Why I Believe in Quitting
It’s not always about what you do—it’s about what you don’t do
When I was a kid I wanted to stop taking piano lessons. I was tired of practicing.
But I wasn’t allowed to quit. My parents didn’t want me to give up every time something got hard. I’m so thankful for the perseverance it taught me — but I also became convinced that quitting is wrong, that it’s the same as failing.
Over the years, I kept that mindset. When working three jobs in college got a little overwhelming, I didn’t quit any of them. Instead, I spread myself thinner and thinner. If I agreed to do someone a favor, I wouldn’t back out, no matter how much it inconvenienced me. And when my job started stealing time from my true career passion, writing, I was determined to stick it out no matter how hard it became.
I fought with my own expectations for myself. And I was miserable.
How are you using your grit?
As I wrestled with my discontentment, I realized that I was afraid of quitting. I thought it meant I was a failure.
And that’s when I had a conversation that was the turning point.
In my frustration, I explained the problem to a friend: My fear of quitting and instability was keeping me in a role that wasn’t using my passion. His words suddenly broke through to me.
“Right now, you’re using all your grit and determination to keep doing something that’s not a perfect fit for you.”
I felt like he hit the nail on the head, but he wasn’t done yet.
“You could be using your grit and determination to build something that will serve you in the long run, way after you’ll be done with this role.”
He was absolutely right. We all have grit, but we get to choose how to use it — either on our longterm goals, or on short term projects that don’t match our passions.
Sometimes, you have to be a quitter
That’s when I realized that my childhood perception of quitting was inaccurate. Quitting isn’t failure. It’s not wrong.
It’s an admission of priorities.
If you want to achieve your goals, there are things you’ll have to say no to. Famous piano players can’t spend their practice time on social media or crocheting blankets. Successful athletes don’t put off training to binge watch tv shows while eating potato chips and ice cream.
For almost everyone, it’s impossible to reach our goals unless we make sacrifices. A lot of the time, that means quitting something. Being brave. Taking a risk. To be an expert at one thing, we have to say no to a lot of other things that take up our time.
I’m not afraid of quitting anymore, and I know it’s not the same as failure. It’s just taking a step toward a main goal.
And that’s nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.