Oh how I wish I could tell you that I always know when it’s the right time to quit something.
How I wish I could tell you that I’ve never quit something too early or continued with something for longer than I should have.
Knowing when it’s time to quit is hard.
There are so many factors to consider, not to mention that nagging voice in the back of our heads telling us what we ‘should’ be doing with our lives, reminding us of what others expect.
Whether it’s quitting a job, quitting study, quitting a habit, quitting a relationship or quitting on our dream – it’s hard to know when to call it. It’s that proverbial fork in the road, and there’s no clear answer as to the right way ahead.
There are so many reasons we might want to quit something – it could be self-doubt, boredom, fear, disinterest, difficulty, perfectionism, insecurity, people-pleasing. And I’m going to use this blog post to share a few of my experiences with quitting (and wanting to quit) and why I ended up making the decisions I did.
Being honest with ourselves
OK, so how do you know when it’s time to quit? Well, I think a really important part of knowing when to quit is being honest with ourselves.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are so many factors that come into the decision to quit something, whether it’s a job, study, a habit, a dream, a relationship or something else.
We think about what we want, what our family wants for us, what society wants from us. We think about whether we’re good enough, whether we really have what it takes, whether we should bother trying. We think about whether we’ll ever be successful, whether we’ll ever be happy, whether we’ll ever ‘make it’.
And this is exactly why I can’t provide any kind of definitive answer as to when you should quit. But I can share my experience, so here goes:
I quit Kayla Itsines’ BBG
I finally made it the whole way through Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide about a month ago, but I swear to you I attempted the program at least 5 times before actually completing it.
The issue was that I could never make it past week 5 of the program. You see, the program gets a lot harder around the week 5 point so I let myself put those workouts off. I let myself make excuses.
And all of that meant I hadn’t done week 5 perfectly. And then it was extremely easy to use perfectionism as an excuse to just throw the towel in. I gave up. And then, when I was finally ready to give it another go, I would start at week 1 again so I could do the guide ‘properly’.
It’s a vicious cycle. And one that would repeat itself again and again unless I changed the way I was thinking about things.
Perfectionism is not a good reason to quit something. Perfectionism is not productive. Perfectionism means that we don’t try things unless we know we can do them perfectly, which means we miss out on giving a lot of things a go.
Hold yourself to a high standard, but don’t let that stop you from giving something a go. Don’t let it be a reason to quit.
What to read next: How To Deal With Perfectionism In Your Twenties
I wanted to quit studying law
As you might know, I graduated with a dual degree in law and commerce in 2015. And I don’t have any regrets about that.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I thought about changing degrees multiple times (when you spend 6.5 years at uni you have a lot of opportunities to think about it).
While I was interested in learning about the law, I realised about 2-3 years into my degree that I was completely disinterested in working as a lawyer. I hate arguing with people on the ‘principle of things’ and lawyers spend a lot of their time doing exactly that.
I decided not to quit my law degree for a few reasons – I knew I was learning important life skills that could be applied to anything, it was convenient (not a good reason, I know) and I couldn’t think of a better alternative.
So yeah, this might not be an example of perfect decision making but I still wanted to share how I made that decision, because it was an important one.
I wanted to quit personal development
I know this one might sound kind of weird, but not that many people are interested in improving themselves.
Most people don’t want to spend their weekends reading self-help books and talking about Oprah Winfrey and how our thoughts affect our reality. Most people don’t want to examine their habits and the way they interact with others and whether they’re really giving life everything they’ve got.
My obsession with personal development has always made me feel different. And I’ve tended to keep quiet about it.
When someone asks me what I’m reading and the real answer is a super self-helpy book (like the one I’m reading at the moment – ‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself’ by Joe Dispenza) I’ll often say I’m reading something else. Something a little more mainstream.
I’m doing a lot of work on myself to stop this habit of censoring myself, but wanting to be liked by other people has made me want to do less personal development.
I know that people-pleasing and wanting to fit in is not a good reason to quit, so I’m not going to.
I wanted to quit blogging
I’ve mentioned this many times before, but self-doubt has made me want to stop blogging SO many times!
I doubt whether what I’m writing is important or interesting or valuable. I doubt whether I have anything new to say. I doubt whether anyone’s going to read what I write. I doubt whether it’s worth my time and money.
And all of that self-doubt is only amplified by the fact that I know of only a handful of people in my real life that blog.
That self-doubt has never really gone away, I’ve just learned to stop listening to it. To stop letting it win.
I’ve decided not to quit.
What to read next: 7 Fears I Had Before I Started Blogging (& Why I Decided To Start A Blog Anyway)
What do you think?
I’d love to know what you think about all of this – whether there’s something you’ve been thinking of quitting or how you make these kinds of decisions.
Please let me know in the comments below, I’d absolutely love to hear from you!
