When quitting is the best thing


when quitting is the best thing

“Don’t settle. Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.” – Chris Brogan.

Last week a friend and I went for a (long for me – short for her!) walk on the downs near Arundel.  It was a perfect day with enough clouds and breeze to help us up the steep slopes and sunshine to sit in when we (OK, I) needed to rest.

When I first met my friend (I’ll call her Sarah), she was a partner in a prestigious law firm. She was clever, an excellent lawyer and a delightful person, but she wasn’t happy.  She worked too long and hard – as she said to me on our walk, she was trying to be something she was not and failing to live up to her own, impossibly high, standards.  At the same time, she was in a toxic relationship.

Tenacious and strong-minded, “quitting” wasn’t in Sarah’s vocabulary.  But leaving that job and ending her relationship were two of the best decisions she ever made.

Today Sarah is flourishing, happy and fulfilled.  Now a therapist, she loves her work and knows she’s good at it. She’s also in a relationship with someone who values her for who she is.

We’re often told we should never give up (remember Winston Churchill!), that winners never quit.  But what if, sometimes, quitting, is the very best thing we can do?  Some situations are truly beyond repair and will just cause us more and worse harm.

In these circumstances, hanging on to a dysfunctional relationship or a job which is strangling us is, frankly, absurd.

There have been things I’ve let go and my life has felt lighter and happier as a consequence.  Such as giving up a friendship which dragged me down, going part-time when my job had taken over my life.

We can think of this as positive, or selective, quitting – choosing to let go of things which no longer benefit us.  Bad habits, situations we keep engaging in that we know deep down we should escape from.  

Or it can be the small things Chris Brogan refers to in the quote at the start of this post – like not finishing books we aren’t enjoying.

Looking at quitting in this context, it loses its negative connotations and can be seen as a rational and positive response.  Letting go of the negative things in our lives will create more positivity, and make space for better experiences.

To quote Sylvia Mordini (Why I’m Quitting (and You Should, Too)): 

“Quite frankly, forcing ourselves to do things that no longer spark joy is exhausting. Why don’t we quit? Because we all form habits as we go through life, but even our good habits keep us from growing spiritually. This is because habits are, by definition, an attachment to a pattern of behavior, or a form of dependence. This includes not just our attachments to material objects (like “needing” chocolate), but also attachments to only seeing things in one way, or repeating the same thoughts over and over. A key benefit of quitting is the opportunity to break our attachments. Only then can we begin to allow true spiritual growth and joy to bloom.” read more at wanderlust.com

Are there things in your life that you continue to tolerate but would be better off without?  Perhaps it’s time to give yourself permission to stop doing them.


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