Giving up comes with negative connotations. Even when considering writing about this topic my emotional self kept trying to think of a way to twist it so I could explain how to avoid giving up anything, especially a goal. It seemed to go against my grain to say, “Yeah, that’s ok. You can say sayonara to that goal if you really want to”. But my research tells me that, not only is it ok, it’s healthy to do so.
To get a better idea of what people thought about giving up on goals I posed the question on a forum. Here are some responses:
Question: When do you give up on a goal?
- “[When] You no longer feel a proper connection or spark that existed previously. It differs though, will giving up effect just you or is it important for others?”
- “When you come to the realization that it is unrealistic.”
- “From personal experience, when you get rejected.”
- “When that goal is to turn your dog into a unicorn.”
- “[I’ll] let you know when I give up. Don’t hold your breath. My goals are always met, some just take more time and work.”
- “Why should I?”
- “When it’s been scored by someone else.”
In her article When to Give up on your Goals Dorie Clark mentions something that I thought was pretty profound, she says, “The right goals for you now aren’t necessarily the ones you set in college, or five years ago, or even last month.” If you want to check out the rest of her article click here. Written for the Harvard Business Review, it also contains great insight for those of you who are struggling with your goals. Am I asking you to ditch your goals right now? No. Today I’m going to ask you to REASSESS them.
Can your goal still be accomplished? Do you want it to be accomplished? Perhaps your goal just isn’t right for you anymore.
This is a judgment free zone but listen, if you set a goal to eat three extra pizzas this month rather than two then you’re gonna get some shade thrown your way. Goals are created to be the pathway to reaching something bigger, such as an end goal or a dream you have. I’m not saying you can’t set something that is realistic, sometimes you have to include goals that you know you can do to keep yourself motivated. Make a conscious decision to choose goals that you know will be worthwhile and will make you proud to accomplish.
Is it physically, mentally, emotionally possible? For example, here’s one of my current goals: Most of my most brilliant ideas come to me while I’m in the shower and unless I want to keep using my daughter’s Crayola bath crayons and my wall as a whiteboard I need to remember to write them down when I get out. But I rarely do. So I’ve challenged myself to take a moment to jot stuff down before I forget so a good shower thought doesn’t go to waste.
It’s definitely a goal that’s achievable. I’ve also made it a goal to finish my shower thoughts completely because the other day I was halfway through sudsing my hair and thinking about how it would be such a good idea to make my own wheat bread, when I was interrupted and ended up having to get out before my brain could talk myself out of it after talking myself into it. Moral of the story, finish your showers and set achievable goals. And yes the bread turned out terrible.
Are you lying awake at night haunted by the goal(s) you’ve written down in your planner? Well, I’m gonna throw you a curveball and say that’s a good and bad thing. Again, you want to have goals that motivate you to accomplish them and if that means they’re frequently on your mind so it gets you to get a move on, then great! But don’t put your emotional health at risk. It’s ok to modify if you need to.
Only 3 out of every 100 well-meaning adults will actually write down their goals. But how many will go back and doing an evaluation? According to the the Oxford Handbook of Human Action, “people will implicitly evaluate their progress toward goal-attainment and hence that self-esteem (and mood) are affected by success and failure”. Self evaluate yourself every couple months when working on your goals. Use your success and failure to evaluate how you’re doing overall.
Does accomplishing this particular goal help you reach a result you’re hoping for? You might be surprised to find that some long term goals you have may not help you accomplish the current end game you have in mind. So ditch those expired goals and make some fresh ones.
Are you giving up too much to achieve your goal? Is your personal life/family life suffering? A goal shouldn’t get in the way of what you value most.
Finally, does your working towards your goal bring you excitement? Or is it downright miserable? Is it going to be worth it in the end? If the answer is yes then I say plow on! But if it’s not, then it’s time to do some rethinking.
I know there’s a lot of people out there who live and breath the motto: “Winners never quit and quitters never win” and frankly, there are some who should probably set their goal to make some goals. However, everyone can benefit from deciding whether or not a goal is still meeting your needs and desires.
Should you give up on your goals? That’s your call. This is just a tool to help break down that decision.
Should you make some goals? Yeah, that’s probably a good place to start.
Don’t be afraid to fail at something, be afraid to never start something. A goal in my life was to write for a living. And I hid from it. For a very long time. I was terrified to try and write for a living. (Still am). But here I sit, writing what I sincerely hope helps you realize it’s ok to take a look at your goals and say, “hey some of you have got to go but some of you are gonna stick around for awhile”.
At the end of the day, the important thing is to go for it.