In my family, we enjoyed playing different board games. I started playing Scrabble as a young girl against my dad and my great aunt, both fierce competitors with [to me] astronomical vocabularies. I didn’t win a game against either of them until my aunt was in her late 80’s. I think I may have bested my dad once (as an adult).
Playing against either of them often seemed like trying for the impossible, but I learned from my losses. I watched them, learned their strategy techniques and new words.
I’ve recently started playing Words With Friends with a new friend, and thanks to my Scrabble boot camp as a child, I’m pretty damn good at this game. My friend has been taking a metaphorical whipping to my Words-play. Several times, as my score is 100+ points over his, he’ll resign and start a new game. At first, I was disappointed in him for resigning – it seemed like he was giving up, quitting. But looking at it again, he starts new games with me each time. I realized he knows when to call it quits, which is different than “quitting.”
I’ve often put pressure on myself for giving up on things. I admire persistence and determination, and I’d like to be true to those values. But with two divorces, I often wonder if I gave up too easily. I’ve come to terms with it because I know I made the right decision and that each relationship was detrimental to me. But turning it around, what if I had given up sooner (like before it got to a wedding)? Maybe it’s not that I gave up too soon, but that I tried too hard to make a bad thing work.
The same can be said for my employment history. I’ve been taught that you should stay with a company for a length of time – at the bare minimum a year, but preferably more – because it shows dedication and will give prospective employers credibility in your commitment. But what if it’s not a healthy work environment for you? Sticking it out, trying to convince yourself it’s the “right thing to do” even as your stomach ties in knots and your heart races each Sunday night before the next work week,…what are you really gaining by putting in another year, another month, another few weeks? And what are you trading for that? Evaluate the transaction and see if it’s worth it to you.
Consider the time and energy you are putting in versus what you’re getting out of it – salary, status, sense of accomplishment, achievements, what you’re learning, resume- or portfolio-building projects, working with great people. Like any relationship, there will be give and take, times when you have to put in extra hours or extra effort. Look at the bigger picture and see if the transaction is favorable to you. If it’s not, where can you make small changes that could have a big impact on your enjoyment?
And how do you know when it’s time to call it quits? For me, it’s when the transaction is so unbalanced, it’s not healthy for me to continue and all efforts to make changes have failed. I often try and try and try to make things work, because I do value persistence, but I’m starting to realize I might be better off saving my energy for the next game. Perhaps it’s better to admit defeat, move on, and start a new game.