To ADAPT is to change (something) so that it functions better or is better suited for a purpose.
To GIVE UP is to concede or relinquish.
Life is full of many choices and we would like to believe that the choices we make fall in line with our beliefs and goals. However, there are many times in life where the choice we make seems to neither follow our beliefs nor our goals. At that point in time we sit and wonder did we give up or did we simply adapt. The answer to that question defines us, solidifies our moral code and our confidence in ourselves. So if the choice between adapting and giving up is so important to our well being we must always be aware of the difference, right?
If only it were that simple.
There are times where the choice could be clearly on the side of adapting or on the side of giving up, but I fear the vast majority of the time these types of choices live in a very murky grey area, where it is almost impossible to see the line that divides the two. Having gone through some recent adapt or give up situations I tried to figure out how to determine which choice was which.
STEP 1 – Know the core of your goals and beliefs.
You might have told yourself, and your friends and family, that your goal is to travel, to run your own business, to be a National Geographic Photographer… Dig down to the core of that goal, the kernel from which the goal erupted and took form. If you said you wanted to travel all your life, for fun or for work, dig deeper to understand what it is about that goal that really excites you. Perhaps you like learning about other cultures, testing your own limits, seeing people and places different from yours, tasting other foods, learning languages and the list goes on. Only you can pull apart the layers of what you state is your goal to determine the real heart of it.
You will never know for certain if you are simply giving up or adapting if you do not do this deep dive analysis of your goals and beliefs.
STEP 2 – View the choices like a CEO.
Once you know your real goals and beliefs, you can analyze the choices being presented clearly. The CEO is interested in profits, adding value, efficiency, and the image of his or her company. Put the emotional attachment, the ego aside, and look objectively at the choices.
- Is the choice you are facing taking you on a more efficient, or a value added, path to your end goal, your profits?
- Does the path contradict any of your beliefs?
If the answers are 1-yes and 2-no, than you can stop here. You did not give up, you simply adapted. For example, say you always planned to run your own business and the next career step was to start one. However, you were given a great job offer that would give you needed skills to ultimately run your own business. After accepting you might have given yourself a hard time saying you had given up on your goal of starting your business right now, when you actually adapted to the situation gaining both efficiency and value to apply to your end goal. You could have stuck to your goal and jumped to start your own business immediately without the skills. You might have found success without the additional job experience, but you probably would have gone through some tough challenges causing you unnecessary pain along the way.
If you answered 1 -yes and 2-yes or 1- no and 2 -no or yes, you could be giving up and you need to skip to STEP 3.
STEP 3 – Determine if your beliefs or goals have changed over time.
Has anything major changed in your life? Did you just go from being single to having a significant other, a husband, a wife? Did you just have a child, another child, a pet? Did you or someone close to you go through a major health or other life changing experience?
Suddenly that goal to travel for a living is not so strong anymore, after getting married, having a kid, getting sick. At one point your goals were your own, career oriented or other, now your goals look like a Venn diagram gone berserk with about 10 intersecting circles of interests and goals and needs of others, along with yours.
Imagine a single flower in a flower pot. The water, the food, the sun the love is focused solely on that flower. Eventually the flower gets bigger and stronger and the owner plants it outside in the garden. Now the bees and other bugs depend on the flower for food. The flower competes with the other flowers and vegetables to get food, water and sunlight. In this new environment all grown up, the flower’s goal is not simply to exist for its own sake, but to survive, to compete, to support the environment it is living in. Sometimes a choice in life will come along to take us in a new direction that our environment is directing us toward. Don’t feel that you have given up, you are adapting to life, the circles in the Venn Diagram, the other flowers.
STEP 4 – What does your gut tell you?
After you have figured out the core of your goals and beliefs and determined if the choice is taking you in a more efficient direction or not, supporting fundamental changes happening in your environment, you have arrived at the final, most scientific step of all….what does your gut say? At this point if you have done the analysis above and been brutally honest with yourself, your gut should be backing you up. If it is not you might want to go to step one and try again.