Do You Know When to Give Up?

“If you work hard enough and keep trying, you can do anything.”

“Never give up!”

“Failure is not an option.”

Are you familiar with those phrases? It seems that we hear them all the time. Go for your dreams. Nothing is impossible . . .  they’re endless.

We like to think that if we are persistent enough, we can accomplish anything.

Unfortunately, that’s not always true.

Don’t get me wrong. Perseverance is a good thing. And it’s necessary to accomplish great things.

But sometimes, it’s not enough.

I had a conversation earlier this week with a friend who loves to fix things. It’s what she does. And she’s good at it. She can almost always solve the problem and clean up the mess. Almost always.

It’s hard for her to admit when something can’t be fixed and say, “I give up.”

Honestly, it’s often hard for me too.

Yes, when you are met with such strong resistance, it’s worth asking yourself the question, “Is this where I’m supposed to be focusing my efforts right now?”

Take Thomas Edison, for example:

While he is famous for his many inventions, he also tried and abandoned other inventions that later came into being. Yes, he invented the lightbulb (after thousands of false starts), but he also abandoned his attempts to make motion pictures with sound.

Innovation requires trial, failure, and perseverance, but it also requires giving up.

Yes, motion pictures with sound were possible, but Edison didn’t have the right combination of things to make it work. Someone else did.

We think we have to keep going until we get it right, when sometimes, there is no getting it right. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Maybe you don’t have access to the right resources.

And maybe there are bigger and better things that you could be doing.

In the end, it comes down to doing a cost-benefit analysis. Yes, with money, but more importantly with time and lost opportunities.

What else could you be doing with your time? If Edison hadn’t abandoned talking movies for other projects, what inventions of his would not have come to fruition?

I’m not saying to give up on your dream or your project or whatever it is that you have committed to do.

But don’t be afraid to say “I’m done” when it’s not worth moving ahead anymore. Knowing when to make a strategic retreat is often as important as knowing when to plow ahead.

My friend learned that she had to say “enough” on one aspect of her project. Although it was hard, she felt enormous relief afterward. She also had other people step up to help, and she had time to use her strengths on a different aspect of the project where her work was more valuable.

We don’t have to accomplish everything. We have to accomplish what is ours to accomplish.

So how do you know? Yes, a cost-benefit analysis is a good start, but it often comes down to intuition, inner wisdom, and the guidance of your higher self.

What does your gut tell you? What do you hear when you stop trying and just listen?

Like my friend, I sometimes need to remember that it’s okay to give up. Do you?

With light and love,


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