Why you might try quitting things.

balloon-let-go-love-quote-sometimes-Favim_com-411957I am not a quitter.

Far from it: I tend to keep going long after it’s no longer a good idea, or of particular value to me, simply because I said I would do it and that means I finish it, damn it. I complete things.

It would almost be admirable, if it weren’t my survival mechanism that was doing it (and if it didn’t result in me being unhappily a victim... to myself).

Sound familiar?

I know I’m not the only one: There are lots of “finishers” like me out there. There are people who have gotten the degree, so they work in the field whether or not they enjoy it (maybe they even despise it). Geez, people even get married when they know they don’t want to go through with it, because they couldn’t see a way out amidst the build-up. I mean, they make movies out of this stuff. Romantic comedies abound with these characters.

Now, I most often would approach the topic of quitting from the other side. As in, don’t quit. Don’t give up. I think that is really good advice, but there are some things that we (you, me and every human, and maybe even some animals) actually should be willing to give up.

We do things, from habit, that are not in our own best interests. Things that we don’t love to do. Things that don’t really bring us closer to what we want in our lives (you know, the only life you’ll get).

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Last week, Adam listed some common judgments we tend to have about quitting. Failure, losing and giving up are big ones for me. I strive to be striving. All. The. Time. Honestly? It’s exhausting. Especially because we can get so caught up in the weeds of what you need to do that we forget about what we want to do. Well, almost. We don’t totally forget, because those feelings of sorrow for where we are not, or the bristling against what we are doing now, is all a reminder that your clever brain is trying to remind you of what is really important to you.

What might be some good things to quit? Well, here are a few examples:

  • Quit beating up on yourself.

What would you say to someone else, if they were berating themselves out loud in the same way?

  • Quit telling yourself to stop dreaming.

I’ve talked to SO many parents (of kids young and old), who feel like they should not be selfish and want things for themselves (be it a trip, a career, or anything they might desire) when they have kids they need to support.

I call bullshit (pardon my language). You know what you’re teaching your kids? You're teaching them that when they grow up, they should give up on their dreams. That adults don’t deserve happiness. It's not realistic to be happy. That there isn’t enough happiness (or anything else) to go around. That dreams have an expiry date. So, just quit that. The kids will be fine. Better than fine, seeing you happy.

  • Quit “should-ing” on yourself.

What if, every time you think you should do something, you stopped to ask yourself why? According to whom? For what purpose? If the “what’s-in-it-for-me” is not obvious, then it’s worth a look to see why you’re doing it.

  • Quit playing the victim.

This benefits no one. Really. I’m not saying don’t ever feel sorry for yourself or allow yourself some time to feel, at times, frustrated/sad/helpless/defensive, but put a cap on it. Does life, and all its busy circumstances, have you by the tail?
When your locus of control is outside of you, it’s not really yours to contol. Take it back. Empower your choices. If there is something you have to do, find a way to empower that, too.

  • Quit complaining.

I had a practice to give up complaining for a month and let me tell you: It turns out I complain frequently. I think we all do. Paying attention to it made me realize just how much I give voice to dissatisfaction. It also encouraged me to question my thinking and how it was serving me (which is not that well, to be honest).

let_goComplaining was a great thing for me to quit. It turns out, complaining makes me feel worse. It makes me focus on things that I don’t like. Makes mountains out of molehills. Makes little annoyances last way longer than they should.

If I really want to complain, I’m going to empower it and decide how long to give it. Doing so makes you really aware of how much you’re giving to something you wish wasn’t there to begin with. It’s not in support of me being an empowered force in my life.

Can you think of other things you should quit? Or have quit? What did quitting bring you? 

It doesn’t have to be a momentous thing, either: It took me over a decade to quit chewing my nails, for heaven's sake. And that was only after a myriad of failed but well-intentioned interventions: It took a cute boy seeing my hands once, when I was fifteen. I quit that day. Immediately.

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