How do you know when to give up on something? - Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support

47,019 members47,097 posts

How do you know when to give up on something?


How long do you keep on fighting for until you give in. I'm not talking on giving up on life or anything drastic like that, just giving up on your ambitions and dreams and reconsidering your life goals?

I have always wanted to carve a career for myself and be successful in my chosen profession. There is no external pressure from family/friends, I have just always wanted the best for myself (I'm a total perfectionist). I moved to London when I left uni as I felt it was the best place to follow my aspirations. I have been in my chosen profession for 5 years now and have a good reputation in the niche industry I work in, but just lately I'm just not handling work pressures very well.

I've always been "a bit of a worrier" but I first realised anxiety was really effecting my life about 6-9 months ago. I changed jobs 2 months ago as I was no longer enjoying my job and thought I needed a change. I stayed in the same industry but moved to a different company. After a positive start the anxiety is creeping up on me again. There is no particular issue with my current place of employment but I constantly have deadlines and responsibilities that are just part of my job and at the moment I am just struggling to cope with it. I feel overwhelmed, I've had a tight feeling in my chest for the past week and I've started crying at night again. I feel lost and feel like I lack direction in my life at the moment.

Where do i go from here? I was hoping the new job could provide a fresh start and a fresh perspective but if anything it has just made me realise how bad my anxiety can effect me at work. Should I admit that I'm not cut out for a high pressured career like and accept this fast paced life isn't good for my health or do I struggle through this rough patch and hope I can overcome this.

Sorry for the long post, but I would really appreciate advice from anyone who has had a similar experience.



12 Replies

Hi Anxious

That's a really interesting - and quite difficult - question - and one which i grappled with a few years ago, although the answer was taken out of my hands. It seems to me that you have - as you so clearly see - two choices; one, stick at your chosen profession if you really love it, and learn to handle the pressure more positively - and that can be done. There are lots of "relaxation" techniques, even assertiveness training - which helps you learn to say "No!" when too much is expected of you. Or, alternatively, decide that the game isn't worth the candle and look for work that will still give you job satisfaction but with less pressure.

Neither course of action is in itself "right" or "wrong" - it really depends on what you want from life? I am wondering - is there anyone in your line of work - not someone who can affect your career, but someone who's "been there, done that" - that you could talk to, who might even agree to "mentor" you? Mentoring is more and more common in business these days, i believe, and it could help? Have a look on here:-

Finally, you could start writing things down - like - what do you want out of life, what do you definitely not want out of life. Similarly, write down the good and the bad of your current line of work - what you enjoy, what you find difficult - and, also, what you would do instead?

I know your blog (which wasn't that long, don't apologise lol!) was mainly about work, but do you have outside interests that really engage you? They can really help with work stress. Or, even simple things - it wouldn't apply to your living in London, but when I had a stressful job, I had two choices for the drive home - the quick, fast, dog-eat-dog dual carriageway, or the slow B Road that meandered through fields and past farms. I usually took the latter, as I just found it helped me "wind down".

You might find this site helps on work-related stress: -

Hope this helps, good luck, and do come back and tell us how you're getting on - lots of support on here. Oh, and as one perfectionist to another - sometimes "good enough" really IS good enough! ;)




anxious_hb in reply to BriarRose

Thanks Rose,

It's hard to think straight when you have worked yourself up and I really appreciate your advice. As you probably know, remembering why you love your job is difficult when you feel like this.

Your right in saying that my blog focused on work, this is mainly because I feel like it consumes my every thought at the moment and I am finding that engaging in other activities is difficult. I definitely need to make more of an effort on this!

I have at least in my head done some of the things you suggest in your reply. When I was thinking about leaving my old job I did think about other professions I might like to try, but in the end decided to stay in the same profession as I really wanted to see if I could make a go of it in a different working environment.

I think now more than ever I am realising that many of my previous life choices have been based on my reactions to the anxiety I didn't really realise I was suffering from and I now have some serious thinking to do to make sure my next choice is right for me. I will definitely try some of the things you have suggested and update you with any success I have.

Thanks again,

HB x

BriarRose in reply to anxious_hb

Damn just wrote a long post and lost it :( Will try again in the morning - sorry! xxx

BriarRose in reply to BriarRose

This was more or less what i was trying to describe - badly ;) - the urgent/important matrix - you might find this helps.

