Is it OK to Quit?


The short answer is, I don’t know. It all depends and each person is different so the answer will be different for everyone. However, we all have quit something in our lives. Including me.

I’ve quit the Couch to 5K training program multiple times. I get bored with the program or there’s another sport or workout program that takes precedence and sometimes, I just don’t have the time anymore.

I remember quitting Drama Club in high school. Yes, I was a “drama geek” but I loved when I was a part of it. The only reason I quit is because I got a car, that I had to pay for and make sure I could fill it with gas. I wasn’t going to be able to work and be in the Club at the same time. Work was the priority.

The number of relationships I’ve quit in the past has got to be over 100. Think of all the people you come in contact with throughout your life? Some are great and the people involved end up just parting ways and other relationships end poorly and you quit because it’s actually better for you to not be in the relationship.

Quitting soccer was the thing that pulled at my heart strings. When I was 16, I broke my nose (but didn’t know it, long story) and injured my knee so badly I couldn’t play anymore. It was devastating. No, I wasn’t going to become a professional but I loved playing and it brought me joy.

So I ask again…

Is it OK to quit?

I have been doing a lot of thinking about this lately because there have been a few things that have come up in my life that I’ve wanted to quit. Or at least take a break from. My job, because it’s been really stressful. And soccer, because even though I love it, losing a lot can be depressing. But I haven’t quit either because I want to really consider my actions.

While these are just two scenarios of something that you can quit, the action applies to anything in life. Relationships that are no longer beneficial to you, a job you just can’t stand going to anymore, a sport that isn’t fun or smoking because you want to get healthy. There can be good things that you quit and not so good things and still the answer is it depends.

What we learn about quitting

When we’re young, our parents or caretakers are who help us understand the concept of quitting. They instruct us on the rights and wrongs of life and many of you may related to how I grew up. I was always told to never give up and never quit something. If I signed up for a sports team, I couldn’t quit halfway through because I made a commitment to my team. When I started reading a book, I had to read it through to the end because I simply couldn’t stop in the middle.

As an adult, my biggest question is why. Why could I not quit? So many questions go through my head…

  • What if I hate what I’m doing?
  • What if I have skill or talent in what I’m doing but it’s no fun?
  • Why does quitting get a bad rap?

I think my parents, like many others, told me not to quit because they wanted to motivate me and teach me about a proper work ethic. What they didn’t realize, like many other parents, was that saying it wasn’t ok to quit something could be overwhelming.

I will say, the only thing my parents ever let me quit was ballet and gymnastics. I wasn’t flexible and wasn’t improving despite weekly sessions. Instead of quitting and not doing anything else, though, I had to chose something else. We’ll get to this in a sec.

Drawbacks vs. Benefits of Quitting

Just like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to quitting. There could be drawbacks that you don’t recognize at the time and benefits you see clear as day. This is why I always encourage people to write out a list and do a brain dump.

The Drawbacks

One drawback might be that if you stuck with the thing, you could be really successful later in life. An example of this is a kid that has this inherent talent or skill and is naturally good at the thing but quits because they would rather do something else. My nephew is amazing at baseball. He knows the game, he knows the players and his dream is to play in the Major Leagues. What if one day he wants to quit? He may stop himself too short and never reach that dream.

Another drawback can be the loss of time and money. As an entrepreneur (part-time, but still), I’ve invested countless hours working with clients, creating my Self-Care Practices program, keeping up on social media and a number of other things to stay “plugged in”. Money has been spent in a number of ways too. If I quit today, it would feel like I wasted the time and money I’ve spent.

What about the sense of unknown? If you quit your job today and don’t have something lined up, you may have no clue how you’re going to pay this month’s rent. The sense of unknown is real and it can bring on a lot of stress when you think about quitting. The funny thing is, we never know what’s going to happen tomorrow and only have the past and present to reflect on.

The Benefits

Despite these drawbacks (and yes, I’m sure there’s more) there are benefits too. Quitting something that brings on stress could be worth quitting. Soccer is one thing I’ve been thinking about quitting because at my age, it can be hard mentally and physically. Every week I have a new injury, bump or bruise and despite my love for the sport, losing regularly and by a lot is challenging. If I quit, I could avoid those injuries and the sadness that comes with losing.

If your job is something you dread going to every day, then quitting might be a good thing. No one wants to work at a place that they’re not excited to go to every morning. While you may not have a paycheck, you also won’t have the agony of getting out of bed every morning and not wanting to show your face at the office. Your mental outlook could ultimately be better, almost immediately.

Freedom is another thing that comes with quitting. If you’re in that relationship that you know is not good for you, leaving it could be one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself. When you set yourself free, you grant yourself the ability to do other things you’re interested or love. You’ll have more time, energy and maybe, even more money to spend on those things you want to try.

But before you quit…

I want you to consider making a shift instead. When you choose to pivot, you’re making a change. while it might feel like you’re quitting, you’re really just shifting your focus. I previously wrote a post all about managing a pivot and I think you’d benefit from reading it. To help you understand the difference between quitting and pivoting, here are a few examples.

I quit coaching because I didn’t want to be a health and nutrition coach anymoreI changed my focus and now coach clients that have stress, anxiety and depression
I stopped working out because Insanity was too hardInstead of doing Insanity, I decided to run and do yoga
I became a hermit because relationships were too hard and every one I’ve been in has been awfulI found people that supported me and helped me focus on my personal growth

Do you see how there’s a difference? Sometimes quitting isn’t the answer. Pivoting is.

So what’s the moral of the story? I think it’s OK to quit in certain circumstances. Especially if what you’re quitting is harmful to you or people around you.

Sadly, though, I can’t answer that question for you. I can help guide you through the decision and determine what’s right for you. Quitting is an individual decision and sometimes it’s right and other times it’s not.

My recommendation is this: Before you quit, see if there’s room to change and grow first.

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