I believe in the power of perseverance. I do. I know that the key to success is ultimately to keep going after inevitable failures. However, not all projects, goals, jobs or relationships MUST be seen through to the end. This can be difficult to admit. We are taught that quitters never win.
I used to have mini-breakdowns every time I dropped a class, quit a job, or changed my mind about a project I had started. I hated being a “quitter”. That wasn’t who I was. Eventually, I learned that it can be okay to quit. I can trust myself to know when it's time to stop. Sometimes I quit because new approaches aren't having the desired outcome. Sometimes I quit because I honestly no longer care to complete the goal. I don't throw my hands up and walk out the second it gets tough. Only after evaluation (and a gut-check) do I decide to walk away.
At times, it can be relatively simple to determine that quitting is the right course of action:
I’m currently reading “Everything Is Figureoutable” by Marie Forleo. Coincidentally, I read a section of the book about “positive quitting” after starting this blog post. Marie writes, “Positive quitting is when you realize that you’ve gone as far as you possibly can. You’ve given it your very best effort and now it’s become clear …the wisest and most productive step is to cut your losses and move on.” She goes on to provide two steps for determining when to quit:
Even on the verge of walking away, it's important to stop and consider the repercussions and how quitting fits in with who you want to be. Honestly answer those above questions and listen to your gut. That negative, wimpy inner-voice that always pipes up during the rough patches can be quite convincing. The greater the struggle, the louder that voice becomes. It tells you that you can't; giving up would be so much easier. Listening to that voice keeps us small and weak. Continuing on despite that voice builds mental toughness; a trait we need to be successful. I never want to quit because of that negative inner-voice and I hope you never do either. Occasionally though, it WILL be time quit; you will realize that a new path is required for continued growth. This is different because it's not due to weakness, it's due to change. Goals change. WE change. Once the efforts, energy, and potential outcomes are evaluated, the answer may very well be to move on.
What about those goals or pursuits that still align with what you want to do but no longer make sense to pursue right now? Continue the course but scale back or take a detour and return to your originally planned route when the time is right. It's okay to postpone. I’ve had to do that quite a bit this year. Thanks to a ruptured ovarian cyst and some other health issues, I've spent good chunks of this year feeling less than stellar. Fatigue and pain plagued me as I continued to teach several Jazzercise classes every week and tried to keep my personal training business going. I decided that the best course of action would be to step back a bit from Reuna Fitness. I didn’t quit but I did not pursue all of the plans I'd made for the year.
Health isn’t the only reason we may need to adjust our plans. Finances, relationships, and other opportunities may also require you to shift your focus away from your initial goals for a period of time. You can still remain mindful of that ultimate goal and act in smaller, indirect ways. Besides, detours can take you to amazing places you'd never have thought to go and teach you things you'd not have learned otherwise.
Whether you are making a decision to quit a project, goal, or pursuit that no longer serves you or dial back to a level that your life requires right now, you are not a “quitter”. Moving on can be just the thing that ultimately leads you to success. And for those of us who scale back or take the "scenic route", it’s important to remember that forward momentum is very rarely sustained the entire time we work towards goals. Detours and backtracks and idling are all a part of the process which we must learn to embrace.