Quick, what are some things we always tell each other when hard things happen?
- It wasn’t meant to be.
- There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
- Everything will work out.
- Let it go.
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
I have to confess I tend to get unusually befuddled by common sayings – I mean, why can’t we compare apples and oranges? – but I can’t be the only one who’s noticed the last two clichés are in direct conflict.
Let it go. Keep going. Go with the flow. Keep up the fight… The list goes on and on, a veritable red light-green light parade.
Now I don’t really mind a little inconsistency in my cultural communiqués, so I’m not essentially opposed to both a little yin and a little yang in society’s messaging. It’s a big world, after all, and life is complex, so there can easily be some situations when one aphorism won’t be operative.
I just wish I knew which to use when.
I’m trying to compile lists of telltale signs to help me distinguish the times to persevere from the times to let go. Right now I’m concentrating on career issues, because that’s what this site is about and because, with time, the wisdom (or lack of it) in your choices will become more clear.
Here are some indications that you should forge ahead with that project, or company, or career choice, even if you’ve been smacked down in the early rounds:
- You know what you did wrong with your first attempt and you know how to fix it.
- Your rejection had more to do with the other side’s problems than yours, and those conditions are about to change.
- You can think of other ways to pursue this same activity.
- You can adapt what you want to do to make it a better fit with circumstances.
- You really, really want to do it.
These are signs that it’s time to consign that project, job or company to that cosmic circular file:
- The company or client has contacted you several times and it’s always fallen through.
- You can’t think of any new ways to boost your chances of success.
- There’s been a resounding lack of interest from many quarters.
- Pursuing this one thing is taking time and energy away from other endeavors.
- You really, really want to do it – no matter what.
I think being able to tell the difference between determination and stubbornness really gets to the crux of this issue, and I keep looking for new ways to do it.
Care to share any ideas from your experience?
by Danielle Dresden