Perseverance is a hallmark of medical education, training and practice. Physicians know that dedication and pushing through adversity is often what is required in order to achieve a desired outcome. However, can there be a downside to this head down, plow forward attitude? Can it lead to a kind of tunnel vision that is blind to reality? What if you are currently working in a situation that you are dissatisfied with and that is a source of escalating unhappiness? You may have spent the past several months or even years trying to tolerate the problems or trying to resolve the situation. You have been holding your cards hoping for an eventual win, but how do you know when it is time to fold? Is there going to be some magic light bulb moment when you know that it is time to let go and move forward? Maybe. Maybe not. Waiting and waiting for the illumination of this metaphorical light bulb may seem like a solution, but may actually just be another form of passive perseverance that has morphed into a kind of quicksand of inflexibility, negativity and maybe even stupidity.
Folding is not the same as quitting. Folding can be an act of courage and belief. It may be scary, but you’ve faced scary before. Folding is an option that allows for new possibilities and opportunities. It can be preceded by cultivating a mindset of questioning and learning:
- How much energy do I want to keep pouring into a situation that never changes? Can I train my energy in a more productive direction?
- How much joy do I want keep throwing away on this unrewarding situation?
- What is the toll that this situation is having on my mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing? Is it sustainable?
- Why do I keep trying the same thing over and over again?
- Why am I waiting for others to take action instead of me?
Try using these questions to catapult yourself into a new way of thinking, so that you can better know “When To Hold, And When To Fold.”