Making a decision to give up on something can be tough.
In listing reasons to quit, we fear we’ll sound like we’re making excuses. However, there are plenty of good reasons to throw in the towel. Better health. Increased happiness. No external support. Fatigue. Loss of direction. Lack of passion. Ill-defined or absent goals.
The list can -- and often does -- go on. Whether it’s a questionable habit or an unfulfilling job, sometimes quitting is the best option.
For example, when we consider switching jobs, we may focus decision-making on factors related to geography, pay and workload. However, LinkedIn's Jeff Haden says emotional and mental needs should be the primary consideration.
“There are a lot (of) reasons to quit your job, and they fall under one main category: Life’s too short,” says Haden. “Life’s too short to not be as happy as you can be.”
The same applies to most endeavors. Ask: Is it worth my energy and time? Why? How? Ultimately, it becomes less about quitting and more about making informed, focused decisions.
Nelson Mandela noted, "It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. ... You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world."
What followed that statement isn’t quoted as often, but it’s equally important. He stressed the need to liberate yourself from two concerns common to human existence: fear of greatness and fear of failure.
Groundbreaking psychology researcher Abraham Maslow noted success is daunting. He described fear of greatness as “the Jonah Complex,” using the biblical character’s story to illustrate the lengths to which someone will go to to hide his full potential.
Success is a lot to live up to. For one, doing your best will result in people expecting even more. To avoid this, we might diminish our talents and contributions. We wonder how success will change who we are and how we’re perceived. Worries may cause us to give up without trying.
Psychologist Judith Sherven calls this “The Doom Loop,” wherein we second-guess, self-criticize and diminish our successes. In her practice, she works with individuals to help them overcome “The Fear of Being Fabulous.”
Meanwhile, fear of failure results in risk avoidance and self-sabotage.
“The psychological toll of trying something new that might not work out has more to do with one’s personal demons than the prospect of measurable losses,” notes counselor and author Tina Gilbertson. “Failure on a logistical level can expose what feels like an inadequate, childlike or vulnerable self.”
Sometimes we compare ourselves to others and want to quit because we fall short. Such a test is usually flawed. Focus on individual progress clarifies deeper benefits of sticking out a tough situation.
In my case, that’s running. Most days, I run a few miles.
The desire to run has always been in me. However, it took a long time for me to say “I’m a runner.” I am not now nor have I ever been a great runner. What I do is mixture of running, jogging and very fast walking, so I believed “runner” wasn’t a label I deserved.
Then I began to realize I could own “runner” because I run. I try my best. I know my limits. I don’t worry about who’s watching or how I look. I stay the course and get where I’m going. I don’t need another measurement. I’m a runner.