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Have you ever kept going on something that you knew was a lost cause? Most of us learn as we grow up that there is a time to stop and move on.
Some would argue that is when you hit the point of diminishing returns.
In economics, this is the point in a production system with both fixed and variable inputs, where the cost per unit is greater than it was for the previous unit.
The question is when is the point to stop putting time and effort into something?
It is fairly obvious when you can measure the output of your endeavor in some concrete way. If your effort returns money or widgets, you can measure how much money or widgets are coming back for your effort. But what about non-tangible items?
I’m facing a situation with one of my volunteer commitments. I would love to say that I took on this job through a purely altruistic motive. However, I took it on to maintain professional skills that were rusting while I was stuck on an assignment, as well as be of significant use to the organization, who cannot afford to pay. Now that I am using those skills again professionally, and the hassle I am getting on the volunteer job is growing, I am beginning to wonder if I have reached the point where it is time to call it quits. I believe I have reached the point where the hassle is simply not worth it.
However, the situation that is causing me to consider resigning has already cost the organization half a dozen other important volunteers. And the situation will be changing in June. Should this weigh in on my decision?
Is it possible to travel back below the point of diminishing returns? You can, and must, do that in a manufacturing situation. Yet I wonder if it can be done with intellectual output.