We are taught not to quit, that quitting is for losers.
As a young girl, I played softball. I didn’t like softball, but my dad was the coach, so I played. I did make a stand and refuse to wear pants; I played baseball in a dress with the jersey over it. Once the season started, I would beg and plead not to have to go to practice or a game. Every time my parents cautioned me that I needed to finish what I had started.
That lesson stuck with me. It’s the reason I stayed in my first marriage much longer than I should have, it’s the reason I worked as an educator for the past 13 years.
I’ve since learned that while there are times when sticking it out is important. There are also plenty of times when quitting is the right answer.
Perseverance and grit are important life skills.
Life indeed takes a certain amount of perseverance and grit to get through the tough parts. I don’t expect everything to be sunshine and roses and you shouldn’t either. Sometimes marriage is hard, and sometimes your job can be a bit bland, or repetitive.
It’s not about quitting things that get tough, it’s about evaluating your priorities, and restructuring your life to make sure that where you’re spending your time matches your value system
Sometimes we need to quit because life changes
Sometimes life hands you something that makes you question the way you are spending the majority of your time. I’ve worked in public education for the past 13 years. As a literacy specialist, my job is not as difficult as a classroom teacher, but it is high-paced, stressful, and includes a 45-minute commute. When my daughter was born 3 years ago I decided to take an extended leave to be with her, something I hadn’t been able to do when my son was born, and I was a single mom. During that time, I started a second master’s degree in Educational Administration. As of right now, I have two classes left to take before I would graduate. I’m quitting.
I’ve been dealing with something of a health crisis for a year and at this point, the doctors are ruling out things like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, systemic Lyme disease, and a plethora of other life-changing autoimmune diseases. My health challenges have been stealing me away from my children. I was pushing myself to go to work and exhausting my body and mind so there was nothing left to give my family when I came home. What I was doing every day didn’t match up with my values and priorities. Now things are so bad that I am on medical leave.
I no longer desire a life where I’m spending all of my energy and emotional resources outside the home, especially now that my health is limiting those resources. I’m refocusing my energy and time where my priorities are, on family, on health, and on my marriage.
Maybe you work in a career that is what you went to school for too, but the daily grind has worn you down. Maybe the joy you once felt early on in your business career has been replaced by a deep hatred for the inevitable Monday morning. Do you need someone to tell you it’s okay to quit? I know I did. I heard it from my husband several times, and from my therapist, I didn’t believe it either. Let me be the one to tell you, it is okay to quit.
I’m not sure yet if I’ll be able to go back to work. Right now, I’m unable to walk very much and my hands don’t always do the things I need them to do. I went from being someone who lifts weights several times a week and runs for fun to being someone who barely makes it to the end of the driveway without her legs giving out. I already know what I’ll do if my health doesn’t improve, I’ll quit.
Don’t let it take a life-altering health crisis to spur you into action.
The reason it took me so long to quit boils down to fear. I was afraid of what my family might think, and what my co-workers and supervisors might think. I’ve never quit anything I started; I was afraid. Notice that none of those statements are about how I was feeling or about what I needed. Sometimes all we really need is a good check-in with ourselves
Changing your mind is human. You were given a wonderful brain full of logic and reasoning and are expected to use it. If you’ve been thinking of a new career path for a while maybe now’s the time to quit your job. Do you what you dream about, take the leap.
Quitting isn’t the same as failing. Quitting is a choice. Changing your mind doesn’t make you weak, it just means that you realized your passion lies elsewhere.
There are times when it is absolutely not okay for you to quit. Don’t quit the things that you are passionate about. Sometimes when life gets busy and you are mid-career, there are kids at home, and a spouse that needs your support it’s easy to let go of the things that bring you joy. It’s easy to let go of the things that make you who you are. Don’t quit those things.
Quit the things that drain you, the things that you dread. Keep the things that energize you and bring you joy.