I have a love-hate relationship with quitting. I love the idea of not being a quitter, persevering and never giving up. I also hate the idea of not quitting, persevering and never giving up. What gives? I have quit jobs, quit a few relationships and quit more than a few bad habits. I have even quit some relationships that feel like bad habits! A few of these I regret quitting too soon, but most I wish I had quit EARLIER. I think we all need to learn how to be good quitters.
Just for fun I did a Google search on quitting. Most of the top sites were about quitting smoking. Quitting is shamed in our society, with the exception of smoking. If you quit smoking, that is good. Do we really believe, “Go ahead, quit smoking… but keep going with every other bad habit?” I think we spend way too much time talking about how to add stuff to our lives. It’s time to bring quitting into the conversation.
If we really believe we should never quit, we would still be in school because each of us has quit the idea of going back for more and more (and more) schooling. We would still be in our first romantic relationship, even if it is a train wreck inside of a hurricane. We would also still be employed at our first job with that creepy, greasy haired boss named Sonny. Sometimes quitting is the best, most healthy thing we can do for ourselves!
When good writers write, they collect ideas. Some ideas are refined, nurtured and then they seem to take on a life of their own. Other ideas seem promising at first, but they fall flat because the time may not be right or the writer may not be right. Good writers don’t abandon their ideas, they hold onto the tiny shreds of life. Ideas can be nurtured and may be reborn at another time or in another universe. Sometimes this can take some time and patience. Knowing when to quit an idea is healthy.
In the immortal words of (Country music philosopher and beard King) Kenny Rodgers,
“You gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em…”
It can help to stop, catch your breath, try a different strategy and continue. This might give some needed perspective so that you can stick with it. Sometimes though, you are further ahead when you quit all together. I know people who have grown by leaps but only after they said Kaput to a relationship, a job or a habit that was holding them back. Their unwillingness to quit actually held them back!
Sometimes the right question can help to change my mind. When I consider whether to quit something, I ask myself some questions:
- Will I grow more if I quit now or will I end up losing out? What skills, opportunities or experiences will I miss out on? Will I regret this?
- Have I given myself enough time so this can work? The emotional desire to quit is not enough reason to stop. Some things should be hard, damned hard. Quitting time is not measured in hours spent doing something. It is measured in how much of myself I have invested in this. Only when I invest myself emotionally can I know whether it is time to move on.
- Am I listening to the conversation going on in my soul? What is my heart saying? My emotions? My head? My body? My gut? Am I listening to the people who care for me and who have my best interests in mind?
- Do I have a pattern of quitting things or do I persist and finish what is really important?
“If there were more quitters in the world, we would have less wars.”
Garfield the Cat
How about you, are there things you have quit that you wish you would have stuck with? What things should you have quit sooner?
Go ahead, quit reading this now.
Keep it real.