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什么时候必须以退为进才能成功?

更新时间:2017-12-24 13:18:25 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why you sometimes have to quit to win
什么时候必须以退为进才能成功?

I quit my first ‘real’ job after university. It seemed to be a mistake: it was in my industry of choice, it was the start of the recession, I had just been promoted, and I didn’t have another 9-to-5 lined up… or any real financial assets to fall back on.

我大学毕业后辞掉了第一份"真正的"工作。那似乎是个错误:那是我选择的行业,当时刚刚开始经济衰退,我也刚刚得到晋升,而且我也还没找到下家……我也没有足够的金融资产来支持自己的生活。

It turned out to be the best career decision I ever made. Only by giving up my job as a political reporter in Washington DC could I move to Italy and pursue my dream of becoming a travel journalist. One of the publications I began writing for was the BBC, which led to a full-time job across two continents.

但那反而成了我有生以来做出的最好的职业决策。只有在辞掉了华盛顿特区的政治记者职位后,我才得以来到意大利,追求自己成为旅游记者的梦想。BBC是我最初供稿的媒体之一,这也给了我一份横跨两个大陆的全职工作。

Of course, I didn’t know it would work out that way. And leaving my job wasn’t the only reason for everything that followed. But quitting was a terrifying – and necessary – starting point.

当然,我当时并不知道那条路能走得通。而随后发生的一切也并非完全是因为我的辞职。但辞职的确是个惊心动魄且极为必要的开端。

For most of us, the important role quitting can play in success runs counter to deeply-held beliefs. In previous generations, the usual narrative was that success (and financial stability) followed the workhorse who stuck with their job, or career path, no matter what. As promises of job security have dwindled, that role model of a company lifer has been replaced by the entrepreneur who never gives up.

如果你说辞职对成功很有帮助,那就会与很多根深蒂固的观念形成冲突。前几辈人的常规思维是,无论如何,都要吃苦耐劳地坚持自己的工作或职业路径才能获得成功(和稳定的财务状况)。随着雇主对员工做出的职业安全承诺日益降低,我们的榜样人物已经从终身效力于一家公司的忠实员工,变成了永不放弃的企业家。

Both narratives share one lesson above all others: ‘winners never quit and quitters never win’. Whether in a job, a relationship or a dream, we’re taught that giving up is synonymous with failure.

这两种观念都秉承着同样重要的思维:"胜者从不放弃,放弃了就永远赢不了。"无论是工作、某种关系抑或梦想,传统观念都教育我们,放弃就是失败的代名词。

“What nobody talks about is that, sometimes, quitting is really good. It’s really important,” says Eric Barker, author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree. “There are only 24 hours in a day. If you never quit anything, you’re going to have less time for the things that really matter.”

"没有人认为,有的时候,放弃其实是好事。这一点很重要。"《搞错目标》(Barking Up the Wrong Tree)一书的作者埃里克·巴克(Eric Barker)说,"一天只有24小时。如果你从不放弃任何事情,那么在真正重要的事情上分配的时间就会减少。"

Of course, persistence is important. If you abandon a marathon at the 5km mark, you’ll never succeed. But rather than thinking of quitting as the absolute last resort, we may want to reconsider its value, say experts. Research suggests that, when done for the right reasons, walking away from a workplace, relationship or even an ambition can make you happier, healthier and more successful.

当然,坚持很重要。如果你刚跑了5公里就放弃马拉松,那就永远无法成功。但专家认为,不应该把退出当成最差的结果,我们或许希望重新思考它的价值。研究认为,当原因得当时,放弃职场、某种关系甚至雄心壮志,都能让你更快乐、更健康、更成功。

For one, people often are working towards the wrong goals to begin with. Even if a goal was once a good fit, it might not be so appropriate a few years later. “If I never quit anything, I’d still be playing tee-ball [a children’s version of baseball] and playing with Transformers,” Barker jokes.

