Sometimes the only, the best, thing to do is quit. I know – winners never quit and quitters never win. For too long the inner critic’s accusation kept me locked in the myth that it there is no circumstance in which quitting is justifiable. I’d look around and it seemed like everyone was cruising through difficult times and there I was feeling like how good would it be to just stop struggling to be, to do, to have, to become.
Quitting had never been an option or part of my coping skills because however tough things became, whatever the consequences, they were easier to deal with than the guilt I felt having given up (read failed). Besides, if everyone around me could do this then so could I, damn it!
It wasn’t even on bad days I had those thoughts. The good days were filled with trepidation and the what-ifs of possible failure, and having to quit rather than complete the task. But you know what? There are a number of circumstances in which it is more than reasonable to quit and I have given myself permission to quit, give up, and cease the struggle.
More importantly than actually allowing myself to give up is the acknowledgement that the self-imposed guilt serves no purpose other than to keep one subjugated to a faulty set of expectations imposed during childhood. Society tells us to never quit. We have to push through no matter how difficult.
I have come to disagree with Thomas Edison who said that “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” Another platitude I have come to loath: “Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle.” Perhaps there is a time and place for such clichés but they don’t belong in my inventory. They keep us locked into the failure and guilt of having given up
Here’s my list of circumstances of when it is okay to quit, I am sure more will present themselves:
- Friendships that literally suck the life out you. You know the ones; you’re always there for them and they’re deaf when you need a sympathetic ear.
- When health and peace of mind is compromised. There is only so much of ourselves we can pour into others before our health and mental wellbeing are affected. After all stress wreaks havoc with mind and body. Quit before it gets to that point. Whatever it is, a job, project, even a leisure activity. We have to know when and how to take care of ourselves, part of that is knowing when to quit.
- Our circumstances change, as do our interests. So if you want to become a basketball player it is probably a good idea to quit learning to play the drums and focus on an area about which you are more passionate. Changing direction is not quitting, it is an indication of one’s insight and self-awareness.
- When things don’t feel right.
- When the goal posts are frequently moved.
- It started out as an exciting project, activity, whatever and now you feel like a prisoner of the task. Not good, it’s time to reassess our initial commitment and ask whether our enthusiasm still matches the goal.
- You are frustrated. You’ve given it your best shot to fix the brokenness and realise there is no solution and you feel certain things will not change regardless of your best efforts.
- You’ve met the challenge yet it is still not enough. It is time to walk away because it will never be enough.
- You’ve gone above and beyond yet the task requires more time, effort and energy than you have to give it.
- When your boundaries have been crossed.
Quitting isn’t a curse. In fact quitting can be incredibly liberating. It can relieve stress and restore mental and emotional wellbeing. And sometimes quitting is simply choosing to do something different.
How do you decide when enough is enough and I wonder how you feel about quitting something?
Participating in 2017 April A – Z Challenge which you can read about here.