This article is adapted from one originally published August 5, 2011, in issue 1929.
?Winners never quit, and quitters never win,? the motivational poster says, and the sentiment is 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.
Look around, and you’ll notice that popular corporate culture is filled with phrases suggesting that stick-to-it-ness is the keystone of success. 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 success. 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 giving up whenever things get rough isn’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 to sanity.
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.
We know about thinking through decisions, about making lists of stay/go pros and cons. But even more importantly, when we’re changing course, It’s vital to ensure we’re running toward something rather than running away.
This ensures that we’re not merely 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. How many goals and dreams are ignored out of existence due to the fear that a new start means an old failure? Setting out with 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.