Monday, April 28, 2014

The Right Way to Quit

Most of us have heard the phrases, "Don't give up!" "You can do it!" "Keep trying!" It rings as an encouraging anthem to keep us on that bike, that diet, that career path. Done in the right way, it's inspiring and stirring. Done wrong, it's bullying and guilting and miserable. We want to believe "Yes, I can!" but what if it's the wrong bike, the wrong diet, the wrong career path? Do we have to "Keep trying"?
Know When to Quit

I admit, I feel guilty when I quit something, even something as inconsequential as an online challenge. I feel like I've somehow let someone down somewhere, hurt someone's feelings, not lived up to my potential, been a bad example. The list goes on. It's been hammered into my generation and those before me since we were kids. It echoes in our heads whether our family says a peep. And it's not always right.

I'm learning that sometimes quitting is the best thing you could do for yourself. Whether it's a habit, a behavior, a relationship, or a job. It doesn't serve its purpose in your life anymore, it doesn't make you happy, and, in some instances, it's actually hurting you.

There are things you're allowed to quit. And no one should guilt you or bully you or make you miserable about them. Big things like relationships, jobs, political parties, religious beliefs. You're allowed to quit them, change your mind about them, think of them in new ways, and take unconventional paths.

Life is not mindlessly chugging away at one profession, or using one method against a problem, or one tool to do a job. It has many ways and many avenues. Sometimes what you're trying to do can't be approached from the angle you're at. Sometimes you need a new perspective. Sometimes you need to walk around the building and find that backdoor that's already open.

If you've written a novel and have come to the point where you recognize it's not going to be published, no matter how long you've worked on it, or taken a job you realize you're never going to receive a promotion in, it's okay to cut your losses. Find a new job, write a new novel. You don't need to stop writing or stop being a banker/architect/artist/etc. You just need a new approach to your goal.

If it's not working, quit. Do something else.

I say this to myself, giving myself permission to quit the 100 Happy Days Challenge - a challenge, which, in its very essence, guilts me over giving it up. But I don't have to post images online to prove I'm happy. I don't have to share all my personal moments. I don't have to draw one thing when I'd rather draw another.

The point of the challenge (for me) was to get myself to draw every day. The happiness aspect was just a jumping off point, a theme to follow if I didn't know what to draw. But I got tired of drawing myself and tired of working on things I knew I wouldn't put in my portfolio. I got behind and felt guilty, then I'd catch up, only to get behind again. Finally I worked on something that had nothing to do with the challenge, and that made me incredibly happy.

So, goodbye happiness challenge. You served your purpose. You got me to draw for 22 days and now I'm going to try it on my own. I'm feeling happier already!

If you want to see the sketches I did for the challenge, you can find them on my Tumblr. The 22nd one isn't a happy moment sketch, it's a colored novsketch from last November. I'm happy I finally finished it.

Bonus: Here's a wonderful article I found on quitting from The Self-Compassion Project.


  1. This. So much this.

  2. I'm really bad at allowing myself to quit. Somehow, back in my elementary school years, I got told that I "never finished things." I think this came from my mother, but I'm not sure why…even back then, I finished some pretty significant projects. Ever since, if I take something on, I feel honour-bound to finish it, or I feel guilty.

    I felt guilty about quitting my last horrible job, even though my boss was abusive and I hated every minute of it. And I've made myself stand by projects that at times made me pretty unhappy, even though I was glad I'd finished once it was over.

    I quit the 100 days challenge without even realizing it. With all the other stuff that was going on, I completely forgot about it. So I didn't feel guilty at all. Maybe that's progress.

  3. So glad you like it!

  4. sounds like progress to me! And yes, no one should feel guilty over quitting something like this. It was really only to help us, anyway.

  5. I LOVE this. I tend to take on a lot in both my professional and personal lives, and at some point I'll realize I might've gone too far. It's very hard for me to quit, especially when it's something I actually really enjoy! But sometimes, you just have to.


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