I used to like the adage of DFQ (or Don’t Fucking Quit).

It had solid intentions, and implied that the body was better than the mind thinks it is, and the mind makes the call. Having been around endurance events, and passing some, and failing others, DFQ was a good mindset to have. It seemed.

But it turns out that DFQ doesn’t work.

The reason it doesn’t work comes down to the way the brain works, how we can control our own brain chemistry, and therefore (to the extent with which we have control) our own destiny.

neuroplasticityFor the longest time, neuroscience posited that our brain chemistry dictated our thought patterns. If our brain chemistry leaned towards a positive frame of mind, we would be happy or confident. More recent science, though, has uncovered something that self-help gurus like Tony Robbins, and meditation proponents, have said all along. This correlation can be reversed. Positive thought can change the trajectory of your thought processes in a way that sticks. In other words, positive thoughts can change your brain chemistry in a way that has long term positive effects. The specific term used for this is Neuroplasticity. This WSJ article talks in depth about some of the more well known research.

So, if we can change our brain chemistry with thought, why is DFQ such a bad thing? Well the problem is the direction of that phrase. Say it aloud. It is almost impossible not to focus on the terminating word. On the Quit.

Don’t fucking QUIT.

Just saying it feels so negative.

It’s almost a year since my own life-changing moment happened, where I lost my foot in a motorcycle accident. Sure, I had my down times, but almost instantly I realized I had a new normal, and the quicker I adjusted, the quicker I would excel. This was deep-rooted in my belief that time is brief in this one life, and the clock does not stop ticking for me. Life also does not allow the opportunity to quit and then resume, like a race might.

So if you can’t quit, how do you get the resolve to keep going? Well you just do. You “Keep Fucking Going”.

Look at the difference, and say both phrases out loud, and independently.

Don’t Fucking Quit.

Keep Fucking Going.

The first has connotations of negativity. It also implies a precipice. QUIT is a negative thought in almost every sense, and even when it isn’t it scares the quitters (think consumers of drugs or cigarettes or alcohol) because of its absoluteness towards change. GOING has positive connotations, and implies the continuation of momentum. The change isn’t drastic, and allows you to build on what came before.

Doesn’t that last phrase sound so much more compelling, easier, more positive, more motivating than the first?

So I implore you. No more DFQ. Instead, KFG.

6 thoughts on “DFQ no more

  1. Thanks for the write up Mark. I am in agreement with your sentiment regarding DFQ. Furthermore, it has morphed into some kind of buzz phrase akin to Yolo within the endurance community. I think each athlete has there own internal dialogue or cue that they reach for in those dark moments when the body is throwing a tantrum and the mind is feeling sorry for it. Personally, I don’t have a go to saying or mantra. It tends to vary and the only requirement I have of my conscious mind’s choice is that it must be positive. Be it a song, saying, or a quote. If it isn’t positive then I hit the metaphorical skip button and play the next piece. The randomness does two things in my opinion. It alleviates dependency on any one thought thereby keeping it’s significance from being diluted. Secondly, it forces an internal dialogue, which I feel helps me stay present in the moment during game periods of fatigue and sleep dep. Hope all is well. Cheers!


  2. Upon first glance, I thought, “oh no, Mark has given up the fight?!?” But I knew that couldn’t me true. The more I read, the more I knew which direction this post was headed, and by the end of the article I was in full agreement! It never dawned on me that one of our favorite little slogans could connect back to a “non-positive” (hardly negative) emotion.

    I’m a full believer in mind over body and that regularly practiced, positive thinking is so powerful! The funniest thing I have to share in regards to this is a stupid little mantra that I repeat when I’m the heat of the suckiness. It’s goofy but almost always makes me smile and that tends to power me through the moment. I’m into amphibious sports, so when the going gets tough I picture Dory from “Finding Nemo” and I hum, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….” Even if I’m not swimming, it’s a useful Jedi mind trick!


  3. This makes sense. I’ve read about how the brain will convert a statement like DFQ into simply FQ. Stating the desired outcome is more effective. Apparently, winning teams have measurably more positive talk than losing teams.


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