Monday, May 1, 2017

If Practice Is Harder Than Its Worth, Then Quit

The last time, I humble-bragged about practice being easy. It generated a lot of buzz, so I thought it's worth keeping the buzz, well, buzzing.

The loudest buzz I got was from people having the opposite problem: that they find practice hard.

It's okay. Practice can be both easy and hard, at different times, different places.

But when practice gets too easy or too hard, the outcome is the same: it's time to leave.

Coldplay puts it best

Is It Worth It?

Nothing ever comes easy in life. We all face hardships at every turn of our lives. And we need to work towards overcome them, and not give up at the first sign of trouble.

But you need to draw the line between bucking up and giving up, somewhere.

So where is that somewhere?

If what you're doing isn't worth the trouble anymore, then stop it.

Don't quit because your goal is hard to reach.

Instead, quit only when your goal - even if achieved - rewards you less than the effort you invested in it.

So what matters is not just the difficulty of attaining your goal, but how much that goal really means to you.

Start by measuring the value of your goal, by asking yourself: What's the best case scenario?

Next, quantify the work required to achieve that goal, by asking: How much do I need to put in to get this shit done?

Finally, compare the two, side by side.

If the volume of your work exceeds the value of your goal, then yes, quit by all means!

Time to quit

Image courtesy from

The Losing Formula

Why do people stick to jobs they hate? Why don't people know when to quit?

People can go wrong in two ways.

First, by underestimating the difficulty of our work. There are times when the internal and external forces are just stacked against us. We're not superhuman. We need to accept that there are some challenges beyond our abilities to overcome, no matter how hard we try. If you can't stand the waiting in court for hours, then maybe litigation isn't for you. If you're suffering every day at work, and such suffering is near terminal and curable only by a miraculous turn of events, then you know you've hit an impenetrable brick wall. Yes, it sucks to give up on your dreams due to reasons beyond your control, but that's life. Just move on to your other goals in life.

Secondly (less obviously but more importantly), by overestimating the rewards of our goal. Many things in life look prettier in our minds than in reality. TV can be deceiving, our seniors don't tell the whole truth. Law students get all excited about suiting up and delivering dramatic speeches in court defending hapless folks, only to find themselves buried in bundles of documents and fending off calls and emails from irate clients once they actually start practising. Yes, your hard work may still pay for the fast cars, Prada bags and Euro trips. But such rewards may not be enough to compensate for suffering for 5-6 days a week in a shitty, joyless job.

(Actually, you can go wrong in a third way: by both underestimating the difficulty of your work and overestimating the rewards of your goal. Then you're really screwed.)

This guy is screwed

Work It If It's Worth It

Stay or leave?

To answer that, just keep this simple mantra in mind:

Work it if it's worth it.

And if it isn't, then quit.

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