3 Reasons to Quit (And 2 Reasons Not To)

Homage: Braveheart

Image by MarkyBon via Flickr

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I was nervous – my heart rate was elevated and my hands slightly shaking. I stared at what I just typed into the chat window knowing once I hit send, there was no going back.

“Yo. Do u have a few min? I need to talk w/ u about something.”

It felt like a Nike commercial was on loop in my head. Just do it. Lisa and I had discussed this at length for weeks and she was 100% supportive of what I was about to do, but I still worried.

Is now is the best time? The economy is struggling. We’re going to have to live off savings while the business gets off the ground. Is this prudent?

Nope. I hit send and quit my job. Like William Wallace, I knew what I was fighting for: Freedom.

Quitting Has a Bad Rap

The act of quitting is, for the most part, frowned upon. Think of everything you’ve been told about quitting. If you’re like me, it conjures up visions of a football locker room at halftime and a coach rallying his underdog team to “Never quit! Never give up!” (Despite getting man-handled during the first half.)

And that’s all well and good. They shouldn’t quit. But there’s a time and place for quitting. Whether it’s a job, an activity or over-commitment, more of us should probably evaluate what we need to quit – to remove from our lives so we can move forward.

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit”
– George Carlin

What Stops Us From Quitting?

Fear.

Let that sink in for a minute. Fear of what?

  • The Unknown
  • Failure
  • Loss of Income
  • Letting Others Down
  • Social Reactions
  • Discomfort

Fear is a powerful motivator and deterrent. It will convince us that the alternative is worse than our current situation. We get comfortable – trapped in a state of false security where any growing dissatisfaction or abuses we suffer have to be better than what awaits us if we quit.

We’re afraid of what we don’t know. We like to pretend we have some modicum of control over the millions of variables that impact our lives every day. Anything that makes us cognizant that our control is an illusion is something we run from. Quitting brings change. Change brings uncertainty. Uncertainty sucks. At least this crappy job affords me predictability. Therefore, I’ll stay right here and wallow in my predictable misery instead of risking the excitement of uncertainty!

3 Times When Quitting is the Right Action

“Of all the stratagems, to know when to quit is the best”
– Chinese Proverb

Nobody always makes the right choice the first time. Therefore, I’m a firm believer that everyone should quit either a job or activity at some point in their lives. But how do you know if quitting is the right action? Deep down, I think we already know. But here are some guidelines that I use.

  • Quit to Pursue a Passion. If you can’t honestly say that what you do every day is what you desire to be doing, you should consider quitting. Life moves at blazing speeds and before you know it, you’re 70 years old looking back and wondering what if? Do not become that person! The world needs people who pursue their dreams – who come alive by what they do!
  • Quit When You’ve Become Stagnant. Maybe you’re dreams haven’t fully materialized yet. That’s okay. However, that’s no excuse for staying put! If you’re dragging through life just “putting in time,” you will likely find inspiration hard to come by. Instead, make some drastic changes. You don’t always have to know where you’re going to know that where you are is not where you should be! It’s hard to be inspired to greatness when you’re mired in boredom and stagnation.
  • Quit In Order to Simplify or Focus. Are you an inch deep and a mile wide? Have you found yourself so over-committed that you don’t have time for what really matters? What would your friends or your family say about your commitments? I know what it’s like to over commit. It nearly cost me my marriage. I also know a lot of couples and families who worship at the alter of activities – who have to “schedule” time with each other. Kids now have Blackberrys just to track after-school commitments. It’s sad because it can be avoided by simply quitting some of the activities.

2 Times When Quitting is the Wrong Action

The funny thing about quitting is that we often quit when we shouldn’t and we don’t quit when we should. Therefore, just as important as knowing when to quit is knowing when NOT to quit.

  • Don’t Quit Chasing Your Dream. I will guarantee you one thing: if you quit in order to pursue your dreams, there will be days, weeks, months or years where you will feel like quitting that chase. It will get difficult. People will fail you. The economy will turn. You will find yourself alone and wondering if you made the wrong decision. Before we begin working on a dream, we imagine every day will be wonderful because “I’ll finally be doing what I love.” What we often forget is that it takes hard work to pursue a dream. If it didn’t, everyone would be doing it. There are days where life is just “normal” – filled with obligations and activities that must be done. When that happens, take some time out to reflect on why you started down this path. Renew the drive and passion, but under no circumstances should you quit.
  • Don’t Quit Because You’re Afraid of Failing. This point may sound a little odd considering that most people avoid quitting because they are afraid of failing. Let me give an example. I’ve decided to start this blog for reasons you can read about elsewhere on the site. However, I could’ve quit before this (my first post) was published out of fear that I would fail as a blogger.  The only other person that would’ve known I quit would be my wife Lisa. In fact, it’s highly unlikely many people will even read this post. I could quit even after I publish this without much concern for who will know about my failure. Sometimes, we convince ourselves it can’t happen simply so we can avoid the risk that comes along with trying. Don’t quit and fail before you’ve even attempted something.

It’s Your Turn to Quit

Quitting when you should is almost never easy. So I’ll leave you with this question: If you knew that you only had 2-3 years left to live, what would you quit today so that you could pursue your passions and the relationships that really matter to you? Now…what are you going to do about it?


If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, it would mean a lot to me if you subscribe to my blog and share this with others who need to hear this message. I can’t guarantee that every post will rock your world, but I can promise I’ll try! I’ve got a lot planned for the future and want to share the journey with you.

Here’s to all the quitters who realize that sometimes you have to quit what you like in order to do what you love!

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  • Amber Khan

    This is an excellent post – and I feel you 100%!

    I think you're dead on about the reasons we don't quit. I also think it is ingrained in us. For example, I saw my parents work themselves to the bone to make a living and even when they were in pain, struggling or abused by their employers, they sucked it up and made a paycheck. They made it a point that "winners don't quit just because things are tough". However, I look at all they lost from being miserable everyday and I won't allow that to happen to me.

    You're right, life is too short.

    PS – you are an awesome blogger.

    • Thank you, Amber! I appreciate the compliment.

      You're right about it being ingrained. We're taught to seek out "security" from our employment. However, it's a myth in today's world. The world is changing too fast.

      On the flip-side, I do believe that we have a bit of a pampered work force. They're flaky and don't believe in hard work. They want instant gratification and don't understand that not every day at their job will be fulfilling. We need the work ethic of previous generations along with the dissatisfaction of the status quo of this generation. Those are the people that will lead movements and be great.

  • Amber Khan

    This is an excellent post – and I feel you 100%!

    I think you're dead on about the reasons we don't quit. I also think it is ingrained in us. For example, I saw my parents work themselves to the bone to make a living and even when they were in pain, struggling or abused by their employers, they sucked it up and made a paycheck. They made it a point that "winners don't quit just because things are tough". However, I look at all they lost from being miserable everyday and I won't allow that to happen to me.

    You're right, life is too short.

    PS – you are an awesome blogger.

    • Thank you, Amber! I appreciate the compliment.

      You're right about it being ingrained. We're taught to seek out "security" from our employment. However, it's a myth in today's world. The world is changing too fast.

      On the flip-side, I do believe that we have a bit of a pampered work force. They're flaky and don't believe in hard work. They want instant gratification and don't understand that not every day at their job will be fulfilling. We need the work ethic of previous generations along with the dissatisfaction of the status quo of this generation. Those are the people that will lead movements and be great.