首先,人们往往从一开始就找错了目标。即便某个目标曾经很合适,但几年后也有可能变得没那么合适。"如果我从不放弃任何事情,那我现在还在玩tee-ball(一种儿童篮球),还在玩变形金刚。"巴克开玩笑说。

But once we have realised we want to take a different direction, most of us still find it difficult to abandon our current path.

可一旦我们意识到自己需要不同的方向,多数人仍会发现很难放弃当前的路径。

This reflects a particularly human tendency: our excruciating aversion to loss. What we have already invested, whether time or money or something else, reflects our sunk cost. That investment is hard to abandon. Would you rather lose $5, or turn down the opportunity to earn $5? Most of us find the latter easier, even though the result is the same.

这反映了人类独有的倾向:我们极其厌恶损失。我们已经投入的东西都反映了自己的沉没成本,无论是时间还是金钱,抑或其他东西,都是如此。你更愿意损失5美元,还是失去赚5美元的机会呢?多数人宁愿失去赚5美元的机会,也不愿意损失已经到手的5美元,即便两者结果并无差异。

It’s the same reason that someone with an expensive, time-intensive law or medical degree may be less likely to leave their career path, no matter how unhappy they might be.

正是出于相同的原因,一个人花费了大量金钱和时间读完法律或医学学位后,就不太可能放弃自己的职业路径,无论他们有多么不开心。

But as Stephen Dubner points out in the Freakonomics podcast The Upside of Quitting, we’re so loss-averse that we favour sunk cost over an equally important consideration: opportunity cost. “For every hour or dollar that you spend on one thing, you’re giving up the opportunity to spend that hour or dollar on something else. Something that might make your life better – if only you weren’t so worried about the sunk cost,” he says.

但正如史蒂芬·杜伯纳(Stephen Dubner)在《魔鬼经济学》(Freakonomics )播客的一期名为《放弃的好处》(The Upside of Quitting)的节目中所说,我们如此厌恶损失,以至于我们更加偏爱沉默成本,而忽视了同样重要的机会成本。"你在一件事情上花费的每一个小时和每一块钱,都相当于在另外一件事情上放弃了一个小时和一块钱。后一件事情或许可以让你的生活变得更好——前提是你不那么担心沉没成本。"他说。

Exacerbating our dilemma is our fear of the unknown. We don’t know what will happen if we quit to take a different path. But we do know what we’d lose by leaving.

对未知的恐惧导致我们更加进退两难。我们不知道,如果自己退出后走上不同的道路,究竟会发生什么事情。但我们知道退出后肯定会失去一些东西。

What we forget is that just because we have more information about our present situation doesn’t mean those facts will stay the same in the future. (Just ask the employees of once-thriving chains like Blockbuster, Borders or Woolworths) And not knowing what will happen after a big change doesn’t mean that path is worse.

我们忘记了一件事情:仅仅因为我们掌握了关于现状的更多信息,并不表示这些状况今后仍能保持不变。(问问Blockbuster、Borders或Woolworths等曾经红极一时的连锁公司的员工就知道了。)而对重大变革后的情况的未知,也并不表明那条道路更加糟糕。

Meanwhile, a job you hate can leave you prone to depression, anxiety and physical illness – so much so that when it comes to mental health, no job at all may be better than a thankless one.

与此同时,你憎恨的一项工作会令你更加抑郁、焦虑,甚至更容易生病——以至于没有工作有时甚至比从事不喜欢的工作更有利于心理健康。

Quitting one job after another may not be a bad thing either: despite commonly-held belief, frequently job-hopping can actually make you more successful. Economist Henry Siu found that young people who switched jobs more often earned higher salaries in later life. Of course, job-hoppers may just be more proactive overall – and switching jobs can be a better way to secure a higher salary than staying put and begging for a raise. But Siu also posits another theory: by trying out different career paths, people may find their ‘true calling’ and therefore become more skilled and valuable, he says.

