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Successful People Know When and What — to Give up and Move Forward

Successful People Know When and What — to Give up and Move Forward

“Never give up,” is a common piece of advice that we’re given when we’re facing difficulties. People think giving up is not an option, as we often hear about successful people who plow through obstacles to achieve greatness.

The truth is, successful people give up a lot. They turn knowing when to quit into an art form. Yes, there will be times on your journey when you’ll need to soldier on in spite of difficult odds, but sometimes you have to close one door in order to open another.

    Photo credit: Source

    Steve Jobs gave up a lot of production lines and made 3000 people lose their jobs

    In 1997, Apple was facing strong competition from Microsoft. As Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs was responsible for spearheading many of the changes that led to the company’s success. Many of the modifications that Jobs made involved axing old initiatives to trim the fat.

    Macintosh was producing hardware, desktops, and servers when Jobs intervened. All of these product lines were cut in order to allow the company to focus on four main products.[1]

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    Looking back, we recognize that Jobs made the right decision. Hindsight is funny that way–we see the value in him making such deep cuts to Macintosh’s initiatives because we know how successful the company became.

    I’m willing to bet that at the time people were fairly disgruntled by these changes. Over 3,000 people lost their jobs and 70% of Apple’s products were discontinued. This might have looked like grounds for disaster because he was giving up so much.

    When we cut things from our lives or businesses, it feels like we’re losing. There’s this shame around giving up on something you’ve worked for. But giving up doesn’t mean that you lack perseverance. Nobody wants to be considered a quitter, just sometimes you have to make cuts in order to realize a broader vision.

    3 things successful people give up

    Sometimes persistence will yield better results than quitting, but you’ll have to weigh your options. There are a few things that you can give up right away to pave the way for a more successful future.

    Things that worked in the past but are no longer viable

    We live in a fast-paced world, and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Whether you’re running a business or managing your life, staying up to speed on what’s happening in the world is essential. Being able to anticipate change can give you a chance to alter your course while incurring less cost.

    Abandoning things that no longer serve you can be challenging. It’s easy to fall prey to the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which is the idea that you need to continue on a certain path because you have already invested time, energy, and resources into that pursuit.

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    The world changes, and you are changing right along with it. Don’t stick to things simply because they worked for you in the past. You may have to break out of your comfort zone, but it will be worthwhile to face the challenge.

    Review your life and business responsibilities on a regular basis to ascertain what isn’t working for you anymore. Keep track of data and anecdotal evidence that could help you decide when you need to change direction. Circumstances won’t change overnight. Some of your actions slowly start to cost you more time and money. Spotting a downward trend early can help you cut your losses and regroup.

    Things that consume their energy without yielding any benefit

    You may take on a project with the understanding that you may have to put in some effort up front to get results later. It is important to avoid the trap of spinning your wheels and waiting for success.

    Set time-bound goals and perform a cost-benefit analysis.[2] Establish how long you are willing to put in that level of effort, and what your outcomes should be. If you don’t see a return on your investment within the time frame that you set, you might need to consider dropping that initiative.

    When something takes up too much of your time, you end up working for free or operating at a loss. Something that takes too much of your energy can also prevent you from taking on initiatives that may prove more beneficial for you.

    The communication company, Slack, is a classic example of this principle. Before the company was a go-to platform for business communication, it was a video game company. The CEO received 17 million dollars to invest in his project, but the video games didn’t do well.

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    The CEO had to make a tough choice: continue with the original objective and go into debt for millions of dollars or try something new and keep what could be salvaged. Slack’s success today would not have been possible if the company had not changed directions.

    Giving up on something doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It just means that you are opening yourself up to the possibility of being successful in another endeavor.

    Prioritize your schedule and eliminate things that are eating up your time and energy. In some cases, low-value tasks may give you very little benefit, but they could also be negative-value if they take you away from more important tasks.

    People who don’t share the same goals and vision

      Photo credit: Source

      As the saying goes, you’re the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. You’ll want to make conscious choices about the people that you spend your time with because they can influence you. If they don’t share your vision, you will either end up in conflict with them, or they will take you off-track.

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      When you spend time with people who share your goals, you’ll have more opportunities for growth. Your peers will understand your mission, and you can use your collective brainpower and resources to strive for success. These people can offer you insights and motivate you.

      When you make new friends or apply for a new job, you need to understand the person or entity’s core values. This means that you will have to do more than engage the people around you in small talk. Asking people where they like to go, talking about the weather, or inquiring about their weekend doesn’t tell you much about them.

      Asking philosophical and ethical questions can give you insight into a person’s character. They don’t necessarily have to agree with you on all points in order to be a good match, but if someone responds in a manner that is completely against your core values, then they might not share your perspective about life.

      Asking someone, “What is your favorite quote (or book) and why?” or “What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?” can tell you a lot about someone you’ve just met. If you are having a deeper discussion, asking, “Are you religious or spiritual?” or “How do you measure your success?” can prompt people to open up about what is important to them.[3]

      Making the decision to give up on something that isn’t working for you is part of becoming successful. Some of the best-intended moves can consume too much time and energy to be worthwhile. Strategies and that worked for you in the past may need to be adapted or abandoned when they stop being beneficial. People who you thought were your friends could have a negative impact on your work.

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein

      When you clear away ideas and initiatives that no longer serve you, you make room for fresh ideas to take shape. Quitting is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a capacity to give up is one of the best-kept secrets among successful people.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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