But, when we are persisting at the wrong things – the unachievable goal, the insurmountable obstacle, or some other outcome that others want for us – that kind of dogged determination can actually make us sick.
When You Should Give it Up
Research by Gregory Miller Ph.D at the University of British Columbia shows that the pursuit of an unachievable goal causes intense stress, which comes with a bunch of health risks. It can also keep us from creating greater success and meaning in our lives. While we revere the underdog who never gave up on his goals, persisting with no measurable progress, might be a dumb thing to do.
Once you quit, you can then channel your abilities and talents into something you are passionate about. It doesn’t mean the road won’t be filled with challenge, but when you face those obstacles you will be more likely to adapt and persist in a healthy way rather than one that strips you bare.
How to Quit
This isn’t to say you give up on your life’s plan to have a child, run a marathon, climb a mountain, become an astronaut — for a life of laying on the couch watching reality television.
But when you do recognize that the thing you’ve been after all these years isn’t going to happen, it’s time t disengage — let go — and pick a new pursuit.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Identify the aspects of the initial goal that excited or inspired you. What was it about that goal that got you moving in the first place?
2. Consider other goals or activities that share those qualities.
3. Develop a new goal, one that aligns with your values, desires, passions. One that adds meaning to your life.
4. Quit the first goal. Let go. Walk away. Disengage. Describe your feelings about the end of this pursuit in your journal. Or write the reasons you are giving up on this goal on a sheet of paper and burn in a fire as a symbolic way of letting go. Mourn the end. Also, identify the positive things you gained from the process. What you learned will carry you over into your next pursuit. This was not wasted time.
5. Now write down your new goal and take one step toward achieving it.
It isn’t easy to give up on anything. But, when you replace the ongoing stress and frustration of one goal with another that excites, inspires, and motivates you to make a positive and meaningful contribution then perseverance takes on new power. Quitting becomes not an end, but the beginning of a whole new experience.