Goals: Know When to Fold ‘Em

Sometimes in life you need to know when to give up because there are certain things that are just beyond human possibility. When you give up on something you aren’t going to achieve it allows you to focus on something that you ARE going to achieve; it isn’t about winning everything, it’s about whether or not you make it to the desired goal in the end.

Sometimes in life you just have to give up. That may seem like a pretty absurd statement from a professional coach and lifestyle mentor, but I think it’s the most important advice I ever got, and the most important thing I can share with a client who’s facing something that is just not humanly possible.


A friend of mine was telling me recently that she found this concept of giving up very powerful. She is studying for her MBA, and is in a graduate statistics course. Not having a background in business, and never having had statistics, she found herself floundering the day before the first test. Her professor has a policy that you can skip the first test, and the second test will count for that much more. Or you can take the test and not turn it in, and the same policy applies. But if you take the test, your score counts toward your final grade.

My friend realized the day before the test that there was no way she could pass. She simply didn’t understand the concepts. Given more time and some tutoring, she could easily pass the course, but this test was impossible.

About 36 hours before the test, she accepted that she wasn’t going to somehow cram all that knowledge into her head and understand the concepts that she didn’t comprehend. What she needed was more time, some help, and a plan. She gave up on trying to pass that test, and started focusing on passing the course.

Immediately, my friend felt more empowered in relation to the class. She understood some concepts, and knew what she did not know. She knew where to find help, and she was willing to seek out a tutor who could help her with her problem areas.

What happened when my friend gave up on the first test was that she could focus her energy on the overall goal, which is getting through the class. She must pass to get her MBA in marketing, and she’s paid for the class, so she’s not inclined to just give up altogether.

But selective giving-up can be very powerful. When you give up on one thing that you’re not going to achieve anyway, and focus on something you know you can do, you can really make strides in your life. It’s not about winning every single game. It’s about whether you get through to your goal in the end.

Let’s go back to my friend. If she had insisted on taking, and turning in, the first test, she would have failed the test. She would have reduced her chances of passing the course, let alone escaping with a grade higher than a C. She would have ruined her grade for the sake of not giving up.

At the risk of dating myself, as Kenny Rogers said in The Gambler, “You gotta know when to fold ‘em.”

How can you use selective giving up to achieve your goals?

  • When you are facing something that feels impossible, think about what would happen if you gave up this fight.
  • How could you give up in this one area and still move forward?
  • If giving up now would help you later, let yourself fold ‘em.

Thanks to LifeEdit.net for featuring this post in the Carnival of Life Editing, and to E3 Success Blog for including this post in the Carnival of Success Principles.

Explore Similar Topics

Recent Post

relinquishment and addiction