Giving Up: How To Let Go Of Hustle Culture

a man walking in a field

I give up. All the time. And I’m ok with it. Am I a quitter? Well, I hate labels, but if you must, yeah, I am. If I find myself on the wrong path, I’ll turn around. And I’m totally ok with giving up. Because you know who else gave up? Reed Hastings. He co-founded a company called Pure Software, but scrapped it because he got frustrated and lost interest. Evan Williams and Biz Stone invented a podcasting platform called Odeo, but killed the idea when Apple launched podcasts. 

So, what has giving up given us? Netflix and Twitter. And those are just two examples. What has “never give up” given us? Tony Robbins, motivational cat posters, and Gary V. 

Listen, love me some Edison, Jordan, Oprah and Wooden, but if Reed, Evan and Biz persevered, like the motivational memes suggest, we may never have streaming, or the ability to binge-watch The Gentleman. Without Twitter, we may never have a place to make fun of conspiracy theories about election meddling.

My point is, giving up isn’t necessarily bad, so don’t let the world bully you into thinking it is. Giving up is a deeply personal choice, and no one else should make that decision for you. You shouldn’t be influenced by a meme poster, or a motivational speaker or some inner dialogue that locks you in a unwinnable situation. Sometimes, giving up allows other things to emerge that may be more aligned with your true purpose and potentially more beneficial to society. 

Giving Up Is Brave

cat hanging from rope motivational poster with just let go below it

So what does giving up really say about you? Well, given the pressure to not give up that society presents, giving up takes courage to stand against that. It is much easier to relentlessly work through obstacles you know are insurmountable, sacrificing your personal life, your family, rather than stepping back and facing the hard decision that the idea you spent the last year on is flawed. We all know these people.

But sometimes giving up is without a reason, or the reason is seemingly without merit. Maybe you don’t have the time. Maybe you are exhausted. Maybe you begin to prioritize other things in life, or start to doubt yourself. Or maybe you just feel like being lazy for a bit. And guess what, it is all ok. But giving up because you are filled with self-doubt may warrant a deeper dive into the whys around those feelings and actions. You have one life, and how you choose to pursue it is a completely personal choice, based on your needs, priorities and purpose. So don’t fall into the “never give up” trap if that is not what you truly want. And when you do, give yourself a little grace. No one benefits from carrying guilt around.

Mind Over Hustle

People who never give up are the ones that society always puts up on a pedestal. We love the finish line of perseverance. The obstacles we encountered were a badge of honor, and we happily discuss them after the fact. But we rarely bring up the things we lost in the race. The things we can never replace.

It’s a call for a cultural shift—a move towards valuing discernment and strategic retreat as much as perseverance and breakthrough. It’s about understanding the opportunity cost of our choices—recognizing that every moment spent banging our heads against a closed door is a moment lost that could be spent opening new ones. By allowing ourselves to let go of what’s not working, we’re freeing ourselves from society’s stigma of giving up. We’re giving ourselves permission to explore paths that could lead to solutions for new joys, problems yet unsolved, or contributions that might serve humanity in ways we never imagined.

On the mental health side, giving up can soften the psychological pressures of constantly striving for success in the eyes of others, like parents, spouse, friends. This creates space for a healthier self-concept that values wisdom and well-being over societal accolades. And physically, not eating, losing sleep, stress, drinking, drugs are generally companions to a “win at all costs” attitude. 

Recognizing when to give up can be a profound exercise in managing one’s ego. In a culture that often equates success with relentless pursuit, choosing to step off a path requires humility and self-awareness. 

Howard Hughes, a once-successful aviator and film producer, became known for his obsession with projects like the “Spruce Goose,” a colossal aeronautical failure that flew only once despite immense investment. His all-consuming drive and meticulous attention to unattainable goals led to a decline in his mental health, marked by extreme paranoia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hughes’s latter years highlight the tragic cost of unchecked ambition and the danger of not recognizing when to step back from fruitless endeavors.

Drop The Ego 

Regardless of your view on Elon Musk, his ego-driven need to double down a wayward tweet about buying Twitter was a profound moment in his life. His resulting actions to see it through diminished his personal brand and, seemingly, his quality of life. Rather than stepping back from that impulsive moment, having the courage to get out, instead he relentlessly pursued, even though it wasn’t smart business. The result was upending an established platform and the careers of many. Elon is a smart guy, wouldn’t you rather him focusing on mobility rather than communication, especially considering that’s not his strength?

Giving up teaches adaptability and resilience in the face of change. Learning to let go of one goal to pursue another reinforces the idea that life’s pursuits are very personal, and should be done at your own discretion, not what the pressures from society dictate. 

When we remove the stress to adhere to a specific outcome, it can lead to increased creativity and innovation, as the mind is freed up. People are more likely to take valuable risks and explore unconventional ideas when they are not bound by the fear of failure or the constraints of ego-driven goals.

Break The Wrist And Walk Away

Bravery does not lie in the battles we insist on fighting, but in the ones we decide to walk away from. Giving up, contrary to popular belief, isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a testament to our strength and self-awareness. We need to recognize that our energy, passion, and creativity are finite resources, and they deserve to be spent on endeavors that truly resonate with us. 

So, if you ever find yourself questioning whether to hold on or let go, remember: giving up can be an act of profound courage. It’s a choice to honor your well-being and open yourself to new possibilities that might just be waiting for you around the corner. There is an unsung valor in stepping back, reassessing, and maybe even changing direction. After all, life is not just about the ends we reach, but more about the wisdom, joy, love and peace we experience in our short time on earth.

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