反复更换工作可能也并非坏事:尽管有悖于普遍观念,但频繁跳槽其实可以让你更加成功。经济学家亨利·西乌(Henry Siu)发现,换工作更频繁的年轻人后期获得的薪水往往更高。当然,频繁跳槽的人可能普遍较为主动——而且与在原先的工作中请求加薪相比,跳槽更容易获得高薪。但西乌也提出了另外一个理论:通过尝试不同的职业路径,人们可能会找到自己的"真正使命",因而可以变得更有技术、更有价值。

Job-hopping also may help you climb the career ladder. In one survey of 12,500 alumni of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, respondents who had fewer than two roles in 15 years had a 1 in 50 chance of becoming a top-level leader. Those who held five or more positions were nine times more likely to reach senior management. Head researcher Edward Lazear suggests that, to be a top leader, you may need a wide range of skills best provided (and proven) by a variety of roles.

跳槽或许还能帮助你攀登职业阶梯。在一项针对1.25万斯坦福商学院校友进行的调查中,15年内从事过不到2个职位的人担任最高层领导者的几率只有1/50.而从事过5个或更多职位的人,进入高级管理层的概率要高出9倍。首席研究员爱德华·拉泽尔(Edward Lazear)表示,想要成为最高领导,你可能需要广泛的技能,而最佳证明方式或许就是你所从事的各种职位。

Not all research has borne out the same result. One study of 15,000 employees found that the more years an executive stayed with their company, the faster they got to the top. But the same research also found that switching industries or careers often proved to be a good move for respondents.

并非所有研究都支持同样的结论。对1.5万员工进行的研究发现,一名高管在自己的公司工作年限越长,就越快到达高层。但同样的研究也发现,经常更换行业或职业的人,往往具备更好的响应能力。

What about leaving to start your own company? Quit with caution, experts say. As we all know, a minority of new businesses make it. And despite the idea that you have to quit your day job and devote yourself 100% to ensure your endeavour succeeds, recent research has found that people who hustle on the side first ultimately have better-performing companies than people who jumped in feet-first.

离职创业又是什么情况呢?专家表示,应该谨慎决策。众所周知,只有少数新公司能够存活下来。虽然人们都认为应该辞掉日常工作,把100%的精力都投入到自己的事业中,但最近的研究发现,从兼职开始入手的人比一开始就全职创业的人创办的公司业绩更好。

They were all ‘quitters’: the study’s more cautious ‘hybrid entrepreneurs’ eventually walked away from their day jobs, too. But their patience paid off.

他们都是"放弃者":这项研究中那些更谨慎的"混合创业者"最终也离开了自己的日常工作。但他们的耐心得到了回报。

Abandoning one job or path for another may bring greater rewards. Far from failure, pivoting can lead to success. Twitter started as a podcasting platform, YouTube as a dating website and Android as a camera operating system. Had they all stuck with their original vision, they likely wouldn’t be household names today.

放弃一项工作或路径,走上另外一条道路,或许可以带来更大的回报。很多时候,这不仅不会失败,反而会带来成功。Twitter最早就是一个播客平台,YouTube最早是个约会网站,Android早期也只是一个相机操作系统。如果他们都坚持原先的愿景,恐怕就难以成为如今家喻户晓的品牌。

Meanwhile, numerous studies have found that people are best off when they not only abandon an unattainable goal, but choose another. Some of the world’s most successful people have proved that. Fashion designer Vera Wang began her career as a figure skater, then became an editor at Vogue. Alibaba founder Jack Ma applied unsuccessfully for dozens of jobs before he began designing websites. And Charles Darwin first studied to become a doctor, then a parson.

