When should you give up? It is a more intriguing question than it may at first appear. We live in a culture that admires persistence: a society which believes that when the going gets tough, the tough should get going.
Today’s educators encourage young people to be ‘gritty’ and develop a ‘can-do’ mentality that will help them push on that extra mile toward success. Our language is full of clichés extolling the virtues of dogged persistence and yet, at some level, we all know that there are limits to how long we should continue trying to achieve an elusive goal. As Albert Einstein famously said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity.
The problem in Britain in particular is that in our ‘can-do’ society we have made failure a taboo, something which should be avoided at all costs. The conscientious don’t want to fail at anything, never wanting to admit defeat.
Have we lost sight of the value of strategic withdrawals and made it hard for the conscientious individual to do the intelligent thing? Have we fostered the tendency to persevere beyond the point of sanity….?
How can we change attitudes to success and failure in fruitful ways? How can we recognise the value of dropping an elusive goal and changing tack? How do we know when to persevere and when to quit?
There is a fine line though between giving up and giving in, don’t you think? When the whole idea of doing something fills you with dread, boredom or you would rather sleep – give up. When you feel like your soul would be writhing in a cage if you did it – give up. But if you simply lose focus and daydream more than you do the work – give up, for a short while. Go and do something different – go for a walk, work on something else, whatever breaks the focus…. come back later/tomorrow. But don’t give up on those missions. Whatever you do, do something.
So, when should you give in? There is a difference between ‘wrong choice’ and ‘fear’ and the two should not be confused. With wrong choice, you give up and try another strategy. With fear – which often hides under the mask of wrong choice – don’t give up. Instead, give in.
Giving in is not giving up. It is simply letting go of the handlebars, taking your feet off the pedals and freewheeling down the right path …. which to my surprise is down a road which is apparently labelled ‘get the hell out of your own way’. It’s that age old cliché …. If at first you don’t succeed: Try, try again…. [W.C. Fields]
[Are you a quitter? Take a look at 9 reasons to persevere.]