Sometimes it is hard to know when to quit. Einstein is credited with saying that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”  But like most sayings there is always its opposite partner. Just keep trying, you will get there – winners never quit and quitters never win. So which is it?

We remember stories like how many record companies rejected the Beatles before they finally got a contract. We hear about how The Police had something like 9 attendees at a gig during their first UStour. We think about John Kennedy Toole who tried so hard to get his novel published and finally gave up and killed himself. His mother then started trying to get his book published and finally accomplished it when Walker Percy stepped in to help. A Confederacy of Dunces went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

I have worked with students who were miserable in college. There were a variety of reasons. Some were only in college because they felt pressured to be there. Some wanted to be in college, but had chosen one that was not a good fit for them. They were miserable but having spent a year or two or more at school, wanted to tough it out to get the degree and so they would not feel like they had wasted the years they had already spent.

Listen to your self talk. Is that time truly a waste? What did you learn, not only in class, but about yourself? How can you use that in your life? What are the costs and benefits of sticking with it versus moving to something where you might be happier and feel like you were spending your time wisely?

There are a couple of metaphors that can be helpful in making a decision. Are you in a hole and just getting deeper and feeling worse and worse? It may be time to stop digging and get out. Remember Lyndon Johnson. The recorded phone conversations between him and Sen. Long revealed how he agonized over the war. It was not winnable in a traditional sense, but he also did not want to be the first US president to “lose” a war. Pride got in the way, and people lost their lives. If you are in your own privateVietnam, is pride getting in the way of your decision? Remember that is the conflict that gave us the expression, “we destroyed the village in order to save it.”  How are you treating yourself?

If you are having trouble with decision making and coping with the situation you are in, it can be helpful to talk to someone who can listen and help you think through things – a trusted friend, a nonjudgmental family member, your spiritual advisor, a trusted teacher, or a professional. You only have this life. How do you want to spend it? A popular phrase these days is, “it is what it is.” I recently heard a good variation – “it is what it is, in this moment.” Whatever situation you are in, it will pass. The question is, how do you want it to pass and into what.