Knowing When to Persevere and When to Pivot

Life and business are full of challenges, uncertainties, and moments where the path forward isn’t clear.

These moments often present us with a critical decision: Should we cut our losses and move on, or should we dig in and keep going despite the difficulties?

This decision is complex, blending emotional, rational, and contextual factors. Understanding how to navigate this decision can significantly impact our personal and professional lives.

This One’s Personal!

This is a personal one for me right now. For the last few weeks, I’ve been contemplating whether it’s time to step back from my YouTube channel (hence, no accompanying video).

Next month, it will be a year since I relaunched my channel. In that time, I’ve made 84 videos, and each one typically takes a minimum of 10 hours to decide on the concept, research, write, record, edit, upload, and ‘market’ (I’ve successfully managed to reduce that from 20 hours each!).

It’s hellishly time-consuming; it eats up ALL of my spare time for seemingly few rewards, and perhaps my energy could be better spent elsewhere?

As with all of my content, I tend to research whatever I’m going through (or comes up repeatedly in client sessions), and as I learn, I share it with you!

So, the following strategies are things I’ve been working through with my dilemma and what I’m taking into consideration when deciding whether to continue with the channel… at least for now. Hopefully, you’ll find this process useful, too.

Understanding the Stakes

Making the decision to cut your losses or to keep going requires a deep understanding of the stakes involved. Here are some considerations to weigh:

1. Emotional Investment

It’s natural to become emotionally attached to a project or goal. This attachment can cloud our judgment. Acknowledge your emotional investment, but strive to separate it from your rational decision-making process.

2. Financial Impact

Assess the financial implications of continuing versus stopping. Are you throwing good money after bad, or is there a realistic prospect of a turnaround?

3. Time and Effort

Consider the time and energy you’ve invested and will continue to invest. Are these resources better spent elsewhere?

4. Opportunity Cost

What other opportunities are you missing out on by staying the course? Sometimes, moving on can open doors to new and more rewarding ventures.

When to Walk Away

Cutting your losses is not a sign of failure; rather, it can be a strategic decision to redirect your efforts more effectively. Here are signs that it might be time to move on:

1. Consistent Negative Outcomes

If your efforts consistently result in negative outcomes despite making necessary adjustments, it might be time to reconsider your approach.

2. Diminished Returns

When additional effort and resources do not yield proportionate results, it’s a sign that you’re facing diminishing returns.

3. Shifting Goals or Priorities

If your goals or priorities have changed since you started, sticking with the initial plan may no longer make sense. Adaptation is crucial.

4. External Feedback

Sometimes, trusted advisors, mentors, or market feedback can provide insights that you’re too close to see. If credible sources suggest moving on, consider their advice seriously.

5. Emotional and Physical Well-being

If the pursuit is taking a toll on your health and well-being, it’s crucial to prioritise self-care and possibly pivot to something more sustainable.

Keeping Going

Perseverance is a key trait of successful individuals and businesses. Here are indicators that you should keep pushing forward:

1. Signs of Progress

Even small signs of progress can indicate that your efforts are paying off. Incremental improvements can lead to significant results over time.

2. Passion and Commitment

If you’re deeply passionate about your goal and committed to making it work, that drive can fuel your perseverance through tough times.

3. Support and Resources

If you have a strong support system and the necessary resources to sustain your efforts, these can help you weather the storm.

4. Learning and Adaptation

If you’re learning from setbacks and adapting your strategy effectively, these experiences can be valuable in achieving long-term success.

5. Vision Alignment

If your current path aligns with your long-term vision and values, staying the course can be more rewarding in the end.

Case Studies: Learning from Real-Life Examples

Case Study 1: Netflix

Netflix started as a DVD rental service, facing intense competition from established video rental stores like Blockbuster. When the founders saw the potential of streaming technology, they pivoted despite initial challenges. The decision to persevere with a new strategy, rather than sticking with the DVD rental model, led Netflix to become a global entertainment giant.

Case Study 2: Kodak

Kodak, once a leader in the photography industry, failed to adapt to the digital revolution despite inventing the first digital camera. Their decision to stick with traditional film photography rather than pivot to digital led to their eventual bankruptcy. Kodak’s story is a cautionary tale about the importance of adaptation and cutting losses when necessary.

Practical Steps to Making the Decision

1. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats associated with continuing versus cutting your losses. This structured approach can provide clarity.

2. Seek External Perspectives

Consult with mentors, peers, or advisors who can offer an objective view of your situation. Their insights can be invaluable in making an informed decision. But please be careful about whom you approach for feedback – not everyone will have your best interests at heart!

3. Set Milestones and Review Points

Establish clear milestones and regular review points to assess progress. If you consistently fail to meet these benchmarks, it might be time to reconsider your path.

4. Reflect on Your Long-term Goals

Align your decision with your long-term goals and values. Ask yourself whether your current path supports your ultimate vision.

5. Assess Resource Availability

Consider the availability of resources—financial, emotional, and physical. Ensure you have the necessary support to continue if you choose to persevere.

Balancing Hope and Pragmatism

Hope and optimism are powerful motivators but must be balanced with pragmatism. Blind optimism can lead to prolonged struggles without resolution, while excessive pragmatism can stifle innovation and growth. Striking the right balance is key.

1. Embrace Flexibility

Be willing to adapt your approach based on new information and changing circumstances. Flexibility can help you navigate challenges more effectively.

2. Practice Self-awareness

Regular self-reflection can help you understand your motivations, biases, and emotional investments. This awareness is crucial in making balanced decisions.

3. Maintain Resilience

Develop resilience to cope with setbacks and failures. Resilience doesn’t mean stubbornness; it means bouncing back and learning from experiences to make better decisions.

The Wrap-up

The decision to cut your losses or keep going is rarely straightforward. It involves a delicate mix of rational analysis, emotional intelligence, and strategic foresight. By considering the factors outlined above, you can make more informed decisions that align with your long-term goals and well-being.

Remember, every journey involves both perseverance and the occasional need to pivot. The key lies in recognising when to employ each strategy to maximise your potential for success and fulfilment. Whether you choose to cut your losses or keep going, making a thoughtful, informed decision will ultimately lead you closer to your aspirations.

After analysing my own situation using the process above, I’ve decided it’s time for a break from my channel, at least for a couple of weeks. If I’m completely honest, I’m exhausted. It’s incredibly hard running your own business at the best of times, let alone when you add something completely new into the mix (like an entire YouTube channel) and sometimes, we can miss the signs that we’re on a collision course with burnout, so I’m taking my own advice and taking a well-earned break!

What Next?

If you would like help with any of the topics I discuss in my articles, please contact me either through LinkedIn or email me at info@jobanks.net to arrange a complimentary 15-minute discovery call.

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As always, thanks for your continued support.

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