Let it go, or no no no!


stick-dont sweat

Stick to your guns – or – Don’t sweat the small stuff

Well which is it?!

Should I stick to my guns and be persistent… even if it causes me anguish?
Should I not sweat the small stuff and just let things go… even if they are really important to me?

The answer is, of course, that it’s best to find a balance!


“Sticking to your guns” is advice people give when they are suggesting that you persevere. Persevering is when you keep trying to do something, accomplish something, get your way—no matter how hard it seems, no matter what obstacles you face. Thinking about perseverance, you can imagine a fist clenching onto something tightly.

And there are times when it’s beneficial to persevere. For example:

perseverePersevering a little helps when you’re stuck on a math problem and you need to just try another solution to get the right answer.

Persevering a lot can be necessary in certain situations, like pushing back against a company that’s overcharging you for something you’ve bought and hoping you’ll just give up and pay the unfair amount.

But persevering too much, or at the wrong time, can often make situations worse. If you persevere and insist that a classmate change a word in a paper you’re writing together because you don’t like it, even though her word is still right… and she’s explained it to you… and it really just comes down to a difference of opinion—that could end in a damaged relationship with your classmate.

Sometimes it’s just not the “right fight.” Maybe that was a time to let it go.

Letting it go

When people say “don’t sweat the small stuff,” they are recommending that you think about a conflict you’re in and just let it go. In other words, move on, and find a way to not let it bother you any more. Letting it go might make you think of a hand opening up, setting free whatever it was holding onto.

There are times when letting it go is indeed helpful, like:

let it go

Letting it go a little helps when you’re bothered by something rude that was said to you by a stranger on the street. If you take a deep breath and just forget about it, you might feel better.

Letting it go a lot can be important when debating something with a colleague that you have an opinion about, but which really isn’t that crucial. You say bold; she says highlight—maybe let it go to avoid an argument.

But letting it go too much, or at the wrong time, can be damaging, too. If a colleague insists on doing something his way and expects you to back down and just do it—even though it’s wrong—that may actually be a time to persevere! Letting it go too much can lead to people taking advantage of you.


Balancing Perseverance and Letting it Go

persevere-let it go.png

Balance Challenges are all about helping you make social decisions that benefit you and those around you. This persevere ~ let it go balance highlights this clearly:

  • Letting it go too much, in order to please other people, might not benefit you.
  • But persevering too much to get your way is likely not to benefit people around you, like your friends, colleagues, or classmates.

So it really is all about finding a balance between the two. How do we do that? It isn’t always easy, and there aren’t always obvious answers. But here are some guidelines to consider when making these social decisions:

  1. Consider your relationship with the people around you. People sometimes let things go in the interest of maintaining important relationships.
    • If you are going to continue to work with them, be around them, rely on their help – you may want to lean toward letting some things go.
    • If you don’t know them well and will likely never see them again – you might be ok persevering.
  2. Think about the gravity of the situation. On a scale from 1–5, how absolutely critical is it that what you’re arguing for, happens?
    • For numbers 1 and 2 – you may want to think about letting it go.
    • For numbers 4 and 5 – you may want to think about persevering.
  3. Evaluate the possible consequences. If something were to go wrong, which would be the worse outcome:
    • Someone taking advantage of you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable – you may want to try to persevere
      • OR:
    • Angering and alienating people around you which may lead to retaliation – you may want to think about letting it go


For example: consider that cable company that’s overcharging you. You don’t know the person on the customer service call personally (1); it’s not a huge problem if you end up having to pay $7 extra because you can afford it (2); and the worse possible outcome is feeling taken advantage of (3). In that case, maybe lean towards persevering:


But the example of the classmate who wants to use different word choice is different: You know her well and probably have to continue working with her (1); vocabulary decisions, in most cases, are not big problems (like matters of health, safety, and survival) (2); and the worse of the two possible outcomes is angering this person you know (3). In this scenario, it sounds like it makes sense to let it go:

slider-let it go-95


Balance Practice



Explore this idea more!

Download the Perseverance ~ Letting it Go Balance Worksheet here.

Try it yourself, or offer to help out a student or friend you know.



As always, I welcome thoughts and reactions, in the comments below or on Twitter.


For an explanation of the Balance Challenge framework, see Balance Breakdown, always accessible on the top navigation bar.

2 thoughts on “Let it go, or no no no!

  1. I am appreciating these posts so much! As a parent of a three and a half year old, I constantly find myself grappling with and struggling with finding the right amount of balance in many situations. It’s like do I persevere and hold my ground with my kiddo at bedtime or let it go? Thanks for these posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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