Recently I received an email from a woman, let’s call her Jennifer, who’d read How To Stop Feeling Like Shit and had a question; specifically about how to know when it’s your inner-critic speaking about a new endeavor, or when it’s actually factual. Here’s her question: 

So, how do you know if it’s just you berating yourself or the possibility that you’re just not good enough? I mean, in reality, we have things that we are not meant to do no matter how much effort we put in.  So how do we know? When will we know? 

I am originally from the theatre industry. The pandemic gave me the chance to try out new things besides acting. So now, I’m in the marketing field, totally different from what I usually do, and trying my best to work my way up. There are doubts and failures along the way. So how do I know that they are just doubts and negative thoughts or that I’m just not fit for the job? How do I know when to give up? When to accept the fact that this isn’t for me? How do I know that something is just a fact and not a negative thought?

This is such a great question, one that I’ve struggled with myself and I’m sure many of you have as well. In this minisode, I’ll cover: 

  • Seth Godin’s book, The Dip: A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick). Seth has a great metaphor of a Dip and a cul-de-sac and explains what each is and how that can help you decide when to quit or stick it out. 
  • A plethora of questions to ask yourself to get curious about your situation to hopefully get yourself to an answer. 
  • The one question I ask myself whenever I want something big, and am not sure if I want to stick it out or not (it’s the question that led me to not continuing my college education to go to medical school). 

Resources from this episode
NPR’s article: Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here's how you can help
The Dip by Seth Godin

Right-click to download the .mp3



You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast minisode number 440.

Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Irwin, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.

Hi, everyone. Hello, everyone. I am really liking these minisodes, I hope that you are enjoying them as much as I love putting them out. And I completely spaced on thanking those of you who reached out to me via private message on Instagram, about my episode my minisode about a month ago regarding my dog, Giselle, who passed away. And just thank you for taking the time to do that and sending me pictures of of your beloved dogs. And thank you for seeing me and I see you right back.

Okay, totally switching gears today. Very, very different topic. So one of the things that I love about doing these minisodes is that they're short, I get to do them by myself, and nothing I don't have my guests I do. It's both. And I had someone… Well, I do get these emails on a fairly regular basis, people asking for personal advice and I have a policy where I can't give personal advice back and forth via email unless you are a private client of mine. And so I thought it would be great if I could take some of the questions that I get the emails that that y'all send me and make a minisode out of it because I think that many times these questions would be helpful to other people. And today's question is no exception. I saw this question. I thought, first of all, great question. Second of all, I think this is something that many, if not most people have either struggled with or will struggle with I know I have for sure. So let's get into it.

I am going to call this reader, Jennifer, she read How To Stop Feeling Like Shit and she emailed in with this question. Jennifer says, not her real name, she says, “so how do you know if it's just you berating yourself or the possibility that you're just not good enough? I mean, in reality, we have things that we are not meant to do, no matter how much effort we put in. So how do we know when will we know?” I asked her to give me a little bit more context and she gave me the example that she is struggling with. She says, “I am originally from the theatre industry, the pandemic gave me the chance to try out new things besides acting. So now, I'm in the marketing field, totally different from what I usually do, and try my best to work my way up. There are doubts and failures along the way. So how do I know that they are just doubts and negative thoughts, or that I am just not a good fit for the job? How do I know when to give up? When to accept the fact that this isn't for me? How do I know that something is just a fact and not a negative thought?”

Again, fantastic question, Jennifer. And when I read questions like that, the life coach and me comes out because I then have so many questions for her. And I, I wrote down a bunch of those questions. And I think I mean, here's my short answer. Let me give you my short answer. Sometimes we don't know. Sometimes we just don't know. And I wouldn't need so much more context, in order to be able to give solid advice, and I still might be wrong. I think the answer is going to come down to keep going, and see what happens. And also I need to know what kind of person you are. I need to know, are you are you like a knee jerk reaction quitter, you know, when things get hard. Are you the type of person who just avoids and runs away from problems, which is nothing bad without, you know, some people are that way and some people really, really persevere. So I'm going to talk to you about this particular book that I think is a direct, direct path to the question. And also, I'm going to ask all the questions that make me very curious because that's really what you need to do is just keep being curious about it. That's what I tell you guys all the time. That's a lot of what my last book Make Some Noise was about and I invite you to take all the questions that I asked in this minisode and start to journal on them.

