It is said that one of the greatest keys to success is persistence.
Except sometimes, we really just need to give up.
Sometimes, things simply aren’t working and we need to toss our ideas to the wind and move on. It’s a fine line to walk between persisting when things are tough, and giving up on something that simply isn’t working.
I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to start a Meetup group. I had a big vision for my group: hundreds of enthusiastic attendees, world famous speakers, and eventually, a worldwide movement. I launched the Vancouver Impact Posse without looking back, and quickly began organizing my first event, where I would be hosting a guest facilitator from Toronto.
Sign-ups were low and the facilitator, Sahil Dhingra of the Potentialists, decided it wasn’t worth hosting and so we cancelled the event. Without delay, and with high hopes, I started organizing the next meetup. I spoke with my friend & colleague Cindi Augustine and we decided she would facilitate a workshop on the topic of developing a personal mission statement.
We had 15 people that responded online to say they were coming, and I had a dream the night before the event that over 50 people showed up, so I considered that to be a positive omen and was excited to see what the turnout would be!
We had two people show up to the event, and I ended up losing money on the room.
Now this is the point where I could write, “Even though I’ve failed twice now, I’m not giving up because persistence is one of the greatest keys to success”.
While persistence can be important, I’m not going to lie about the fact that I have decided to completely give up on hosting events.
Sometimes, it’s better to quit than to persist.
Sometimes, persisting feels forced and unnatural. Sometimes, persisting at something that isn’t working is simply a way to avoid doing what you know you have to do. Sometimes, persisting is just being plain stubborn and nothing more.
So how do you know when to persist and when to forge ahead?
I’ll give you a few pointers.
Keep the end in mind.
What is the ultimate mission or purpose of what you are doing? What are you wanting to achieve?
For myself, the ultimate mission is to create a movement of people making a significant impact through their work, and doing so from a place of purpose. Is hosting events and running a meetup group the only way to achieve this?
Far from it.
Often, there are several paths towards achieving an end goal. Don’t compromise and give up on the ultimate goal, but if what you are doing is merely a means to an end, then that’s a sign it might be an option to give up if something you are doing just isn’t clicking.
Pay attention to what you might be avoiding.
In other words, in what way is the task you are focusing on (and failing at), a cop out?
If you are avoiding something, then that thing you’re avoiding is probably going to be the most effective action for you to take to achieve your end goal—I know, totally what I didn’t want to hear either.
For me, hosting events that other people are facilitating or speaking at, is a really big cop out on facilitating or speaking myself. I’ve always had a vision of myself speaking on stage, but I’ve been procrastinating taking action on this for about 6 months now—since my last speaking engagement.
If you can honestly say that you are not avoiding anything, then you’ll want to consider persisting on the task at hand. Otherwise, just stop dancing around it and do the thing you’ve been avoiding already!!
(I’m saying this as much to myself right now as to you!)
Check in with your feelings.
Are you in a flow state? Or do you feel like you’re swimming upstream?
Sometimes, things might not work out super successfully right away, but you still feel good about it. You feel energized, you receive unsolicited positive encouragement or feedback from people, and on a deep level, what you are doing just feels right.
On the other hand, you might find things consistently not lining up, and that you feel drained and exhausted like a fish swimming upstream and getting nowhere.
While I love my end vision for my meetup group, with hundreds of people gathering in places all over the world to increase their level of impact & purpose in their work, my interest in hosting events is low. I felt like I was swimming upstream the entire time I was organizing those two events, and now that I am letting it go, I feel a huge sense of relief
Relief is always a great sign you have made the right decision!
So here’s to giving up—when the time calls for it.
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Apprentice Editor: Sue Adair / Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own