5 Things Everyone Should Quit, I Don’t Care Who You Are

Some of my Quits over the years may not have been your particular jam.

I know not everyone will relate to things like fighting my hair or my failed green thumb, and that’s o.k. Sometimes I use my own experiences to translate a bigger lesson that might apply to your own life. And sometimes I just want to talk about something I know a bunch of people are probably also dealing with, too. I’ve never attempted to speak for everyone or assign a universal truth en masse.

Except for now.

Because there are certain things that no one – not one single one of you reading – should allow in their life, and I don’t need to know a thing about your personal circumstances to make that claim. Because all of these things are total time, soul, and life-sucks, and if they are currently part of your M.O., it’s time to kick them to the curb, tout suite.

You’re welcome to make a case for keeping them, but just know that you will be wrong. 🙂


1. Beating Yourself Up

Listen, I get it. I’ve had some major fuck-ups in my life, too. I regret whole chapters of my past, and I can’t look back at them without wanting to punch myself in the face for all the time and opportunity I’ve wasted.

I’ve lost (or murdered) perfectly awesome friendships. I’ve wracked up a shit ton of debt. I spent my entire college career on a horrible roller coaster of self-hatred and depression that derailed my life then and for several years after.

But what’s done is done. The only thing any of us can do about that now is to choose how we move forward.

You can start over. Believe me, I know. It may not be easy and it probably won’t be quick, but it can be done – and really, if we don’t choose to start over, all we’re doing is digging the consequences of our mistakes even deeper. Cut your losses. Don’t let the damage spread further than it already has.

The past does not have to dictate your future. Learn from it, let it go, and keep moving.


2. Caring What Other People Think of You

You (and whatever higher power you do or do not believe in) are the only person you have to account to at the end of your day. As long as what you’re doing isn’t actively harming other people, they can give all the two cents in the world about it, but you don’t have to listen.

On your death bed, you will not find yourself thinking, “God, I wish I’d done more things my relatives/coworkers/neighbors approved of.” So why live that way now? Dance to the beat of whatever gloriously crazy drummer you hear in your head, and love the hell out of doing it. Your only purpose in this world is to find what gives you purpose, and follow it.

Besides, people will have issues with what you do. I don’t care if you’re a traveling trapeze artist or a doctor who delivers vaccines to third-world countries; there will always be someone who dislikes your choices and thinks they know better. For every single life option available to you, there are people who will think it’s stupid, wasteful, frivolous, selfish, too lucrative or not lucrative enough. That’s because they are not living your life. You are.

You are the only one who can say what’s right for you. And you are the only one who will regret it if you don’t respect that.


3. Holding Back

From trying to realize that goal. From daring to give someone your heart. From singing in the car with all the windows rolled down. This is your one and only go-’round on this planet, and it makes absolutely zero sense not to play it for all it’s worth.

Things will get messy, sure. There will be some hurt and confusion and exhaustion. That tends to happen whether you play it safe or not. But a kickass life was never built by trying to play it safe. And if you’re not trying to live a kickass life, then really, what’s the point?

(Note: “Kickass” does not have to mean jumping from planes or starting revolutions. Sometimes something as simple as making it to the grocery store when you feel like crap or leaving the house when you’re socially petrified constitutes a kickass action. No one can tell you what counts as a victory; celebrate all sizes. Choose the better action, be the better person, give it all you can, always, and be proud of that.)


4. Fearing Failure

I hate to break it to you, kids, but failure will happen. It’s part and parcel when you try things – some of them work, some of them don’t. You can’t let that stop you from trying in the first place.

But what if you desperately want to become a writer, but have no idea if you really have it in you or it’s just a pipe dream? Wouldn’t it be better to nurse that dream in secret, enjoying the delicious possibility without the potential of having it dashed by finding out you don’t have what it takes after all?

No. And here’s why:

Any time spent not doing the things you really, really want to do is time wasted. What good does it do if you get to 80 living on the fumes of an “I could be a ____” dream? No one ever wrote a biography about a man who dedicated his whole life to imagining he could be something. No one ever looked back over their life with a satisfied smile because there was always the possibility in the background that they might have done more with it, maybe, who knows.

