Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do Winners (sometimes) Quit?
Advice we've heard all our lives may be hazardous to our health.

Persistence is the keyword in life. From an early age onward, we're taught to keep at it, whatever the task, and not be swayed into nonaction by a little bit of failure. One of the first questions we're asked as children is "what do you want to be when you grow up?" The question turns into "what's your passion" once we get into our first job after college (when we're probably so far away from our passion that we just don't know it.) We're advised to Pursue Your Dream and Follow Your Bliss, and ignore the naysayers who counsel us "you probably won't succeed writing one act plays in Minnesota."

We're instructed to soldier on, whatever the cost.

As reported in Quitting Can Be Good for You (part of The New York Times Magazine's "7th Annual Year in Ideas" issue), researchers "found that teenage girls who are unable to disengage themselves from trying to attain hard-to-reach goals exhibited increased levels of the inflammatory molecule C-reactive protein (C.R.P.), which in adults is linked with diabetes, heart disease and early aging."

Now whether or not these findings are observable in the population at large is not known. But it tells me that my decisions to give up highly frustrating, little- chance-of-success goals may be a good thing. Even if it goes against everything I've been taught.

I do know that quitting a couple of projects I've spent a number of years on has opened up brainpower and time for me to pursue other goals.

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