Is it Time to Quit? When (and Why) to Surrender



Recently, I've come to a place of deep acceptance and surrender about a situation in my life that just isn't where I want it to be.

Oh, to be certain, I've tried. In fact, I wanted this thing to be different so sincerely, that I've put considerable time and energy and heart into "working it out."

I've talked to my mentors about it. I've "prayed" on it, read books about it, talked about my contribution to the problem, made adjustments in the way I live my life. But, try as I might, this thing just hasn't budged.

And so, completely spent and out of ideas about "next steps," I surrender. I fully concede -- to my innermost self -- that I am completely and utterly defeated.

As one of my dear friends sardonically advises,

"When the horse is dead, it's prudent to dismount."

Credits Don't Transfer

Unfortunately, in working toward our goals, there is generally no clear signal that alerts us when we cross the line from diligence to denial. Besides, the more we want something, the more we are likely to ignore the warning signs anyway.

We set out to get the thing we think we want. We hit a wall or two, but that's no big deal, we're up to the challenge. We renew our resolve, rethink our tactics, and soldier on.

But, soon enough, the bumps in the road become truly painful. The pain is a hint that we're not on the right track, of course. But by now, we've already given so much of ourselves, we simply "can't quit now" and lose everything we've already invested.

And so we redouble our efforts.

We don't understand why this just isn't working. After all, we're pretty accomplished people in other areas of our lives.

And so we linger -- in situations that no longer fulfill us, in relationships that no longer support us, and in a perpetual state of denial. We tell ourselves that the sips of happiness we get from this person or thing is enough, but, in truth, we're just sipping on the Near Beer of Happiness.

We may be otherwise successful people, but, when it comes to this one thing, credits don't transfer.

Okay, why not?

Well, mostly because we don't get everyone's vote.

Many of the things we think we want involve the cooperation of others. And sometimes those darn other people are just so damned stubborn and obtuse.

We can't control how hiring managers perceive us relative to other candidates. We can't control whether someone chooses to love us or not. We can't control the choices our children and loved ones make. We can't control what happens with the economy, we can't control the affairs of nations.

We can't control how people feel about our skin color, our ethnicity, our accents, our ancestry.

And why should people necessarily make the choices we think are best for them and us when we are unwilling to give them the same acceptance in return?

Think that isn't true for you?

Well, isn't our own inability to move on and accept what feels like rejection from others rooted in our own non-acceptance of them?

Here's What's Really at Stake

While there is no clear line between tenacity and "lost cause," we can get some courage to change if we remember this:

Is it rejection? Or, is it protection?

Looking back, I see that there were many times in my life where what seemed at first like failure actually laid the groundwork for something even greater.

This isn't always true, of course. My first daughter died, and although I've found a way to use that loss as a catalyst for great healing, hope and possibility for myself and many, many others, I can't say that the trade off has been "worth it."

It is true that, if we work for it, our losses can be a great source of wisdom and inspiration for others. But, I gotta say that, when you're in that situation, it feels somewhat like all you really got was the "spiritual booby prize."

Nevertheless, if you are at a decision point with respect to something that has you flummoxed, remember this:

When the horse is dead, it's prudent to dismount. But, if that happens, don't despair. There are other ways to rocket yourself into a new existence than on the back of a broken-down old nag.

Need to surrender something right now? Why not wave the white flag and tell us what you're handing over in the comments below. AND, if you're ready to get unstuck, please download your 94-page copy of Breakthrough. It's free. Because you're priceless.

photo: aussiegall, flickr