Thanks for the encouragement, and cheers from Borneo.

    • Shazia says:

      thanks for this post Chris.

    • Sara Stroman says:

      Chris! I needed this, today, of all days.

      Over two years ago, I sat in my therapist’s office as she looked me in the eyes and told me, “You are too black or white. Nothing is ever one way or the other. You have to embrace gray.” Two other people would go on to tell me the same thing, “Sara, it’s either one way or the other with you.”

      With all three of these people, I calmly responded with, “I am a flexible person, but the reality is that things are usually one way or the other. To embrace gray is to wallow and I don’t have time to wallow.” Don’t get me wrong, I do, not every day is rainbow and ponies, but I’ve always asked myself the following question when trying to figure out my course of action, “IS THIS WORTH IT?” If I can answer it with a resounding yes, then I forge ahead, following my heart even with the bumps and road blocks. If I can say no, or need to think about it a bit more, I’m going to walk away.

      So thank you for tapping into something I completely agree with, but so many don’t understand.

      -Sara

    • Chris, very powerful words of encouragement. From everyone’s comments, looks like it’s something we all go through. I love your thought on screw the outcome, it’s all about the process. SOOOO TRUE!! One thing I noticed, my own personal experience, is that I was setting myself certain expectations with a desired date to meet them. Now, that’s a good thing when you have control over them, not so good when you focus on things you don’t have any control…So, I did not have control over how many subscribers I would have in a 3 month period or 6 month period. Focusing on that, was discouraging. I changed my focus to process and things I had control over. Most importantly, I allowed myself to get excited over the little things that did happen. So, if 1 person subscribed, I celebrated that instead of saying, “only 1 person, why not 100.” By doing that, it kept me motivated to keep going and actually enjoy the process.

    • Sherri says:

      This is very applicable to something going on in my life right now; thank you….I know it is worth it, and I will stick it out!

    • Katie says:

      Thanks, Chris. That’s exactly what I needed to hear today.

    • Yeah….you are dead on today. Most days you wonder…is anybody out there? Does anybody even really care about what I’m doing? Even family and friends don’t seem to give a rats behind if you succeed or not.

      But, there is that still small voice that is deep inside all of us that will tell you if you are on the right path. Listen for it.

      Thoreau said. You cannot percieve beauty but with a serene mind. I say you cannot percieve that still small voice but with a serene mind.

      Find some peace and quiet and then listen. You will find the answer and the strength to move on if that is what you are supposed to do.

      Adventure Insider

    • Kim S says:

      Great post. I love how you break it down into two choices.

    • Walt Hmpton says:

      Great piece…it’s the muddling that gets folks in trouble. If you’re going to commit, go all in; burn the boats; take no prisoners. As we say in the mountains, go big or go home.

    • Thanks so much for this timely post! The heckler(voice of doubt) was sitting on my shoulder all night keeping me from sleep. This is just the post I needed to read. Will be going back to the woodshed! No other choice.

    • Sever says:

      Thank Chris. It’s what I needed to hear too.

    • Chris, by the comments it seems this really spoke to many people who come to you for inspiration. Nice job connecting.

      My woodshed is a room looking out at the Pacific Ocean so even on the least of motivated days I can be uplifted by the aliveness of the beauty around me. I am very blessed by how effortless this came into my life.

      It seems to me when I am open, tuned inward and willing to take each step with awareness, that things come about in the most amazing of ways. Flow is what I call this living in the now, tuned in and open.

      From this place of flow, projects move more easily because I am guided by my higher nature towards my highest expression. This works much better than driven by my ego trying to use will power to beat the odds.

      Someone asked, “What to do if you are not passionate about anything.” My simple answer is take some time and listen inward until you have found the voice of your soul/intuition or higher nature. Once you find the voice – listen – and you will find the way to great purpose and passion.

    • Very inspiring post.

      “Screw the outcome; it’s all about the process.”

      I thinks its about both actually. You define the process through the goals that you set for yourself. But then it’s all about following the process, day-in and day-out.. and re-assessing and re-evaluating your goals as you go.

    • Gabriella says:

      Thank you Chris. I quit my job after reading 100$ startup. It’s been 4 months now, it’s been rough, it’s been tough. Life has a funny way of playing games with us. Thank you for the inspiring words. Really needed it.

    • Annabel says:

      Love this. It’s good to get permission to give up if it’s not working. It’s ok to not complete everything. I grew up surrounded by overachievers and it’s crippling sometimes thinking everything you start has to be a success. Let it go, breathe out, move on. Phew. Space. Thank you

    • Tony D says:

      Great post.
      As long as I can answer yes to your question, I know I’m on the right path.

