I quit. A lot.
I know we’re not supposed to. I remember seeing the quote from Napoleon Hill, “a quitter never wins and a winner never quits". We’re encouraged to not give up, to tough it out and if we do quit, it means we’re someone who just couldn’t “hack it”. The idea of quitting has become synonymous with failure.
Well, I believe quitting is undervalued. Seriously undervalued.
I became a “quitter” whilst trying to find a job in London after I had qualified as a dentist. I didn’t stay at a job for more than a few months before leaving. I had people around me telling me that this would affect my CV and although it made me hesitant, I didn’t listen because none of the jobs were a right fit for me. It’s not that I’m an impatient person either- I mean I had just spent 6 years at university to become a dentist, so ultimately I wondered why I should wait any longer to enjoy working life. I never regretted my decisions. Every time I quit I felt the sweetest feeling of relief.
I met someone recently who dropped out of medical school. All I can imagine are Asian parents gasping at the shock horror of this, but I really admired how brave this was. It takes a lot to get into medical school, and by the time you’re there, it’s a relatively “easy” straight path to becoming a doctor. I think it’s more difficult to walk away from something that you’ve already put effort, time, money and energy into than to stay and see it through. It’s incredibly difficult to admit that you’ve changed your mind.
We have this tendency to carry on with things once we’ve invested something into it. It’s as if we trying to justify that investment to ourselves. But surely by carrying on, we have to keep investing more and more, and it becomes even more difficult to walk away? Leaving a job after a few months is easier than leaving it after years of making it your comfort zone. We don’t have to stay on one trajectory just to honour our initial choices, because the only choice that matters is the one we make now.
So yes, quitting doesn’t make sense if you know what you want and all you need is the patience and focus to get there, but it make perfect sense when you no longer want something.
I’ve really begun to celebrate quitting because it means I’m choosing things that I want and letting go of the things I don’t. Whether it’s a habit that no longer feels good, a relationship that doesn’t bring joy or a job or career that doesn’t bring fulfilment, quitting can and should be a viable option, no matter how much you’ve already put into it.
What have you quit or what do you want to quit?