If not giving up was always the right answer life would be so easy. History shows us that sometimes quitters prosper and sometimes they miss out. Knowing when to quit and when to keep going is one of the most difficult questions and so we asked folks we admire to tell us how they think through this question.

Sadie Dean | Musician / Filmmaker

2020 was primed for many creatives and artists to throw in the towel and give up. I know a lot of artists that did. The pressure of life responsibilities really hit the fan for most. As for myself, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies 100% of the time. I have a rock band THE COOLERS, and we hit a lot of ups and many downs this last year. We were gearing up to open for Oingo Boing (Former Members) Spring of 2020. The whirlwind frenzy of putting together a solid show was something we were really looking forward to. Needless to say, the show hasn’t happened (yet!). When the wind got knocked out of our sails, we attempted to be more “present” in the social media space, but that can be a drag too. We also put our film and music productions skills to the test to release two new singles and accompanying music videos. It’s certainly difficult to be collaboratively creative when you can’t be under the same roof. That moment definitely made it feel like it was time to give up. I’m also a filmmaker and writer. I had BIG plans to make more content last year. That didn’t go according to plan. Another moment of feeling like I should throw in the towel. Read more>>

Zoe Nazarian | Actress & Social Media Influencer

I think the easy option in life is to give up. However, I tend not to take the easy road in life. I’m a firm believer that what you put out into the universe comes back to you and it’s best to work hard, play hard and live your best life. I have a younger audience, across all my socials, and my greatest hope is that they can see my messaging of how important confidence, positivity and authenticity is for their own lives. It’s always important to keep going! You’ve got this. Read more>>

Susana Lopez | Designer/Illustrator

I think that knowing whether or not to keep going is something that everyone struggles with at one point or another, whether it be something career wise or something in one’s own personal life. As simple as it may sound, I tend to listen to my gut feeling and then go from there. Currently, I’m a designer and like many other fields, the arts is a difficult one to be in, let alone be “successful” in (I’ll put parentheses because everyone’s definition of success is different). I think that I knew not to give up because despite every failure/rejection, my mentality stayed positive and hopeful. “Maybe next time. Maybe the next one.” Personally, I think it’s time to give up when you lose interest in the thing you’re trying to achieve, different from giving up on something because it’s hard. Maybe “give up” isn’t the right wording. I think “shifting” or “pivoting” would be better because even if you stop pursuing something, chances are that you’ve shifted your sights on to something that will give you the determination to keep going. Read more>>

Caroline Yoo | Performer & Artist

In the past year the term ‘give-up’ holds a lot of weight. There were multiple instances where I felt the insane void where my mind began to worry about all my insecurities. The void quickly leads you down a journey of mental games and probing old traumas, trying to cut down my self-worth and my motivation. Before 2020, I was a person that thought that the little moments of positivity were the only way to get through dark moments. After 2020, I am thinking a lot differently. When I want to ‘give-up’ I’ve started to give myself the space to be in these thoughts. As the world unveils its violent face, self care is extremely important. If I have sentiments of ‘giving up’, rather than anxiously attempting to way-find myself out, these days I let myself brew in this headspace while indulging myself in small ways (meditation sessions, masked-walks, calling friends, etc). Even when I want to give up, to just let myself be is a strength for me and I feel that the little things help me find my center and keep going. 

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Delhia de France | Singer, Writer, Producer, Visual Artist

That’s always a balancing act I guess but I believe if you genuinely, deeply listen to yourself, strip away the ego, and are absolutely honest – you’ll know. Don’t listen to your mind or inner critic. The critic will only give you bad advice. I´d say it’s some kind of calling. And that can shift, of course, it’s fluid. But if it’s exciting – apart from challenges that will most likely be arising – I keep going. It’s mostly fear of rejection that holds us back, I don’t exclude myself from that. And yes sometimes one can be so stubborn that you really can’t give up – again a good idea to check in with the ego. I think things that feel draining and don’t have positive energy at all would be better to let go of. A common thing to do is to keep doing things because you feel obligated to finish them mostly because you feel you have invested so much already. It’s called sunk cost fallacy, and it’s a trap I’ve fallen into so many times. But why waste even more precious resources (time, energy, money, etc.) when it’s not what I want or need anymore. Also, I think the fear of failure is deeply ingrained in our culture when instead failure is the best teacher. Read more>>

