Sometimes, you will want to give up on your goals, but in fact you should be resilient and instead change the way you are approaching trying to achieve your goals in order to have more success.
And sometimes, you will cling to a goal when actually, you are being stubborn and it would be best to give up because you are pursuing something that is not right for you.
But how can you tell the difference? How can you know when you are being resilient or stubborn? What are the signs that indicate that you need to change track?
Take Greg: he enjoys working and has always been very ambitious. He wants a promotion and has been pursuing that goal for some time now but so far, without success. It’s getting him down. His confidence is ebbing away. He is not as upbeat anymore. His wife complains that he works too much. He doesn’t have time for friends and family. Let alone for himself. Should he stop being stubborn and give up on his dream of a promotion and a high-powered career or should he be resilient and stay focused on that goal, but try something different to get there?
Of course, there is no easy answer. Like so much in life, getting to the ‘right’ answer requires some thoughtful analysis and self-reflection.
In our experience, it is wise to undertake a ‘goal assessment’.
If one or more of the following statements is true, then it may indeed be best to give up on the goal and re-direct your energies elsewhere:
- The goal is no longer in line with your current life/ company goals
- The goal is ‘in conflict’ with other (perhaps new), more important goals
- Pursuing the goal is not fun anymore and has become overwhelming
- The cost of pursuing the goal is greater than the potential benefit of achieving it
- The goal is, quite simply, unrealistic/unachievable.
We also advise our clients to do an ‘approach assessment’.
If one or more of the following statements is true, then it may be that you need to step up or change how you are trying to achieve your goal rather than give up altogether:
- You have not pursued the goal with sufficient discipline
- Your attention has not been sufficiently focused on achieving the goal
- The courage ‘to do what it takes’ has been lacking i.e. your effort has been half-hearted
- A setback has demotivated you
- You need more self-confidence
It’s really important to do both the ‘goal’ and the ‘approach’ assessments before deciding to give up on a goal.
After doing the ‘goal assessment’, Greg determines that, though the promotion is very important to him, his family is even more important. And, with his son experiencing severe health issues, his family needs him to be more available and ‘present’ right now.
As a result of completing the ‘approach assessment’, Greg realises that the stress and worry about his son has resulted in him having less energy and being less effective than usual at work, possibly explaining why he had not yet been promoted as he had hoped.
Greg decides to reassess his priorities. For now, he wants to put his family first. Work will be a welcome distraction and he will continue to give it the necessary attention, however without the self-imposed pressure of striving to achieve a promotion and be on the fast track. For now. When his son’s health improves, he knows he can shift gears and re-prioritise career goals.
Our advice to Greg (and to anybody else that is wondering about whether to give up or not) is to aim high and give it all you’ve got …. BUT … if you’ve really done your best, there’s nothing wrong with abandoning or lowering a goal. Sometimes, this can be very liberating and lead to renewed successes, which in turn will re-build your confidence, create a more virtuous circle again and help you to reach your full potential.
Success leads to more success. Sometimes it is helpful to re-focus and build up to a goal in smaller, achievable steps.
So …resilience or stubbornness? Well, by taking a step back, reviewing the situation and getting yourself a much-needed double perspective, you will be able to tell the difference and, importantly, decide what is the next right step for you.