Ep 57: The Power of Giving Up

There’s an important distinction to be made between top level goals and lower level tactical goals. Often, getting fixated on achieving your tactical goals can lead to being tenaciousness for the sake of being tenacious.

We certainly don’t mean to suggest that tenaciousness is not a valuable trait.  Being committed to doing what it takes or sticking it out when the going gets rough is definitely a characteristic of people who reach their goals. But sometimes, being tenacious requires us to be flexible. And sometimes giving up is the best thing you can do.


Angela Duckworth Explains How to Manage Your Goal Hierarchy (People I (Mostly) Admire Ep. 32)


  • Tenacity is a valuable trait when it is applied to the correct tactic.
  • You can stay steadfast in your desire to reach a higher level goal but remain flexible in your path to get there.
  • It can be painful to give up, especially if you have been working in a particular tactic for a while but it can still be your best path forward. 
  • As tricky as this concept can seem, if you are honest with yourself and spend some time evaluating your situation, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. 

Lab Experiment (download a copy)

Is there a project that you feel you’ve been spinning your wheels on? Take some time to consider whether giving up might be the best way to move forward.

  1. Write down the goal of this project. What are you trying to accomplish?
  2. Why is achieving this goal important to you (beyond just the fact that you committed to achieving it)? 
  3. Is there a higher level goal beyond this one–a top level goal that this immediate goal is in service of?
  4. How else might you pursue that top level goal? What other tactical goals could get you there?
  5. Consider whether abandoning your current goal might be the best move. Why or why not?

Even if this exercise doesn’t lead you to a final decision, it will almost certainly help you see the current situation from a new angle–which is always useful.

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