Nathaniel James | Musician, Producer, Musical Director & Engineer

When we decide to do something most people are looking for a specific outcome. Once we except the fact that it’s about the journey and not the destination it becomes easier to answer this question. I believe that setting goals is very important because it gives us a compass to navigate through life with, When we fail we’re really just encountering points of resistance. If we change our perspective we can see that resistance for what it is. People go to the gym to overcome a level of resistance that our muscles were previously not able to overcome. Life is no different. We should set goals in anticipation of points of resistance so we can overcome them and become stronger and wiser for tomorrows obstacles. “Failure is the beginning of the lesson”. Read more>>

Hayley Herms | Plus Size Entertainer, Entrepreneur, & Activist

Overtime I have learned, if you have to keep forcing something or someone then it’s most likely not meant to be. Something that is meant for you, yes, may have challenges or be difficult to a degree, but it won’t feel completely forced. Read more>>

Howard Jordan, Jr. | TV Writer & Producer. Formerly Copywriter, Creative Director and Brand Strategist

I’ve never given up in my life. To give up is to quit. To give up is to completely accept defeat. I hope this doesn’t come off as verbal gymnastics, but for me, this would read; how to know if it’s time to pursue something else. For any number of reason throughout the course of my professional journey, I’ve been faced with immeasurable obstacles and immeasurable odds. In advertising, I tried to go over and around the walls. I tried to dig under and even bust straight through. But the one thing I never did was stop, sit, fold my arms and “give up.” I came it differently. I tried to be the person I needed to be to get the things, titles, brands I wanted. To varying degrees it worked. But never to the degree I thought I’d earned or was worthy of. One day, I decided to take everything I’d learned, the good, the bad and all the stuff in between, and apply it elsewhere. Now, as a TV writer, I’ve experienced success in a brand new field I never thought I’d pursue, that most of the people who boxed me out of advertising would kill to be a part of, because I had the talent and drive all along, I just wasn’t pointing it in the right direction, yet. Read more>>

No Application Fee | A Dope Band

No Application Fee has faced the lowest of the lows. Many people, and not many people, can understand what this means. When they’re cutting off your water, your electricity, your basic necessities to live, you start to consider quitting. A lot of people are not as lucky as us either. By that I mean that we had each other. We kept playing our guitars and writing music. And we poured our pain and anger into our music. How to know whether to keep going or to give up? If giving up ever crosses your mind, take a deep breath, think about your goals, and remember that anything worth doing, isn’t easy. Surround yourself with people who stick around when things get rough. They will be there for you if you will be there for them. Then, keep going. Read more>>

Jon Antonio | DJ & Producer

I’ve thought about a lot. And although it hasn’t been in the mindset that I want to give up, it’s still a question that lingers on my mind from time to time. Let me explain why. I absolutely love music and feel truly blessed that I’m able to explore this passion of mine; regardless, pursuing a creative craft is, by no means, “easy.” Behind-the-scenes – at least for me – involves a lot of self-doubt, second-guessing, and discouragement when things don’t sound good or I’m struggling to learn a certain aspect of production or DJing. These parts of the process aren’t usually broadcasted, so it’s easy to get bogged down by them mentally and it can sometimes be easy to think, “Should I even be doing this?” or “What’s the point of all this?” At the same time though, the more exciting (and sometimes intimidating) part of this whole process is knowing that the challenge is there and thinking forward to when I achieve that thing I’ve been working towards. That’s how I know to keep going – still having so much more to achieve and when the challenge intimidates but also motivates and excites me. Read more>>

