Whatever You Do, Don’t Quit

I stumbled onto this poem as I was browsing through my Evernote database. The source is unknown, though many claim to have written it. Regardless, I found in inspiring and thought you would too.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Quit

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jordanchez

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

If you enjoyed this poem, you might also enjoy my post, “What Keeps You Going When You Want to Quit?

Question: Was there a time when you wanted to quit but didn’t? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://workoptions.com/ Pat Katepoo

    My freedom-loving self wanted to quit college after my junior year. But I’m glad I returned and completed my senior year to graduate. (Thanks, Mom & Dad.) These days, I’m tempted to quit my efforts to learn the French language, having started just a few years ago. Progress is s-l-o-w. But I can’t help return to it even though it’s unrelated to my work. There is something satisfying about pressing on and seeing progress, even without an endpoint.

  • Scott Goodfellow

    That is my new favorite poem.
    Here is my story:

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    @mhyatt:disqus !  I just wanted to tell you how much I needed to see this poem.  This year has been a bitter sweet year for me.  The last two years before this, I went through a business failure and a business that never got off the ground.  This year I’ve been working a steady customer service gig and I’ve started blogging about self-help and ancient traditions.  As a result of the relative stability to last year I’ve finally gotten some clarity on my vision and while  I will not share it publicly (again, per your teaching. ;-) )  I will tell you that it is you and this blog and these fine folks, and many many others for helping me get off the ropes.  I know I tend to be loud and silly when I comment on here at times.  But I want to you know from the bottom of my heart, Michael, thank you for writing your stuff.  You have no idea what a personal impact it has on people, or whose life you help to turn around.

    Seeing this poem is very much the sum and substance of what you call us to do!
    Thanks again Michael! 

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Congrats on a clearer vision and moving forward! 

      • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin


    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words, Dale. All the best to you in 2013!

      • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

        Thank you.  Same for you, sir!

  • Cmorris

    I have had this poem on my bulletin board for years and have looked at it many times to remind me that challenges are just part of the journey.  

  • Daniel

    Good words! Thanks for sharing them.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    I wanted to quit chasing my dream of being a writer earlier this year when my ebook completely flopped. 

    I stuck it out, sold a bunch of books and now have my first published book coming out in May :) Don’t quit!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Kimanzi’s 2012 has been a great example for all of us!!

  • Daryl Crouch TheJourneyX.org

    Yes I have felt like giving up! I have been wrestling with it this past month. It is good to be reminded – “So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—

    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.” I’m there for the long haul…..

  • Tracey L. Moore

    Are you kidding me? I want to quit now. :o) But I won’t. I have to much time and money invested in trying to get my business off the ground. Although I have had one setback after another, I have had to pick myself up, dust myself off and push forward. But I guess that is what happens when you have a dream that you are pursuing. Here is a poem that I wrote called, “When God Gives You a Dream.”
    When God gives you a dream in your heart
    It’s like you’re pregnant with child,
    You have all the signs that you’re pregnant,
    But you can’t see that you are for a while.
    When you can see yourself walking in
    What God Almighty has planned for you,
    If by faith you can see it and
    In your heart it comes into view,
    It’s like looking at the ultrasound
    Of the baby that leaps within.
    The womb of your heart is carrying
    A dream God Himself did send.
    You watch your pregnant belly grow,
    Your life is no longer the norm.
    You even feel your baby kick
    As your dream begins to take form.
    At some point you go through transition,
    Then the labor pains do start.
    Sometimes things get so rough and painful,
    Your journey seems so very hard.
    For when you feel those birth pains
    And those contractions come steadily,
    You cannot abort the baby now,
    For dilation has come so readily.
    You must keep pushing, bearing down
    No matter how painful it is,
    You’re birthing something into this realm,
    A blessing that’s so positive.
    You cannot allow yourself to turn back
    No matter how bad it gets,
    You must keep pushing forward
    Set your focus, and keep it set.
    The babe now moves through the birth canal,
    You simply cannot give up.
    For God has given you the strength to hang on,
    And keep your feet within the stirrups.
    You feel the crown of the baby’s head
    As it emerges from your womb,
    The baby that has been growing within
    Will come into this world very soon.
    Then finally your “child” is born,
    That sweet little face you see,
    The dream that God had put in your heart
    Is now truly a reality.
    You forget the pain of childbirth
    And all that you went through,
    When you finally have the dream in your hand
    That God had promised you.
    You see that it’s all been worth it,
    As painful as it may have seemed,
    Remember that’s how it happens
    When God gives you a dream.
    Copyright 2012 Tracey L. Moore

  • John D. Crane

    My 7th grade teacher had us all memorize this poem, and, as Robert Frost might say, “that has made all the difference!”

