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Knowing when to stop: this is how you put an end to something

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Perseverance is important – but knowing when to cut your losses and giving up when you need to, is an art, too. How to do that?

Step 1: Take responsibility

Deliberately quitting is not an impulsive decision, it doesn’t have to do with a lack of perseverance. It’s an assessment. When it’s about life goals and giving them up, honesty is necessary. Taking full responsibility for yourself, for what you need and what suits you. It’s not important – like buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön writes: it requires courage and respect to take a honest and friendly look at ourselves.

Step 2: Reflect on your loss

The money you’ve lost, the unrequited love, the effort that wasn’t rewarded… Don’t just shrug, but acknowledge your loss. Acknowledge that it’s hard. The time you spent aching for fulfillment of an unfulfillable desire. Working towards a goal that, on second thought, was unattainable, didn’t suit you. Persevering to achieve something that, for whatever reason, couldn’t be. Also acknowledge that it was for a reason. It’s part of who you are  and at least it brings you self knowledge. You need loving kindness for it. Don’t wallow in regrets. Acknowledge this is what happened. Be kind.

Step 3: Start again

If you’re giving up on a goal, really quit. Don’t keep tarrying on a dead-end path. The things you have invested, are behind you. See today as a new start. Where are you now, knowing what you know, with the experience you have? How do you go on? And most importantly: which new goals are you setting?

Because that’s what it brings you, and what makes you get moving again: room for something new. Cutting your losses is difficult, but it’s also a chance. Every time you walk away, you’ve gained more insight in what suits you, who you are and who you want to be. It’s not about what you leave behind, but what you take with you, when you walk out of the dark cinema into the daylight.

This is how you put an end to something (4 tips)

Deliberately stopping and cutting your loss is an option if your goal is unattainable, or if it doesn’t make you happy.

1.  Express for yourself –writing it helps – what your loss exactly is. What goal, wish or need did you have and what did it take you to try and achieve it?

2.  If you continue on this path, what are the investments you will have to do in the following years (time-wise, energy-wise)? Is your goal worth that? Can you actually achieve it, is it possible?

3.  What is the alternative? If you let go of this goal, which new goals and possibilities do you see?

4.  If you decide to give up a goal, do so definitively. Close the chapter and focus on new goals.

Text: Anne Wesseling