Today I want to talk about quitting. The general idea in our society is that quitting is bad and means you’re giving up and just need to try harder. Don’t get me wrong, I totally see when this is an important attitude. Like when you REALLY want that job but there are people who are trying to push you out or when you’ve plateaued on your time for your morning run. Those are times that quitting would feel like giving up… because the outcome means more than temporary discomforts.
However, there are plenty of times that quitting is essential to growth. We as humans try SO many things in our lives. Some we love, some we hate, some we are amazing at, and some we suck at. There are things I’ve barely picked up and immediately said “this isn’t something I want to put effort into because the outcome doesn’t excite me” (piano comes to mind) and I was never told “don’t quit”. But then there were those things that I put effort into – years of my life into – and slowly realized that I wasn’t enjoying them anymore… yet when I talked to friends and family and even my own heart, the thought that kept popping up was: “All that wasted time and effort… don’t give up.”
I get this thought, believe me I do. When you put years of effort and love into a career, a relationship, a hobby, it is hard to turn your back on it even when you realize that it doesn’t bring you life anymore. For example, I did 5.5 years of undergrad and got my B.S. in Civil Engineering. I LOVED the idea of being able to help people and make the world prettier… and then I got to the real world where “pretty” is replaced with “good enough” and “helping people” is replaced with “making profit.” I tried. I worked at multiple companies hoping I’d find that magical place that seemed to live only in my dreams. Finally I realized that the reality didn’t make me happy and I couldn’t see myself fighting for 30+ years… so I quit. And there were people who said “you can always go back” and “you worked so hard, why are you giving up?” But there were also people who said “I’m glad you can focus on what will make you happy now” and “You seem so much happier now than you did in that career.”
I know people aren’t money, but there is something in economics called a suck cost, which is a cost that has already been spent or invested and will not be recovered. In my example, this would be the years of schooling and 2 years of unhappy work in the real world. I will never get that time back. However, there is also something called a prospective cost which are future costs that can be avoided if action is taken now. My prospective costs in that example are 30+ years of unhappy work in a career I don’t love.
Obviously, my example is huge, but I feel like it is one that a lot of people experience. How many people do you know who are unhappy in their jobs and are just staying because they put in the work and don’t want to have wasted that time? I counter that with this: if that is wasted time, why are you wasting your future? Don’t like a book after the second chapter? Quit and find a book you enjoy. Don’t like that movie halfway through? Quit and find another. That relationship isn’t fulfilling your needs and wants? Quit and find love in yourself or a friendship or a different relationship.
Stop seeing your time already spent as proof that you have to continue something you hate that is taking a part of you away. Instead, work hard at finding things that DO make you happy. That inspire you to be your best self. That encourage you to grow and love your life. You deserve it. We all do. So I’ll leave you with this quote I found:
“Quitting is not giving up, it’s choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it’s realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it’s learning to be more productive, efficient, and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.” Osayi Osar-Emokpae, Impossible Is Stupid
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