  • https://www.facebook.com/BestsellerWisdom Bonnie Brooks

    Grace, what a great story. Thank you for sharing it. It means a lot to me. I will remember those words, “Please keep writing.” 

  • Margie

    I heard a quote today on the radio that reminded me of this sentiment — maybe it’s something I need to pay attention to! (Although I don’t know of anything I’m quitting or thinking about quitting currently.)
     “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that
    counts.” — Winston Churchill

  • Catherine

    How did you know?!  I quit smoking 3 days ago.  Your newsletter and poem were timed just right!  Thank you ….. Catherine, Australia

  • Lizzie L

    I was doing a bike-a-thon to raise money to sponsor a child.  Only my sister and dad rode with me.  It was raining all day.  We rode on a fine gravel path.  The bikes were leaving an inch thick indent on the path.  I had hardly gotten half way (12 km) when I wanted to quit.  I kept going though.  And it totally counted in the end.  I got to sponsor a beautiful little boy in El Salvador.  It was definitely an “uphill climb,” but know I get the “golden crown” as did Mainor (my little sponsored boy)!

  • http://twitter.com/DrScottHamilton Dr. Scott Hamilton

    I’m currently working through a bicycle training program toward riding a century. I did it once before when I was 30 but I’ll confess that my 49-year-old body doesn’t recover as well as it once did. Last Friday, my goal was a 50-mile ride, and I just about stopped at mile 30 but then realized I only had 20 left.

    Today, I was riding 60, and while the desire to quit wasn’t as strong as it was last week, the itch to quit reared its ugly head between mile 45 and 50. I may be 49 but I’m not going to let a bicycle whipped me!


    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

       Inspiring. Thanks Scott.

  • http://www.faithfulmd.wordpress.com/ Dr Mari

    ” It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.” I’m living this right now. I just went through a trial where I was confused, disappointed, hurt … but I persevered … and I believe God will bless and honor my trust and surrender, all in His perfect time.

    Inspiring and true poem! Thanks.

  • http://www.faithfulmd.wordpress.com/ Dr Mari

     “…but those who hope in the Lord
        will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
        they will run and not grow weary,
        they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)As I finished the post (below), my 10 year-old son came up to me and, out of nowhere, gave me a wristband that says, “Expecting a miracle,” and quotes Isaiah 40:31. Beautiful!Yes! God’s promises are true … every one of them. Michael, thank you for being an encourager to all of us. May God bless you and your ministry in 2013.

  • Ash

    Thanks Michael for this post.  I was literally just thinking to myself how difficult it is right now for me in my business and how far away I feel from goals and dreams, when I glanced through my email and saw your post.  I have to believe that was divine intervention.  I know now that this a crossroads, where I lay down and give up or continue pushing through to success.  Thanks for the push!

  • Neal Durham

    If anyone knows who Langston Hughes is, this would be right alongside his poem “Mother to Son.”  It is about not quitting or giving up.  Hughes was a modernist poet from the early 20th century.

  • http://www.peterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

    One day I came home from little league practice, threw my glove on the ground, and announced I was quitting.

    My dad told me quitting  wasn’t an option. Though I didn’t have to play next year, I had to stick out this season.

    It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

  • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

    Last time I really wanted to quit something was my MBA program….but stuck it out and now very glad to have it.  Great post – I wasn’t familiar with that poem.

  • Gerald

    nice thanks it was a big help..


    si   la  verdad  si  un  dia  quise  dejar  de  fumar pero  siento  como  que  si  nunca  pudiera  dejarlo  aun  que  ya  esta  en  manos  de  dios  esta  peticion pues  creo  que  el podra ayudarme 

  • TGPNorth

    There are so many times I have wanted to quit . . . after losing my fiance to a drunk driver, having to work through the physical injuries caused by the accident, enduring the emotional trauma and survivors guilt, during the legal battles over his estate, and even to this day, as I struggle to rebuild my professional life.  With no family or support system, the temptation to quit is much more difficult to fight off.  However, I’m still here for a reason, so onward I must go!

