When To Give Up & When You Shouldn't

I always hear “Never give up” as a motivational tool that most successful people use, to make unsuccessful people feel like they’re going to become successful eventually. But when should you give up?

Welcome to another edition of my special weekly personal development and well-being articles. I should’ve dropped this yesterday, but then I was swamped, so today, I decided to take some time and come up with this.

A lot of people face this problem, and it keeps them stuck in one place as they keep pondering about it. Should I give up? Should I keep going? What should I do? Well, here’s what I have to say about giving up or not. 

I agree that the advice “Never give up” is very simplistic. It compels you to keep going on, no matter how bad things get. But at the same time, I believe it’s one of this self-help stuff that sounds too great. 

When someone tells you not to give up, you get all energetic and fired up. And ten seconds later, it means nothing. 

I also think the term “Never give up” is kinda stupid because there’s something we never consider when thinking about success. And that’s the bias of survival. For every Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar, there are thousands of people out there that play football and are just as good as them.

They started playing football right about the same time these guys started, and they’ve worked just as hard as they did, they’re just as smart. 

They’ve tried everything, but they just didn’t have the right combinations or pulled the right strings, and 99% of them failed, and we end up with the few mega-successful ones we have today.

And then we look at those successful ones and try to replicate what they did—not realizing that 90% of what they did is also what those other failures did too. So this whole never give up thing is good and specific advice for very specific people. 

Now, the next question is, how do you know if you’re that type of specific person.

Here are the sort of situations where you should decide to give up or not. 

1- Are you Improving through each failure?

Something I've seen a lot of not very smart people do is that they do something, and it fails. They do the same thing again; it fails. And again and again. They keep doing it and failing at it because they were told that you aren't supposed to give up. So they just keep doing it over and over again. 

Unless there is a clear improvement or evident change or approach to whatever you're doing, then you should give up doing that thing.  

2- Talent 

Another reason you should give up is based on talent. I hate to say this, but a lot of success depends on talent. Somebody who’s exceptionally talented in music is going to write a song, and it’s going to fail. 

And then they’ll say, “well that song didn’t work. Let me try something completely different. Something off the wall that no one has thought of before.” And then they’ll try that, and it might work. 

But with someone who doesn’t have a lot of musical talent, they’re not going to be able to produce that much variation in their creativity. And this goes for other jobs as well. 

Someone who’s a fantastic mechanic is very much likely to find several ways to fix other things quickly, over somebody who doesn’t have tangible handy skills. 

3- Ego Driven

And finally, the last reason you should give up on doing something is if you're doing something for ego-driven reasons. And what I mean by ego-driven reasons is when you're trying to prove something to somebody else. If you pursue anything, you should pursue it for the sake of that thing itself. 

If you want to be a musician, do it for the sake of music. Not to prove to your friends that you're a good singer. If you're going to be an artist, do it for the sake of art. Not to prove to your mom that you can paint. Your primary motivation for doing something should not be based on ego.

Because here's the thing, even if you succeed, you're going to be a wreck, which is why you see some successful people who aren't happy at what they do. 

Because some of them were either forced into doing that thing or they just want to impress certain people who might have at some point told them they couldn't do that thing. 

You might want to be a singer, but your parents are going to make you go to business school. You may have a passion for playing football, but the harsh financial economy might force you into college as an accounting student. Life happens. The thing is to change the way you look at those things. 

If you keep failing at something, whether a company keeps rejecting your job applications, or they keep rejecting your pitches for a publishing report, or you keep failing to gain admission into the university over and over again, then here's the thing, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to give up and try something else. 

Save all that energy that's being wasted for trying again and pick a new route. A route where you are likely going to get more profitable returns on the time, money and strength invested.

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