Quit When You Are Ahead
I had the privilege of attending the Grand National at Aintree last week, which was the first time I have ever been to a race meeting. The day was gloriously sunny, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Right next to the track you could not only hear the pounding of racehorses’ hooves, you could feel their muscular power through your own feet too. Race days like this are occasions to dress up, to enjoy the atmosphere, and of course to have a little flutter. Though I have never been much of a gambler; my logical left brain usually clicks into gear, pointing out that bookmakers exist to make a profit from the punters. Your horse might win a race, but the bookies will always win at the meeting. Nevertheless bets were placed and money was won on the big race of the day. All of which was then gambled in the final race of the day, on the favourite, who didn’t even place. The horse racing gods giveth, and then they taketh away. So when is a good thing too much, when should we push for just one more, and when should we rest on our successes? Timing in life can be everything. How do we know when the time is right to change direction and to choose a different path?
Everything starts with awareness. You need to start out with a sense of how you are feeling and what sort of results you are getting in life, and it always helps to have an objective to measure your progress against. Not that I believe that goals are the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ of life, it’s more about assessing how things are going for you now, by making a comparison with previously set goals. If you didn’t achieve a goal that you set yourself, so long as you are happy with where you are now, then that’s still a positive result in my book. And, once you have set a direction to follow, it is then important to take action in that direction. Display through your behaviour that you are prepared to become the person that you think you want to be. So once you are on a path and moving in a particular direction how do you know when it’s time to change track? There are many different things to pay attention to here. What I have found in my life is that when it is time to change you begin to notice a general, building sense of unease regarding your life situation, and the results that you have achieved. If we fail to pay sufficient attention to these ‘signals’ then the signals tend to louder and louder until we have no choice but to pay attention to them. At the same time it is also important to develop an understanding of when a setback on your chosen path is simply a signal to redouble your efforts, and when is it a sign to change direction altogether. To assess this I would check inside and judge how aligned or balanced you feel about the path that you are following. If you still feel excited about following that path, then take some learnings from the set back and move on. Sometimes achieving in life requires a good dose of ‘stick-at-it-ability’. But if you no longer feel excited then maybe it’s time to switch horses.
Ask yourself; “Have I achieved what I wanted to achieve?” If you have, then ask yourself “Is there more that I can achieve, that I want to achieve, by continuing in this direction?” And if you answered no to the first question, then ask yourself “Is it still productive for me to follow this path?” You may find that what you have achieved thus far isn’t what you set out to achieve, but it has nevertheless served its purpose well enough. Change is not failure, however change without learning may well be. A final tip for you, always make appropriate comparisons, compare yourself to how you were before, rather than by comparing yourself to other people. Life is not a race, we can all be winners, simply by wholeheartedly taking part, and you can bet the house on that.
“Life is about timing.” Carl Lewis