Whether you set [New Year’s Resolutions](https://evidencemag.com/resolutions-2014/) or not (I don’t), you probably have several goals you’re chasing right now.
Maybe you’re trying to become [leaner](https://evidencemag.com/fat-loss-podcast/), stronger, faster, or more productive. Maybe you’ve set some other self improvement goals.
Good. Setting goals is one of the best things you can do to improve. But that doesn’t mean you always need to finish them.
Quitting is sometimes not only okay, but [the smarter choice](https://freakonomics.com/2011/09/30/new-freakonomics-radio-podcast-the-upside-of-quitting/). Here are six signs you should probably give up on your goals.
### 1. You hate the process.
Muhammad Ali was famous for saying “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
Good for him. Most people, however, including high level athletes, enjoy their training. Most of them start playing sports because they love it, and become competitive because they’d like to devote their lives to that pursuit.
Large accomplishments like winning an Olympic Gold medal do make people happy in the short-term, but that feeling quickly wears off. [Studies have shown](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21859208) that the happiest people in the world savor small wins and experiences throughout the day, instead of relying on huge, delayed victories.
At one point I was training over 40 hours per week for triathlon. It was hard, some workouts sucked, but overall I loved it.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, writer, actor, [bodybuilder](https://evidencemag.com/layne-norton-peaking/), or cook, most people enjoy what they do.
This doesn’t mean you should enjoy every part of the process. If you’re trying to lose fat, you [need to create a calorie deficit](https://evidencemag.com/why-calories-count/), and no one enjoys that. But the benefits of seeing yourself get leaner should outweigh the downsides of dieting.
If you don’t like the process of achieving your goal, you need to change the process or the goal.
### 2. Your goals aren’t aligned with your long-term ambitions or talents.
How do you see yourself in 20 years? How do you want people to remember you? What are you *really* good at?
If you want to be remembered as a great businessperson, then your number one priority shouldn’t be [getting big and jacked](https://evidencemag.com/max-muscle-plan-podcast/).
If you want people to remember you as someone they can always count on, then don’t be “that guy” who can never help out your girlfriend because you have a workout.
Another problem is that we sometimes invest in goals that aren’t aligned with our true talents.
For instance, I’ve wanted to be a professional triathlete since I was eight years old. I still train more than most sane people and compete sometimes. I could probably make a modest living as a pro. That’s not my biggest goal anymore. I’ve realized that I can make a larger impact on the world as an entrepreneur, so I put more time and energy into building new businesses than I used to.
We all have a vision of what we aspire to be. Your short-term goals need to be aligned with that vision. If they aren’t, quit.
### 3. You learn that achieving your goal involves more work than you originally planned.
Let’s say you want to gain 50 pounds of muscle. You’re skinny, and you [want to be huge](https://evidencemag.com/how-to-build-muscle-podcast/). You’re all psyched up about training and eating to get huge.
Then after a few weeks, you realize that your plan is too much for you to handle. You’re not recovering well. You’re having trouble eating enough and it’s starting to get in the way of your other goals.
You’re tired of being full all of the time, and not being able to play other sports because you’re so stuffed. You’re tired of having to plan your meals around your other activities.
You don’t necessarily have to quit, but you decide to set a more modest goal, say 10 pounds.
Or, maybe you find that gaining muscle isn’t making you happier, so you set another goal instead.
### 4. Achieving your goal takes away from other, more important ones.
Everyone has a limited amount of time, energy, and money.
There are only so many hours in a day that you can work. At some point you need to rest.
As someone who’s extremely driven, you’re probably working on more than one goal at a time. You’re trying to get leaner, become a better athlete, make more money, and [develop a better social life](https://www.thematinggrounds.com/). Sometimes you push yourself too hard, and your life starts falling apart.
For instance, let’s say you set a goal of making an extra $10,000 this year. You’re also trying to gain an extra 20 pounds of muscle. And you want to compete in several powerlifting meets. And attend several conferences. And you want to spend more time with your family and friends.
You have to work about an extra hour per day to each your business goals. You have to train another hour per week to get bigger. You have to spend more time and money on food. You also have to schedule time to talk with your friends. You might even sleep a few hours, too.
At some point, you have to make a choice about what goals are most important to you. You have to nourish the ones that are most significant, and let the others die (for now).
### 5. You don’t feel more accomplished as you get closer to your goal.
Let’s say you want to go from 10% body fat to 5% body fat. You think that you’ll be happier with a leaner body.
You get to 6 or 7% body fat, and you’re happy that the process is working. But overall, your response is “Meh.” You find that [getting lean is overrated](https://www.jcdfitness.com/2012/10/why-getting-jacked-strong-and-lean-is-never-enough-how-to-manage-your-expectations-in-fitness/).
Getting leaner isn’t making you as happy as you thought it would. Your efforts weren’t wasted, but it isn’t the same rewarding experience you envisioned.
If you don’t feel at least a little more excited about your goal as you get closer to achieving it, it might not be worth the trouble.
### 6. You find another goal that’s more important.
You’re not the kind of person who sits around the house doing nothing. You’re ambitious, motivated, and talented, and you’re always trying to become better.
Here’s the real difference between successful quitters, like you, and regular quitters:
When you quit a goal, it’s so you can spend more time and energy on another, more important one.
When “quitters” quit, it’s so they don’t have to face real failure or work.
Quitting goals is about setting priorities, not being lazy.
### Just because you don’t reach your goal doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
Let’s say the longest you’ve ever run is 10 miles. You set a goal of running a marathon, which is 26.2 miles. On the big day, however, you only run to mile 20.
Did you really fail? Of course not. You doubled your longest run.
Failing to reach your initial goal rarely leaves you with nothing. You’ll probably get a lot closer than you ever would have if you hadn’t set any goals.
Don’t give up on your aspirations. Instead, scrutinize your current goals, and make sure they’re bringing you closer to your long-term vision of who you want to be.
You’ll probably have to give up on a few of your goals. Before you start beating yourself up, remember this:
**The only way to know if your goal is worth quitting is to try it first.**
Then you can quit and do something else.
What goals are you going to quit? What goals are you going to pursue?
Let me know in the comments below.