The Fine Art of Quitting

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Why is it so hard to quit, even when it’s in our best interest?

We’ve all heard the quotes that discourage us from quitting. “Winners never quit,” “quitters never win,” “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

The word, “quitter,” makes us think… “I don’t want to be one of “those people.” We’d rather be seen as someone who perseveres, regardless of the size of the obstacles in our path.

Labels, such as “quitter,” “defeatist”, and “loser” can keep us from considering alternative and rational courses of action. They’re black and white references that shame us into ducking the idea altogether.

It’s no surprise then that many of us (including myself at times) hold on to the socially acceptable idea of being a “winner” at all costs.

However, in many cases, quitting is neither weak or wrong…

Yes, quitting can be hard… especially when we a lot invested in where we are right now…. but it can become easier when going through the toughest parts of the experience along with a trusted coach.
Sure, legitimately giving up too soon without putting forth the obligatory effort might damage your reputation. But when you been successful, and you’ve reached a pinnacle or even a plateau in your career maybe it is OK to say, “I just want to do something else”.

When someone (maybe you right now) is engaged in something that they don’t want to do anymore… something that makes it hard to get up in the morning and go to work or school… When their situation is negatively affecting their physical and emotional health… and straining their relationships with family and friends… yes, it might be time to quit.

Contrary to popular belief, quitting something that’s hurting you more than it’s helping you is not always a bad thing. It even can open new possibilities you’ve never dreamt of before!

There’s nothing wrong with that.

There are often good reasons to persevere and not quit. You don’t want to leave someone hanging after you’ve made a commitment. And there may be potential to improve the situation over time if you put in the work. Those are both perfectly good reasons and they must be considered. However, they also must be balanced with common sense and with what’s actually achievable.
But, sometimes quitting is exactly the right thing to do.

Roberta owned a well-known and respected dance studio in a major metropolitan area. By any measure, she was very successful, she had a thriving business along with a national reputation for being at the top of her profession… she even had standing invitations to judge nationally sanctioned dance competitions. But when she began working with her new coach, she realized just a few weeks into that that she wanted to quit the business.

She expected her coach to disagree and encourage her to continue on the path she was on… and not be a “quitter”. Instead, her coach agreed with her intention to quit and sell her business. Knowing what her coach knew about her situation, he was acting in her best interest… even though it meant likely losing her as a client.
Roberta sold her business and never looked back. But… she did not sever her relationship with her coach. Instead, they worked together to find a new path forward.

Pressing ahead, they formulated a plan to develop a premium priced informational product based on her years of experience in the business. They crafted a marketing plan for that product that helped other dance studio owners reach the type of success with that she’d enjoyed for many years before. Now, rather than being confined to one physical location, trapped in her mind in boredom and a difficult commute, she was able to travel around the world working with individuals who wanted to build their businesses.

Her level of personal satisfaction and contentment soared!

Many people have two, three or even four different careers during their lifetimes. We no longer are destined to work cradle to grave for one organization like our grandparents may have. (One reason might be the fact that our lifespans are longer than past generations.)

Who wants to work at the same place for 50 freaking years? These days, anything more than seven years might be considered career suicide in some circles.

Another legitimate justification for making a life change might be that you no longer enjoy doing what you are doing. Life is not always supposed to be fun… but when what you are doing is sucking the stuffing out of you and it all feels like more of a burden than something that moves you forward… it might be time to quit. In other words, make it a logical life or business decision. If it’s not getting you results, or you are wasting valuable time, sometimes these types of decisions really are just a matter of doing what makes logical sense.

There is no need to go it alone.

Maybe that feeling in your gut that you want to stop doing what you’re doing just might be warranted. The bottom line is this… sometimes quitting is the right thing to do and just as a coach can guide you through other life transitions… like divorce, business or health issues, a coach can be very helpful in “quitting” as well.

When “quitting” is done with a life or business coach, the process can help you find the confidence to leave a bad situation and encourage you to try something new. At the same time, going it alone without the strategic support of a coach can be like removing your own appendix. As Eric Barker put it in his book, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, “Use trying and quitting as a deliberate strategy to find out what is worth not quitting.”

With this new-found awareness of the reasons why it’s sometimes so hard to quit, I hope you won’t be afraid to try new things, quit when it’s in your best interest, and move onto bigger and better opportunities with a sympathetic coach to help you make the change!

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