I’m a quitter. Always have been. Generally, I don’t quit when it becomes too hard, but I do take it upon myself to listen to the signs of my body, follow my gut, and instinctually know when something has run its course, or just doesn’t feel good any more. The year is young and yet I have quit many projects. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is try something new in order to know that it just doesn’t suit. Then quit.
At this time in February, I’m starting fresh. Instead of going all in on a project, I’m going to ease my way in until it feels good, doable, and then start to submerge myself into the hopefulness. Let’s face it, it can be exciting to jump into a new routine, exercise program, or skill development exercise; but what can set us back a step is expecting too much from the start. So, rather than going all in, I’m convinced that skimming the waters is the key to long-term involvement and success.
Previously, I have embarked on a journey with bounds of eagerness and, every single time, have found that putting so much pressure on myself is exactly what will cause me to burn out. Sometimes I burn out before I even get close to the good stuff. The beginning of an exercise can be the most challenging, just setting the tone, just getting into the habit, before true results start to weigh in. We all want to make it to the good parts, so that we’ve learned how well we’ve been seasoned for the next incline, the next steps, and can therefore make it, again, to the other side.
Quitting is not a bad thing. You might believe that if you quit, you will be mocked, not taken seriously. Justifications will swarm your speech, you’ll spend hours reasoning with yourself, and by the end of it all you will have determined that you are simply a quitter and no good will ever come of you trying to do anything ever again.
This frame of thinking is unacceptable. Unhinge the edges and let the light shine through. This life is an experiment. Spending our time thinking is not going to get us to embark on the perfect journey, say just the right thing every time, or enable us to live our lives impeccably the one time through. We will make mistakes. We will learn from them. Another point to make is that sometimes what seems to have been a mistake, is indeed just a detour that served to be less enjoyable than expected.
Keeping our expectation high will harm us in the long run. Experimenting, however, with the many possible routes we are enticed by, is just a natural way of discovering the next thing about ourselves. Starting something is the first step towards seeing a possible end. Going into a project with an exit route on standby is only a decent way for preparing for the worst, but perhaps accepting that the road may go on and that we may just enjoy what it is we are pursuing.
Beginning a project with your why in mind is perhaps the best part. There also is chance for discovery without a ‘why’, just with a bit of childlike curiosity. A little bit of openness can take you far, suggesting there is no real negative consequence. Our lives move quickly, like a two-hour film. It is okay to give something a go and then quit, only to find that there is something truly worth seizing eventually.
Then, as if quitting an endeavor, our positive journeys unfold unto unchartered territories, making way for a new path, an unforeseen voyage that maintains our excitement and renews our ambition. So, in other words, it is necessary for us to quit. Quitting gets us that much closer to beginning the next best thing. When that next thing runs its course, another voyage will be awaiting, a voyage that having been stuck on a different path never would have risen to the surface, let alone been discovered by just trying to think it up.
All good ideas come from doing. Imagining the best way to produce the best photograph is not the same as producing a bunch of awkward or sub-par photographs en-route to achieving that one magnificent image. And then, there come many more disregarded works before something incredible surfaces. So, with quitting comes trying, and with trying comes quitting, but what is crucial is knowing just when to quit.
Not all bad happenings have to end so somber. There is often a way through the mud that lands us squeaky clean once we get through it, and sometimes we just need to call it quits. Here’s how to know when it’s a good idea to quit:
When your physical, mental, and/or emotional health are being compromised
Listen to your body. Follow the trail of your mind and welcome the beat of your heart. When your heart isn’t in it, your willful body won’t be either. Perhaps your brain will tell you when it identifies a headache or another ache in the body. Do not ignore these signs. They are vital to your well-being, and your well-being is your highest priority.
When your journey/job/obligation/endeavor completely drains you
First of all, enjoying your new thing should not deplete you in a way that is frustrating to you. Being tired at the end of the day because it has been pleasantly filled with activities that engage you is one thing, but to be exhausted at the day’s end without an ounce of energy to dedicate to other things you love is a complete waste.
When you aren’t en-route to your ultimate goal
Quit when the direction to the goal you’ve set out to accomplish has steered you from that goal. Goals change, of course, but when you are still in pursuit of that goal and the choices you have made along the way are keeping you from your success, then quit that so that you may reevaluate.
When continuing causing complete anguish
Not everything works out so beautifully as planned, but when you are in despair, sometimes quitting is just what the doctor prescribes.
When quitting can be a form of hiatus
Quitting doesn’t have to be forever. Elle Griffin described this well in a post she wrote on quitting her job in the tech industry to start her own business, only to return to the tech industry after realizing she wanted to keep her passions passions, not squeeze them for income. Go ahead, give quitting a try. Nothing has to be permanent.