And Sandra99b's time management tips were brilliant - really good!

And yes, I've been there, so hung up on your job that you forget you have a life as well. Realistically, there ARE times when the job has to come first - ask any police officer investigating a series of murders about his "personal time" and he'll laugh. But it should NOT be the norm - we work to live, not live to work!



hi HB,

do you think you've been in the "honeymoon" period and now reality has set in after the excitement of a new job?

you say you are a perfectionist and what Briar Rose says is right, try to relax and not be so hard on yourself - not easy I'm sure, but it may slow the anxiety down enough for you to enjoy what you do again.

Starting a new job is a recognised cause of stress for anyone and we want to be at our best - BUT, they gave you the job, they must have seen something in you.and know of your good reputation. they believed in you.

you are still settling in and adjusting to the deadlines and responsibilities, this takes time and you naturally feel anxious and that tight feeling is the body's reaction as are the tears, tears area good release.

You feel overwhelmed and your reaction is natural.

It may help you to try this:-

look at what has to done by the end of the week.

Try and plan out one day at a time,

what you'd like to have done,

what is reasonable to achieve,

what is the minimum to do a good [ not perfect] amount & still get through, this is a base limit that you can work from

split it into a.m & p.m

then 1 hour at a time,

then 30minutes,

until you only plan for the next 10 min and no more.and then take a 5 min break to breathe,

If you get it done in those ten mins - well done, you planned it well! take your break

If not, you under estimated the amount of work - helpful to know next time, just plan it in for another 10, and take your break.

If you finished early, well done, add it on to your break.

This does work. trial and error at first, but it gets easier and into a patten.

You can never fail. Even NASA can't be precise on the time tasks take!

When you take your break you can still "seem" busy, as if looking at a report/ making notes but do things like deep breathing, relaxation techniques, tensing & un-tensing, but remember its a break - don't soldier on.let your mind drift or relax..

then start another ten.

the day will be easier in manageable pieces.

you can adjust, re-plan, reorganise as you learn what suits you, what works.

If you find you don't settle, you can rethink what you want to do.

I gave up a well paid job I loved to go to uni aged 33. after a few months, fear set in [ I'd never had anxiety or depression only SAD].

I was sat in a lecture and a bus went passed that would be in my home town in less than an hour.

my hert was thudding and I wanted to run but I'd gone icy cold , everything felt too heavy to move.

I had worn myself out up 'til then - in the library, studying, writing copious notes, writing & re-writing my essays [ freehand or typed not even word processors for the first year!] My essays went in early

and I wanted and got B+ or A.

seeing that bus brought out such a deep despair, like a body blow,

I was lucky and spoke to the student welfare officer. we took a long hard look at it all we planned,it better. I'd not realised the effect it was having. I was enjoying it, but setting a killer pace.

It's only later that I learned to "ten minute task"

It's the only way I manage even the smallest things now.

best wishes and be kind to yourself.



hamble99b in reply to hamble99b

spelling - good, fingers to type - tired

I liked one of the previous post of driving the slow relaxed route home.......maybe its a analegy to apply.........Hi anxious_hb maybe you require a little break from the fast lane and take the scenic route for a is important sometimes to let go for a while as life is there to be enjoyed as it is only a gap between two pieces of paper---one-- our birth cert---and two---our death cert !................hope you put life first and be well xxxxx. This does not necessary mean giving up work, it just means learning what is important in life and ignoring the EGO as this sometimes keeps us pushing when all we need is a rest.

Thanks Sandra,

Breaking it down sounds good. You have given me some great pointers. I think one if my main worries is all the what ifs. The work I'm doing at the moment will go to a contractor who then manufactures and builds the system I have devised. I constantly live in fear of making a mistake (it cant be any less than 100% in my mind) and then thr client charging us or suing us. I ruminate all the time about the worse case scenarios. I am currently freelance and I've also got it fixated in my head that the company will try to place the blame on me if mistakes were made. These are just examples if the extreme thoughts I am currently let ruin my day!


