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March 1, 2024

Be a Quitter

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It’s okay to be a quitter. In fact, quitting has been unfairly demonized. It dawned on me that quitting, when approached with intention and thoughtfulness, can lead to outcomes far superior to stubbornly sticking to a commitment.

The art lies in discerning the right moment to walk away versus soldiering on.

That’s where the real challenge lies.

I used to be someone who, out of a misguided sense of duty, would trudge through any book I started, no matter how much I loathed it. That’s no longer the case. Now, if a book fails to spark that eagerness to dive back in every time I put it down, it gets one more chance to capture my interest. If it doesn’t, I quit. My time is too precious to waste on experiences that don’t enrich me. If only everything was as simple as walking away from a book.

Life is riddled with obligations, especially when it comes to our careers and commitments to those dependent on us. Quitting isn’t an option for most of these responsibilities. You can’t just quit your job on a whim, nor can you quit on your children during tough times. These commitments are, to a large extent, non-negotiable.

Yet, it’s not entirely black and white. You can quit a job you detest. It baffles me when people speak of their jobs as though they’re serving a life sentence. The reasons they stay may sound compelling—pension ties, lack of better-paying opportunities, or milestone achievements. However, none of these should justify the erosion of your well-being. I’ve seen people courageously leave their careers in law enforcement, pension notwithstanding because their happiness mattered more. Staying in a loathed job not only breeds personal misery but often spreads discontent around you.

Believing that you must endure such unhappiness is a trap of learned helplessness, a prison of your own making.

But there’s an escape. You can leave the job. You can exit a relationship that’s lost its meaning. According to the longest-running study on happiness by Harvard University, many, at life’s end, expressed one common regret: living by others’ expectations rather than staying true to themselves. This revelation should not be viewed as selfish. Instead, it’s a poignant reflection on forsaken dreams due to societal or familial pressures.

They didn’t quit. If they had, their lives might have been filled with more joy and fulfillment.

Comparing the act of quitting books to quitting relationships may seem odd, yet I’ve stepped back from people who’ve drained my energy or made relationships feel like a chore. True, relationships require effort, but they shouldn’t feel like a constant struggle—that’s where the distinction lies.

So, ponder profoundly and sincerely over what—or whom—you might need to quit.

If you’re chasing a dream, visualize your moment of triumph. If this vision fills you with joy and motivation, then that dream is non-negotiable. The path to achievement is illuminated by perseverance and daily incremental steps. Most give up too soon, deterred by challenges or the absence of instant gratification. I know it’s hard, but you must relentlessly persist.

I have found that the most profound growth and progress come from letting go. Whether it’s a person, a job, or any endeavor that no longer serves your growth or sanity, embracing the concept of ‘addition by subtraction’ can open doors to new beginnings and unexplored paths to happiness.

Quitting isn’t a sign of defeat; it’s a courageous step towards a life that genuinely reflects your deepest values and aspirations.

Dare to quit to live a more fulfilling life.

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