Go on ‘stick with it’ they say.

Good advice?  Well actually… no.

Sticking with something can become counterproductive after a while. And it’s sooner than you think.

In fact, clever boffins have worked out something called ‘Optimal Stopping Theory’  …..

Which basically means the amount of time you’ll stick with something before you stop -make a decision – or quit.

Think about it:

When shopping for a new top you won’t look at every item in the store.

You’ll try so many then decide.

If you’re looking for love, you won’t want to date every available person.

If you move to a new area you probably won’t eat in every restaurant before deciding on your favourite.

And here’s the spooky part. The answer to all of the above is exactly the same.


Yes – if there are 22 tops to try, you’ll make your mind up after picking 8.

If you’re up for dating 40 people, you’ll meet the love of your life after 15.

And if there are 16 restaurants in your new town, you’ll find your absolute favourite after munching in just 6.

So, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve thrown in the towel after 37 of a possible 100 attempts.

You’re not a quitter – it’s maths.

Be Brilliant!


PS If you have a wife like mine you’ve every right to refute the only ‘8 out of 22 tops’ statistic. I empathise with you that given a choice of 22 she’ll still manage to try on 36!

PPS I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘Optimal Stopping Theory’.


  1. February 15th 2018 by Ian Pearson

    Any thoughts on whether this works in business decision making? If you have an hour, spend 22 minutes in brainstorming an idea and then the rest of the time honing the best of those ideas.

  2. February 16th 2018 by jonathan turner

    Hi Michael


    So I’m going to make a bold assumption here… the clever boffins who came up with 37% used a mean average to determine that score.

    All based on that simple assumption we should each strive to try 38% of things. That way we’ll be pushing the mean average up, becoming more productive, achieving more things, delighting in new experiences or perhaps learning a little more than we otherwise would’ve done.

    Of course, not everyone will try for 38% (or more…!) and therefore the ones that do will stand out. Perhaps their tenacity and leadership, their willingness to try things will motivate others to strive for better.

    Imagine if we could all train our ‘frustration muscle’ to go a little bit further. We’d have a World of people achieving more and being a little less frustrated.

    Just a thought and based on a bold assumption!

    Motivational as ever Michael, thank you

    Keep well

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