Say you try the whole writer thing, and you fail, epically. I mean cut-the-music, everything-comes-crashing down, what-were-you-thinking failure. Will it suck? Hard. Will it take you a while to recover? Hell yes. But then you will have time to move on to something else. Maybe you’ll discover a new talent you never knew you had. Maybe you’ll realize it wasn’t writing, but storytelling that you love, so you’ll join Toastmasters and have a marvelous time of it. At least you won’t have twiddled away your whole life wondering “What if?”

And, if you try that thing you’re dying to try and find you fucking rock at it? Well, that’s a whole ’nother story…


5. Waiting for the “Right” Time

There’s a difference between being smart about something and being so overly cautious it will never happen. It took me 2 ½ years to leave my 9-5 and work totally for myself, because I had a husband and a house and two dogs to support, so I had to do it in a way that was sensible. (Were it not for them, I quite possibly would have said “fuck it all” and lived in a cardboard box eating Ramen, because I roll pretty reckless when I get amped up about something. Thankfully, they prevented me from going that route.)

But, when I was kicking off that process? Starting a blog after years of not writing a word, solely because I was frustrated with life and Julie and Julia made me think a blog was a thing I could do? That was a risk. So was each time I stepped down from my day job over my 2 ½ year transition. I had some work lined up before each leap, and a reasonable expectation of more soon enough, but it was never guaranteed. I never really felt “ready.” Hell, even now I suffer from Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis — pretty much every time I try something new. But I learn. That’s the thing I’ve come to trust in – that I will never feel completely prepared, but I will be able to learn on my feet.

And so will you.

Hit “send.” Hit “publish.” Ship it. Launch it. Just Do It. Then tweak and revise as you go. (Tweet!)

Stop planning and outlining and reading up, and go do. You’ll be alright, I promise. Just try it.

What other things should we all universally quit? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Image:  Capture Queen/ Flickr

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  • I completely agree with your Quits, though they are definitely easier said than done. In my house, we’re trying to be all about sending out positive energy and thoughts, as hippie-dippie as it sounds, in 2014.

    • Quits often are easier said than done — but good ones are worth the trouble. 🙂

      I’m all for the positive energy myself. Woo-woo or not, I do thoroughly believe the universe recognizes how we approach it. I’ve seen it enough times in my own life that I’m willing to act accordingly.

  • Fear of failure paralyzes me every time. Great post!

    • I’ll admit, they’ve all paralyzed me at one time or another. But failure is a tricksy one — the more you do it, the more you realize how bounce-back-able you truly are. 🙂

  • Debbie M

    Actually, I think these quits may not be good for some people who err in the other direction. Those people might want to quit:
    1) Ignoring the consequences of your actions
    2) Disrespecting other people’s differences (especially in the workplace, it’s often a good idea to put a lid on some of our most outrageous characteristics in order to focus on what we all share)
    3) Not looking before you leap – some calculated risks are worth taking; some are not–it’s good to look both ways before crossing the street, for example, even though that does hold you back briefly
    4) Banging your head against a rock–when it becomes clear that you’re no good at something, move on to something else that you might be good at (unless you’re having fun anyway)
    5) Jumping into things without a plan, let alone a back-up plan

    How about these? (These don’t apply to everyone either because not everyone is doing them, and you should start just so you can quit.)
    1) Quit spending more than you make for things you don’t even really want (like a car just as shiny as your neighbor’s when you don’t care about cars)

    2) Quit prioritizing things that are less important over those that are more important just because they are easier to do or to remember

    3) Quit losing stuff–create a good place for everything important and figure out a way to remember where those places are

    4) Quit spending money on stuff you don’t want such as bounced checks and speeding tickets–or at least find ways to reduce the likelihood of these costs
    5) Quit stubbing your toe and slamming your shins into things–learn to pay attention to where you are going and/or reorganize or replace problematic furniture (also applies to car wrecks–you can take defensive driving or give yourself more time to get where you’re going or get better glasses or switch to a car that doesn’t tempt you to drive so crazy)

    • Such a good point, Debbie! Taking anything to either extreme is a bad idea, and you definitely don’t want to err too far in the opposite direction, either.

