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Why 90% of the people quit when they are 90% there

Have you ever wondered why 90% of people quit when they are actually 90% of the way towards reaching their goals? I have wondered about this myself, but my answer may not be the same as yours.

In my opinion, there are two scenarios at work here:

1) We reduce our effort and focus, because we think we are almost there. Yet we are actually very far from it.

The first problem is, how do we actually define “90% there”? When you are NOT THERE YET, you are either 100% NOT THERE, or 0% THERE, there is actually no such thing as “90% there”.

So what makes us think we are “90% there” when we are actually NOT THERE. I guess this is a typical trick our mind plays with us: confusing our imagination with the actual reality. We feel like we have done 90% of the work, so we should almost be there, because it feels like we have only 10% of the work remaining.

So what would be a more useful understanding of the situation of being “90% there”? When you begin a task, you know you are NOT THERE, so you assume you have to put in 100% of the effort every day until you get to where you want to be. So you keep the full passion and energy as this is at the beginning of the effort. But when you think you are 90% there, you back off the effort, energy and passion and think you can cruise the last 10%.

The solution is to stop selling ourselves the false reality that you are almost there so you don’t reduce the effort and just keep giving 100% until you are actually there.

2) We underestimate the effort required for that last 10%, because it may actually take 90% of your total effort to make that final 10% happen.

It is a well-known physical phenomenon that just before matter forms into a new shape, it will use up the most energy to enable this new shape to take place. In other words, you should expect that the last 10% of the effort required to finish something to be even greater than the earlier 90% of the effort you have already expended to get to where you now are. When you are not mentally prepared for the toughness of the last 10% of the effort, you can be broken right there. You think it is all too hard and suddenly you realise that you are so close, but yet so far.

It is like someone climbing Mt Everest. After months of preparation, weeks of effort and days of climbing they finally stand there looking at the summit. They have come 90% of the way and only have the final 10% to go. They can see their destination. They are so close. But they are also the most exhausted they have ever been. The altitude makes every step agony. It will hurt more, take more effort and push them further to the brink than they have ever imagined, just to make that final assault on the summit. It will be harder than anything they have done so far. But it will all be worth it, when they take that final step and reach the top.

So you can see why when things get tougher than we expected them to be, our minds start looking for the easy way out. We stand in view of the summit, but at this point, like the mountain climber, many people start to behave in the following ways:

  • You begin to doubt why you even got into this “thing” in the first place;
  • You start to look around for other parties to blame, so that it will be easier for you to make your “rightful decision” to quit;
  • You start to subconsciously create problems with your health or your relationships so that the environment will start to back off from you;
  • You start to invent detours and distractions to get yourself busy with unrelated tasks so that you can take your attention of the pain of that last 10%;

Whatever the symptoms may be, the real cause of us failing when we are at this point of the last 10% is usually due to the fact that our mind has prepared to drop the effort and focus. We become ready to leave the scene and give up the fight. I call this phenomenon “losing your spirit”.

So in summary, when things have been going on for a while and seem to be falling apart, this is usually a sign that whatever you have been working on, is about to be get done. All you have to do is to keep your spirits high and keep your effort focused. Do not let your mind trick you with the apparent difficulty of the situation and do not lose the spirit to fight on until it is fully done. If it is not 100% there, it is not there.

Until next month, happy investing.

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