Personal & Professional Growth mentor Jennifer Lawton responds to the following question:
How can you know when it is time to give up on a big project or company goal? Failure doesn't seem like an option, but neither does grinding wheels for no apparent reason.

Jennifer Lawton responds:
Giving up is hard to do, and for most people it feels like a death knell. But it doesn't have to. Understanding your limits and how much you should invest into something is important. Being able to operate within your limits and to honor your boundaries is positive, not negative. Driving yourself into the ground will not necessarily lead to success, and you may not recognize what the real issues are.

If it feels like you are grinding wheels for no apparent reason, there is probably some truth to that feeling! I think the best thing to do may be to find an objective adviser and go through a SWOT (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) analysis.

Simply draw four quarters on a sheet of paper and write down the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that you see relative to your situation. Where are there more or fewer items? Does anything pop out at you that you have not seen before? Is there something in every box? Was it what you were expecting?

Using a tool such as a SWOT analysis can help you view things objectively. Your adviser may be able to see highs and lows where you may not. He or she may have a different take on the situation and be able to offer different solutions.

Clearly not everything succeeds, and knowing when to cut and run is difficult. You have to set your boundaries and honor them -- and then be proud of honoring yourself.

The book Into Thin Air is an excellent, quick read about a deadly climb to Mt. Everest. I found that it taught amazing lessons on recognizing success in stages and realizing that getting to the top (i.e., attaining the end goal) does not always mean success. I love the concept that getting to base camp and walking down the mountain are much greater successes than climbing to the top and dying.

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