You’re not a quitter…..
You will see something through, no matter how painful, to the bitter end because you’re resilient and you were taught to finish what you started.
But at what cost?
Are you willing to keep at something that provides little to no value and is actually sucking joy from your life?
Because there is a significant difference between showing up for a potluck dinner you rsvp’d yes to and suffering through a relationship or career just because you feel you should.
It isn’t the commitment that’s hard for us humans — it’s the letting go. We are, as the Nobel Prize-winning work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman famously showed, a conservative and loss-aversive bunch.
So how can you know when it’s time to quit something without feeling flaky?
Well, I’m sorry to be the one to break the bad news, but there is no definitive way to know when it’s the right time to bail….
You are the only person who can decide when it’s time to give up — on a career, relationship, life path, crappy Netflix series, or goal.
If there were a magic pill, we’d all be swallowing it.
But having the skills to evaluate when something is no longer serving you, is a valuable skill set in itself. And the good news is, you can make the decision easier by considering the following:
You’re Staying to Avoid Shame
Quitters never win, and winners never quit, right?
Well, not quite right. I actually think that saying is far from the truth — winners quit all kinds of things!
In fact, the best way to learn is to try something and fail at it.
And although two events are never identical, what better way to learn for the future.
Throwing your money at a failing business, for example, because you are embarrassed to admit it’s not doing well, isn’t a particularly sound reason to stick with it. And staying in a relationship that is harmful to your physical or emotional well-being because marriage is forever, is not worth the false belief that people will look down on you for walking away.
If you’ve done your due diligence to find out if improving your business is an apparent operational tweak, then go ahead and try again.
But if you’ve exhausted all options and you’ve drained your savings to keep it going, guess what?
It’s time to quit.
And the sanctity of marital vows is not more important than your safety and fulfillment in life. An empty, hollow relationship serves no one — especially you.
There is no shame in admitting something just isn’t working. In fact, it takes more courage to leave than to stay. You tried, and that’s what matters.
You’ll likely be surprised to learn that your friends and family will be relieved when you finally announce you’re quitting.
The people who care about you want to see you happy and the people who do care if you quit, don’t matter.
You Dread Doing Something
If a goal or endeavor starts to feel like doom and gloom, it’s definitely time to evaluate its purpose in your life.
Do you sit on the board of an organization or volunteer at a community group and want to quit, but haven’t because you think it will make you a bad person?
If you dread fulfilling your commitment and it’s not adding value to your life or the organization you volunteer with, you are doing everyone a disservice.
“Life is too short to waste time and energy on things you find unrewarding or unproductive,” says James E. Maddux, PhD. “Replace your source of dissatisfaction with something more fulfilling and you’ll find more happiness.”
You can’t do everything and prioritizing is essential when an activity causes you dread every time you have to do it…..
Perhaps spending more time with your own family is what will bring more purpose and joy into your life.
You’re Experiencing More Frustration Than Reward
In every high endeavor, you will have to take the bad with the good. Nothing in life is perfect all the time.
Nothing in life is perfect, ever.
But it’s important to consider if an undertaking is causing you more frustration than reward.
If a high endeavor started out as something worthy of your time and devotion, but has turned out to be more of a negative influence in your life, you need a radical change and quitting is most likely the answer.
Sustained negative emotions are not healthy for your emotional and cognitive well-being — although unpleasant feelings are just as crucial as the enjoyable ones in helping you make sense of life’s ups and downs. One of the primary reasons you have emotions in the first place is to help you evaluate your experiences.
One sure tell sign that it’s time to let go is if the thought of quitting provides instant relief.
When the end goal no longer inspires you, and there is no opportunity for growth, it’s time to hang up your hat.
Your goals should energize you, not deplete you.
And while it’s valuable to know when it’s time to quit something, it’s equally important to consider the opposite end of the spectrum and evaluate if not quitting is possibly the better outcome…..
Especially if you quit everything you start.
Is Staying the Better Option?
If you experience resistance every time you start something new — like a relationship or job — and give in to that resistance without taking the time to think it through, you’ll be left with superficial relationships and no real purpose or direction in life.
Quitting without evaluating your resistance to staying also forces you to miss out on valuable opportunities to learn and grow.
Sticking with a relationship through difficult times or staying at a job through the low times — Seth Godin refers to these as dips — builds character. How can you truly know if something is right for you, if you constantly quit on a whim because it doesn’t feel good?
Some people jokingly refer to these trying times as “adulting”, but joking aside, part of living is experiencing challenges and embracing uncertainty. When you dodge these gifts, you can’t grow.
If you do find you consistently quit things before they’ve barely started, you might want to ask yourself some difficult questions, such as:
>Can I trust that feeling in my gut if it tells me to quit everything?
>What am I afraid of?
>What’s the worse that will happen if I follow through with this?
>Can I learn something about myself if I see this through?
>Is there value in this project, relationship or goal?
>Do I often regret quitting things so easily?
>Am I gaining momentum in my life?
>Do my friends think I give up too readily?
If you can answer these questions honestly, they’ll help you determine if quitting isn’t the challenge for you, but follow through is.
Knowing why you give up on yourself quickly is just as important as understanding why it’s so hard to quit.
And if you’re currently working through the difficult task of deciding to quit or not quit something, I encourage you to email me with any burning questions or thoughts.
Yours in adventure,
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