When You Should Quit Something

This is an excerpt from my ebook, Your Guide to Calling It Quits (because there are better things to do with your life).  To read more, get your free copy here.


So, you’re all jazzed up to quit something. (Hopefully—did you read last week’s post?)  🙂

But where do you start?  How do you know which things really ought to be quit, and which you’re tempted to give up on for the wrong reasons?

This is where the whole “living intentionally” thing really starts rolling.  Because you can’t recognize what needs to go unless you have a good grip on who you are, what makes you happy, and where you want your life to be heading.

You don’t have to “have it all figured out.”  In fact, if you already do, you don’t really need to be reading this.  What you should do instead is send me an e-mail with your secret formula for success, because I’d love to know it.  (Maybe we can go halfsies on an inspirational lecture tour?)

All you really need is simply to listen to yourself.  Secretly, way down deep in places you may not have examined for a while, you already know the answers to these questions.  You know when you’re not happy (even if you’re doing something you think you’re “supposed” to be doing).  You know what really matters to you (even if other people think it’s silly or a waste of time).  You know what you’d really like to be doing with your life (even if it’s not “lucrative” or “impressive” or the same thing the Joneses are up to).

You know what will make you happy.  You’ve just gotten off track.

The simple answer, in other words, is that you’ll know in your gut when something needs to be quit.  Chances are, as you’ve been reading this, you’ve already thought up half a dozen things you’d like to take an ax to.

But, to make it a little easier for you, here’s a quick list of…


Some Major, Red Flag Signs It Might Be Time to Quit Something

  • When you’re not getting anything from it.
  • When you’re getting negative things from it.
  • When you’re doing it only because you think you’re supposed to.
  • When you’re doing it only because everyone else is doing it.
  • When you’re doing it to make someone like you.
  • When you’re doing it to avoid someone disliking you.
  • When you’re not sure why you’re doing it.
  • When you always dread doing it.
  • When it used to be important to you, but it no longer is.
  • When you don’t like who you are when you’re doing it.
  • When it doesn’t feel “right.”
  • When you’ve secretly wished you could quit it for a while now.
  • When it’s wasting precious time/energy/money you’d be better off spending elsewhere.

Those aren’t all the indications, but they’re some of the big ones.  As you went down that list, did any ideas start prodding at the back of your mind?

Sometimes the things that need to be quit are screamingly obvious.  Sometimes you’ve been wanting to pitch them for a while.  And sometimes they just hit you, in a head-smacking moment of “What the hell have I been doing?”  But we all have something—plenty of somethings, actually—that we’d be better off without.

The first step is to identify them.


Bear In Mind…

…there are no “silly” quits, and there are no “impossible” quits.  Nothing is too little, too big, too simple, or too ambitious.  This is your life, and you’re deciding how you want to live it.  It’s your call what stays and what goes.

If it’s important to you, then it’s worthwhile.

I myself have quit everything from compulsive e-mail checking to resenting circumstances I can’t change.  I like a nice mix of simple, everyday habits (“mini” quits) and larger goals and attitudes (“mega” quits).  (You can check out the ever-growing list of things I (and my readers) have quit here.)

But it’s totally up to you.  Like I said, it’s your life, and only you know what you need and don’t need in it.

Got an idea in mind?  Then click on over here to see what you can do about it.


Image:  Kate Haskell / Flickr

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  • Rob F.

    🙂 Funny how these things work – I just quit something today and have found myself thinking, “Should I have?” once or twice. Then I went down your list and marked off quite a few.

    • Glad to have helped! A checklist like that can be a nice, objective way of confirming those things you already suspect you should do in your gut. Good luck with your quit!

  • Baroness Von Smith

    These are GREAT! Especially the ones about being liked and disliked! (Even as grown people we succumb to this!)

    I’d like to add one: “When you have to FORCE yourself to do it”

    At my job, I would have a nice drive in, a nice chat with people at the coffee maker, some nice emails, and then I’d set in to actually *work.* And I’d immediately feel really tired. So I’d get some more coffee. Which meant more fun chatting and of course another opportunity to check my email. Then I’d get a snack. Then some water…etc etc ad naseum.

    Early on, some of this was just the “settling in,” and eventually I’d get down to it and it wasn’t so bad. Certain projects I really enjoyed.

    But it got to where nothing clicked. It felt like my body was physically rejecting this job. Pushing back with tiredness and headaches and munchies. All this mental resistance.

    I ended up with a script for Adderol in order to be able to fill out spreadsheets and forms. But I noticed that I could sit at home and write for hours–hours that go by without my noticing–with no Adderol. No Adderol, no coffee, no munchie, and no headaches or tiredness.

    So Sept 13th is my last day. (Wish me luck LOL)

    • First of all, CONGRATS! I’m so happy you’re getting out of a situation that makes you physically and mentally miserable.

      You’re right; our bodies have a way of telling us when we’re doing something that isn’t right for us. When I was at my 9-5, I got tension headaches, stomachaches, panic attacks, you name it. Two weeks into working for myself, I feel more relaxed and at peace than I have in years.

      Good for you for recognizing the need to change and then doing it. I’m rooting for you!

  • Awesome points and I nodded along with every one!

    I was recently telling a co-worker that in my 20s I did what I thought was I was supposed to do, and focused my attention on all the wrong things. As a result I ended up divorced and bankrupt before I was 30.

    My 30s have been a much happier decade because I started listening to my truth and living intentionally. I stopped putting what others think of me before what I think of myself. I started being the person I want to be, the person I am proud of- me!

    I have racked up so many quits, from always saying yes to believing every little thing is a big deal, and each quit has been an absolute boon to my health and happiness.

    Have a grateful day!


    • Isn’t it wonderful how quits build on themselves? With every one I conquer, I feel more at peace, more like “me,” and more content overall. Starting the Quitterly journey was the best thing I ever could have done.

      You’ve come a long way in a short time, and I always find your attitude and outlook to be spot-on. You’re doing it right, girl. 🙂

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