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