“One of the biggest mistakes business people make is staying in something too long. A stopping rule helps you get out of that.” — Dr. Kathleen Eisenhardt
Starting can be difficult. Stopping can be even more difficult.
At what point do you decide to disengage from a project?
At what point do you stop pursuing a lead?
Moreover, it can be incredibly challenging to stop if we already feel like we’ve invested a lot of time and energy into something (see: sunk cost fallacy).
This is where stopping rules come in. A stopping rule is a specific criterion you use to evaluate whether to continue putting energy into something.
It’s easier to stop a project when you know your stopping rule is to disengage if no tangible benefits are realized within 30 days.
It’s easier to stop pursuing a lead when you know your stopping rule is to disengage if the lead doesn’t move to the next stage in the funnel within 90 days.
When you employ stopping rules at the outset, you become less beholden to irrationality and biases. As a result, you significantly reduce the risk of spending too much time on something when your time is better spent elsewhere.