I pride myself on my tenacity, and it has served me well. Without my never-give-up attitude, I’d likely not have become an author. I probably wouldn’t have gotten married, maintained relationships, built a business, kept up with my blogs, or achieved even half my goals.
On the other hand, if I had a bit less tenacity, maybe I would have given up on some things that didn’t serve me. Doing so would have allowed me to focus on goals, dreams, tasks, and commitments that made me happier. It could have turned my attention to my life’s work or pursued my passions. Had I been a quitter, I would have shut one door so another would open. Then, I might have discovered opportunities better aligned with who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.
Letting Things Go
One day, while participating in a group coaching session, I said, “I’m not a quitter…and that makes it hard for me to let things go.”
The coach and several other members of the group looked at me wide-eyed. “Did you just hear what you said,” asked the coach.
“Say it again.”
“I’m not a quitter, so it’s hard for me to let things go.”
We had talked about my constant struggle to eliminate tasks and commitments related to my business, like offering specific courses and events or maintaining particular blogs. I wanted to defend my stick-to-it-ness, but I realized that what I’d said was important.
I needed to learn how to quit the things that weren’t working in my professional—and personal—life. I had to become a quitter.
Have I managed to do that? Not entirely, but I’m working on it every day. It still feels like a struggle to let go of things, but I continually evaluate what I can and need to quit to be happier, more fulfilled, and fulfill my purpose.
What Do You Need to Quit?
Take a few moments to consider the things you have been hanging on to that aren’t serving you. These activities or commitments are not “on purpose,” do not make you happy, or leave you feeling fulfilled. When it comes to your goals and dreams, they do not move the needle in the direction of achievement.
Think about your relationships. Consider your job or career. Evaluate how you spend your free time. Deep in your heart and soul, what do you know you need—want—to quit?
A Four-Year Refusal to Quit
I was offered a book project—my very first—by a publisher. I didn’t pitch them. They sought me out and asked me to take it on, and I did, even though it wasn’t a topic I was particularly interested in. It took me a year to complete the manuscript, which involved obtaining submissions from 90 celebrities. (In this case, tenacity was super helpful!)
Then the publisher decided to go in a different direction and dropped the project in my lap. So, I spent another year trying to find an agent. I finally did, but the project didn’t sell.
Then, I spent two more years trying to sell this project on my own. And when I landed another agent for a different project, I asked, “Would you be willing to find this book a home?” (The answer was no, and I was advised to drop it.)
I’d spent four years on the project! I wanted it to see the light of day. I wanted my efforts to pay off.
But I finally quit. (I never threw away all the files, though…)
Here’s the truth: That project wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go. Had I been willing to see that, and not stubbornly hang onto it anyway, I might have spent those four years working on a more meaningful and fulfilling book project. I might have written a book that was on purpose for me.
Why You Won’t Become a Quitter
I refused to quit that book project for all the wrong reasons. First and foremost, I did not want to fail. I had put so much time and effort into it. If the book never saw the light of day, I would feel like I’d wasted my time.
In addition to feeling like a failure, everyone who knew I’d been working on the project would realize I’d failed to get it published. My ego didn’t want them to think of me as a failure.
I also kept tenaciously trying to get it sold because I didn’t want to feel embarrassed. I didn’t want to have to tell everyone—including the 90 celebrities—that the book deal fell through, and I couldn’t get their stories sold.
Plus, I didn’t want them to think I was a liar. I told those celebrities the book had a publisher and would be published. They trusted me and put time and effort into their submissions because of that.
I know…these were all extrinsic reasons not to quit. I know better now. But my experience is an excellent example of why so many people—maybe even you—refuse to become quitters.
What’s stopping you from quitting? Necessity? A dislike of failure? Fear of being judged? Your ego?
3 Questions to Help You Know When to Quit
If you are overly perseverant and you know you need to change, how do you become a quitter? Or, how do you know when to quit? Answering the following three questions, which I ask myself often, will help.
1. Is it on purpose for me?
I’m a big proponent of doing things that are on-purpose, by which I mean that they align with my purpose. If you are doing something and it feels like a struggle, sucks your energy, and isn’t paying off, ask yourself if it helping you fulfill your purpose.
If not, then maybe its time to quit.
2. Is it serving me?
Beyond helping you fulfill your purpose, ask yourself if what you are doing serves you somehow. Is it making you happier, paying your bills, or making you healthier? Is it feeding your soul?
If it’s serving you, it may be worth doing…but not always. For example, paying the bills is a necessity, but spending your days slaving away at a job that leaves you drained and unhappy is not.
3. Does it inspire you, bring you joy, or activate your drive for creativity, challenge, or connection?
Humans thrive on inspiration, joy, creativity, challenge, and connection. If what you are doing activates one or more of these drives, quitting might not be the right choice.
However, if doing something doesn’t make you feel more alive, aligned, inspired, and motivated, maybe it’s time to quit.
Being a Quitter Isn’t Bad
Those who find quitting challenging tend to give a negative connotation to the word “quit.” That’s not surprising, since most of us were told by a parent, coach, or teacher, “Don’t be a quitter.”
Being a quitter was something to be avoided at all costs. It was the mark of someone weak, uncommitted, and lazy. It meant you were a failure.
In some cases, that might be true; in others, the ability to quit is the mark of someone strong, committed to their purpose, and driven. It’s often a characteristic of the most successful people in the world. They know when to quit, and that’s what helps them succeed.
It’s time to reframe the idea of being a quitter. Think of quitting as making a choice. It’s a decision to do something different, which helps you step into the best version of yourself, live your life fully, and do your life’s work. Being a quitter is a good thing—when you quit the right stuff.
What do you need to quit? Tell me in a comment below and, please, share this post with someone you know who will find it helpful.
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Photo courtesy of Gabriel Benois.