There have been many recent events that I felt conflicted over as far as deciding whether or not to quit. For me, with my athletic history, I have felt that somehow, quitting meant failure. I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy as I admit something isn't working. Like maybe I wasn't committed enough, or available enough or smart enough....the list goes on.
As I have explored more about quitting, I discovered that it may not only be an appropriate action but necessary to achieve success, or more importantly, growth either mentally or physically or financially. Admitting something isn't working and learning how to quit is critical if you want to SOAR in life.
To be clear, you can't win without struggle along the way, but you can't win if your struggle doesn't get you anywhere.
Yet, how do you decide something is worth struggling through or when is it actually best to quit?
I recently listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast on When To Quit. It is definitely worth the listen.
One guest, a photographer, Chase Jarvis, discussed two steps before choosing to quit something:
1) What does your gut say? (intuition)
2) Ask yourself a few questions:
This description of intuition is interesting, because as a mother I often rely on my "gut" response. I can find ways to over rule my gut or diminish the meaning, but more often than not, I find my gut was right on. Yet, I can't put it into words or objectively measure my "gut". So, I explored a bit about the psychology of intuition and I came across a couple of interesting articles. It's difficult to scientifically measure and describe intuition objectively, in case you were wondering, so it was hard to find much on the topic that made sense to me.
However, two articles support Chase Jarvis' comments. An article reviewing uncertainty in the clinical decision making in the emergency room claims that you can "reduce uncertainty by attending systematically to it and by relating to it in a self-conscious way..." Uncertainty is an unavoidable aspect of decision making (including quitting) but is an important component of clinical reasoning in the emergency room.(Engebretsen, 2016) Clearly all of our decisions on whether or not to quit are not as urgent as in the emergency room, but it seems the uncertainty of the self-conscious (intuitive) response should be systematically evaluated to produce objective knowledge to make clinical decisions. Jarvis' recommendations includes both the intuitive attention followed by a systematic approach to validate.
Another article demonstrates that the most important aspect in resolving conflict has to do with not only reasoning and intuition, but ATTENTION. Insufficient attention results in a conflict in problem solving; which includes reasoning and intuition.(Mata, 2017) Again, Jarvis' two step process seems consistent with these two articles. If you aren't paying attention to the problem you are unable to resolve it and it's best to start by getting in touch with your intuition.
Another guest, Seth Godin, a successful business entrepreneur actually wrote a book about quitting called The Dip. He did a phenomenal job at writing a concise book. This book is specifically about knowing when to quit and when to stick it out. A few take home points are summarized in his quote:
"Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can't deal with the stress of the moment." - Seth Godin
Seth suggests asking yourself three questions before choosing to quit:
1) Am I panicking?
To soar in life, it is critical to assess the time to quit. There is no sense wasting time, energy and money on things that don't aid your progress in health and wellness. Too often we accept where we are because it looks like our neighbor. If your goal is to soar in life, at home, during recovery, at work, or in parenting then it's most important to start with paying ATTENTION to the problem before choosing to quit something. You can't solve problems without paying attention. Once you have started paying attention to the problem then you can follow this two step process (a blend of both Seth and Scott with something added by me) to make a decision to quit or stick with it:
1) What does your gut say?
2) Answer these questions to check your gut:
Too often we are scared to quit because we believe it means failure. The reality is that the failure to quit at the right time may be preventing you from actually being successful in health, business or life.
Here is a simple example. Say you recently started a book and you are half way through. You get stuck. You are no longer reading every night. You are no longer interested in the topic. Or the book is just too long. What do you do? If you performed step 1 and checked your "gut" it would tell you to stop reading and get a new book. Yet, you don't because you convince yourself, "I started this, I need to finish it." If you move to step 2 and start asking yourself the questions:
When you break it down in this process, the decision is clear as day right? Quit reading the book and donate it. Move on to the next book for your enjoyment or education. By leaving it on your nightstand it just reminds you that you "failed" somehow and keeps you from starting something new that may bring you joy.
Be brave enough to quit the things that aren't working so you have the time to be successful in life.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove the fear of quitting.
Replace with attention to intuition and a systematic process of questions to determine how to proceed. Make a plan. Spend your time on progress and growth not stagnancy.
Restore the ability to soar into success.
Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Connect well.....Soar on.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.