Many of us are influenced by the sports ethic: Never give up! When a basketball team is down by 20 with 30 seconds on the clock, the players never stop working. The spectators might be filing out, and the winning team might bring players off the bench, but the game goes on.

If your game is a business or a job, the whistle won't blow to end the game. If you keep going and win, you may gain a lifelong prize. If you keep throwing good money and energy into a losing cause, the whistle can blow for unemployment or bankruptcy.

"Should I keep going?" is one of the most difficult questions for anyone, including career counselors and coaches. There is no single answer, but here are some ways to focus the question.

1. How did you get into the situation? Were you encouraged by a spouse, parent, friend or mentor? Or were you following your very own dream?

2. Is there a little voice in your head that whispers, "Maybe you should be doing X instead?"

Pay attention, especially if you can put a name on "X" ,and if you've been playing this game awhile.

3. Does your new idea refuse to go away? Or, f you try to leave, do you find yourself getting caught up in a new project or rewarded with a new promotion?

One speaker, accepting a local "Entrepreneur of the Year" award, told the audience, "I hated this business. I tried to sell it but nobody would buy me out. I was forced to fix it up and, in the process, found success."

4. What is the universe telling you?

Are you getting customers?

Is your progress considerably faster or slower than your peers and competitors?

Has anything clicked into place for you, seemingly without effort?

5. What is your own historical trend?

Do you tend to give up too easily or hang on too long?

6. Are you still having fun?

A loss of enthusiasm can be temporary, especially if you're fatigued or if you have just experienced a setback. Long-term discouragement will create negative energy and ultimately destroy your business.

7. Must your decision be either-or? Can you continue a business part-time with a manager? Can you look for a new job but also start a business? Looking at your decision from a new perspective can provide answers. Often someone outside the situation -- consultant, coach, friend from another industry -- can provide startling new insight.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Goodwin, MBA, PhD, offers business and career consulting and resources to midcareer professionals who are ready to make their move now. Download your FREE career strategy guide: