When to Quit and When to Persist

How do you know when to give up?

And when to push on with everything you’ve got?  

Must you abandon ship or stay the course?  

Patience and persistence are essential for success. If you give up whenever you face a challenge or an obstacle, you’re bound to fail. But you also need to know when to quit and cut your losses. 

In episode 46 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) The Sunk Cost Fallacy means we prefer to continue the action if we already put time, effort, and money into it, even if the current costs outweigh the benefits. 

2) Commitment bias is to stand by past decisions despite new evidence showing this isn’t the best action. 

3) The Endowment Effect is to ascribe a higher value to things we already own. The disutility of a loss is greater than the utility of a comparable gain. The displeasure in losing something is greater than the pleasure in gaining the same thing.   

4) The story behind Instagram

  • How this microbusiness with 13 employees sold to Facebook for $1 billion
  • Why co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quit working on the check-in app, Burbn, and pivoted to the photo-sharing app, Instagram
  • The significance of focusing on a unique solution for a specific problem

5) The three curves to watch out for in any major endeavor or project, according to Seth Godin:

  • The Dip
  • The Cul-de-sac
  • The Cliff

6) The three questions to ask when deciding whether to quit or stick with it:

  • Am I in a cul-de-sac, on a cliff, or in the dip?
  • Am I willing to slog through the dip?
  • Why am I doing this thing? (Is it to be the best or for some other reason?)

7) Why you need to practice strategic quitting and set your quitting criteria before you start.

8) The Incrementalist approach is to prioritize what matters, make time for it, and create margin.

9) Sometimes you do need to quit even good things to make space for one great thing.

To listen to episode 46, When to Quit and When to Persist, click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you’re a visual learner, watch the video on our new YouTube channelThe Incrementalist – A Productivity Show!

Sources cited:

  • Seth Godin, The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

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Dyan Williams is a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is also a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.