The most successful and creative people know how to fail fast – recognising when something isn’t working, addressing and moving forward, which in the end is anything but failure and actually paves the way to success.
If life stamped “best by” dates on relationships, goals, and other parts of our journey, we’d have a much easier time chucking them like jugs of rancid milk. Since that won’t happen anytime soon, it’s important to know when to stop doing things that aren’t working anymore.
We have so many reasons, however, to maintain the status quo. For one, it’s comforting. If you’ve been in a relationship for several years, you know all the particulars of your partner’s personality, habits, and preferences. You know what to expect because you’ve had experience. With all the work you’ve put in, having to learn a new person inside and out seems daunting. But when you’re arguing constantly and your interests began to shift too far to opposite poles, it may be time to reevaluate things, to step out of your security bubble to get what you need.
The same idea applies to your goals. Sometimes we stick with aspirations we’ve outgrown because they just sound right. You wanted to be a doctor at 12, so you push yourself on that track well into your late 20s, hesitant to give up a lifelong dream but “cheating” on it with your new interests. If you feel conflicted about your career path, reassess yourself: You could be holding on to something you once wanted but have outgrown. Part of the beauty of being human is learning and growing. The problem isn’t with changing your mind—it’s with staying on a path solely because it felt right for you in the past.
Hardship, annoyance, or confusion do not automatically indicate that you should change your course. Sometimes, though, letting go is a sign of maturity, an indication that you’re honest about who you are and what you want. It’s not all always about saving the relationship or dream: It’s about recognizing when that part of your life has grown so clumpy, moldy, and inedible that you can’t waste any more precious time, money, or energy on it.