(Written on my phone sorry for spelling mistakes)


Hi. Anxious. I have had a similar experience to you. Have you ever read "the Peter Principal".

It explains that some people are promoted to their level of incompetence. Now I am NOT for one moment suggesting that you are incompetent. But the principal is interesting. We work well, we 'get on' and succeed, so we want to succeed more. So we get promotion and work even harder. In the end it is inevitable that if we are vulnerable i.e. sensitive then we will start to feel anxious. I was a good Electrical Engineer. Very good provided I stayed there but no. I got promoted to manager which involved working with staff, and sometimes having to 'let people go' as the Americans euphemistically put it. This upset me because I emphasised too much. Hence the anxiety and eventual breakdown. Had I remained a good Engineer all would have been well. I hope you are getting my point. Perhaps sometimes we can be too enthusiastic about work. The desire to get ahead can be anxiety making. I wish you well in whatever you do. Best wishes. jontahan.

Hi Anxious and Jonathan - i think this is a really interesting discussion, actually. A lot of "high achievers" are what they call "A" type personalities - driven, confident, energetic. They can also be aggressive, self-centred, uncaring - these are the ones who will cut you up on the roundabout, overtake on a dangerous bend - because THEY have to get to a meeting and THEY are the only important ones!!! They can be bullies and tyrants - they can sack hundreds of workers without batting an eyelid - as long as THEY'RE okay! Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all high achievers are like this - but there is a tendency there, I think. Years ago I had a discussion with a guy, and we were talking about applying for jobs - when there were more jobs around. He said that, if he knew something to the detriment of one of the other applicants, he wouldn't hesitate to use it!!!! My response was that "We can all be 6 ft tall if we stand on someone else's shoulders!"

I don't think ambition is a bad thing - without it, we'd still be living in the trees and picking grubs out of each others' fur ;) But - not at any price! And, as I read somewhere years ago, no-one has ever been reported as saying on their deathbed "I wish I'd spent more time at the office!"

I used to work in the NHS, and at the time hospital Chief Execs were leaving in droves - despite the (then) salary around £100k - because of the stress! One CEO who had left said the relief of knowing that, if the phone rang at 10 pm, it wasn't to tell him about a crisis at the hospital, was priceless - the money just wasn't worth it!

Good luck with whatever choice you make, Anxious, but do feel free to "think aloud" on here - we understand, and I suspect quite a few of us have been in similar situations.




PS Funny story from when they were building the first North Sea deep oil rigs. They'd reached the point when they had to get this ginormous rig down the Clyde (I think, hopeless at geography) and out into it's destination, and one engineer was in charge of this very fraught operation. He was asked what would happen if it went wrong, and he said "Well, I don't THINK they'd shoot me - though that might be preferable!!!!" ;) xxx

Write in a daily journal notebook what ever is troubling you this will help you to offload and have a better nights sleep. Believe me it works especially when there is no one to talk to.

Taking deep breaths many times throughout the day and meditating and talking.

If you really find that the job is too much and the pressure is too much for you then yes start looking for something that fits in with your lifestyle. finding something that you feel you would be happy doing even if it is less money taking away the pressure takes away the stress.

There are many jobs for everyone but sometimes we are too choosy.

Being a check-out operator he get to meet people have a laugh and no stress. I have had many jobs and a lot of the time it was spent in the office all day not seeing anyone only a few work collegues this drove me nuts but I did enjoy my job but it caused problems with my social life at the end of my career the best was when I was a check-out operator and would love to do it again. Hope this helps. Try volunteering at the local hospital I am sure your skills will be useful. I am sure you will find something you love doing soon.

Write in your journal what things you love to do and the skills you have job wise and look for those jobs.

Read the Book "The Road Less Travelled" by M. Scott Peck

(ISBN: 8601404277887) from Amazon's Book Store.

What a great post and great replies.

My contribution would be first to say, each morning you are facing your worst enemy - yourself! Being a perfectionist is not good. No one can be perfect, but you can be perfectly you. The world loves tryers not perfectionists.

Keep trying, persevere. Its great to dream, but live in the now too, so you can work and get to live the dream.

Many others have contributed great stuff here, so I will bow out at this stage just to say this anxiety and stress audio programs are work a consideration


You may also like...