I think quitting is underrated.
As I look back over my business and life, there are a lot of things that I probably should have quit far sooner than I did:
• I should have quit technology consulting the minute I realized that selling time for money had some real drawbacks.
• I should have closed some niche businesses when I realized that the impact they could make on the world was too small for me to qualify as a good steward of the life I've been given.
• I should have quit "searching" so hard for the answer to "what should I do?" the minute I realized that the act of teaching from my experience is what makes me feel alive.
Why didn't I quit those things? Because my ego was far too big and too fragile to let me do it. And because I was more afraid of what other people would think about my "quitting" than I was about wasting more moments of my life.
And so I happily wasted a portion of my life in exchange for avoiding the criticisms and opinions of others.
The bottom line is that I didn't quit because I was scared. It's fear that kept me paralyzed for years and years.
But I've come a long way since then. The pressure finally caused something inside me to crack. (Yes it was painful.) It was a mess for a while, but the entire process eventually led to some real clarity. And now, as I'm ready to take everything in my life to a new level, I believe I've found a few more items that belong on the "quit list."
Here they are, in no particular order:
• I am going to quit making decisions based on fear. (Obvious exceptions include any scenario involving hungry wild animals chasing me.)
• I am going to quit shielding my talents, my skills and my power.
• I'm going to quit using the trick of "playing small" and downplaying my talents as a way to win approval, validation and attention from others.
• I am going to quit looking for answers in places outside myself.
• I am going to quit making "realistic" decisions that steer me away from making a powerful impact on the world.
• I am going to quit thinking that extreme success is reserved for "other people."
• And I'm going to quit letting the thoughts, opinions, or insecurities of others direct decisions about my life.
As you read through this list, does anything come to mind in your life and business that you should quit? My guess is that something came to mind even before you finished reading that sentence.
The question isn't really "should you quit". The bigger question is "Do you have the courage to quit NOW?" As you now know, my answer to that question (for years) was a resounding "NO."
Why Quitting is a Virtue
I've come to view quitting as an important virtue. Quitting something that doesn't belong in your life means that you value your commitment to you above most everything else.
If we all did that, I'm afraid we'd unleash an epidemic of happy and well-adjusted people unlike the world has ever seen.
In an effort to jumpstart such an "epidemic," here's something else I'm suggesting we all quit:
The idea that quitting is in some way a bad thing.
Most people you ask on the street would probably say "quitting" is a bad thing. That's because they've been taught that "Winners never quit and quitters never win."
The type of quitting I'm talking about has nothing to do with what you actually want to achieve in your life. There's no sane reason anyone would quit the pursuit of that.
The quitting I'm recommending applies to all of the other things you feel are standing in your way of pursuing what you want. I'm talking about the things you've been carrying around - perhaps even for years - that are weighing down your journey towards your goals.
As funny as it sounds, you can be thankful for those things. Because that excess weight has made you strong. Imagine what happens when you get rid of that baggage?
I've caught a glimpse of what my future is and if I had to summarize it in one phrase, it'd be this:
Do LESS... Quit More Things
When I say, "do less," I'm not talking about outsourcing, or crowdsourcing or whatever the business automation flavor of the month is.
I'm talking about distilling the essence of the value that I bring to this world and focusing on delivering more of THAT... exclusively.
Doing less more effectively, with more power, with more focus and stronger intention. The end result of this is that you deliver more impact with less effort.
I'm realizing that, for me, the road to success is not so much about acquiring more skills or techniques or strategies... it's about SHEDDING the stuff that doesn't serve me or that keeps me from delivering the maximum amount of value to the world that I'm able to dish out.
So when's the right time to QUIT?
You quit as soon as you realize that your time could be better spent in another way. You quit the minute it becomes clear that you're living your life for someone or something else instead of living it for you.
In my experience, doing this on a regular basis is one of the scariest things you can do. It brings you right up to the edge of your comfort zone where you're forced to make a choice:
Do you live your life based on how you want to live it? Or do you live your life based on how you think others want you to live it?
Do yourself a favor. Do the world a favor. QUIT something.
Jason is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has six children and lives and works by the lake in Minnesota.