Walt Hermosa | Writer & Director

It’s interesting that I decided to answer this one as I am actually currently in the period where “someone would give up”. I just recently graduated film school which gave the official status of “unemployed writer/director”. Graduating in the middle of a pandemic was hard for all graduates, but graduating in the middle of a pandemic as an artist? It’s almost a joke. I slowly began to find out how the industry isn’t remotely interested in hiring anyone. As an international student, leaving California and heading back to Paraguay is perhaps the best option, but my dream is to not only work here, but live here. I made the decision to wake up every day early, apply for as many jobs as I can and work on my screenwriting as I prepare a possible independent feature film. To finally answer the question, if you can’t live without your vocation, your dream, your passion. If in your heart you are willing to go through the uncertainty and all the confusion that may very well last months, maybe even years, that is when you know to keep going. Read more>>

Lynnzee (H0tel) Fraye | Singer/Songwriter & Teacher

For me, I have to draw a line. When I am no longer finding myself being excited, ready, willing, and/or trying to improve it, it no longer is serving me. Retrospectively when it’s all I think about and it brings me genuine happiness or joy, I will keep going till my fingers bleed. There’s been countless times when I’ve thought I was biting off more then I could chew and I would never be good enough. Nevertheless, it always brought me more happiness then anything else and I knew I couldn’t just give up. Read more>>

Lexy McAvinchey | Actor and Writer/Director

I know for many of us, it’s been a really hard year. For some of us, it’s been a really hard few years before that. I’m 26 and sometimes it feels like my dreams are getting farther and farther away from me. I think humans are meant to expand or implode. Up until I was 22, I had been an expander. Then the great reckoning happened – I graduated college. How horrible, right? I no longer had teachers making the assignments, I stopped having due dates, and I got to choose where I went and what I did. The problem was, I no longer had teachers or due dates and I had to choose where I went and what I did. You hear people, especially women, say that no one had ever asked them that essential question, “What do you want?” I had never asked MYSELF that question. I’d been doing what other people wanted my entire life and finding enormous gratification from it. Needless to say, with no one to please but myself, I was stumbling. I tried to fix the issue by inserting boys into my life – maybe I could find gratification by making them happy? I did the same thing with friend groups held together by political beliefs. Read more>>

Mariya Ranieli | Actress and Writer

This reminds me of the Don’t Quit poem, which I love (“rest if you must, but don’t you quit”). I think it’s important for our mental health to take breaks from time to time. I’m the type of person who can’t work on anything, whether it’s cleaning the house or writing a project, without taking frequent breaks. It’s better for my productivity than to just plow straight through. On a much larger scale, though, I think that’s so important to do in life. When you get tired, take a rest. Come back recharged and look at your project or your situation with fresh eyes. I think giving up is only an option if YOU decide you don’t want to do something anymore. Then it’s not giving up – it’s just you saying, “Hey, this doesn’t work FOR ME anymore” or “this doesn’t fit into my life or my plans any longer.” It’s empowering to have that sort of control in life. Read more>>

Nora Rahimian | Creative Consultant, Speaker, & Co-Founder of #CultureFix

The combination of patriarchy and capitalism has taught many of us that walking away from something that no longer serves you is some sort of failure, but that’s far from the truth. It takes insight, and courage, and a deep trust in oneself to acknowledge that something you’ve put so much into isn’t working out the way you wanted it to. How does one make that decision? You can run the analytics and look at the data, and there’s value in that, for sure. But it’s also helpful to ask yourself why you’re holding on to a project: Are you making decisions from fear? From a sense of responsibility to other people’s narratives and expectations about you? If you can silence the noise, the answer becomes really clear. And, just to frame this, success is not a linear process. To give up on something doesn’t mean the end of the story. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a few steps back into order to keep going. Read more>>

Chrissy Bergeron | Actress & Producer

There were many times I felt judged and wanted to give up. Surrounding myself with positive influences who lift me up, make every moment enjoyable. Life is too short to let adversity hold you back. Read more>>

Johanna Derbolowsky | Author, Speaker and Transformational Healing Coach

Giving up is not an option for me. I didn’t really pick what I do, it picked me and I can’t see myself doing anything else. Read more>>