And again, this is for anyone who I think especially in careers, in relationships and friendships, I think we've, many of us have been in that situation where we're like, Is this me just beating myself up and or afraid of failure, or, you know, making mistakes or judgment or criticism? Or is this really just not for me? And I think sometimes we know, in our gut, but I'll tell you what, there's been times in my life where I was like, oh, I think it's a gut feeling and it's, it's not. It's just my own fear talking. And I've talked about that. I think in my first two books about what is the difference between fear and our intuition, and it's, it's complicated, but there are some key things in there. But I'm going to talk to you about let's see, what should I do first? I think I'm going to talk to you about this particular book. So it reminded me right when I read that question of the book, called The Dip by Seth Godin. Seth Godin is super smart. He's written so many books. One of the things I love about this particular book, y'all is that it's only 80 pages. I love a good short and sweet. I love a good get to the point. Tell me what you're saying. I don't need I don't need a lot of filler or fluff, please.

Okay, let me let me read the, the inside jacket cover to you because it's a, obviously a great description of the book and it sort of gives an overview of everything he talks about. All right, he says, “The old saying is wrong. Winners do quit, and quitters do win. Every new project or job or hobby or company starts out exciting and fun, then it gets harder and less fun until it hits a low point really hard, and not much fun at all and then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you're in a dip, a temporary setback that you will overcome if you keep pushing. But maybe it's really a cul de sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try. According to bestseller author Seth Godin, what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts. Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt, until they commit to beating the right dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become a number one in your niche, you'll get more than your fair share of profits glory and long-term security. Losers on the other hand”, which I hate that term, like it has such a negative connotation when I read that I'm like, oh, okay, back to the description. “Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the dip, they get to the moment of truth and then give up, or they never even find the dip to conquer.” I'm going to pause for a minute actually. That's pretty much. That's pretty much it.

I think that what he's talking about that he doesn't say, at that, that last thing I just read, they get to the moment of truth and then give up or they never even find the right dip to conquer, that's where negative self-talk comes in. He doesn't mention that I don't think he mentions it at all in this book, but it's definitely like I can read between the lines. And you know, the work I do and you know what a lot of you have learned about it's definitely in there. So when he basically talks about two different types of paths to getting where you're going. I was gonna say success, but not necessarily. There's The Dip and as, as a as you heard in that description, it is the part where it kind of the honeymoon is over where the excitement of the new job has worn off and you're like, oh, this isn't exciting anymore and it's a lot of work. Or you get maybe you're an entrepreneur and you are like, it's fun and exciting and you like make your business cards and that's the fun part. And then you realize, I know nothing about marketing, I have to totally learn how to market myself. I have to, I have to be brave enough to get on camera to make videos for social media, etc. Like all the really hard stuff comes up. That's what he calls the dip.

I talk about the dip whenever I'm teaching an online program that say eight weeks long. It typically happens in that third week. Like we're talking about an eight-week class in that third week. The excitement has worn off the people people in the group have realized that it like, yes, it's fun to get to work with me. But there's also a lot of work. It's like, oh shit, this isn't gonna just all be fun and jokes and laughing and excitement. It's a lot of work. So that's what that's what he calls the dip. And basically, the premise is that if you can get through that, you can get to the other side and stay in that that marketing career, as Jennifer, our reader was asking about.

He also talks about the cul de sac, which is pretty much from the way I understood it, is it's kind of like you're going into the dip, but you never leave it and it's just circles around and around and around. I think maybe he should have called it like around about instead of a cul de sac. I don't know, same thing, I guess. But that's, that's a no. That's when he's saying no, it's time to get out. And I know that these are sort of broad concepts, but he does go into more detail in the book, again, it's only 80 pages. I think it's like 12 bucks on Amazon or something.

I want to read two things that I highlighted, that can kind of give you an overview of when he talks about quitting. And again, when he talks about talking about quitting anyway, we'll get we'll get to the other quote in a second. Alright, so here's what he says. He says “strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.” And I think you can replace successful organizations with, you know, being on your career path, or any new endeavor. “Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations, reactive quitting, and serial quitting, are the bane of those that strive and fail to get what they want.” So I'm going to read that whole thing again. “Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations, reactive quitting, and serial quitting are the bane of those that strive and fail to get what they want.”

Let me give you an example of our, sorry, of reactive quitting. You might have heard this story before, if you've been to any of my keynotes. I don't tell the story in every keynote, but I definitely told it in one of my books, when I quit tennis. When I was 14, I had played tennis for years and years and years. And then I got to, I guess what was my own version of a dip. I was going to try out for the high school tennis team, I was going into my freshman year of high school, I got really scared watching the other girls warm up for tryouts. And I left tryouts. Not only did I not try out, but I quit tennis altogether. So that was my own dip my own place of, okay, this is hard. This is the hard part of being vulnerable of putting yourself out there and meeting new people. And I let my negative self-talk at the best of me. So that was a reactive quit. It was based totally on emotions. It was based on zero fact, just on emotions. Again, example of reactive quitting.