与此同时,还有很多研究发现,当人们不仅放弃一个难以达成的目标,而且选择另外一个目标时,便可达到最佳状态。当今世界一批最成功的人都证明了这一点。时装设计师王薇薇(Vera Wang)最初是一名花样滑冰运动员,后来当了《Vogue》的编辑。阿里巴巴创始人马云曾经申请了好几十份工作都没有被录用,最后开始自己设计网站。查尔斯·达尔文(Charles Darwin)最初想当医生,后来又想当牧师。

Ending toxic relationships

终结有毒关系

Meanwhile, the importance of interpersonal relationships for our health and happiness has been widely researched. But quality is key. And here, too, we often hang onto dissatisfying situations for too long.

与此同时,研究人员已经对人际关系给我们的健康和幸福带来的重要影响展开了广泛研究。但质量是关键。在这方面,我们往往会让自己过长时间地陷入不满意的环境之中。

Numerous studies have found that negative interactions with a loved one like conflict, criticism or feeling ‘let down’ increase the risk of developing a depressive episode (or depression), heart disease and even dementia. Meanwhile, unhappy marriages can lead to depression, a lower sense of well-being and even the onset of chronic health problems and physical disability.

大量研究发现,与爱人的负面互动(例如冲突、批评或感觉"失望")都会增加抑郁症、心脏病甚至痴呆的风险。与此同时,不幸福的婚姻也会引发抑郁,降低幸福感,甚至引发慢性健康问题。

Of course, walking away from a relationship can be difficult, too. Studies have found that divorced women experience more physical illness and heart attacks long-term than their married counterparts. But, researchers point out, many of those studies haven’t controlled for various factors, such as someone’s social connections overall. In other words, it may not be divorce itself that is damaging. It’s the loss of the central relationship most people rely on for support. The more other connections someone has, the more they’re protected against the physiological and emotional downsides of divorce.

当然,放弃一段关系也很困难。研究发现,离婚女性比已婚女性遭遇更多的身体疾病和心脏病。但研究人员指出,很多研究都没有控制各种因素,例如某个人的整体社会关系。换句话说,或许并不是离婚本身产生的伤害。而是多数人赖以依靠、获取支持的核心关系丢失所致。某人拥有的其他关系越多,就越能经受住离婚带来的心理和情绪低落。

“When you do the studies that way, what you find is, guess what: what really matters is the extent to which you have supportive relationships where you feel connected and you feel safe, and that you have a good amount of social connection and social capital. Those are the things that matter,” says Heather Helms, a human development and family studies professor who studies marital relationships at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

"当你通过这种方式研究时,就会发现:真正重要的是,在你感觉有联系、很安全的地方,你究竟能够获得多大程度的支持性关系,以及你是否拥有大量的社会关系和社交资本。这些事情都很重要。"北卡罗来纳大学人类发展和家庭研究教授海泽·赫尔姆斯(Heather Helms)说,她专门研究人类关系。

In fact, other research suggests that people who stick with a dissatisfying relationship may be the worst off. One study found that unhappily-married people had worse health and lower levels of life satisfaction than those who chose to leave. Another study found that along with middle-aged women in a satisfied partnership, their single and divorced peers were far less likely to have metabolic syndrome, a significant risk factor of heart disease, than unhappily-attached women.

事实上,其他研究也表明,如果陷入令人不满的关系,就有可能变得更加糟糕。一项研究发现,不幸福的婚姻会导致人们的健康水平恶化,生活满意度降低,甚至不如那些选择离开的人。另外一项研究发现,与陷入不满婚姻状况的中年女性相比,同年龄的单身或离异女性患上代谢综合征的比例低得多,这是心脏病的一项重要风险因素。

But new relationships are the easiest to end. So if it’s not working well from the start, leave, says Helms. “If there’s toxic stuff going on in the development of the relationship, get out. Don’t stick around,” she says. “It’s time to cut it.”

但新的关系最容易结束。所以,赫尔姆斯表示,如果从一开始就感觉不好,那就趁早分手。"如果在关系发展过程中有一些有毒的东西。那就不要硬撑。"她说,"是时候割掉了。"

Exit strategy

退出战略

Walking out of a thankless job or a bad relationship is one thing. Giving up on a dream is harder. But there, too, quitting can be good for you – at least when the goal you’re striving for is unattainable.

