How do you determine when to push through or move on? This is an issue that keeps rearing its head for me and for others I know. It’s often discussed regarding intimate relationships or life partners, but it comes up in every area – business, finance, sports, career, parenting, friendships, recreation, and healthcare.
I’ve been reading and rereading a policy I’ll be voting on this week. I’ve seen this policy before – more than once. I pushed for changes and got a meeting with the stakeholders. Some things were changed. Some were not. I felt like that was progress.
Now I see that most of the changes I fought for are gone and the policy disregards the segment I represent more than it did the first time around. It’s not particularly surprising. Change is a constant battle in certain organizations.
But I’m a volunteer. I’m giving time and energy that might be better directed to organizations that are more receptive. And yet, the entities most resistant to change are typically the ones that most need it. Knowing that makes me feel like I should push back again.
I also realize there is a point at which pushing back creates more resistance. I can hold up a vote, but I have no real authority within the organization. I can be circumvented with a simple procedural change.
The problem in this particular instance is that the stakeholders with the most power are not concerned how this policy affects my constituents. In the past two years, many of us have had the opportunity to see this kind of disregard in action.
No policy will be perfect for everyone it affects. But when husbands, wives, CEOs, legislators, law enforcement officials, physicians, or parents lack regard for those who are governed by their policies, it becomes more likely that rules will be created that result in real harm.
I am attempting to lessen that possibility. But I’m doing so from a position with limited power and authority. And I can easily be replaced. This is a singular situation, but also a recurring theme and it always leads to the question:
How can you know when to let go?
There’s no way to be absolutely sure how any situation will play out so there’s no absolute answer to this question. The best you can do is approach the decision mindfully, exploring as many sides as you can see (the more, the better). In other words, when you can step back and incorporate many points of view, your decision will be more informed.
You can also gather input from other sources. While this is helpful, it’s important to make a decision you feel comfortable owning. If you allow another’s opinion to influence you to do something you can’t feel peace about, the decision will continue to haunt you.
Many people may advise you to make a pro/con list. That can be helpful in showing you whether you see more positive than negative about moving on or pushing through, but the items on the list may follow the human bias for justifying our actions while taking the easy way out.
Here are a few questions you may want to consider when deciding to push through or move on. The situation will help you determine which ones apply.
What are my intentions? Which action is more in line with my intentions?
What are the risks of pushing through? What are the rewards? Do the rewards align with my values?
What are the risks of moving on? What are the rewards? Do the rewards align with my values?
What will I lose if I move on? What will I gain? Which aligns more with my values?
Have I been in a similar situation in which I regretted my decision? Why did I regret it? Do I feel a need to do things differently this time? Would doing things differently be a selfish decision, or would it benefit all parties?
Can I live with myself if I move on at this point or will I feel I have neglected my duty or failed to work through some issue I need to resolve?
Do I believe I have done everything I can do and further action on my part will be more destructive than helpful?
Is there another person who may be better suited to play my role from this point forward?
Is it costing me too much to continue this work or this relationship?
Would a short break give me the perspective I need? Can I take a break and come back to the decision?
How much is fear guiding my decision? (This is a good question to ask when anger is what I feel.) Can I sit with the fear until I’m more clear on its role?
If I feel strongly about the path I should take, but am afraid, can I enlist an advocate? Who would that advocate be?
If I need allies to affect change, should I redirect my energy to building an alliance?
Do I recognize that making no decision is actually making a decision? Am I able to set a deadline for making a decision and then remove the pressure and allow myself to process through all the feelings around it?
Am I keeping in mind that behind all policies are human beings?
Humans can be kind, supportive, inclusive, and compassionate. They can also be cruel, sadistic, dismissive, manipulative, and selfish. Sometimes the cruelty is a deliberate choice. Sometimes, it’s an inadvertent result of a lack of awareness. Raising awareness will most likely have the most lasting positive effect in any given situation. But it won’t automatically make someone care about an issue you believe they should care about.
Sometimes the moment requires a strong stand. Sometimes, it requires subtle pressure over a long period of time. And sometimes, it requires walking out the door and letting go. I’ll be keeping all of this in mind as I decide my response to the policy I’m reviewing.
I wish I knew whether to push through or move on. I don’t. But I am confident I will be at peace with my decision once I make it because I trust my process.