Wendy's Blog

when to let goAre You Hanging On Too Long?

by Wendy Keller, author, workshop leader, human being

Yesterday, my business consultant – a man whose wisdom I admire – suggested I simply stop trying to force something to work in my company. This “something” has worked a little bit, now and then, partially, with enormous effort, for almost no profit, for two years.

Now, I come from a long line of stubborn people. In my family, we will just keep chipping away at something until we force it to go our way.  But in the case of the business effort I was making, it was draining resources – energy, attention, money – and giving me close to nothing in return. I don’t believe in quitting, but in this case, that belief was hurting me.

Is there something in your life that any rational, calm person would tell you to let go of? 

The instant the consultant said that, I felt an incredible lightness and relief.  After two years, I’m free of the struggle and I feel GREAT! When I faced the truth squarely, I had to admit it just wasn’t working despite everything I had been trying.

I remember I felt the same feeling once I’d finally made the decision to get a divorce.

I remember the same feeling when I let go of trying to control my daughter’s life choices after she turned 18.

In our culture, we encourage people to “tie a knot and hang on” and to stick with it.  That is useful advice in many situations.  But somewhere deep inside, we all know that sometimes, it’s smarter to let go and begin anew.

  • The career you hate that isn’t paying you what you deserve
  • The relationship that hasn’t worked for years
  • The doctor or therapist you’ve been seeing who isn’t helping you feel better
  • The small business that’s still struggling all these years later
  • The parents or children who cause you more misery than peace
  • The depressing place you’re living
  • The part of the country you live in
  • The amount of work it takes to keep up your lifestyle
  • Something else

“Don’t Quit!” is a great credo to live by.  But sometimes, we are so blinded by it that we can’t see the facts.  My consultant pointed out that perhaps in the future, when I have come up with a better way of marketing the business component I gave up, I might try it again. Or maybe I won’t.

Here are 5 questions to ask to help you decide if it’s time to quit or not:

  1. How much energy does this situation drain from me and my quality of life?
  2. Am I so lost in the drama of it that I can’t be rational anymore? (If so, get a qualified outsider’s perspective – and seriously evaluate their perspective!)
  3. Have I become so overwhelmed I’m not able to be clear about this or other parts of my life right now?
  4. Am I working a definite, focused plan toward the resolution of this matter? (And can you see measurable progress?)
  5. In my heart of hearts, do I believe things are getting better?

If something’s not working in your life, and you keep doing your very best to make it work, chances are your best isn’t good enough.  You need some allies, some support, some knowledge or perspective that you don’t have right now. Find a way to get help – a clergyperson, a therapist, a book, a workshop, something.  It isn’t fair to yourself or the people who love to you to struggle if there’s a way to fix things.

If you knew how to make it better, it would be by now.  Or at least improving visibly.

Only you can decide if you should keep struggling or let go, but get an objective perspective and then making the tough decision might be the best thing you can do for all concerned.  Be brave enough to let go.


When you’re ready, please help yourself to this comforting, helpful eBook

Stop Hurting and Start Healing





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