辞掉一份吃力不讨好的工作或终结一段糟糕的关系相对容易,放弃一个梦想更加困难。但及时放手对你确实有好处——至少在你为之努力的目标遥不可及时。

Numerous studies have found that people who let go of something they haven’t been able to achieve benefit from better health and well-being. But those who keep battling towards a goal that remains stubbornly out of reach experience more distress and depression.

很多研究都发现,如果一个人能够放弃那些无法达成的目标,就能变得更加健康和幸福。但如果始终向着遥不可及的梦想努力,那就会感受到更大的压力和沮丧。

The idea that we might be better off letting go of dreams can be hard to swallow. After all, we’ve all heard how JK Rowling was rejected by 12 different publishers before finding a publisher for the Harry Potter books or how Walt Disney was fired from his job as a cartoonist for not being creative enough. Their experiences show ‘grit’ – the ability to stick to something and see it through. We’ve all experienced its importance. If I had quit freelancing after my first, or even fifth, pitch to an editor was rejected, I’d never be a journalist today.

听到放弃梦想可能对自己更好时,很多人都会难以接受。毕竟,我们都听说JK·罗琳(JK Rowling)遭到了12家出版社的拒绝后,才得以出版《哈利·波特》系列图书,而华特·迪士尼(Walt Disney)也曾经因为没有创造力而丢掉了漫画家的工作。他们的经历都证明了"毅力"的重要性——也就是坚持某事,并最终完成的能力。我们都体会过毅力的重要性。如果我在遭到编辑的第一次甚至第五次拒绝后就放弃自由撰稿,我永远不会成为今天这样一名记者。

So how do you know when to persevere and when to quit?

那么怎样才能知道什么时候应该坚持,什么时候应该放弃呢?

“This is the quandary of life. We just don’t know,” says life coach and consultant Stever Robbins. “But what you read about are the stories about the people who were persistent and it worked. Nobody’s going around talking about people who were persistent and died alone in a gutter because they stuck to being persistent for way too long. I think way more people fit the latter category than the former.”

"这是生活中的两难抉择,我们不知道答案。"生活教练兼顾问史蒂沃·罗宾斯(Stever Robbins)说,"但你听说过很多坚持下来并取得成功的故事。没有人告诉你,有的人会因为坚持的时间过长,最终孤独地死去。我认为,更多的人属于后一种,而非前一种。"

To decide when a goal should be left behind, Barker recommends thinking through the WOOP framework (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan). If you’ve gone through each step and the idea of following the plan depletes your energy and enthusiasm, maybe it’s time to give up and turn to something else, he says.

巴克建议,要判断什么时候应该放弃某个目标,应该使用WOOP框架——愿望(wish)、结果(outcome)、障碍(obstacle)、计划(plan)。他表示,如果你经历了每个步骤,而按照计划执行这个想法又耗尽了你的精力和激情,那或许就该放弃,转向其他事情了。

Remember that persistence and quitting don’t have to be polar opposites. As Barker points out, “If you quit the stuff you know isn’t working for you, you free up time for things that might.”

请记住:坚持和放弃未必要相互对立。正如巴克所说:"如果你放弃了明知道无法成功的事情,那就可以腾出时间做一些可能成功的事情。"

It seems the old adage may be wrong. Winners do quit. But rather than seeing their quitting as failure, they turn their energy to the next venture… and the next, and the next. That, in fact, may be their secret to what we never associate with quitting: success.

如此看来,一些经典格言似乎有误。胜者也会放弃。但他们不把自己的放弃当做失败,而是集中精力投入下一场探险……一个接一个。事实上,这或许正是他们的成功秘诀,只不过,我们从来都没有把放弃与成功联系在一起罢了。

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