resting Linda

Knowing when to quit or selectively giving up, is one of the most important skills you can learn in life.  Our society tends to think of giving up as failure, but there are many situations in which giving up is actually a good thing.

I know, I learned this lesson the hard way.   I’ve been ambitious as far back as I can remember. I’ve always loved a good challenge.  I ran for years on the manta:  harder, faster, longer. I was a poster child for persistence, believing  in the famous Winston Churchill quote  “Never, never, never give up”.

This worked well for me most of my life. I went from success to success to success.  In fact, it wasn’t until well into adulthood and  a successful national sales career that I began to experience  the limits of my power.  I couldn’t see it at the time, but throwing in the towel was the only sensible thing to do.

I was making more money than I’d ever dreamed was possible.  I was traveling nationwide  on business and to exotic locations for our President’s club/ Winner’s Circle… and had an office I loved with a view overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

Then one day my company’s upper management changed. They began systematically terminating the original hirees and replacing them with their own recruits.  The writing was on the wall.

I tried to ignore what was happening. The pressure became more and more brutal, as I survived one layoff after another. It was only time before my time would be up, yet I forged ahead falling back on my usual coping style.  It had never let me down before. I began to work harder, faster, longer. I dug in my heels harder and deeper. As it ended up, I was just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

In the end, I was forced to go out on leave as I came down with a severe case mono that hobbled me for years thereafter. I had hoped to break through, but instead  I broke down. I had never experienced a challenge this big or an illness like this.

Coming down with mono, was one of the most difficult but enlightening lessons of my life. It changed the way I have handled my life from that point forward.

I learned that while it’s important to have persistence, this must be balanced with perspective to see what is happening around you. If that means it is time to quit and move on to a new plan, then it is better to muster the courage to do so, than to hold on to a lost cause.

Quitting in this sense, is an intentional, empowered action, because the price that you pay, is higher than the value you are receiving. Quitting is, in this way… is a form of self protection… We always hear… if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… but I learned sometimes it is important to try something different!

I have also learned:

1. When facing something that feels impossible, to think about how to give up the fight and still move ahead with the end goal in mind.

2. To consider if there is a way to go with, rather than going against change.  Sometimes rather than striving, struggling and battling in overdrive, redirecting our force is the best way for us to move forward. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on a goal, but just to go after it in a different way. This is important especially if your goal involves running over other people in an attempt to get ahead, or if, as in my case, you are harming or neglecting yourself.

3. You can change yourself and your actions, but not other people.

4. To focus on the process, rather than just the outcome.

5. You are spinning your wheels if your thinking is that once you have ____ and do ____ you will be_______. You may be focusing on some future that may never happen. Focus on the now, the present (though still having goals for the future.)

6. It is important to tune into your  body and spirit so you do not push past your limit.  Usually if something is not working – we know it in our gut. It is important to listen to our gut.

7. We often do not see the facts as they are, because our goal is tied heavily to our definition of ourselves, fear of change, hopeful thinking and/or stubbornness.

Today I am committed to my goals and dreams, but when the facts have changed, I take note of the “new  reality” and take action.

I have learned if the “environment around you” has changed, then lack of action may well hurt you and that letting go doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious. In fact, letting go can help you to be more successful and happier.