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Here's to the Quitters

When was the last time you just quit something? How do you feel about it?


Our culture isn't kind to the quitters. Napoleon Hill, Ted Turner, and Vince Lombardi are all quoted as saying some variation of, "A quitter never wins and a winner never quits." Cicely Tyson once said, "I am not a quitter. I will fight til I drop." Lora Brody jokingly remarked, "I could give up chocolate but I am not a quitter." Every play list I ever listened to when I used to run was filled with songs about not quitting. And each and every one of these inspirations, along with so much more, is often just what we need to make it over the next hurdle.


But... what about when quitting is the *right* thing to do? How many people have stayed in a truly bad job, bad marriage, bad living situation because quitting was frowned upon? Since Covid, there has been a lot of talking about the swing end of the pendulum - at least at work. The Great Resignation saw so many people leave their jobs. We also know the new term "quiet quitting," when rather than leave you just make a shift to do less. Quitting is a conversation that needs to be taken seriously.


Annie Duke, in her book Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away, warns us about making dumb decisions "just because we aren't quitters." She gives some extreme examples of people who ended up being injured or killed just because they were "unwilling to give up." She argues that quitting can be part of the learning cycle, allowing us to process new information we didn't have when we started. She claims it may be counter-intuitive, but quitting actually can help you reach your goals faster. Along with Duke, there are many other good arguments for how the decision making process of quitting, when handled well, reflects the scientific method and inspires entrepreneurial creativity.


One of my favorite songs that really inspired me in recent years to listen to my gut and make a difficult decision was "it's time to go" by Taylor Swift. I love the chorus, which says,

Sometimes giving up is the strong thing

Sometimes to run is the brave thing

Sometimes walking out is the one thing

That will find you the right thing

And that pretty much sums up the best, most healthy part of quitting.


Is there something that you really need to quit? Maybe it is smoking, drinking too much, or other unhealthy choices. Or maybe you need to quit being sarcastic, overcommitting, screaming, saying yes when you mean no, or any other variety of bad habits. You may need to face the facts and quit a friendship that turns out to not really be a friendship. What in your life is asking the question, What did I get myself into? Can I and should I quit?


Now the hard part. While quitting *can* be a give-up-loser move, I find more often that quitting can often be an incredibly brave and inspiring move. It takes pluck to quit. It takes honesty to admit what you really want and that [fill in the blank] is *not* it. It takes admitting that you can't be certain you are making the right decision, that you may actually be wrong - somewhere we could all use a little more humility. Healthy quitting isn't lazy - it's courageous. Quitting because you didn't feel like getting up early to go to the gym - meh. Quitting because you have a different vision for what life can be - huzzah! What is your motivation? What is the most truthful thing you hear deep in your soul? Listen.


So, here's to the quitters. May the boundaries you set feel like fences that protect what you love rather than walls to keep others out. May your desire to do the right thing give you the courage to do the hard thing - whether it is to quit or to persist. Only you can decide if quitting is right for you. Just take time to consider it fully, with your heart and your mind. As Swift says, "you know when it's time to go." You know. Now it is time to get to quitting.



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