And then I'm going to jump ahead a handful of pages and read this part. So the subheading of this section is called ‘The Dip is Where Success Happens’. And he says, “the dip is the secret to your success, the people who set out to make it through the dip, the people who invest the time and the energy and the effort to power through the dip. Those are the ones who become the best in the world.” I'm going to pause for a second. Because what's what I left out the context that's missing here is that he's talking about really understanding and expecting the dip to happen. Because if you don't, you're not going to see it and you're just going to be like, well, this sucks. I am out. Well, this sucks. This must be my negative self-talk. This must be that it's absolutely not meant for me. This must be that I I'm not cut out for this and I need to move on. What he's saying is that people that look for that tough part, the dip of when things are going to get hard when you are going to have doubts, when you're going to have failures. Those are the people who get what they want and get the results that they want. He goes on to say “instead of moving on to the next thing, instead of doing slightly above average and settling for what they've got, they embrace the challenge. For whatever reason, they refuse to abandon the quest and they push through the dip all the way to the next level.” All right? All right. Again, that's only page 24 of 80. He has cute little drawings in there that explain things and I've recommended this to several people who've been stuck. And now that I look at it again, it's been a couple years since I pulled this book out. I think I'm going to give this to my 14 year old son I think he will like it.

So for Jennifer, I hope that that is helpful. Maybe you do go out and get the book or any of you who are struggling with something like that. Now I'm moving on to the part of this episode where I am going to ask you a bunch of questions. And I would like you to pause this episode and write them down. Because I read this question several times and when I get an inquiry like this, or when I hear a client, asking me these questions, because they're questions that they've asked themselves, what life coaches are done, what I am trained to do is read between the lines and pick up on things that maybe had been said, or, or even unsaid, where I'm inviting the client, I'm inviting you, the listener to get very curious about what you're telling yourself about things that you might be making up, etc, etc. Okay.

So let me quickly just read through the second part of your question. So we can be on the same page here, she says, “I am originally from the theatre industry, the pandemic gave me the chance to try out new things besides acting. So now I'm in the marketing field totally different from what I usually do, and trying my best to work my way up. There are doubts and failures along the way. So how do I know that they are just doubts and negative thoughts are that I am just not fit for the job? How do I know when to give up? When to accept the fact that this isn't for me? How do I know that something is just a fact and not a negative thought?” Okay, I want to start out by knowing what is your definition of quote unquote, fit for the job because she asks, how do I know if they are just doubts and negative thoughts or that I am just not fit for the job. So whether you know it consciously right off the top of your head or not, you have a picture, an expectation of you will have what it means for someone to be fit for the job. So what are your expectations of someone who is fit for the job? What are your expectations of yourself in that position? Are you creating expectations that are too high and maybe you're not meeting them so that fuels your negative self-talk? Anyone who struggles with perfectionism, or control or certainty might have too high expectations. Or like, are you comparing yourself to other people, either they're at the company, or who's in the marketing field, even at another company that you think you should be at that place?

Again, this isn't about this isn't necessarily about coming to any hard and fast answers about whether you should quit or not. Like I don't want that to be the goal for this exercise, I want you to just sit down with a very open mind from a place of curiosity, and compassion for yourself, if you feel like it needs to be there in order to, hopefully, eventually come to the conclusion, or at the very least, feel better about where you are and possibly the path.

Okay, so what is your definition of fit for the job? What are your expectation of someone who is fit for the job? What are your expectations for yourself, I mean, just in general. Like, what timeframe Have you given yourself? Did you set out you know, maybe you've been in it for, I don't know, two years. And you think you should be farther along by now. Again, are your expectations too high? Next set of questions. What do you see a job higher up in marketing will give you? Because she says in this question that you're trying to work your way up? You said trying my best to work your way up. So to what? Is there a certain position that you want to have? Do you eventually want to own your own marketing firm? Like what is it and when you get there, what do you think it will give you what do you what do you want? So is it a certain pay? Is it a certain amount of money you want to be making and why. Like what do you think that will bring you? Is it status? You know, do you and there's nothing like please No there is nothing wrong? Yes, we live in a capitalistic culture, but also it's okay. If that is your… Like I what I don't want to have happen is that you realize like, oh my gosh, it's the status and the pay that I have been seeking out this whole time. Please watch out if you start beating yourself up for that. Okay? This is just about getting curious.

