When you were a child, did you think that winners never quit and quitters never win? For some of us, quitting was just not an option. But this gets tricky as we get older because we just keep adding new things, new interests, and new obligations to our plates. If we don’t let any go, we can end up feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and overloaded.
We need to normalize quitting. The pandemic helped open that door for us a bit, but as we return to “the new normal,” those old habits creep back in, and before we know it we’re packed with obligations that take us away from the things (and people) that are important to us.
So for us reforming non-quitters, let’s put a bit of a structure in place. When is it okay to quit?
Let’s look at a few specific times when it is definitely okay to quit.
When you’re burned out
When you have been doing this thing for so long that you just don’t have the energy for it anymore, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that this chapter has run its course.
When it’s not what you thought it would be
You started this and guess what? It’s not what you thought. Now you know better and because of that, your thinking can evolve. You can make a different choice. We don’t always have 20/20 vision on the front end of a decision. We think we know what the time commitment will be, how it will feel, and what it will deliver for us, but we could be wrong.
When you’ve changed your mind
Maybe this was a grand idea when you started it, but you’ve changed your mind about it. It just doesn’t make sense.
When it’s no longer necessary
We all have things like this, where we are doing them because we’ve always done them and it’s actually no longer necessary. And it is now okay to let it go. I’m sending a special nudge to the parents out there to think about this one: where are you still doing something for someone that they can now do themselves?
When your circumstances have changed
This made a lot of sense for what your life looked like at one point in time. But now your circumstances are different for any number of reasons, and because of that, this thing that you’re doing just doesn’t make sense anymore.
When something else captures your imagination
When something else magnetizes your energy it’s a great time to run toward that thing. And usually, to do that, you have to lay something else down. There might just not be room for both.
When fear of change is your only reason for staying
Sometimes we’re afraid to quit because that would require a change. And we don’t like the idea of change because it can be terrifying. This is where people talk about “the devil I know” being better than “the devil I don’t.” You don’t have to sit there and tough it out forever.
So if those are reasons when it is perfectly okay to quit, what are some not-so-good ones?
When it’s an impulsive decision
It’s not such a good idea to quit on impulse. You want your decision to quit to be more thoughtful. All you have to do in this case, by the way, is to give it more time. Don’t quit because of a moment of stress. Quit when you’ve had a little bit of time to pause and be thoughtful.
When your inner critic has gotten noisy
Your inner critic is saying, “You’re not good enough for this” or “You don’t have what it takes.” And you’re starting to listen to her. Inner critics are not the boss of us. If your inner critic is really getting noisy about why you should quit, that’s a good time to seek counsel from a friend, a mentor, or a coach. It’s a sign you need somebody to remind you that you can separate that voice from the voice of wisdom.
When you’re mildly bored
Maybe that was not a great meeting or this week was kind of yucky. Mild boredom comes and goes in basically everything that we do in life. We want to make sure we persist through those chapters when they’re temporary.
When you’re close to a milestone with a team or a work partner
When other people are counting on you to reach an important milestone, that is typically not a great time to quit. There can be extenuating circumstances that make it necessary, but ideally, we want to follow through when we can help other people reach that milestone. And then consider if there’s a more opportune moment to quit.
So the next time that you are toughing it out, I want you to think back to this list and see if it would be powerful to reconsider that idea. If maybe this is one of those times when it is perfectly okay for you to quit and see what that opens up.
Want to talk more about quitting and see what that could open up in your life? You can grab time on my calendar for FREE to explore if coaching is right for you. Schedule time to chat here.