When to Give-Up

With the words of Winston Churchill haunting me, somewhere at the back of my mind urging me to, “never, never, never give up!”, I would like to advance the case for giving up. There is a time and a place for everything and, in my opinion, that includes giving up. But before you hit that back button, this post may not be about what you think. You see, I am, not proposing that you give up on your goals at all (“good,” I hear Winston grunt approvingly); I am suggesting that sometimes, you need to give up on your methods.

Regular readers will know that I have often suggested that the key to success is in being properly focussed upon your goals and then piling in all the hard work necessary to achieve them and this involves being both persistent and determined. So I am not suggesting anything different here; what I am suggesting is that sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, you will find that you appear to be getting absolutely nowhere. That’s what this post is about.

All of the effort you are putting in should be producing results for you. They may not be the results you had hoped for, but they are results. As NLP puts it, ‘ there is no failure, just feedback’. The results are your feedback and the way you use that feedback makes a big difference to how successful you will be. It is a question of the law of cause and effect and the ability to utilise your data and react to your results to optimise your chances of success.

Just as a little example, supposing you decide that you will write one article per day and post it to all of the major article directories as a method of increasing traffic to your website. As you are a conscientious individual, you continue this practice for some months, all of the time looking at your traffic stats. At the end of three months you are discouraged to learn that for all of your effort, you have only managed to increase your traffic by a mere 10 visitors per day. You should be pleased, but you are not.

But, you see, you should be pleased because, if your goal was to produce an extra 100 visitors per day, then your results are telling you exactly what you need to do i.e. write 10 articles per day for a period of three months – simple! Your reaction may be something to the effect that you could not possibly do that, but once you open your mind to the task, there might be many possibilities that would enable you to do it.

In the above example, your results are telling you that you should not give up (‘see, I told you so’ says the old man in my head). The irony of these kind of stats is that many people interpret them in exactly the opposite way. They reason that their methods are not productive enough and they give up when what they should be doing is redoubling their efforts and continuing to monitor and measure. Always think in term of cause and effect. Whatever you are doing in pursuit of your goals is the ’cause’ and incremental ‘measurable outcomes’ are the ‘effects’.

Whilst incremental effort is producing incremental results, you should listen to Winston and, “never, never, never give up!” It is only when sustained effort over a reasonably long period produces either nothing or a negative outcome that you should consider giving up. But you don’t give up on the goal; you give up on the method. Staying with our example, you ask yourself what you could do, instead of writing those 10 articles per day, in order to reach your goal.

When you begin to brainstorm, the possibilities will open themselves up to you. You can do some research too: find out what other people who have already achieved what you want to achieve are actually doing. Then try again: same goal; different route. Again monitor and measure your results and after a period of three months you should know whether to redouble your effort or to give up on that particular method. If you keep doing this, you will eventually hit on a method that suits you and that you know will produce the results you desire. After that, it’s sheer determination and persistence.

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