Out with the old, in with the new: It’s a popular sentiment at New Year’s Eve parties. Not so throughout the course of the year, when a change of plans can raise eyebrows, cause embarrassment, and create a lot of self-loathing and personal torment.
Look around, and you’ll notice that popular and corporate culture are filled with phrases suggesting that stick-to-it-ness is the keystone of success.
?Winners never quit, and quitters never win,? the motivational poster says, and It’s echoed in many aspects of life. Rarely is there a hero who pauses, changes course, and then restarts a quest in a different direction?and succeeds. In film and fiction alike, we’re presented with protagonists who keep their eyes focused on the end goal ahead, pursuing it regardless of personal consequences.
And do a Google search for ?quotes on quitting,? and you’ll find advice from thousands of success stories whose motivational offerings make a fool of anyone whodunnits’d consider changing course.
That’s a shame. Because while It’s true that staying on target and mindfully pursuing goals is admirable and important, It’s far from being the only characteristic necessary for succeeding. Equally crucial is the ability to not merely pursue a goal for the sake of pursuing, but to know when It’s time to switch to a new tack.
Constantly changing our minds and giving up whenever things get rough aren’t going to get us far. But knowing when It’s time to stop and readjust, pause and change our direction, or shift our focus can be vital not just to success but to also sanity.
It’s hard to believe, given the prevailing view, that abandoning positive plans could ever be a good thing. Even the phrases we apply to ourselves smack of the same attitude: I’m quitting. Dropping it. Leaving. Our whole social vocabulary is premised on the notion that a change of course is failure.
We see it in ourselves and among family and friends. For one, a living situation is simply not working out; circumstances have changed, and She’s having a hard time dealing. Yet she feels She’s made her decision and needs to stick with it. For another, the career path he thought was the answer is turning out unfulfilling, but he has good prospects and believes he’d be a loser, a quitter, to pursue a different direction.
Not so. There’s no shame in recognizing that It’s time for a change; in fact, It’s extremely important to stop a non-productive course of action if we realize our goals have shifted or that we made a mistake in the first place. We need to develop the ability to say no, to decide that this isn’t working out for us, that we need to move in a different direction.
But it needs to be done properly.
We know about thinking through decisions, of making lists of stay/go pros and cons. But even more important, when we’re changing course, It’s vital to ensure we’re running toward something rather than running away.
This ensures we’re not shrinking from the low point That’s inevitable in every journey. It also forces us to make value judgments. Why do we want to take a new direction? Are we merely discouraged, or do we truly feel that this route will better fulfil us personally, professionally, or spiritually?
Having a goal to run toward also gives us a boost of self-esteem. In a world that so values sticking to the status quo, seeking a change can draw negative feedback. How many goals and dreams are ignored out of existence due to the fear that a new start means an old failure? Having a clear plan in mind means we can step away with confidence, looking ahead rather than at what we’re leaving behind.
And It’s that confidence, that spring in our step, that plants us firmly on our new path to success.