Quitting Your Way to Success

quit your way to sucess
“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” -Seth Godin

About a year ago, I called it quits on a program I had put out into the world, and it’s one of the better business decisions I’ve made.

I remember having all sorts of angst around the thought of quitting and what I made that mean. “Winners never quit and quitters never win” and all that. 

I got advice from others about the importance of staying the course. I was reminded of the time and effort I had put in. 

But the program was sucking me dry and draining one of my most valuable resources, my time. It was making me want to rip up my business, and it wasn’t giving me a return that made sense. 

I’m all for a little grit and playing the long game, but sometimes quitting what isn’t working IS progress towards what we ultimately want. 

Sometimes quitting is the best business and life decision we can make.

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Instead of moving us further away from our ultimate goal, a thoughtful, strategic, “I quit” can move us closer to where we want to be. Sometimes staying the course isn’t grit, sometimes it’s fear, treading water, and staying stuck. 

When we remove the guilt and give ourselves permission to quit the things that aren’t working, we encourage bold action, we bolster growth, and we stimulate change and new ideas.

But, it can be hard to let go. Society hammers into our head the virtues of sticking with things. Being a “quitter” is a dirty word and synonymous with a lousy work ethic and morale.

When we have a goal and move towards it, we employ different strategies. Some work. Some don’t. Sometimes, the strategy we choose isn’t the best option. Sometimes it isn’t well thought out, other times we become aware of new information around the bend.

When we quit a strategy that isn’t serving us in honor of our greater goal, we’re not quitting our goal, we’re pivoting our approach.

This happens all the time. 

We have the desire to be in a relationship, but our strategy, er partner, turns out to be a mismatch. We may quit the relationship, but that doesn’t mean we abandon our goal for a healthy, loving relationship. Quitting becomes the action that moves us closer to what we want. 

We want a career we love and end up in a job and find it makes us want to scream at the walls. When we quit the job and take another one, we quit our strategy, not the end-goal.

There’s a big difference between running and hiding out of fear and quitting methods that don’t serve us.

Quitting because something is hard, abandoning our promises, or bailing because we’re scared is NOT what I’m talking about here. So, let’s not get this twisted and start eschewing the responsibilities we just don’t like. 

What I am talking about is getting clear on what we’re investing our time, energy, and resources in. When quitting stems from fear, resistance, or avoidance there’s a good chance a little grit is what’s really needed. When it’s fear or avoidance that’s causing us to resist quitting, suddenly we have a different case on our hands.

Take the program I mentioned, the rules of life told me to stick it out. But, that wasn’t an effective strategy for my bigger business goals (or life satisfaction)...Quitting can, in fact, be a very valuable asset in our toolbox.

But, our brain, oh our brain, can be stubborn.

When we make a decision, our brain doesn’t like to be wrong and will rationalize the decision by finding evidence to support the choice we’ve made.

We also tend to place more importance on things we’ve sunken costs like money, time, or energy into even when these are resources we can’t get back by hanging in longer. 

This is why we’ll often keep eating food we’ve spent money on even when we’re stuffed or keep clothes for years even though we've never worn them. 

Our brain can get into some illogical thinking and begin to defend decisions that logically aren’t serving us. 

Our brain figures, we’ve spent all these “costs" and we need to make the most out of them. Even when getting the most out of them means a negative return. Meanwhile, we continue to invest more resources, which only adds fuel to the fire AND our brain is working hard to support our decision and protect our ego.

This is when sticking things out isn’t perseverance, it’s staying stuck.

Investing more into a sinking ship doesn’t retroactively bring back the previous resources we’ve spent, it only adds weight to the boat that’s going down.

We like to think we’re rational. We like to think we make business decisions purely based on facts. But, the truth is, our brains can be illogical and irrational; our thoughts can lie to us. 

Sometimes quitting is the best business decision we can make. In some cases, quitting is the fastest way forward. 

I wonder, what do you need to give yourself permission to quit? How might you be able to move closer to your bigger goals by quitting something that isn’t serving you?

Wishing you your version of success,

Kim Argetsinger business coach