When is it ok to give up?

There is an entire section of the self-help industry devoted to motivation for a reason.

Everyone struggles with this at some point. Should we throw in the towel or keep going?  The problem we have when making this decision, a problem that the motivation industry perpetuates, is that we all fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy.

The sunk cost fallacy is the idea that if you quit a project before it is completed the time, energy and money you have already sunk into the project will be lost/thrown away.  This isn’t always true, but most people think way. The problem is that the higher our sunk costs, the costlier it feels like to quit. So we keep going. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Especially if the odds of success are low and you don’t figure into your thinking your future sunk costs.

One of the topics I teach is really based strategy development (see my website humanistlearning.com for a list of courses).  Sunk costs should not be a factor in your decision making.  Here’s why.

Your goal isn’t the project. Your goal is what you hope the project will achieve. Keeping your eye on your real goals will help you recognize when a project isn’t getting you to where you want to go.

For this reason, every 6 months I like to re-evaluate what I am doing and why I am doing it and realign my objectives and my projects. If something isn't working there is a reason for it and often if I step back, I can find a way around it by doing something else.  Often, I can redirect what I was working on into a slightly different project that yields better results. In this way – my sunk costs are no long lost, they are redirected towards more effective methods.

If you are wondering whether you should give up on a project or not. I can’t answer that for you.  It depends on the context and what is at stake. If you aren’t clear about what the stakes are, you will have a very hard time making a good decision. For this reason, I encourage people to think about what it is they value and what sort of impact they want to have on the world.   You can then consider whether your goals (primary, secondary & tertiary) should be realigned.

Let me know if I can help you with this. I have a video streaming on amazon about about how to use your ethical values (primary, secondary and tertiary) to know when to refocus (It's not giving up - it's refocusing) http://amzn.to/2f4jLHy

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