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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

      How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy How Your Attitude Determines Your Success How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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      Last Updated on March 21, 2019

      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

      1. Start Small

      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

      Do less today to do more in a year.

      2. Stay Small

      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

      Why?

      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

      Peter Drucker said,

      “What you track is what you do.”

      So track it to do it — it really helps.

      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

      Peter Drucker also said,

      “What you measure is what you improve.”

      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
      For writing, it’s 500 words.
      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

      6. All Days Make a Difference

      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

      Will two? They won’t.

      Will three? They won’t.

      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

      What happened? Which one made you fit?

      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

      10. Punish Yourself

      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

      11. Reward Yourself

      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

      In the End, It Matters

      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

      Keep going.

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      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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