      And great additional Quits. I can relate to all of them personally, except for the last one, which I can relate to as it reminds me of the husband (the stubbed toes, thankfully, not the car wrecks). Awesome comment!

      • Debbie M

        Heh, old psych major here. I tend to err in the same direction as you, but there are all kinds of people.

        As for the ones I listed, I bounced a check. Once. (Imagine I said that in my sinister voice). I’m not cool eough to have had as much trouble as normal people on #1 (buying stuff I don’t want), though I could use more creativity to find better ways than the usual for some things. I’m still working on #2 (ignoring priorities)–lists help. I’m much better at #3 (not losing stuff)–and also at double-checking that I have my keys before I lock myself out of the house or car. As for running into furniture, I do have some old exercise pants wrapped around a sharpish corner of the bed but do try to evaluate this feature in new furniture.

    • Hey, Debbie ~
      My copy-editing-hat is just jumping-up-n-down-screaming on my head about this, so …
      It seems you missed a very important (in bold) part of this sentence: “…and you shouldn’t start just so you can quit.”

      Exercise that “edit” button, babe! 🙂

  • Shanna Mann

    One thing I think everyone should quit is self-deprecating themselves in order to reassure others. It never fails; if ONE person in a group says something bad about herself, the rest of the people go around in a group and say something shitty about *themselves* too, just to make the first person feel better. This is NOT the way to build each other up, people!

    It’s totally one thing for you to say “I’ve stopped fighting my hair.” At least it’s not “I’ve learned to love my Bride of Frankenstein hair!” because clearly you’re not loving it if you have to insult it before anyone else does.

    And I love the conversations that come from a more authentic expression of our weaknesses, like Imposter Syndrome. Dude, somebody older than me told me they looked up to me today! That feels weird, man. I wonder how old I’ll be when it stops feeling weird?

    • Welllll… it hasn’t stopped feeling weird to me (about me, obviously) yet, 😉 and I’m still almost twice your age, Shanna!

      Just say Thank You. In a not-self-deprecating tone of voice.

      • Shanna Mann

        Oh, I did. It just was a weird sense of vertigo, like, wait, don’t you understand I’m younger than you? I just wonder how old I have to be before I stop thinking about people in terms of their relative ages to me… that’s probably a habit that should be cut.

        • Yeah! I think it’s something that becomes “less important” with practice, even if ya never completely “stop noticing” it.

    • Shanna, I so feel you on Imposter Syndrome. Every single time someone says they look up to my blog, I think, “Psssh. I’m just a girl who likes to write things.” I will never fully stop feeling like where I was 3 years ago, when only my mom and my husband were my followers. (Also related: never feeling like an “adult” even though I’m not 30-*mumble* years old.)

      And so spot on about not deprecating yourself. Hating on yourself is not the opposite of being a showoff; being quietly and respectfully happy with yourself is.

  • This is an important Quits list, Cordelia!
    Thank you! to @Debbie M:disqus for your equal but opposite list, too. I find myself on *both* ends, with dis-heartening frequency.
    Seeing my own ridiculous extremes makes it easier to make the Quit happen, though – simply by being mindful of the extremity of the “old thinking” behind the habit!

    • Debbie M

      You’re welcome.

      Both ends? That makes it harder–there’s no one obvious direction to work in. Or maybe it’s easier–you’ve done the extremes, so you know that something in the middle is possible.

      • Oh, yeah! Finding the middle way (or a third way entirely) between “this is true” and “so is this”….
        (Thanks, Havi!)

    • Being aware of your own mental traps is SO important. It takes a while to successfully move past them, but knowing is (I’d say) about 75% of the battle. (The rest is sheer hustle and willpower.) 🙂

  • Mike Nawrot

    Consumer Debt 🙂

    Also fearing success. Its a weird concept, but i think it’s at least as common as the fear of failure. When you succeed that puts a lot of responsibility and perceived pressure to perform well on a person.