When you hear the word ‘quitting’, what do you think of?
Many of us have been brought up with the notion that quitting is bad. We have been imbued with many negative perceptions of the act of quitting.
If you are like most people, you will likely have one or all of the following preconceived notions of what quitting means:
- Quitting means you are opting to lose.
- Quitting means you are taking the easy path out.
- Quitting means you are not going to be successful.
- Quitting means not to have perseverance and self-discipline, which are highly regarded virtues.
- Quitting means you are fickle and unclear about what you want.
- Quitting means to waste the money, time and energy that have already been invested in the task.
By quitting or even just talking about wanting to quit, you automatically become stigmatized with any or all of the 6 statements above. Because of all these stigmas, people treat the whole idea of quitting with great adversity. It has become a dreaded ‘Q’ word. They do everything in their abilities not to quit in whatever they do and press on till the end.
After all, we repeatedly hear about how the most successful people are where they are because they never quit. They persevered, toiled through hardship, overcame trials and tribulations to eventually attain great accomplishments. Top it up with periodic quotes from great leaders like “There’s only one thing that can guarantee our failure, and that’s if we quit.” or “Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit” and that deeply sets in the affirmation in people not to quit.
The Fallacy of Not Quitting
The ability to persevere and not quit is a commendable trait. However, there’s a huge problem when people become obsessed with the whole notion of not quitting for the sake of, well, not quitting. This can be when people naturally equate all forms of quitting with losing. When they refuse to quit just because they want to succeed (cue: one of the traits of a perfectionist). When their desire not to quit is driven by fear of what quitting represents to others or themselves.
What Quitting Really Means
What is quitting, really? If we look at quitting as an objective act, it means to release, let go of your hold (of what you are doing). You work on a task, you quit = you let go of the task. That’s all that it means!
On the other hand, everything else that has come to be associated with quitting are just subjective representations. While they do hold true, they are very much dependent on the context of the situation. When we automatically link the act of quitting with thoughts like losing, failure, lack of perseverance, fickle-mindedness, etc, we are missing the bigger picture.
There are numerous situations when quitting does not adhere to the 6 common representations above. These are the situations when quitting means to win. Some examples of these situations are:
- When what you are doing is not your passion
- When you have obtained the key lesson you need out of it (i.e. obtaining the 80% value)
- When there is no additional value in continuing on
- When there’s something better you can be doing instead
In these situations, the worst thing u can do is not quit. Here, not quitting is really, to lose.
Instead of clinging on to every single task in our life for the sake of not quitting, we need to practise conscious quitting. Conscious quitting means to assess a task based on how meaningful it is to us so that we can choose whether to quit or not.
Let us examine the 6 conceptions of quitting in the context of conscious quitting:
Misconception #1. Quitting means you are opting to lose.
If you are quitting from tasks that are not meaningful, you are indeed opting to lose – in tasks which do not matter to you. Does it then matter whether you lose or win in them? It does not seem to me that you’re losing out at all – in fact, you only really lose if you choose to invest your time and energy to win in tasks that are pointless to you.
Misconception #2. Quitting means you are taking the easy path out.
To quit is to willingly severe and give up all the investments you have made. It is to go against stigmas from the society and people around you to stay true to yourself. It is actually a harder task than not quitting. Maintaining the status quo and not quitting seems to be actually the easier path out.
Misconception #3. Quitting means you are not going to be successful.
This is quite the contrary to what conscious quitting is about. Conscious quitting is all about getting success in your life.
Firstly, understand what constitutes as success for a particular task may not bring you success for a particular goal. Subsequently, what gives you success for a certain goal may not lead you to your desired success in your life. It is important that you do not confuse success in the task you are doing, with success in life.
The kind of success you want to see in your life is success in what you are passionate about, not every single nitty gritty task. It’s success in the goals, dreams, visions you love. To achieve that, you need to quit from the things you are not passionate about so you can be working on things you ARE passionate about – your big rocks. Quitting makes it possible for you to be a master of your time and be effective so that you eventually become successful. If you are going to spend all your time doing things you dislike and put off doing things you love, you are never going to see your passions coming to fruition, ever.
Misconception #4. Quitting means not to have perseverance and self-discipline, which are highly regarded virtues.
Sure, sticking in a task you loathe can help you strengthen skills like perseverance, self-discipline, strength of character, etc. But you do realize that these are the exact same soft skills that can be strengthened in doing what you are passionate about as well, don’t you? Every task we undertake tests a certain facet of our soft skills in one way or another. Every thing we do has its own set of challenges and obstacles. Strengthening these skills are not exclusive to just this particular task you are clinging on to.
In fact, it is by pursuing what you really love that you become the best person you can be. When you are driven by love, you will leap forward in front of even the biggest obstacles to overcome them. Being motivated by passion makes you want to perform your best in the task you are doing and subsequently lets you achieve your highest potential.
Misconception #5. Quitting means you are fickle and unclear about what you want.
This is quite the opposite. Conscious quitting occurs because you know precisely what you want. You can’t quit consciously unless you know what is it that you want. This isn’t fickle; this is about being loyal to your passion and yourself. If you choose to remain in this task despite knowing there is something else you rather be doing, that’s being fickle.
Misconception #6. Quitting means to waste the money, time and energy that have already been invested in the task.
The resources you invested thus far has given you enough insights for you to conclude that you want to quit. They are not wasted because they enabled you to derive this learning from this experience. It is choosing to stay on in a meaningless task that you are really wasting your money, time and energy.
Quitting In My Life
There have been multiple times when I have taken a hold of the situation I am in, assessed it, evaluated the options I have and made the conscious decision to quit. Below are some examples:
- I quit my brand management career – To pursue my life passion and get my personal development business, up and running
- I quit pointless relationships with people and in rare incidences, friends if they do not enable me to be a better person. Because in such incidences, that would make me unable to contribute meaningfully to the friendship and properly pursue my purpose.
- I quit halfway through my tennis course when I realized I don’t like tennis as a sport and it was a waste of my time to do something I don’t like. This was despite having made a non-refundable prepayment for the whole course.
- I opt out of non-constructive outings and activities to more effectively spend my time doing things that are more important to me
Conscious quitting has made me much more effective, productive, better off, happy and successful than if if I had chosen not to quit.
Quitting To Win
What can you quit from your life today to win? Some examples are:
- Quitting from a job you do not like for something you DO like
- Quitting from relationships which are holding you back for relationships which do elevate you
- Quitting from Quadrant 3 and Quadrant 4 tasks for your Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 tasks
- Quitting from the 80% lesser value activities so that you have more time for the 20% higher value activities
As the CEO of your life, you need to make some hard decisions on what you need to cut out so you can focus on your big rocks and experience continual growth and success. Real life CEOs face that every day, making tough calls on what divisions to sell-off, people to lay-off, products to discontinue, cuts in fundings, etc so the resources can be properly channeled into the most critical, important areas to generate long-term success for the company. Identifying what these hard decisions are and start quitting to win today.
Image: Water droplet from a tap