To quit or not to quit

William Liao
2 min readJun 14, 2024

If you’re physically able, it’s worth doing an exercise that gets you to 90+% of your maximum heart rate at least once (220 minus your current age offers a good approximation of your max heart rate).

When your heart beats this fast, time stretches: seconds feel like minutes, minutes feel like… an eternity.

Pretty quickly you run out of breath, your body is screaming at you “why are you doing this yourself?”, and eventually you conclude that you can’t do the exercise anymore.

Strangely, even once you’ve concluded this, you can almost always push yourself for just one more second… and one more second after that… and another second after that.

Obviously you can’t do this forever. But, you do realize on a deep, visceral level that you are you capable of going farther than you think. This insight is precisely why I think it’s worth pushing your heart to this point at least once even if you hate the idea of it, which brings me to my last point:

A lot of experiences that grow us suck and leave us wanting to quit on multiple of occasions, and that’s okay. It’s choosing to endure that ultimately triggers adaptations within yourself that make you more resilient and capable in the end.

If you want to become patient, you have to test your patience.

If you want to become more resilient, you have to test your resilience.

If you’re in a to-quit-or-not-to-quit moment, the right answer may very well be to quit. But these points are at least worth considering.



William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (