Why You Should Quit

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.

Do you agree with Jason? Is there something in your life that you should quit? If so, what is it? We want to hear from you

[Ed. Note. Jason Leister 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 kids and lives and works by the lake in Minnesota.]
  • 79
  • I really liked this article, thank you.
    This statement especially resonated with me:”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” – we,women, are especially prone to and conditioned for this…
    And this one, I have been following for a while:”I am going to quit making “realistic” decisions that steer me away from making a powerful impact on the world.”
    When I started my healthy food websites, it did not seem as a “realistic” decision for a busy immigrant single mom with ESL English and no degrees in nutrition.
    But I did it anyway because I believed I can make an impact. And my readers responses prove that however small it is, that impact exists.

    Thanks for this article, for a good articulation of my thoughts

  • Eric Hammer

    I need to quit a go nowhere job that takes up way too much of my time doing mindless BS.

  • Thank you Jason you have provided a good distinction between quitting as in giving up from a lack of resolve to succeed and quitting because of being on the wrong road. The old saying “Flogging a Dead Horse” comes to mind.

    The big ones I am quitting are social media, both the number of accounts and the time spent on the few major ones I am retaining.

    Followed by a continuing and drastic purge of blog and newsletter subscriptions.

    Similarly to you, I have stopped fiddling around in a couple of niches in which I had little interest – or results.

  • diann

    I quit the job which was not allowing me to have time for fun. I am now exploring my core talents and moving in a diffrent direction.

  • crystal

    This message is right on target with the decision I have come to face with. I have been working myself ragged to be of service to others, when what is needed is some self-service. My ulitmate dream of the realization of my soul purpose will never manifest, if I continue to waste my energy elsewhere. I really appreciate this insightful message, and I will heed its advice starting today! All of the inspiration from all of you light-bringers is right on time!

    • Jennifer

      Me too! You just summed up EXACTLY what I have been feeling, but you put it into words for me to see and reflect on. Thank you. You changed my life for the better today.

  • Vickie Turner

    I have driven a truck for a living for over 20 years. I’m 58 and feeling the effects of the 14-20 hour days and not enough sleep. I owned a 3 bedroom home and sold it 4 years ago. It made no sense to me to have all of the expense of owning a home and never being there. I now live in a 40′ travel trailer that is parked in a campground. My living expenses have decreased immensely and I love the simplicity! The only thing is, I’m still not home long enough to do much more than get things ready to head out again.

    I just ordered the AWAI course and can’t wait to really get going. I have always wanted to write a book. I just never had the time to do it. Now, I am going to TAKE time. By utilizing the course, I will be able to generate money doing copywriting so that I can QUIT the crazy trucking lifestyle and really enjoy my life. I believe that it will be enjoyable work for me.

    I have no plans to ever retire. I like to be productive. I enjoy quiet to the extreme. By choice, I haven’t watched television for years and only listen to the radio, on occasion, when I am driving. I figure that if there is something that I really need to know, someone will clue me in. It works for me.

    There are other things that I need to quit. I will be dumping them, too, very soon.

  • ali

    Thanks a lot for such an interesting eye opener write up. Yes, i want to quit justifying my failures and weaknesses. Thanks & Regards, Ali

  • We have new online business and we’re right in the process of creating our marketing materials for the spring. It’s not something I particularly enjoy and I know there are other people out there that are much more qualified to do the graphic design pieces for us. However I still find myself struggling with the idea of DIY marketing in order to save a few dollars rather than paying someone to do it better. This article helps reinforce the way I was leaning, quit or outsource, the pieces of the businesses that can more effectively be done by someone else. I believe this type investment will pay for itself by having a better chance for success. Thanks.

  • Michelle Marcus

    OMG! This totally is my current belief system! I am trying to “do less” because I’ve been too busy all the time and a lot of the things I do don’t serve my ultimate goals or they’ve been dead ends.

    I also have had A LOT of jobs. I am not afraid to quit jobs where I don’t do what I get to do. The last two jobs that I have started…they promised me I would get web development. BOTH times…they put me on other projects…so I think it’s a waste of my time. I am not afraid to quit!

  • Melissa Tinker

    Jason, great article! I loved it. I need to quit many things. I have always been a multi-tasker but many times it seems like I’m doing so many things, but not focusing on the things I should be doing great. I have made a commitment to narrow down the things/activities/assignments I get myself involved in to put more of my time, focus and energy into the truly important things in my life. Thanks and may God bless you!

  • Chloe

    I really enjoyed this article. It made me think about some things in my own life that I need to quit. And some reasons for doing so. Gave me some things to think about. I think this article is something that should and could be shared with many people. IF a lot of us would look at it from Jason’s standpoint, a lot of lives scould be changed. Thanks!

  • Do you ever wonder why men hate to stop and
    ask for directions???

    Publicly admitting that you’re taking the wrong path is more
    painful than the effort required to change course. A man
    who doesn’t know where he’s going is perceived as less
    than who he is. It’s a supposed threat to your masculinity.

    This perception couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Traveling along the wrong path has absolutely nothing
    to do with your essence as a human being. It just means
    you’re human. You made a mistake. And it’s very easy
    to learn from this experience and to set things right…

    The first step in changing course is realizing that you’re
    going the wrong way. The second step is to use the right
    tool to realign yourself. Don’t buy another map. That’s
    someone else’s depiction of your landscape and the world
    at large. It’s also the reason you got lost in the first place.

    Instead, get a compass. Find your True North – your natural
    destination, if you will – and don’t stop until you get there.
    Any obstacles you encounter along the way won’t matter
    because your path to success is always clearly in sight.
    Just deal with whatever confronts you and keep moving
    forward until you achieve your goals…

    This is a great article, Jason. Thanks so much for sharing.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Thanks Jason for giving me permission to finally quit stuff that don’t serve me or anyone else.

    It is crazy how we think of quitting as a bad thing. I know for me every time I think of quitting something I always think, “winners never quit and quitters never win.”

    I need to replace that self-limiting belief with a more positive one.

    Great article.

  • John

    Thanks for this. I need to quit trading time for money.

  • Nancy

    This is a great article. I can see you’re well acquainted with the area. I need to quit a job that limits my earnings to a super low level whereas I need to be earning a lot. And fear is the reason. But it’s not for myself. I’m a full time caregiver for my spouse which makes it very hard to create the funds I need for the two of us to have a good life. The job provides room and board and medical assistance. While I’m grateful to have this we both need and want much more in life. I’m going to have to earn at least enough to support the two of us before I can quit. That’s my goal.

  • Amalia

    Thank you! I enjoy this article immensely and re-tweeted it and posted it on LinkedIn. This is my year to focus and put time in only for what is important so this article is oxygen to my fuel. Thank you so much !