When in Doubt, Give Up


You're in the fight of your life - or at least this quarter - for your career. You keep working harder and harder, but your goal doesn't seem to be coming any closer.

When you are battling like this without results, resist the impulse to just press your nose harder against the grindstone. Instead, trying giving up... for a day, or even a few hours. Take a break, and focus on a small, practical task. Or simply clear out some clutter, and in the process perhaps also clear out some mental clutter:

  • Clean out your office, or reorganize your files.
  • Figure out which reports/publications you can ignore and cancel them.
  • Look at your schedule and decide whether you really need to get together with all the people on it.
  • Take an hour to consider how you go about your business, and see if you can simplify some of the steps you go through to get things done.
  • Go lie on the grass and look at the sky.

Most people do the opposite of what I'm suggesting. They start getting frustrated or angry, and then they push even harder. One friend of mine tends to go into the office on weekends when he's under pressure, and generally comes home even more stressed out.

But by giving up - for a few hours or perhaps a day - you can instead focus on the basics. Think of it as putting sand under your tires when your car is stuck on ice. It often makes sense to take a break to get organized, to gain some perspective, and to consider whether you are going about things the right way.

Many of us live in a culture in which the assumption is that your conscious brain can solve all problems and handle all challenges. "Keep thinking and keep working" seems to be the magic formula. But it's not.

More often than not, your subconscious solves the toughest problems, and it works in ways we do not always understand... except that it seems to work best when you give it more time than perhaps you would like.

That's why giving up is not a sign of surrender, but rather a brilliant strategy for making progress. Sometimes the fastest path to your goal is a curved line.


(Image Courtesy: Pixabay.com)

Categories: Management

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Bruce Kasanoff

Bruce Kasanoff helps companies empower and inspire their employees. He brings relentlessly positive messages of personal empowerment, flexibility and clarity. ...

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