Tanya Fernandez | Small Business Owner & Artist

I think you just kind of have this gut feeling inside of you that makes that decision for you (especially as an entrepreneur). Being a small business owner has put me in so many situations that have forced me to question my potential and force me to ask myself whether I should keep going in this industry or just throw in the towel and give up. I’ve shed my fair share of tears when certain designs/products of mine have flopped and certain visions that I had for my small business didn’t quite play out the way I wanted them to. But—I’ve always had this gut feeling (that little voice in my head if you will) that has consistently told me, “You can do it Tanya! If it challenges you, it’ll help you grow and if this is something you absolutely love, then you should keep at it”. You can rely on the supportive people in your life to hype you up and provide you with words of encouragement but, at the end of the day, only you know what you’re capable of. I really think it’s all up to you whether you want to believe in yourself or not. Read more>>

Sabrina Mansury Sharifi | Freelance Photographer and Graphic Designer

I think the most important aspect of getting a move on is deciding where the heck you’re going, and for whom. I am always reminding myself of these things on my tough days. In March of 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma and to be honest, I wanted to give up every day. It was incredibly difficult to find motivation and inspiration to do anything. I completed six months of chemotherapy and I’ve been in remission for two years now. That experience caused me to really reevaluate my life and what I valued most. It truly reminded me of my wonderful family and friends that I am so lucky to have, and my partner Tommy, who supported me every day and has never seen me as different. The silver lining through being sick was deciding that I would no longer spend my time on things that did not fill my heart with joy. I constantly reminded myself of my goals, and the people and places that I most wanted on that journey with me. Though the physical and emotional tolls were difficult to overcome, I am grateful for all that I learned about myself and those around me. Read more>>

Ryan Shore | Composer, Songwriter, Music Director, and Conductor For Film, Television, Virtual Reality, Games, Records, Concerts, Events, and Theater

There were a few times, much earlier on in my career, when I did question if music may be the best career choice for me. However, at those times I would always ask myself — are the challenges I’m facing today unique to the music industry, or might they be challenges I would find in any industry? I’ve found that there are many commonalities between differing types of businesses — such as learning your craft, interacting with others, relationships, building a team, marketing, handling finances, growing a business, etc — and so I would hate to restart my career on a whole new path only to find out 5 years later that I’m facing the same challenges that I’m already facing today in music. And so I’d always say to myself, when in doubt stick with it and learn my lessons, and that way of thinking has always proven to be beneficial for me in the big picture. Read more>>

Celia Prieto | Artist

I grew up in a family that always worked hard for what they had and what they wanted, and I admire that. Taking breaks is ok and sometimes necessary. Especially for someone like me, trying to find balance in my life is key. I’ve learned to set things aside momentarily if I feel like I’m burning out.. and I put focus on the things that I can’t give up on, things that are essential to my life and well being. Read more>>

VK Lynne | Singer/Songwriter

The answer to this question is contingent upon your definitions of “keeping going” and “giving up.” For some, worldwide fame is the only outcome that would satisfy them, so any deviation from that will feel like ‘giving up.’ However, if you’re willing to adjust your perspective, you’ll see that there are many different paths that will “keep you going;” they may simply look different from what you had imagined. For me, success is producing my art with integrity and bringing value to other’s lives with the presentation of it. Especially in this moment, when we are confined and having to pivot, it can look like perhaps a performer has no recourse. But these are the times when creatives shine. Many of us have ‘kept going,’ through livestreaming, zoom communities, and content creation. When you can look at your life and say, “I don’t want to do this; my passion is gone,” that’s when you ‘give up.’ Not a second before. Read more>>

Tori Martin | Private Chef

Flowing through my mind , sitting worrying were it all begins . From birth to present I was a flesh giving a body ; to serve my purpose on this earth . What is my purpose ? How do I find it ? Where do I start ? How ? Crazy Right ! As a young girl you don’t know where the world may lead you . Taking chances after chances , risks after risks ; you began to adapt to a faintest environment I was placed on . Living to survive , survive just to live!! Is there a scientific or technical indicator we can use to determine if we should keep working on something, or simply accept that we failed, and let go? I wish!Every experience is different, and each experiencer is unique. We don’t have definitive guidelines on persistence, and giving up.The decision to continue doing something, or to stop, is part of the art of living, and that’s what makes every choice interesting.In certain situations, you’d want to use all the motivation, willpower, and courage you can muster to keep going. Read more>>