    • Susan Hall says:

      Plodding along. One step at a time. Trying to navigate from point A to point B. I’m
      1. Training for the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA,
      2. Preparing to photograph ASCHIANA’s (the “nest”) entrepreneurial training program for street working kids in Kabul,
      3. Losing my house to foreclosure,
      4. Plotting out an exit strategy to leave my mind numbingly boring job.

    • Mike says:

      Great insight. It’s also important, I find, to know when to modify your plans to fit with a larger goal.

    • Jeremy says:

      Definitely what I needed! I recently made a move out west (Portland area). Circumstances in my life made this move a non-option, but I am determined to make it.

      I’ve been catching strong waves of self doubt, doubting if this was the right choice. In the end my heart knows I will make it, it might be difficult from time to time but things will come through.

      thanks for the words!

    • phil says:

      Sounds like a very familiar creative struggle.

    • Debra OBryan says:

      Brought me to tears – exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment – thank you!!!! Following our dreams can be so hard, but is so worth it! Namaste! :)Debra

    • Totally. I can completely attest to going ahead and doing something at half speed while second guessing yourself. It’s a horrible state of mind to be questioning things over and over and does nothing but limit you.

      Full speed ahead or give up and try something else.

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Sharyn says:

      Hi Chris – great post! and very timely for me. I just bought your $100 Startup book and am waiting for it to arrive 🙂

    • Hi Chris
      This is a great post, very inspiring and encouraging. Also I just wanted to let you know that your $100 Startup book is awesome, really helped me a lot 🙂

    • Jacob Lamb says:

      It’s hard working at something and feeling like you’re getting nowhere. This post was a much needed boost.

      “One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

    • Linying Mak says:

      Hi Chris, I have read your $100 Startup book and plan to read it again during my Hong Kong business trip in July. Starting an online eco fashion business as a sole trader is much harder than I’ve anticipated. Although I have yet to make my first sale, I am still hopeful it’ll happen soon. I have to remember to smile!

    • Britt Reints says:

      This post brought tears to my eyes.

      A few months ago, I was on the phone with my mom crying, saying “I HAVE to say this, this is my reason for getting up in the morning, and what if no one cares? No one wants to hear it.”

      And I pushed on.

      In about a month, my first book will be published because of that moment.

      You captured it perfectly in this post.

    • Kaitlyn says:

      I just published my very first book ever, something I’ve wanted to do since I was about four or five.
      For the last eight months I’ve been working on the layout and design or the thing. I would often feel disheartened as each day passed and I didn’t have a ‘finished’ product yet. But I knew it was an accumulation of tiny steps. And now the book is done and yes, it’s definitely worth it.

    • Jan Koch says:

      Thank you for this encouraging post Chris!
      This simple question is really all you need to answer for yourself, you’ve gotten straight to the point 🙂

    • Angela says:

      As I sit at my desk job, though not a bad one, I ask myself the same thing. I am on a temporary stop-over, back in my home town, where I am renovating a vintage camper and getting the funds together to get back out on the road. What was going to be a couple of months looks like a year of working and waiting.

      Some days I wonder, as a 38 year old seeing her friends marry and have kids, if I am the odd one out and if I care? When I say to myself, “self, do you want that life of a house, husband and kids? Is that a better option than traveling alone in a camper and owning nothing; no equity, no retirement fund?” The answer is always no. If my options are to stay at a desk job, working 9-5, or to use it as a means to get back out on the road I will always choose getting back to traveling and living in my camper. Staying put is always MUCH scarier to me. I know my answer, even on the bad days of doubt. Great post for all of us who question what we are doing because it’s not the “norm”.

    • Marti says:

      In the early part of my life, I did a lot of “cut and runs.” In the middle part of my life I practiced “learning what happens when you stay.” Unfortunately, this is when I should have cut and run, from a bad marriage and unfulfilling job. Now, during last part of my life, I am committed to living a life of fulfillment, no matter how hard. And it is hard right now. I have a legal battle on my hands with a divorce (believe me I’d like to throw up my hands on this one but I cannot). And I am transitioning out of corporate America, which has been mostly unbearable. I will always take hard and challenging… over unhappiness.

    • chewy says:

      Sometimes I wonder if I would be happy with a simpler life and a simpler job/career path (e.g. working in a cafe somewhere). But then, I think about the future like you suggest, and I cannot see myself feeling happy if I don’t try to do something big. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

    • Sihao Cao says:

      Those are some very powerful words Chris! What a great way to summarize whether or not something is pursuing. I think every one can identify with this post.

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