Become a Master at Quitting

written by Dan Silvestre
Focus, Personal Development
become master quitting

I decided to quit my full-time job at a bank working as Financial and Management Controller.

My entire family was in shock.

Why was this young man wasting such a great opportunity to work at a good corporation (a bank!) and the career opportunities that it entailed?

And to start working as a freelancer from home – the boy must have gone insane! How will he ever get another job ever again? No one will hire him!

(By the way, I did have another job afterward. It seems at least one person on this planet decided to hire me. Moreover, they hired me because I had been a Freelancer! The irony was not lost on me…)

I had thought about quitting the bank long and hard and weighed all the pros and cons. I decided that it was time for me to move on.

In fact, I had planned to quit for months and had been working on my side projects in the meantime.

When I presented the plan going forward to my parents, they were supportive of my decision. They just didn’t quite understand it. In other words: they supported a wrong decision made by the right person.

I quit all the time. 

I’m not even ashamed to admit. In fact, I have become a master at quitting. I quit books and articles, songs, movies and TV shows. And also nights out and relationships, projects and jobs.

From a young age, we are told motivational quotes specifically teaching us not to quit.

Maybe you have heard this one: “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

How about “When you feel like quitting think about why you started.”

I could fill an entire post with motivational quotes about not quitting. In my mind, however, they have a different definition of quitting than I do.

Quitting is not the same as procrastinating or accepting defeat. It’s rather a shift of priorities.

The only resource that we as humans have a limit of is time. Becoming a master at quitting frees us to pursue other things that we find interesting.

Why Is Quitting So Hard?

become master quitting

Studies have shown that the human brain has a strong urge to finish tasks that we start. We don’t like leaving things unfinished or partially done. This is known as the Zeigarnik Effect.

That’s the reason why it’s so hard to stop watching a TV show. Even though you know that is never going to get any better and had its best episodes seasons ago. This is especially true if the show only has one more season.

The closer you are to finishing the task the more complicated it is to quit it. Our brain needs the closure of the task being completed.

A complete season of 24 episodes of 20 minutes (or 12 episodes of 40 minutes) is robbing you of 8 hours of your time. You could use that time to start a new show. Or do anything else you want. 

The same principle applies to books. There are thousands of books on every topic imaginable. If the book you are reading makes you fall asleep then quit it and start a new one that might spark joy and inspire you. If you need some recommendations you can pick mine.

In fact, if you don’t like this article you should quit reading it right now. Just close the tab and be gone. I’ll be sad – for a while – but I’ll recover.

When we leave something, we feel guilty.

However, there’s a simple hack. Here you go: delete it from your hard drive or, if it’s something physical, sell it, donate it or throw it out and move on. If the item becomes out of sight it will stop bothering you until you completely forget about it.

Let’s look at another example, something harder to quit: jobs. If you are young – anyone 40 years old or less – there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t get another job and moved on.

We spend nearly 50% of our time – sometimes way more – at our job. Doing something we dread has a domino effect on the rest of our life – our relationships, hobbies, well being. The opposite is also true: having a job we love has a ripple effect of greatness into the rest of our life.

Studies have shown that the people that are happiest with their job are also the most successful. They are more productive and happier, all not a cause but rather a consequence of having a job they love.

Life is simply too short to waste time on things that we do not enjoy or care about.

Here are ten things you can quit right now: 

  • Quit reading news. They are evil anyways.
  • Quit using your computer at night. You will sleep better.
  • Quit waiting for everything to be perfect. Ask that girl out, text that friend you have lost touch with, start that project you tell your friends you will. Start before you are ready.
  • Quit restaurants with crappy food. It won’t get better overnight.
  • Quit movies, TV shows, and books you are not enjoying.

It’s also important to note that quitting is not definitive. 

You can always pick up the book again, watch the movie you stopped or rekindle an old relationship.

Quitting is simply saying: “This does not interest me right now, so I will not pursue it.”

If something – a book, friend, job, etc. – is not making you a better person RIGHT NOW, or helping you achieve the results you need, then take the leap and say goodbye.

Don’t like the TV show you are watching? The book you picked up is boring? You were super excited about the new job but you now find it dull? Have a friend that you always give more than get back? 

Time to quit.

I have quit all my life.

And that’s exactly what keeps me going forward.

Tags:: Decisions

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