There’s more than enough pop and rock songs out there about the need to never give up or give in to make sure that we all know that perseverance is the path to success. And that’s not even including all the many movies that tell the same story. Did Rocky give up on his dream? Nope. But movies and songs don’t tell the whole story, which is that sometimes you really do need to know when to quit, and there’s science to prove it.
Researchers often look into the causes of success and failure. And sometimes their findings can definitely go against the popular narrative of just keeping on going until what you’re doing works.
One study found that focusing on the outcome of your work can actually have a negative impact on your ability to achieve it, because you’re better off staying in the moment. Like a sports team who take it one game at a time rather than focusing on the championship.
It’s also better for your health if you’re less goal-oriented.
That’s because studies show that if you disengage from your goals, you tend to get better sleep, fewer headaches, better skin and less constipation. It can also lead to an increase in C-reactive protein, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and early aging.
On a less physical side of things, being laser-focused on one aspect can mean you miss out on better opportunities that come along. And this is certainly true when it comes to staying in one job rather than moving around looking for something better.
Giving up might feel like a failure, which is why some of us are so afraid of doing so. But it’s much better to give up than to continue with a task until you actually fail, which can lead to feelings of demotivation and make it harder to succeed in the future. Meanwhile, sticking stubbornly to your plan, can also lead to desperation and the temptation to try and achieve it via unethical means, while giving up and finding a new goal helps to build your emotional agility and self-awareness.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that you should read this infographic from Net Credit and immediately quit your job or your band or that really difficult jigsaw you’ve been trying to finish for weeks now. The important thing is to know that sometimes walking away from something can be the best thing for your health, state of mind and even your hopes of achieving success in the long run, no matter what soft rock songs and Rocky films might tell you. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, but if it’s not worth doing, go find something else that is.