Justin Adams-Pallais | Musical Artist and Producer

Giving up on life ultimately leads to death. If mankind had given up on itself we wouldn’t be here. The stakes are really that high. It is one thing to give up a project if you don’t find it to be worth your time or suited to your goals. But there had better something in its place that IS worth your time to pursue. And further – do you even have goals? I’ve found that giving up on one thing often leads to giving up another, and then another. Essentially, giving up is contagious. The good news is so is staying the course. Sometimes staying the course can feel like self-torture in the beginning, like going to the gym for the first time in months (or more). In fact, it’s likely to feel that way again at some point down the line. But without that there’s only true failure – that which is only the failure to keep getting back up. Many will frequently find themselves in the not-knowing space of mind: not knowing exactly what to do next seems the most common ailment that causes inaction. Best cure? Action. Action of almost any kind. Choose a path and walk it. Read more>>

Dawn Sloan | The Roaming Chef

I have a philosophy I always go to when I feel like giving up or giving in: it’s easy to give up before you look up or reach out. Today may be a struggle…..just to see what you’re made of. Being a woman of faith, I am constantly reminded where my help comes from and how I started this business- by taking a leap of faith and allowing God to guide every and all decisions. Growth comes from being uncomfortable- when you put in the time; effort and do the research, you need to trust the process. That’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur- believing in and trusting the process. Read more>>

Michael A. Levine | Composer, Songwriter, Screenwriter

My friend, jazz piano great Michael Wolff was once asked by someone, “My son wants a career playing jazz piano. Is that like wanting to be a stage coach driver?” To which Michael answered, “No. There are jobs open for stagecoach drivers.” If you are going to be an artist know it is an absolutely insane undertaking. Except when it’s the only thing that makes you sane. Flea, the bass player in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, tells a story about his own upbringing. He came from a highly dysfunctional family and had, as a tween, already been arrested more than once. At age 14, he went to a school music program and someone handed him a trumpet. He said, “It was the first time in my life I knew peace.” I spent my 20s doing any music job I could. I played classical violin gigs, was in country western and Irish bands, accompanied dance classes, and performed on the street. Most years I made so little money I didn’t have to file taxes. Read more>>

Andrea Damuding | Cinematographer

It is very hard to find something you love and even harder to continue doing it for 30+ years, I didn’t know what I wanted to do before sophomore year and I was constantly panicking of not having any passion for anything. Until I started taking film analysis, film language courses, I finally found what I love to do and I just couldn’t picture me doing anything else, so it is also why I came here to LA 3 years ago to keep pursuing this dream as a Cinematographer. Another important factor is my family are very supportive, especially my parents, they encouraged me to go out and see more of the world, broaden my horizon on viewing things. I feel it’s very essential to have someone supporting you, it’s a very lonely road to walk down if you are doing it alone. I know personally I will do better if I’m not alone, after all this industry is all about team work and coordination, I think that suits me very well and that’s why I never thought about giving up. Read more>>

Sharon Youngblood | Singer

I think as I’ve grown and matured in my career I realized that life has many paths, many twists and turns, many moments of reckoning. I’ve learned you just keep moving forward, You do whatever you can with what you have at your best capacity and follow the doors that are open to you. What I had to do was unmarry myself to the idea of what I thought things were supposed to look like which is very different from giving up. You give up when you die, So if there is still like in your body then you have another day to explore what your particular journey will look like. I say go for your dreams, But be open to other beautiful possibilities of how those dreams are manifested. Everyone wants to be a star, But the reality is that where you’re meant to shine might be a little different from what you imagined. And that’s ok. I’m a Singer A Writer and a Worshipper, How that plays out is different from one season to the next and I can never give up on something that is innately who I am. I’m open to where life takes my gifts rather than being glued to one particular idea of how that shows up in the world. Read more>>