Time to throw in the towel?

When quitting is the exact right thing to do

Most of us are raised under the belief that life is about never giving up, especially in the pursuit of a long-term goal.  However, there is value in knowing when to consider if this pursuit is worthy of your continued time and effort based upon the progress made and effort put in.  It is a fact that our greatest leaders always knew when it was time to step down.

Five tell-tale signs it is time to step away: 

1. Misleading Reinforcers:  

The one thing which keeps children directed towards their goals is when we give them some occasional positive feedback, even when the overall trend is clearly negative.  These occasional positive rewards can be misleading in that they keep them hanging on, stuck in a pattern which never progresses past the reality of what they are losing. 

2. Emotional Investment:  

When our children continue behaviors directed at a goal with the mindset that they cannot give up because of all we, the parents, have already put in, we are not evaluating the opportunity cost ratio logically.  If there is no opportunity we are giving up our lives and their time at a cost to pursue an opportunity that is not manifesting. 

3. Financial/Emotional Loss: 

When the financial/emotional investment we are putting in shows little benefit, fear and anxiety dominate our thoughts because we want to stay in control of our losses. Our rational thinking shuts down not allowing us to let go – and subsequently them. All we see is loss and this doesn’t fit the image of the dream we had for them.  

4. No Gain:  

No matter how hard they try, no matter how much effort, blood, sweat and tears that they put in, they cannot effect any change in their circumstances and must look to terminating their attachment to this particular goal.  It doesn’t mean there is a failure it just means this is not the success they are meant to have. 

5. Lack of Joy: 

When what they have been passionately loving and putting themselves into no longer brings them joy, this kills motivation. Life becomes ground hog day each day. The purpose driven emotion experienced in the beginning has worn away to mechanical, every day, uninspired behaviors.  

In reality surrendering a desired goal requires a huge leap of faith. When we anticipate an unknown future, a willingness to take a “failure,” along with the emotional devastation which accompanies our decision requires courage. 

Since persistence and staying-the-course are default settings for us, we program this into our children so knowing when to step down takes a tremendous amount of emotional and mental gymnastics to make that final decision. 

Little life message: Sometimes it is only through quitting something, especially if we’ve long been unhappy, which opens up our life to fresh, positive opportunities we were blocking by staying committed to what was not working. 

Sherrie Campbell, PhD is a veteran, licensed psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy. She is the author of "Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person."