There’s a famous story about how a journalist once asked a couple, “How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?”
“We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.”
They implied that kids nowadays are more tempted to throw away whatever is broken without considering fixing it, and Forbes did mention something about Millenial leaders being impatient. It makes sense of course, since we live in a world where everything is available at our fingertips. We are a generation hooked on methods of instant gratification. We want everything now..and if not now, then yesterday.
Recently I wrote a piece where I said, “We are all wounded, but maybe we need to think of ourselves in terms of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing cracks with pieces of gold so that the broken is more beautiful than the new.”
That referred to ourselves. But what if we find ourselves in broken careers or broken relationships… Do we work hard to fix it or do we throw it away? How do we decide?
1. Let the past whisper the answer to you
-Find out your default reaction.
The most obvious scientific way to approaching this is to study the past and find your default reaction. Are you a fixer or a thrower? There is a quote that says, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So from past behavior, what has been your default reaction? To run away at the first sign of danger or to try and fix something but then end up with the thing in your hand despite the fact that it has obviously outlived its usefulness?
-Has your default reaction served you?
In other words, do you find yourself thinking, “Maybe I should have stayed longer. Maybe it could have worked out if I only tried harder. I didn’t give it my best shot…”
There’s no point for regrets of course, since what’s done is done. But you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if your default reaction – to run or stay – has served you.
-If it has served you (and sometimes that is the case), then I think you’re okay to run when you run but if it hasn’t then maybe you need to up the dial a bit and raise your patience threshold because you’re a bit too impatient.
2. The ROI method
Measure your return on investment, and I’m not talking about taking out a calculator and crunching out numbers (though some of you nerds might be tempted to do that). But look into the effort you put into trying to fix the situation and measure it against the progress you are making into actually fixing it. Sometimes our effort lead to monumental leaps, which is all good and well. But when you feel like you’re blowing air into a torn balloon and the only thing the balloon seems to be doing is flapping and making noise…then it’s about time to call it quits. I’ve written about this in details previously.
3. Let it sort itself out
A professor once made a remark about how some problems sort themselves out after a while when you let them be. The funniest part about that remark was its ending, “Like email.” It was funny because it was not expected. We live in a world where email was the one thing that usually doesn’t sort itself out on its own but we learned not to send him emails about important things throughout the semester. My point is, there are some situations where the deterioration is organic. You don’t have to make an effort to fix a broken thing, destroy it or simply walk away from it. All you have to do is wait and the deadline will zoom right past and it will expire. Why I mention it is because we’ve turned into a generation of “Oh my God we have to do something about this!” that we don’t see there is an option out there and that option is to actually DO NOTHING.