Few things in life are as difficult as acknowledging mistakes, in particular those that we have made out of conviction. Choosing an unsuitable profession or marrying the wrong person generate a myriad of negative consequences. Many who suffer from those situations hang to their errors with unshakable determination.
It is easy to identify dead-end projects
Why do we feel such a
strong urge to deny our mistakes? Why do we often devote efforts to
looking for excuses rather than solutions? Refurbishing a building with
structural problems is pure waste; even if you paint the ceiling and
plaster the walls, problems will remain and continue to grow.
retrospect, it is easy to identify dead-end projects. If we look back at
Alexander the Great, we can see that his dream of conquering the world
was a foolish adventure. Similarly, if we look back at the Byzantine
Empire, we can see how the erosion of principles ruined its legal
On the other hand, acknowledging that a beloved current
activity may be a dead-end project is a whole different question. Human
beings seldom stop detrimental actions even when errors become apparent;
instead, we come up with a hundred reasons in favour of continuing what
is manifestly unworkable. We do not want to lose face by admitting that
we have made a mistake.
Sustainability marks the difference
The long-term view marks the difference between difficult undertakings and dead-end enterprises. A feasible plan
leads to a better future; a hopeless proposition, to endless
nightmares. High-quality service leads to satisfied customers; wasteful
chaos, to regrets. Learning valuable skills leads to increased
productivity; senseless memorizing, to unbearable boredom.
there is no foolproof formula for identifying dead-end projects,
experience provides us with effective guidelines. The sooner we
recognize a losing pattern, the faster we can correct it or escape it.
The following eight questions can help establish if a project is worth
pursuing or not.
1. Does it create assets or liabilities?
Valuable undertakings provide the foundation for a better future;
detrimental activities destroy resources. The worst sort of ventures are
those that create permanent liabilities. Never embark yourself on an
enterprise that requires you to make disproportionate commitments.
2. Does it involve dealing with nice or unpleasant people?
Dead-end projects attract bitter persons who relish in sharing their
misery. Enterprises that possess a culture of aggressiveness hire
workers who are nasty and mean. Those environments are not conductive to
success; seek out kind people and do your best to avoid the rest.
2. Is the project inspired by reason or by prejudice?
preconceptions constitute a disadvantage in the age of globalisation and
internet. Prejudice cannot provide a sound basis for cooperation and
friendship. Avoid projects based on cultural bias; instead, choose
activities inspired by reason.
3. Does it develop valuable
skills or is it just a hobby?
The best games make us acquire useful
habits and think for ourselves; similarly, the best sports improve our
overall physical condition. In contrast, dead-end activities have
restrained scopes with no wider application; they are doomed to remain
5. Does it have a local or an international focus?
Minority languages, despite their many charms, cannot match the array
of possibilities offered by English, Spanish, French, and German.
Projects with strict local focus provide few opportunities for growth
and learning. Activities with a global view allow participants to meet
many interesting people.
6. Does it revolve around production or consumption?
Activities that consume a massive amount of
resources cannot be carried out for long. If you work in the field of
development, choose projects aimed at building up productive skills in
the local population. The purpose of sustainable development is to
provide individuals with know-how so that they can generate a steady
income for themselves.
7. Does it create a feeling of adventure
The best enterprises possess high goals that motivate
participants to perform everyday activities that often are unchallenging
or boring. Inspiration transforms routine into adventure. Undertakings
that do not provide an ennobling vision of the future will rarely be
worth your time.
8. Does it encourage growth or simply
tries to prevent decay?
History changes markets and fashions; the clock
cannot be turned back. Worthy activities follow current trends and
attract new customers; in contrast, unworkable projects attempt to
maintain dying traditions; they have already lost the race against time.
wasting time on dead-end projects
As soon as you identify a losing
pattern, discard rationalisations and analyse your motivation. Shun
activities that keep you running in circles; instead, seek out
opportunities for growth and learning; choose projects that enhance
productiveness, cooperation, kindness, and friendship.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
[Image by edenpictures under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]