  • http://www.douglasoakes.com/ Douglas Oakes

    5 years ago I completed a Masters of Divinity degree and then moved my young family to be closer to extended family.  My wife and I had no jobs, just a desire to put family first.  The first job I got was as a timekeeper in the oilfields for a construction company.  I was a complete fish out of water.  Being dropped in a foreign country might have been easier.  I asked God repeatedly about the wilderness he had led me to and what purpose this might hold for a theology student.  5 years later I am with the same company with an opportunity to lead 200+ men (a valuable ministry) and an income that sustains my family.  Glad I stuck it out!

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

       Doug, as a guy who is finishing up Seminary (after 7 years), I just want to affirm what you wrote: that you current work is a significant place of ministry. Your MDiv was a worthy investment; men and women you lead I’m sure sense the effects of your training.

  • CS Heinz

    If everyone says no, but God says yes, you have a majority.

    I wanted to quit trying to get my book on prayer published. After getting 30 rejections by publishers, I leaned into the LORD about whether to keep going. Publishers said if I was writing on a different topic, no problem. But prayer is a crowded topic, they said. So when I leaned in, the LORD said to keep going because the world needs this fresh approach to prayer. So I did. Everyone said no, but God said yes. So now WestBow Press will publish it and I couldn’t be happier.

  • http://www.myrkothum.com/ Myrko Thum

    Again, I personally thing there are times when you have to quit and times when you have to stick. Knowing the difference is what is the challenge.

    Read “The Dip” from Seth Godin, which is all about that topic.

  • http://twitter.com/nash_jen Jennifer Nash

    Thank you for sharing this poem. I really needed to read it. I’m in the midst of wanting to give up right now on getting a consulting business started.

    The past 10 years haven’t been easy after my music business career ended with a layoff as the industry started tanking. Opportunities have come up only to not really take off for one reason or another. However, I pressed on, believing that one day I will be at the right place at the right time. I’ve learned numerous new skills and gained experiences that I never would have had otherwise. Every day was a challenge, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. Hang in there. 2013 could be YOUR year!

  • http://davidchristian.co/ David Christian

    I started a series of blog posts about three years ago. And four years ago. Both times I quit because it was so much work and I let other things get in the way.

    Now with my LifePlan in hand, I can always look back and see what it most important to me, why I am doing it, and where to focus my time. I am in the process of turning that uncompleted series of posts into a completed eBook that I can give away to my subscribers. It is more work now than it was before, but I made clear goals and included motivation for sticking to them.

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    HA! I actually have the words “Don’t Quet” (Don’t Quit) tattooed on the back of my ankle. It is our family motto – my kids know our goals and priorities may change, however, the action of moving forward is essential, even when life tries to knock you. 
    The words “Don’t Quet” came from my young daughter who misspelled it on a sign I came across during my last 13.1 miles of my Ironman triathlon. As my body ached like never before and each step  felt like I was walking on coals, I chanted those two words OVER and OVER (sometimes spelling it and sometimes saying it, don’t quet, don’t q.u.e.t.). I ended up carrying her sign on to victory when I crossed the finish line  after being out on the course 14 1/2 hours. A few months later when our world caved in emotionally and financially, I would end up chanting those same two words over and over again when we were going through that very mucky time in our lives. 
    It is also used in all three of my books as a note to my readers as a reminder to keep moving even if it is in tiny incremental steps.

    Thanks Michael!
    Live Beyond Awesome!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome story, Jen. Thanks for sharing it.

      • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

        ahhh…thanks for the response back Michael! I was going to name our first book “Don’t Quet” but got the thumbs done at Dan Miller’s writing conference. ha ha ha ha. Joanne Miller was the one who actually came up with Living Beyond Awesome title (it is usually how I answer people when they ask how is it going – Pretty Dang Awesome is another one, but not as catchy. ha ha ha). Happy New Year!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I like Living Beyond Awesome a lot. Joanne is awesome herself. She has become one of Gail’s best friends. They are in painting class together.

          • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

            Thanks Michael for the kind note. Yes, Joanne is pretty dang awesome. 

            The painting class sounds like a hoot – Dan has mentioned it on his podcast. Gail must know his granddaughter Clara who sounds like she is quite the artist.

  • Christie McRae

    Thank you for this poem.  Many times over the last two years that have been what my pastor calls “the tsunami of my life” I’ve thought about giving in or giving up.  My faith in an ever faithful God is what keeps me going and never quitting.  Jesus gave ALL…I can’t do less and He never said life would be easy or painless.

  • http://www.weeklyhustle.com/ Ryan Ridgway

    Great poem Michael, thank you for sharing this! Certainly saving this link for a rainy day. Cheers – Ryan

  • Lauwoauckland

    Thanks for your learning Poem, really there are some time passing in very difficult situation and when I keep strong I susceed, than quiting earlier.

  • Lauwoauckland

    I remember on my A level Studying real it was a tough journey, But all in all I didnot quit up and I succeed ( IN GOD I TRUST).

  • Rebecca Jo Cannon

    Today Dec. 28, 2012 I wanted to quit but opened my ragged old Bible to repair pages. While doing so, came upon many highlighted verses that have helped me in the past. I have gone from success in the military, single parent, managing retail & stores & at 55 am now on disability. I have faith that God can heal instantly. I read the book of Job, & I don’t know how long that took, but I do trust God. But, my human flesh today in a weak point physically.  Thanks, for putting that in front of me today…I really  don’t want to quit. I have a book to write about all the adventures & miracles God has done. I will be bold here, & ask for prayer & provision.

  • http://www.mkelly.com.au/ Mark Kelly

    What a great poem..

  • Ruth Tong

    Rudyard Kipling classic poem he wrote it for his son who sadly died in the war and never got to hear it so it was said at his grave – there was a film made about it their whole story is inspiring – you might wanna look it up blessings Ruth

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ruth. Do you have a link for your claim?

      In my research, I found a number of people who claimed to have written the poem. I found it attributed to others, like Annie Johnson Flint, Edward Guest, or even Rudyard Kipling. However, I can find no clear consensus or scholarly reference.
      In the case of Kipling, it is not listed in his complete collection of poems. Thanks.

  • http://www.toddstocker.com/ Todd Stocker

    I love the line “Success is Failure turned inside out!”  

  • Kjreusser

    I remember almost quitting as a writer 20+ yrs ago when I could not figure out how to get an article published (I was teaching myself). I sat on my sofa and thought, ‘This is taking too much time, money and effort. I should be more productive for my family.’ I decided to give it one more try and thought of writing a simple how-to article about a program in my church. It was pub’d and while my progress was slow, it was steady. Today I’ve pub’d 9 children’s books and wrote 2 add’l in 2012 for a different pub’r. I’ve pub’d 1000s of newspaper/magazine articles and often speak about my life as a writer/author. It’s wonderful but lots of hard work. It’s so worth it to live my dream.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for that poem…I have been hit pretty hard right now…and I feel like quitting and the end seems to far away…so thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/sueannescott Susan Scott

    Just seeing the title inspired me! I was carrying a grudge over something another person did that I have no control over, but it completely derailed my day and the time I had set aside to work toward my goals. But, when I saw “Don’t Quit” I realized I could indulge my bad attitude and stew about the unfairness of it all, or I could choose to let it go and turn my focus back to what is important – achieving my goals. Thanks for the reminder.  

  • Photini

    I have loved that poem since I first heard it in 1967.  I was a senior in high school, and although I don’t remember what had me so “down” I can still picture where I was when a friend quoted it to me in its entirety.  I had him write it down for me and quickly committed it to memory.  I’ve always thought the last two verses were the best.  This poem has long been one of the things that keeps me going.

     “Often the goal is nearer than, It seems to a faint and faltering man….” 

    How true, how true!

    • Photini

       I found this saying that Edward Guest is the author – at least in 1921 he held the copyright.  http://www.all-creatures.org/discuss/dontquit-10120810-k.html

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        That is fascinating. It is the most convincing piece I have read about the authorship. This seems like an opportunity for someone to write a dissertation!

