The people around you, online resources, and conventional wisdom all tell you never to give up on your goals. It’s a commonly accepted sentiment and there are even psychological studies that discuss grit — the ability to persevere through difficulties and challenges. It’s easy to believe that you must stick to long-term goals through thick and thin, regardless of the number of years it takes.
While grit an amazing skill and trait to have, the formula for success is not the same for everyone. Have you become so set on a particular goal that, despite considering other possibilities, it seems as if giving up and moving on is not an option? What if you were told that sometimes, there is a healthy way for you to move on? In the event that plans aren’t working out and the goal isn’t what you want anymore, what do you do?
1. Assess your situation
This is a case where you cannot act purely out of logic. Ask yourself if this goal is still something you want. How do you feel when you think about it? Avoid thoughts about your frustration and focus on the potential achievement and the reason behind setting your goal. Is it something you need? If the thought of it still energizes and excites some part of you, keep going. Are the obstacles as formidable as you’ve been thinking they are? Ask for honest outside perspectives and feedback. Don’t let the frustrations and slumps of getting there hinder you from what you could attain.
However, if you find that your motivation has changed and your vision is no longer aligned with your past self, it may be time to revise your goals, so that you can redirect yourself toward something more realistic and in-tune with what you want.
2. Make your tweaks
You don’t necessarily have to scrap your goal. After all, you’ve already put some hard work into it. Use what you have to shift gears instead of starting anew. Be resourceful, no efforts are worthless, so apply what you’ve already gained to your new projects.
Think of the process as taking a road trip. Imagine that your starting point is New York and that your destination is Orlando, Florida. Similarly, when you create a goal, you set the destination in your internal GPS. Halfway to Florida, you find yourself unhappy and struggling. The roads are bumpy, the highway-side food is terrible, you’re tired, and all you want is to be back asleep in a real bed.
What is the reason for going to Orlando? Is it your passion and dream to go to Disney World? Is that still what you want? Let’s say that it’s no longer your priority, that you realize that you actually want to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana instead. Instead of dropping everything and going all the way back New York, use what you have. You’re always halfway to Florida, so just reorient your direction. Oftentimes, you’re closer than you may think.
Now in life, it’s not as simple as plugging in a new address and following the instructions on a well-laid out road map, but essentially, the concept is the same. Why abandon all the work you’ve done, when you can be carried by your momentum to keep advancing?
3. Find the courage
We’ve all felt the disheartening, soul-crushing disappointment that comes from having failed to achieve a goal. Just know that at the end of the day, goals are flexible. It takes strength to walk away and it’s not always just about the destination. A lot of life is what you do along the way, the life you lived getting there.
Remember that priorities are always changing. Don’t feel bad about trying to do what’s best for you, but be honest — if you are changing your goals too often, something is unclear within. You should be planning your journey to guide you to a better life. Don’t settle for anything less.
Originally published at medium.com