When It's Great to Be a Quitter

Written by Roo Mulligan

Most of us hear the word quitter and think of a failure. In our goal oriented, success driven society, to quit something means you have given up. You have tried but not hard enough. If you stop before you have reached your objective then you let yourself down.

When my children were little and signed up for different sports teams, I always made them play out the season even if they thought soccer or basketball wasn’t as much fun as they thought it would be, because I didn’t want them to be quitters. Being on a team, they would have let down the rest of their teammates if they decided to stop playing mid-season. For many tasks not stopping in the middle is the best choice. Architects cannot stop building skyscrapers half way through the project. A chef cannot decide to only partly create a meal for a guest at his restaurant. For some tasks, we need to just bite the bullet and get through even if we dislike every second of it.

But in many ways, quitting has got a bum reputation. We can be so hard on ourselves for giving up on something even if that something is not the best thing for us. Rather than being lazy slackers, maybe we are being wise and knowing where our true strengths lie. Why must we invest energy, brain power, and self- esteem into completing tasks we are just not good at? I have chastised myself many times for not being organized. I will pile up papers on my desk rather than file them away because I just hate filing. I see those piles of paper and feel like a slacker for not taking the time to be organized. Does the fact that I am not as organized as some of my colleagues and procrastinate on my filing mean I am a quitter or just self- aware enough to know that I would rather be doing pretty much anything else than filing?

Here are some things that I advocate quitting:

  • Feeling guilty for not being an expert at everything
  • Berating yourself for your mistakes
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Stuffing your true feelings down and not expressing yourself
  • Sacrificing your own happiness to please others
  • Only doing mundane chores and tasks and not planning some fun
  • Judging or gossiping about others
  • Forcing yourself to do all the tasks you hate
  • Waiting to do the things you love until you are the perfect weight or size
  • Checking email and Facebook every five minutes
  • Eating while watching TV, reading, or surfing the internet
  • Zoning out and only paying partial attention to those you are with

There are so many ways we miss the moment and try to force ourselves to be other than what we are just to avoid looking bad or being considered a quitter. Sometimes stopping something is the right decision. Sometimes it is great to be a quitter.

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