inspiration

How to Know When to Quit (Anything) and When Not To

Quitting has a bad rap. Most of the time, I agree. It can mean giving up, and giving up for the wrong reasons is not the best way to move forward. Quitting the rowing team in college was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I knew I needed to quit and that it was time to quit, but I was so worried that I would be judged and that I would be seen as “throwing in the towel.” But it was, honestly, one of the best decisions I made in college and my only regret was that I wish I had done it sooner. I gave it my all.

Quitting

How to Know When to Quit (Anything) and When Not To

Guest post by Maxie McCoy

There’s one thing most successful people do: they continue on. They consistently show up even when they’re unsure, or totally afraid, or feeling defeated. They keep creating. They keep going. They don’t quit.

So, you might think it’s ironic then, that this is a post about quitting. The reason for that is because it’s really important to know when to stop doing something. Sometimes the things we stop can be just as important as the things that we start. Sometimes the thing we stop doing help us to continue doing the things that will make us successful.

As proud as I am of the things I’ve continued doing over all these years – (like my blog, which is 6 years strong this week!) – I don’t regret the things that I’ve stopped doing, because they all got me here. And I stopped them for the right reasons. There have even been aspects to my never quit mentality on my writing that have essentially been things that I’ve stopped doing. Like, I don’t write twice a week like I used to. I don’t do a Sunday round-up like I did for a while. I don’t do Q+A features in my newsletter anymore. I stopped my online community of monthly conversations and curriculum. I’ve quit doing ALL SORTS OF THINGS. Most of us have. Because when you’re building something you care about – like your business, your studies, or your core relationships, your career, or your hobbies – you experiment and try with different steps here and there. And ultimately you’ll quit some of those experiments that you once started.

This can be true of most things. Just because you said you were doing something, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. Here are a few questions to ask to figure out if quitting is the right thing to do…

Would quitting create time for something more valuable? I’m not talking about more time to scroll on your newsfeed or binge watch Netflix, I mean something valuable… as in connection with yourself or loved ones, working on something new, studying something related but different. If there’s a clear tradeoff for your time, one that gets you closer to where you want to be, it may be worth your consideration.

Would your 80-year old self agree? Channel the wisdom of your older self. She’ll call BS on if you’re doing this because you’re not feeling motivated, or if you’re considering quitting because it’s time to truly go in a new direction. Ask your 80-something self what she would do in your situation.

Are you quitting out of fear or out of freedom? This is a feeling. You can feel if ending this thing you’re thinking of ending feels like fear… Or if it feels like freedom. If it feels like fear then you may want to stick with it because you might be on the cusp of a breakthrough. If quitting feels like freedom then this thing you’re quitting has probably been weighing you down for some time, and it’s time to move on.

Does it live up to why you started? If you started something so that it’d be FUN, and you’re not having any fun anymore, then maybe it’s time to reconsider. My writing isn’t always fun, but it’s always creative and a way to share the universal experiences we’re always going through. And it never ceases to live up to that. So I keep going even when some days I don’t want to.

Remember, it’s possible you started something because you thought you should do it…only to learn later that you began for all the wrong reasons. Whatever you do, make sure you’re quitting for the right ones though.

For more advice from Maxie, read her book You’re Not Lost.

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8 Comments

Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Yess this is so important! I think most of us grew up learning that quitting was bad and a failure, but as you get older, you realise that it’s a lot more nuanced, and yes, there are times when quitting something makes room for something else better. -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

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Erin

Love this post and I really resonate with it. I was an auditor for a Big 4 public accounting/consulting firm and working my butt off most of the year. I had made it 4 years and I was just so burned out. I wanted to quit, but I was SO fearful of what my then-coworkers would think – that I was taking the easy way out, that I was weak, that I was taking a lesser job. 7 months later, I am SO glad that I quit and took a different job. All the extra hours and late nights at work turned into actual dinners with my husband, being able to visit my family on holidays, connecting with friends, reading, painting. I’m an all-around happier person. Love seeing “quitting” in a different light!

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