For me wanting to quit definitely comes in waves. I have moments where I TOTALLY feel like there’s nothing more I can do and am completely motivation-less. And then for some reason or another there are waves of inspiration where I feel like if I could JUST push on, it will all fall in its place eventually. I think its also important to have a couple of people in our lives who know when we’re reasoning/bullshitting our way out of doing something we actually really want to do. I’m trying to confide more in some people at moments where I feel like a complete loser and sometimes they actually help me push through. Thanks for always sharing such honest and lovely post! You’re such a strong lady my friend, I can’t wait to read your next post, don’t you dare give up on blogging 🙂 <3
I really find that it comes and goes in waves too – usually last about 2-3 weeks each (when I think back on it). Sometimes I’m super motivated and sometimes I couldn’t care less, and I always know that regardless of whether I feel motivated or unmotivated it won’t last forever.
And confiding in people is so important, sometimes we can really just get in our own heads about things and it can be amazing to have someone else’s opinion (even if it is just confirming what we were already thinking).
Thanks so much for your comment Yara and your kind words!
Great post, Samantha! It’s definitely good to assess the pros and cons before coming to a decision and to contemplate how it will affect your life in-turn (aka not quitting law which has provided you with a degree to show that you can commit!)
I think it really depends on the situation and whether something is beneficial – blogging is more of a hobby for me, and although I’ve thought many times about giving it up (and in the past I have) I always came back to realize that I love writing and even though things take work, it’s about perseverance and understanding your personal motive! It might not be fun for all of us, but looking introspectively helps to decide on who we want to be 🙂
Thanks so much 🙂 And I definitely agree – it does really depend on the situation and whether something is beneficial (and whether we actually think something is beneficial or we’re just doing it because people say it is beneficial).
I think that, regardless of our self-doubt, we always get pulled back to the things we really love doing (even if it takes YEARS) – at least that’s what happens for me.
Thanks so much for sharing!
Great post as usual Sam! I can agree with what you were saying. Many times I wanted to quit personal development and blogging because I felt like I was doing to much or I didn’t need to do that. When I felt like that I took a step back and I had some great conversations with my mother and should told me that I should pray about it and give myself a break. I do admit sometimes I am too hard on myself. Praying, stepping back and giving myself a break really helped me. Now I have been working on doing things that make me happy, add value to my life, add quality to my life and align with my passions/outlooks in life. 🙂
Thanks so much!
That sounds like great advice from your mum – sometimes we do just need to take a step back to be able to look at things properly, and often a bit of separation from that thing (like having a bit of time away from it) can be really helpful.
I’m glad you haven’t stopped blogging or personal development!
I loved this topic! I have quit my fair share of things through out my life, and usually it came down to me doubting I could actually do it and then making excuses that made me feel okay about quitting. It’s a vicious cycle and it is one I try and stay away from now! But your totally right, sometimes it is hard to know when to quit and when to stick it out.
Thank you for sharing! xx
Yes! Doubt is such a huge factor in decisions like these, and it’s one that normally doesn’t make it into our ‘pros and cons’ lists (at least not directly anyway!).
This is a great post! Hits very close to home as I just turned down my law school admissions offers, which I actually feel better about than I thought I would, but it’s hard because I’m not sure exactly what I turned it down for… I do like my blog though and am just spending time right now following what excites me. I think that there is no easy time to quit, as you say. But I think we also have to remind our selves to be braves and take risks. Quitting doesn’t always mean giving up :).
– Leah at http://www.urban20something.com
Thanks so much for your comment – I totally agree with everything you said! I think deciding to follow what excites you is an amazing decision, and it’s usually a scary one too because we’re told to value ‘security’ and ‘stability’ more. Good for you!
Quitting doesn’t always mean giving up 🙂
What an awesome article! This really resonates in me. I tried to quit on stuff a couple of times and it’s hard to look at things objectively. But if you come to a point when you know something has to change, then you definitely need to quit.
I love this article so much! There have been times where I’ve wanted to quit and have been thankful that I didn’t, but there are times where it is the right thing to do. When you know you aren’t where you want to be or feel like it’s time for a change- I think that’s the right time to let go and start a new! Thank you for sharing this, it’s a great post 🙂
My Lovelier Days
I recently made the decision to quit my job and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. For me, the experience was a little different. Instead of quitting due to fear, I stayed due to fear. I was afraid to quit because I didn’t want to appear weak. Ultimately, I decided to quit my job because it was taking a toll on my mental health and overall well-being. While I firmly support the idea of taking a step back for a reality check and trying to change your mindset, I also believe there is certainly a point where you can’t fix the position that you’re in.
I really enjoyed reading this post. Recently, I have been struggling with the idea of quitting my job because I do not make enough money to pay all my bills, however the job is in my desired field. At first I thought that it was an amazing opportunity, but when I do not get paid for two weeks at a time sometimes. I think I should take your advice and start being honest with myself as well. Your entire blog has inspired me to start my own blog filled with life advice and tip for people in their twenties! Thanks for sharing!
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