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Monday, October 27, 2014

Why You Should Be Giving Up (Sometimes)

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Bad things are going to happen in school. There are going to be tests that you bomb. (Okay... Considering my typical reader, bomb might mean a B but you get my point.) There are going to be teachers that you hate. There are going to be whole subjects that you dread. Heck, you're going to have plenty of personal problems to screw up your school work too.

One of the major differences between a successful student and a failure is that successful students learn to handle that negative stuff more effectively. No one gets through school without suffering from at least a few major problems. Some students suffer from a major setback and let it hold them back for life. Other students regroup and get themselves back into a new rhythm.

That's kind of a cliché but I think it's worth looking into a little because despite the classic iterations of this cliché in school it works a little differently. Many teachers will tell you to not give up after you make a mistake but in the real world, it's not that simple.

Quitters Sometimes Prosper

Just imagine how much hate I get from society for writing things like this. Sometimes, it's okay to give up. In fact, sometimes, you're better off giving up. (And I'm saying it to impressionable students! OH NO!)

Giving up is not always a negative.

There is a difference between giving up on an achievable and important task and giving up on an unachievable and irrelevant one. Giving up on an achievable and important task is usually stupid. Not giving up on an unachievable and irrelevant task is even more stupid. Of course, virtually everything falls somewhere in-between these extremes.

Too many students try to continuously attack their own weaknesses instead of focusing on building their strengths. Think of the classic nerd on television that sucks at physical education. Guess what? NO ONE CARES EXCEPT YOUR PE TEACHER! Sure, if you're competing for a super exclusive college, it may help a little but it won't help nearly as much as blowing all the skills your good at off the charts.

Does that mean never work on things you're bad at?

Of course not. Balancing it out a little is key. You can't be good at everything. You're not some super magical alien that's somehow capable of ignoring all the classic conventions of being human. I'm sorry to inform you but, unfortunately, you're one of the humans. (Well... Probably.)

Sometimes, it's okay to lay off the accelerator and see what other options you have.

World Class

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Outside of school, virtually everything I tell you in this article would be completely uncontroversial. Relating it to school is what scares a lot of people. A lot of people feel like students are incapable of understanding the complexity of regular life. I think those people are idiots. (Yes. That's a little harsh but if you agree with them you can always stop reading.) This is something you already know but it's something you might be scared to admit to yourself.

No one can be great at everything. I like to think about Michael Jordan as the perfect example of this. Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball players in history. When I was young I remember him moving from basketball to try playing baseball instead.

There he was, the greatest in the world, switching to a completely different sport. My natural instinct was telling me, he's going to be good. I really wanted to believe it but, as those with experience in the real world suggested, it didn't work out.

Everything is like that. It is very difficult to be one of the best in the world in two ultra competitive fields. In Michael Jordan's case, that's pro-basketball and pro-baseball.

In your case, that might be Math and English. If you're really good at one thing then, to continue to compete with the best, other things will have to suffer. When you fight this, you usually will end up feeling like you're a failure. That, unfortunately, will make you suffer in every aspect of your life.

When To Give Up

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The first key to knowing when it's appropriate to quit is figuring out how to set your priorities. If you set them right then this step becomes a whole lot easier. Be sure to check out my old articles for more on that if you need some help.

When you put in more (well-thought out) effort, and the results aren't blatantly obvious. It's time to start considering giving up. That being said, you usually shouldn't have to give up in the traditional sense.

Most of the time giving up should consist of giving up on your current strategy. If you're trying to improve your grade in Math and reading the textbook is getting you nowhere, STOP READING THE TEXTBOOK. Give up that original plan and move onto a new one. Maybe sit in the front of the class to focus better. Maybe ask the teacher for help. Maybe hire a tutor. Just be damn sure to STOP READING THE TEXTBOOK IF IT DOESN'T HELP YOU.

If it's something that you've already decided is low on your priority list then you should consider giving up the extra suffering you're investing in the problem completely. Maybe it's alright to get a B in Art class. Maybe you don't need to excel in the subjects you don't care about.

Once you figure this out it can dramatically improve every aspect of your studying (ironically, that often includes the subject you're “giving up” on.) In life, giving up is not never doing something again. It's stepping back, taking a breather, and approaching a different solution.

Don't get caught up in the old story they tell you about never giving up. It's a wild oversimplification of a very complicated subject.

Getting amazing grades is not impossible. In fact, it's easily possible. Yes... You read that right. Easily possible. That is, when you learn the right way to approach it. That's what this blog is about. Good grades can come from long and hard work or they can come from smart work. Smart work is what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow this blog and check out it's archive to get better grades than ever with less work than ever.

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