You Got to Give It Up

 In Inner First Class

At the heart of much motivational speaking is the theme of never give up. We’ve all heard it: never, ever, ever, ever give up! Yet not so much time is spent talking about things that are not bad that we actually should give up. It would seem the only time quitting is acceptable is when you’re talking about smoking or eating fast food. Is this really true? Should we really never ever quit?

In business and economics there’s a term called sunk costs. This refers to money devoted to a failed project that you will never recoup. Sometime we begin endeavors with the best of intentions, but maybe the project just isn’t viable. Or maybe our goals or desires have changed. Instead of, to borrow another phrase, throw good money after bad (or emotion, or effort, as the case may be) it may be in your best interest to…gasp…quit.

Think of your very first job. What was it?* Would you still want to be doing that today? Or was it the right course of action at a certain point to quit? Chances are the answer is yes, unless you are in the .001% of the population whose first job was also their dream job. Think back to your first kiss. Would the right thing to do to have been to stick with that relationship and marry that person?**

The same reasoning should be applied to everything else in our lives. The only problem is it can be much more difficult to figure out what is on your true path and what is a lesson. How do you know when to stick it out and when to chalk it up as a learning experience? Here are three questions to ask yourself when you are struggling with whether or not to say goodbye to a relationship, a business or job or even a dream.

1. If this works out in the very best way, will I be satisfied? Envision the best possible outcome. Do you see yourself embracing yourself and your role or would you still be left wanting? If you make CEO of the chemical company would you sit in your ivory tower wishing you were elbow deep in your garden? An honest assessment of yourself and your deepest internal desires is in order. If you make it to the top of your network marketing company would you be happy doing all of the things that go along with that, including the people management, public speaking and motivation and the responsibility to continually keep others inspired? It is important to know yourself and what truly brings you joy. If imagining the answer to this question doesn’t make your heart sing, it may be time to consider taking your lessons and using them to forge a new path.

2. Am I enjoying any of this? In a society that stresses work, productivity and results above all we sometimes lose focus that life is meant to be enjoyed, too. We then take this work worship into other areas of our lives that are not meant for it. We have to WORK at our faith, marriages are HARD, families are full of CHALLENGES. While there is some truth to all of these statements, I don’t think it is the teeth-grinding effort that makes these flowers bloom. It is the cultivation of the joys, the expansion of the good times to the point that it pushes out the bad, that makes these relationships, goals and tasks successful. If all you’re doing is grinding through something it’s time to re-evaluate. If you’re not having any rewarding moments of joy, something needs to change. If you don’t get enjoyment from the process, you won’t be happy with success.

3. If I quit, will I spend the rest of my life wondering what if? I saw a cartoon recently showing a miner digging a tunnel. He stopped and gave up just a few inches away from the gold. In anything worthwhile, there will be moments of struggle. There will be uncertainty and doubt. There will be letdowns. But if we keep our eyes on the prize, maintain the passion for our dream and embrace the joy of doing work or being in relationships that we love, those moments will pass. If it doesn’t pass and there is no joy…you guessed it. Time to consider our lessons learned and determine if moving on is the right course of action. Instead of never, ever, ever give up, I would say never, ever, ever quit…on your worst day. There is no better way to sabotage your future than planting seeds of regret.

I have quit a lot of things. Jobs, relationships, businesses. I have learned a university full of lessons from those experiences. But none of them do I regret quitting. It was always the right thing to do because I asked myself these questions. Keep plugging away? Take a break? Quit all together? Only you can make the decision. But don’t do it without asking yourself the right questions!



*My first job was a dishwasher in the kitchen of a rest home. It is still the source of countless great lessons.

**You know who you are, and I love you but I don’t think that would have had the greatest results!

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