From the earliest age, around that moment you hit pavement while learning to ride without training wheels, we learn the importance of never quitting. Sports figures, tycoons and politicians have written volumes on the concept of perseverance, all offering advice on how to grit past adversity.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
But lately I’ve had cause to wonder, is it ever okay to say no, thank you, I’ve had enough of hell for right now? Maybe it’s time for something different. In other words, when can we safely give ourselves permission to quit?
For a coach like me, it’s a dangerous topic. We’re trained to train others to stay the course. But there are times when you realize that course isn’t taking you in a direction you want to go. You want to stop not so much because the endeavor is impossibly hard, but because it’s not helping you grow, personally or professionally, the way you thought it would. At that point, you might owe it to yourself to quit.
Here are a few questions you can ask to help decide if it’s time to throw in the towel, when to quit, whether you’re considering your job, a rocky relationship, or just a Spanish class:
- Think of all the reasons you began the effort. How many still apply?
- What benefits have you earned from your investment so far? If you continued on the same course, would additional benefits roll in that might make perseverance worth it?
- What has the effort cost you, and what are your projected costs if you keep going?
- Also consider the opportunity costs. What could you be doing if you weren’t doing that?
- Knowing what you know now, if you had a do-over would you take the same path?
Not long ago I faced such a dilemma. In an effort to continually sharpen my skills, I started working toward another teaching certification, and over time the process became a vortex, sucking up huge amounts of my time and energy. It took me a while to realize the goal didn’t justify the sacrifice. After I finally gave myself license to quit, I began spending much more time with my family and friends and picking up a few new clients! And that’s made me happier than any slip of paper ever could.
Do you ever feel caught up in something that’s causing you stress, unsure whether to stick it out or just get out? Sometimes it helps to talk to someone and get a fresh perspective. Please call me! I’m here to help you make the right decision.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.
You have to let go at some point to move forward.”
– C.S. Lewis
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