Some people don’t know when to quit.
Sometimes we say that with respect and sometimes we say it with annoyance. It’s because tenacity and a never-give-up attitude are celebrated in Western culture. Thank you very much Protestant work ethic. There’s some truth in the ideal that there’s a time to fight the good fight but what most of us don’t realize is when to cut our loses and go home. We see people who abandon a certain course of action as “losers” and “quitters” that have somehow let the rest of society down.
The real truth is though they might be the smartest of us all.
The ability to walk away from a course of action that isn’t working is perhaps the most mature, time saving, and valuable skill you can develop. Banging your head against a wall is not. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about giving up, buying a box of Coffee Crisps and going home. No, that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to say here. I think people would get further in life if they were open to reinventing themselves and trying new things. We expend so much of our time and talent maintaining the life we think we should have, or are determined to maintain, that the life we want may be slipping by.
I started my Paleo journey following an entirely different course of action. I got a Kindle for Christmas and thanks to a wonderful confluence of actions I ended up reading Tim Ferriss‘ excellent book The 4-Hour Body. A lot of the fundamental principles in it are similar to Paleo and Primal living. It inspired me to get off my behind and get to work and helped me drop those first pounds that are important to motivation. I did, however hit a wall eventually. Now, I firmly believe it wasn’t the fault of the program, just my willingness and ability to follow it stringently. Anyway, I could have sat there banging my head against the wall but instead I was open to reinvention and trying something new. It was after that I read The Primal Blueprint and then The Paleo Solution and started down the road I’m on now. If I hit a wall again I would consider further reinvention. Sources and guidelines are great but you’re the one that has to find what works for you. That might mean subtle tweaking or wholesale abandonment of what you’re doing. You need to judge when any course of action is appropriate.
Change is scary, I get that. Sticking with an illogical, unnecessary, or irrational course of action can be scarier. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself when the time comes. It may be the key to your long term success.