Do you think it could be related to someone else's expectations? Like was there a parent or a sibling or a friend, or just you has said, Well, you know, a career in theater is not as impressive as a career in marketing. Maybe that just I'm just speculating, I have no idea. My next question is, do you like it? You know, I think I think there's many aspects of have a job that we don't like. I think that's normal for everything. I'm just curious, do you like it? Is it interesting? Gosh, I'm going over my 20 minutes. All right. Is it interesting? How do you feel when you wake up every morning? And you have a workday ahead of you? Gauge your feelings in your body and are you seeing improvements over time even if it's not linear, because it's never gonna be linear. Are you seeing improvements over time? Are you kind of in a rut where you feel like I'm not improving? This isn't fun. But I do see that it will be fun, you know, once I get around that corner over there.

So if you like it, and it's still interesting, and you feel like, I'm going to kind of give you like a, it might be, it might be okay. When you wake up in the morning, you have a workday ahead of you like I don't expect you to like bounce out of bed every morning and be I can't wait to get to work, you know, when it's 6am. And you have this commute ahead of you or whatever. But if you aren't dreading it, if you're like, Yeah, I like the people I work with. I do find it interesting. I'm learning new things every day and even though I'm having some setbacks, I am screwing up sometimes, but I'm looking forward to learning more and being better and understand and accept that this is not a linear path, it is absolutely not a linear path. If so, I would encourage you to stick with it. That's just that's just my two cents.

Okay, I know I've gone over, but bear with me for a couple more minutes, because I want to give you one more example. And I'm circling back to Seth Godin’s book. So I really love this part when he talks about the dip. “The dip is the long slog between starting and mastery, a long slog that's actually a shortcut because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path. The dip is the difference between the easy unquote beginner technique, and the more useful, quote unquote expert approach in skiing or fashion design. The dip is the long stretch between beginner's luck and real accomplishments. The dip is the set of artificial screens set up to keep people like you out.” Ouch. This is my favorite part because I have a personal experience with this. He says “if you took organic chemistry in college, you've experienced the dip. Academia doesn't want too many unmotivated people to attempt medical school. So they set up a screen. Organic chemistry is the killer class. The screen that separates the doctors from the psychologists.” I feel like that's a dig to psychologists anyway.”If you can't handle organic chemistry, he says, well, then you can't go to med school.

Alright, the reason that jumped out at me is because I took organic chemistry, and it was the killer class. And here's the thing. Every time I thought about going to med school, because I did think about going to med school. And I thought about organic chemistry and I thought about stats. Stats was the other class that gave me nightmares, and major panic attacks. I always asked myself the question, and I've asked myself this question anytime I want something that seems way way out there. Do I want the thing bad enough to have to do all of the things day in and day out that it takes to get the thing. Is like is it worth it?

I see people all this all the time when they think about like oh, I want like a fitness model body. Well, okay, like body image stuff aside. Let's put that aside for a second. Do you want to put in the hours at the gym and the nutrition that it is going to take day in and day out in order for you to get that and this not to talk about like the maintenance? Me? No, absolutely not. Do I want to have to take advanced chemistry and science based classes that are so difficult. School by the way PS did not come super naturally to me. I was always the one tutoring. No, I wasn't the tutor. I was getting tutoring. Late ADHD diagnosis for me. Do I do I want that? Do I want all of those hours of sacrifice to get the thing to be a doctor? Absolutely not. 100% no. And for me, what that led me to is asking myself that question was the real reason I wanted to be a doctor was in this was like with a lot of therapy y'all was because I felt like no one ever took me seriously. Like, I wanted to be the smart one I wanted to prove to other people look, I can be successful with school and with a career. Look, everybody, I am intelligent. I'm not just like over here, like doing fun dances and entertaining you. That was my own shit. So that's not a good reason to be a doctor. And so that's what I had to understand. Is all of that sacrifice. Is all of that the dip? Is it going to be worth it? No. So I was in a cul de sac. So I quit. And I have no regrets. No regrets at all.

So Jennifer, I hope that's helpful. I hope all of you listening that that was helpful as well. If you have any specific questions from the books that I read, or sorry, the books that I wrote that you read any podcast episodes when you're like, huh, I have been chewing on this, and I really would love Andrea to jam on it and 20 minutes or less. 26 minutes now. Shoot us an email. I can't promise that we will, that I'll go over it on the show, but I sure as heck will consider it. And if it is something that I think would be helpful to everyone, then for sure, it will happen. Thank you so much for listening for spending time with me today. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our lives responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.