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  • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

    Very timely for me.  I just had a heart attack on Christmas day, and of course that was a huge bummer.  However, I really haven’t let it scare me or freak me out, and I know It will serve to ultimately make me healthier.  I will continue on and not let it dampen my spirit or my plans for the future.  Thanks for the inspiration Michael!

  • http://twitter.com/mawade1 Michael A. Wade

    Michael thanks for this great reminder to never give up.  It also brings to my mind the movie “Cinderella Man”  I am going to have to dig that one out and watch it again.

  • Jez Ash

    A great poem indeed. I came across this  some years back in a motivational book. From a bit of help from Google I believe Edgar Albert Guest is the original author.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Maybe. I’m not sure. If you scan the comments above, you’ll see people attribute the poem to numerous people. I have not found anything conclusive on the web.

  • Keith L. Bell

    In answer to your question Michael… there have been too many times to count.  My wife and I have been married for going on 27 years, and I have been tempted to quit on many occasions, but I have found that the consequences of quitting are far worse than the worst disagreements we have ever had together.  The pros of not quitting simply infinitely outweigh the cons.

    I also wanted to share this quick note with you.  I am a brand new baby to the writing world, but I am about to publish my first book on Kindle, thanks to the continual wisdom I’ve gleaned from you and your Platform team.  

    I took my son and daughter out to lunch today, and as we ate I asked them to give me some inputs on what they thought the cover of my first book should contain.  In our conversation we didn’t come up with much, so after we got home, I began searching the web for photo ideas.  I went to Getty Images and other places.

    Then something told me to check out your page to see what your latest photo would be so that I could find out where you may have gotten it.  Lo and behold, your latest post reads “Whatever You Do, Don’t Quit!”  Well, “Don’t Quit!”  is the title of the book that I’ve been working on this past year and will be releasing as my first book!

    Thanks Michael–You continue to inspire me to brave beyond my imagined inabilities, and to not quit!  

    More to come…  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s awesome, Keith. What a great story.

      All the best to you with your new book.

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com/ JD. Meier

    This reminds me of how so many people will quit their New Years resolution, just when they are on the brink of success.

    I think it’s how we frame setbacks.  

    I’ve always embraced the idea that failure isn’t final, and it’s not fatal … it’s feedback.

    I think that’s one of the keys to succeeding with New Years resolutions.   It’s getting back on the horse, when we fall down:

    Fail at your New Years Resolution 7 tries.  Try again 8.

    When we know how to bounce back with skill, we can really hit our high notes and operate at a higher-level.

    Whenever I need to dig deep, or lean into a challenge, I remember a passage one of my mentors shared with me, from Teddy Roosevelt:
    The Man in the Arena.

    It’s powerful stuff … 300 style.

    Sometimes the best way to rise and shine, is to dive deep inside, and remind yourself what you’re capable of, and challenge yourself to your higher calling.

  • Joe Neikirk

    I was hopelessly hooked on drugs. I had lost my business, wife and children,  and there seemed liked all hope was lost. My self esteem, if there is such a thing was shot dead. Life was an endless merry go around of dissapointment, shame and regret and I could not get off. I was in the despair of paranoia and depression. I was not living, I was dead in myself. I was on a street corner one night when I heard the voice of God say to me, “Lay down your yoke for it is heavy and put my yoke on for it is light”, I have been stone cold sober now for 23 years. After my addiction I have two Masters and working on a third. I am a Certified Maxwell Life Coach and Business Mentor, I lead a Leadership Academy for a University Athletic Department. With the help of God I have help open 150 long term substance abuse beds in my state. Do not give up, God has not given up on you. Grace is a powerful antidote for the venom of shame and anger. God loves you and will give you a New Identity. God bless, hope this encourages someone

  • http://twitter.com/CarterMayberry1 Carter Mayberry, MD

    As a freshman in college, I failed the first three calculus exams and wanted to drop the class. However, that would mean I would lose my scholarship! I found an engineering grad student, who tutored me, showed me how to set up the problems and it “clicked!” I scored 195 out of 200 on the final exam!

  • http://twitter.com/JMZeiger Jennifer M Zeiger

    Thanks for the poem. It’s so true that in hind’s sight you realize how close you were to reaching a goal when you threw in the towel.