Advertising
Advertising

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]

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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

      The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful)

      Trending in Smartcut

      1 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 2 30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work 3 How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful and Highly Fulfilling Life 4 7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success 5 9 Things the Most Satisfying Jobs Have in Common

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

      Advertising

      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

      Advertising

      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

      The Neurology of Ownership

      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

      Advertising

      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

      Advertising

      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

      More About Goals Setting

      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next