Are You Fighting Battles You Shouldn’t be Fighting?

Are you tired of not achieving your goals? Sick of getting off course or losing focus? Ready to reach your full potential? Then stop fighting battles that shouldn’t be fought, at least by you.

Stop fighting battles you shouldn't be fighting

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“I feel like I always get dragged into others’ messes,” said one reader via email recently.

“One day it’s a family squabble, the next it’s someone at work who’s whining about her boss, and the next it’s…” He was at the end of his rope. Something had to change.

So I replied simply with this:

Stop fighting battles you shouldn’t be fighting.

Which battles should I fight?I purposefully left it at that, knowing full well it wasn’t a full explanation, but it started a conversation. He replied back with a question that many of you might be thinking right now:

How do I know what battles I should be fighting?

The image on the right is the most simplistic explanation I can offer.

Battles you should fight

Your path to achieve any goal, to live out any dream, and to reach your full potential will be full of roadblocks. There will be battles along the way that should be fought.

Some of these battles are internal, such as addictions, bad habits, or unforgiveness. Some battles involve other people or overcoming obstacles such as a lack of money or education. These battles must be fought.

You will never start a successful widget-making company without some money, so you might have to work three part-time jobs to save up the money. That is a battle worth fighting.

If your goal is to be the leader of a Fortune 500 company, you will have to fight through the negative self-talk that says you will never get there. For some period of time, you will have to slow down or even stop to fight that battle.

These battles consistently keep you on the right path toward your goals. They are in the way of your goal, not to the side.

Battles you should not fight

The battles you should not fight are any battle that takes you off course.

They aren’t in the way of your goal. They require you to not only stop, but to venture off the path of success.

Notice in the image what happens when you fight a battle that is on the path. When you complete the battle, you continue on the path. But what happens when you go off the path to fight a battle you shouldn’t? You have to backtrack just to get back to where you were. You’ve not only lost time, but you are no closer to your goal.

These battles include:

  • listening to gossip (read how to stop gossip)
  • engaging in family schisms
  • finding someone to blame (as opposed to moving on)
  • defending yourself against your critics (here’s the best way to handle critics)
  • continually cleaning up others’ messes

The question you must ask yourself

When determining rather or not to fight a battle, ask yourself this question:

Is this battle on the path toward my goal?

If yes, fight.

If no, walk away.

Action item: Identify one type of battle you are prone to fight that you shouldn’t be fighting. Maybe it’s one of the five examples above or perhaps you easily identified one of your own. Once you’ve identified it, resolve to not fight that battle anymore. Identify them one at a time and work through each of them.

When you stop fighting battles you shouldn’t be fighting, you are left with the energy to fight the ones that matter.

You will reach your goals. You will stay focused. You will reach your full potential.

You will change the world.

Question: What battles have you stopped fighting that had you off the path toward your goals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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  • Dan Erickson

    What if it’s in the middle ground? For instance, blogging is something that both detracts me from my goal of writing, songwriting, and home improvement projects, but it’s also a place to get my writing out there.

    • Is the goal to write or to sell books? If to sell books, blogging is a part of that.

      Is the goal to write songs or to have songs sung where people can hear them? Then networking with music execs is a part of that.

      You can also have 5 goals at once and as long as the fight is on one path or the other, you are good. Fight.

  • David Mike

    This was an awesome post! I need to let go of things that are out of my control. Other people are going to do what they are going to do. I can’t change it and stressing about it only wastes my time. Thanks, Matt!

  • Great post Matt. I have fought a lot of battles that I didn’t need to fight. I would rather die on a hill worth the fight then have a bunch of small fights. Keep up the good work Matt:)

  • In a typical pressurised business environment we inevitably have to chose which battles to fight and which to let be. After may years of choosing, none of small battles that I passed over came back to haunt me, and I have never regretted a decision to ignore them. To be intentional about what is worth fighting and what to leave alone is great advice, thanks Matt.

    • So well said Gavin. I’ve found the same thing. It’s not the battles I never fought that I regret (after all, I love a good fight). It’s the battles I never should have fought that I do.

  • One thing that has helped me learn to pick my battles is asking myself if this will matter in 5 years. If it won’t then why exert energy toward it? I also seek God. If He says it matters, then it matters and I better get moving!

  • One battle I had to avoid was the battle to get everyone to like me. It’s never going to happen so it’s not something I should fight for.