Written at the tail end of my first job
There are many different viewpoints and feelings surrounding the topic of quitting something, whether it’s an activity, a habit, a job, or even a relationship. Each person holds their own list of acceptable reasons to quit, and circumstances in which throwing in the towel is an admissible decision. For many people however, the thought of quitting carries a negative connotation and is often mistakenly labeled as giving up.
To complicate matters even more, I believe it is possible (and probable) that many of us hold multiple incongruent beliefs about quitting in our minds, and it is this cognitive dissonance that makes it difficult for us to discern a smart decision to quit and move on, from one of weakness and submission.
Throughout our childhood we are told repeatedly that diligence is a virtue, and that hard work always pays off. But aren’t there situations in which it is better to stop what you are doing entirely? Aren’t there exceptions to this rule, where the most beneficial decision may be to quit outright?
These are the questions that I am currently grappling with and attempting to answer. Additionally, I am trying to justify to myself why the life decision I am about to make might be the correct choice, and not just me being irresponsible and impulsive.
Personally, I am a huge proponent of finding activities and projects that will push you to the point of breaking, but will ultimately cause you to emerge a better, stronger person. The act of successfully completing a task that at some point was labeled as “impossible”, (either by yourself or by others), is one of the greatest, most fulfilling experiences in life.
In order to attain these deeply meaningful personal triumphs however, you must be willing to make many sacrifices. You must be willing to battle with the overwhelming sense of despair that will undoubtedly visit you at some point along the process, and you must emerge victorious.
That being said, any situation in life that drives you towards a personal breaking point needs to be evaluated through a few different lenses. There is an enormous difference between quitting something because it is too challenging, and quitting because it is challenging you in all the wrong ways.
It is crucial that every so often you take a step back, and try to view whatever challenge or situation you are dealing with objectively, and without any emotional or personal influences. Dump the entire situation you are facing on the table, and take a closer look at everything. Examine the opinions and pressures of others that may be influencing you, and closely inspect them. Sift through the fears, reservations, societal expectations and underlying motivations that are affecting your decision, and throw them out.
When all that remains on the table are your true intentions, you will be able to make the right decision. And that decision may be to throw everything in the trash and start over.
If after having unpacked everything, you realize that quitting is a springboard that will allow you to propel yourself towards a greater goal such as being truly happy, I fully support it.
Quitting because you are not passionate about something is not giving up, it is growing up. It is part of the process of becoming an adult that includes discovering the areas in life you are fervent about, and getting rid of all the other junk that will impede your success.
I believe that Charlie Munger said it best, when during his commencement speech at USC he explained: “an intense interest of a subject is indispensable if you are really going to excel. I could force myself to be fairly good in a lot of things, but I couldn’t be really good in anything where I didn’t have an intense interest.”
Out of his entire speech, these two lines resonate with me the most because it captures the essence of finding a subject that you are intensely interested in, and then pouring all of your creative and intellectual energy into it.
While it’s possible to live a successful and meaningful life performing reasonably well in a handful of different categories, you will never be truly content until you find the areas in life that excite you beyond words.
It is paramount that you choose to pursue the topics, ideas, and activities that set your mind on fire. Choose to live a lifestyle that you are obsessed with and surround yourself with people who are curious, inquisitive, and thoughtful.
And most importantly, do not be afraid to quit anything that is inhibiting you from being the happiest and most exceptional version of yourself.
Written at the tail end of my first job