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When To Throw In The Towel Or When To Persevere

When To Throw In The Towel Or When To Persevere

It goes without saying that persistence is the most distinguishable and important characteristic of a successful person and most definitely a successful entrepreneur. Lack of creativity can be overcome with persistence and hard work. (Interestingly, while a person may not be terribly imaginative, persistence always helps the imagination to figure it out.) Lack of money can be overcome using the same formula.

Why? You need the persistence to get you through the rough patches and over the mountains that will inevitably be in your path to succeed. Sitting by the roadside gets you nowhere.

It all comes down to persistence and hard work.

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Persistence is Vital

In The Strangest Secret,[1] Earl Nightingale, one of the fathers of personal development, shared a statement from President Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”[2] (This excerpt from Nightingale’s recording became so associated with him, many believed it was his.)

The fire of your vision for the future of yourself, your family and enterprise is the fuel that pushes you forward when things, makes you work the extra hours, and gives you the creativity to solve problems you never thought you could solve on your own.  It gives the meaning to your goals,[3] and expands your vision, letting you see the broad view as well as the long view of things. It opens worlds to you didn’t know existed.

It’s that persistence which anchors you. As John McCormack, founder of Visible Changes, and 1989 Entrepreneur of the Year, says in his book Self-Made in America, “The essential ingredients of entrepreneurship are a vision, a sense of mission, and a will to keep going forward when everyone else is telling you to go back. . . . It wasn’t brains, brawn, or even our business plan that resulted in our ultimate success.  It was persistence, plain and simple.”[4]

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It’s the thrill ride—the ups and downs of a roller-coaster—and you’re the ride operator.  And when you reach the summit, you look back on everything you’ve done and see what’s happened and you wouldn’t change it for love or money.

Should You Throw in the Towel?

But even with all that, sometimes you have to throw in the towel.

The question is when is that time?

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Before you chuck it all, there are some things to consider.  First, is your attitude.  Sure things have gone bad for the moment, but you need to realize it’s not a failure.  As long as you can pull valuable lessons from the experience, you haven’t failed.  I knew a man who priori to the recession of 2008 was pulling in six figures. The recession hit and his income plummeted. He had to get a job, which allowed him to use all of his skills. Was he a failure? Of course not, circumstances beyond his control forced him into an unpleasant situation. But he still has his business, and the other job has given him other benefits that helped him with other situations.

So if you’ve got to shut down the business—throw in your towel—learning is essential.

A legendary anecdote about Thomas Edison’s search for the perfect filament for the incandescent light bulb is that a reporter asked him how it felt to have failed over 6,000 times in his search. Edison replied, “I haven’t failed 10,000 times. I’ve just found 10,000 things that didn’t work.”  History shows only the triumph, not the time it took to reach the triumph.

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So how do you know when?[5]

Some are easy. When there is no longer a demand for what you have to offer, and you can’t figure out a way to retool the product or business. Time to shut it down.  (But then again, look at the resurgence of vinyl, which was declared dead in 1990s. Sometimes maybe put it in suspended animation, instead.) No repeat customers is deadly. If you can’t get fresh faces to your business it’ll be a slow, agonizing death, but it will be a death.

The costs are too high.[6] Losing your family, your health, the person you once were, you look at everything with jaded skepticism. At this point it’s time to reevaluate and if you can’t fix them, get out fast. Good family relationships, health and an optimistic attitude are all essential ingredients to success.  If you’ve lost your vision of your project and can’t recover it, again, it’s time to go.

But if you must throw in the towel, remember to take lessons away, because that’s what entrepreneurs do.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Earl Nightingale: The Strangest Secret
[2] AZQuotes: Calvin Coolidge Quotes
[3] George Ambler:Persistence: The Key to the Achievement of Meaningful Goals
[4] Google: Self-Made in America, Page 77
[5] Fox Business: Knowing When to Throw in the Towel
[6] Entrepreneur: 3 Signs That You Should Shut Down Your Business

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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