I will spare you the agony of my singing but this line from Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler” is the main theme of this article…
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.”
If you ever watch poker on television, you will see many players bow out part way through a hand, despite how much money they have thrown out on the table so far. They are cutting their losses and moving on so they can go another direction. They realize their goal (winning the hand) is not realistic. They must have listened to Kenny Rogers.
Growing up I was always told, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” I was told this in reference to everything I did, whether it was sports, scouting, or school work. Maybe it is true in these activities, but what about with your goals in life? What about in your career? What about with projects?
There are times when quitting a goal (short or long term) is the right thing to do. If the goal is causing adverse consequences, maybe it is time to quit, or at least reconsider options and find a better way to get there. It is not an easy thing to do because of the way we are taught – quitting is bad.
I have played the stock market since the early 1990’s. Every now and then I get a stock that isn’t doing so great. I was taught to invest for the long term which means that if I hold it long enough, it should recover (traditionally it does). In the meantime I lose out on many other good opportunities. I figured this out quickly, thank goodness, so I started setting a goal for each stock and evaluated them frequently. If they are losing (tying up my money) and I am missing out on other opportunities, I quit. Sell out and take my money elsewhere. Sounds like Kenny Rogers and playing poker. Since adopting that approach my returns have increased considerably.
There are many examples out there to see where quitting might have been a better option. Look around… political decisions, wars, business ideas gone bad, bad relationships… learn from the “mistake” and take corrective action. Move in another direction.
Quitting is okay. You can still be a winner by quitting.