Quitting To Win

Man having victory

(Image: Japheth Mast)

When you hear the word ‘quit,’ 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 surrounding quitting.

If you are like most people, you would likely have one or all of the following preconceived notions of quitting:

  1. Quitting means opting to lose.
  2. Quitting means taking the easy way out.
  3. Quitting means you are not going to be successful.
  4. Quitting means you don’t have perseverance and self-discipline, which are highly regarded virtues.
  5. Quitting means you are fickle and unclear about what you want.
  6. Quitting means to waste the money, time, and energy that have already been invested in the task.

By quitting or even talking about wanting to quit, you are automatically labeled with any or all of the statements above. Because of these stigmas, people treat the idea of quitting with great resistance. It has become a dreaded ‘Q’ word. They do everything to avoid quitting in whatever they do, and press on till the end.

After all, we repeatedly hear about how the most successful people achieve their goals because they never quit. They persevered, toiled through hardship, and overcame trials and tribulations to eventually attain great accomplishments. Top it off with great 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 this affirms that we should never, ever quit.

The Fallacy of Not Quitting

The ability to persevere and not quit is a commendable trait. However, it is a huge problem when people become obsessed with the notion of not quitting for the sake of, well, not quitting. This can be when people equate all forms of quitting with losing. When they refuse to quit just because they want to succeed (one of the traits of a perfectionist). When their desire not to quit is driven by a fear of what quitting means to others or to themselves.

What Quitting Really Means

What is quitting, really? If we look at quitting as an objective act, it means to release, to stop, to let go (of what you are doing). You work on a task, you quit = you let go of the task. That’s all it means!

On the other hand, everything else that has become associated with quitting is just a subjective representation. While they do hold true in some ways, they depend on the context of the situation. When we automatically link the act of quitting with losing, failure, lack of perseverance, fickle-mindedness, etc., we are missing the bigger picture.

Conscious Quitting

There are situations when quitting does not equate with the 6 common representations above. These are the situations when to quit means to win. Some examples are:

  • When what you are doing is not your passion
  • When you have learned what you need to learn
  • When there is no added value in continuing on
  • When there’s something better you can be doing instead

In these situations, the worst thing u can do is to continue. The worst thing you can do is not quitting. 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 what I call conscious quitting. Conscious quitting means to assess a task based on how meaningful it is to you so that you can decide whether to quit or not.

Let us examine the 6 misconceptions of quitting:

Misconception #1. Quitting means opting to lose

Not at all. If you are quitting tasks that are not meaningful, you are indeed opting to lose… in the tasks that do not matter. Does it matter whether you lose or win in these tasks? No, of course not! You want to lose in the tasks you DON’T CARE about, so that you can WIN BIG in the tasks you CARE about. It seems to me that you only really lose if you invest your time in things that are meaningless to you.

Misconception #2. Quitting means to take the easy way out

Not necessarily true. When you quit, you give up what you have done. You give up what you have invested. You have to go against societal stigmas and the people around you to stay true to yourself. It is actually a harder task than not quitting. Maintaining the status quo and not quitting is sometimes the easier way out.

Misconception #3. Quitting means you are not going to be successful

Not at all. Conscious quitting is all about achieving success in your life.

Firstly, it is important that you do not confuse success in the task you are doing, with success in life. What constitutes as success in a particular task does not mean equate with success for a particular goal. Subsequently, what gives you success for a certain goal may not lead you to your desired success in life. 

The kind of success you want to see in your life is success in what you are passionate about, not success in every nitty gritty task. It is success in what you love. To achieve that, you need to quit the things you are not passionate about so that you work on things you ARE passionate about — your big rocks. Quitting makes it possible for you to be a master of your time so that you eventually become successful. If you spend all your time doing things you dislike and putting off the things you love, you are never going to see your passions come to fruition, ever.

Misconception #4. Quitting means not having 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 cultivated while pursuing any other goal, right? Every task we undertake tests a certain facet of our skills. Every thing we do has its own set of challenges. Strengthening these skills are not exclusive to 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 be motivated to tackle the biggest obstacles. Being motivated by passion makes you want to do your best and achieve your highest potential.

Misconception #5. Quitting means you are fickle and unclear about what you want

Quite the opposite. Conscious quitting occurs because you know precisely what you want. You can’t quit consciously unless you know what 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 have invested thus far have helped you realize that you want to quit. They are not wasted because they enabled you to learn this lesson. 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 many times when I made the conscious decision to quit. Below are some examples:

  • I quit my job to pursue my life passion and start my coaching business.
  • I quit negative relationships, because being in such relationships made it difficult for me to contribute meaningfully to them and properly pursue my purpose at the same time.
  • I quit a business partnership because I didn’t feel the partners’ values were aligned with mine. Even though it was an unpleasant experience, it was better to quit than drag out an incompatible partnership.
  • I opt out of non-constructive activities to spend my time on things that are more important to me.
  • I once took a beginner’s course in course which I quit after a few lessons. I had never played tennis before that, and when taking the course, I realized that I have no passion for the sport. Even though my payment was non-refundable, I felt that continuing with the lessons was a bigger waste in terms of my time.

Conscious quitting has made me much more productive, successful, and positive than if if I had chosen not to quit.

Quitting To Win

What are the things you should quit today to win big? Some examples

As the CEO of your life, you need to make hard decisions on what to cut out so that you can focus on your big rocks and experience continual growth and success. Real life CEOs face that every day, making tough calls on divisions to sell-off, people to lay-off, products to discontinue, cuts in fundings, etc. so that the resources can be properly channeled into the most important areas to generate long-term success for the company. Identifying what these hard decisions are in your life, and start quitting to win today. 🙂


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