Don't give up too soon, but don't insist too long either

Don't give up too soon, but don't insist too long either

Life is not a fast run, but a marathon, and to get far in the best shape you have to learn to keep your balance, knowing when it's time to hurry up, slow down or even stop to regain strength. And in any case, maintaining the delicate balance is difficult, it is easier to get carried away by emotions and fall into extremes, especially in a society where everything is hyperbolized.

Struggle, but keep perspective

Society sends us a very clear message: persevere and you will succeed. Abandonment is synonymous with failure, lack of firmness and temperance, laziness, but the truth is that sometimes abandoning is a sign of intelligence, common sense and even a simple spirit of survival.

In this sense, a very interesting study conducted at the University of Concordia and of which few speak, immersed as we are in the "dictatorship of positive psychology", indicates that giving up unattainable or too ambitious goals is much more advantageous than one might think. , especially for our health.

According to these psychologists, pursuing these goals at all costs could be counterproductive. 204 people were involved in reaching these conclusions, who were asked to recall their most important goals of the last five years and the results obtained. In addition, their psychological and health condition was assessed, starting with stress and the level of cortisol in their blood, up to the appearance of health problems.

At the same time, 81 college students were followed for a full semester to analyze how they coped with their academic goals and how these could affect their health and psychological well-being.

So they appreciated that the ability to scale goals was an important indicator of physical health and emotional well-being. People who realized that their goals were unrealistic and adapted to their new circumstances were less stressed and suffered less from health problems. In fact, their blood cortisol levels were lower. Conversely, those who insisted on achieving their goals, despite repeated failures, showed higher levels of stress, guilt, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, were more prone to suffer from viral diseases and gastrointestinal disorders. , head aches and skin rashes.

Where is the limit? The Stockdale Paradox

It is true that many of the most precious things in life require effort, patience, and sacrifice. Surrendering too soon will lead to a life marked by the abandonment of dreams and plans, and this will produce dissatisfaction and fuel the feeling of failure. However, excessive optimism can also play tricks, as evidenced by the Stockdale Paradox, a term coined by Jim Collins and inspired by the personal experience of Admiral James Stockdale, the highest-ranking American prisoner during the Vietnam War.

Stockdale remained a prisoner in the "Hanoi Hilton" and was tortured repeatedly for 8 years. He later related that the more optimistic prisoners, those who continued to believe they would be released next Christmas, were more likely to die. The problem is that when their hopes didn't come true they tended to get depressed, so they ended up throwing in the towel much earlier than those who were more objective, but still didn't give up hope and optimism.

This indicates that although optimism is important, there are times when it can turn against us, generating very negative feelings. For this reason, just as important as persevering in our goals, is being able to detect the signs that it is time to change or even completely change course.

3 signs that the time has come for a change

1. You do not achieve the expected results. If you are giving your best, if you have been trying hard for a long time and have not achieved results that encourage you to move forward and indicate that your goal is achievable and that you are moving in the right direction, now is the time to stop. and review your goals.

2. You are exhausted, physically and / or emotionally.
There are times when, even if you are getting results, they cost you a huge sacrifice, whether in terms of health, emotional well-being or interpersonal relationships. In this case you should ask yourself if this goal really deserves so much sacrifice, maybe you can consider more modest goals that require less effort.

3. Circumstances have changed profoundly.
Sometimes we can be so obsessed with our goals that we don't realize that conditions have changed and become hostile. Perhaps you no longer have the same support from others, the world around you has changed, and this project has become obsolete or perhaps you yourself no longer have the same skills, disposition or abilities that you had before. If so, the smartest thing to do is review your goals.


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