“Don’t be a quitter.” “It’s always too soon to quit.” “Quitters never win.” 

“Quit” has become a dirty word. None of us wants to be labeled a “quitter.” I’m a loud supporter of not quitting myself. But let’s turn the tables for a minute. What if quitting is exactly what we need to achieve what we want? Maybe quitting isn’t so bad. Perhaps we just need to reframe it a bit…

Let’s start here. The act of quitting is not positive or negative on its own. What defines whether quitting is good or bad is WHY we’re stopping. It’s all about context. The reasons behind our quitting are what really matter. 

You might be thinking about quitting something right now. Maybe it’s a job that sucks. Perhaps it’s a relationship that’s not working. Maybe you’re trying to drop a bad habit. Maybe you want to quit eating so many snacks or staying up so late. Almost all of us have something in our lives that we’re trying to stop. It’s likely something that’s been part of our lives for months, years, or even decades. 

If that’s you, here are three questions to ask yourself before you quit anything…

1. If I quit, what will I be free of?

Most often, when we’re considering quitting something in our lives, we’re doing it to become free from something. For example, we start a business and then quit to free ourselves from the challenges and stress of being an entrepreneur. We leave marriages to get free of the challenges that come with relationships. I quit smoking twenty years ago to gain freedom from the health concerns that cigarettes were causing me. 

Negative or positive, whenever we make the decision to quit, it’s usually tied to our desire to break a chain or be free of something. Being able to get specific and pinpoint what we’re trying to be free of is essential before quitting anything.

2. If I quit, what will I gain?

The freedoms we find in quitting almost always come with the potential to gain something on the other side. I quit one of my first jobs, and it opened the door to opportunities that would have never come my way if I had stayed comfortable in the status quo. When I quit smoking, I regained my health, well being, and likely added many quality years to my life. 

The gain side of quitting is an area where we all need to be extremely careful. Often, when we’re looking at what we want to be free of, we over-exaggerate the gains that will come with our quitting – if they ever come at all. For example, if I leave a relationship, I may gain freedom from the immediate challenges, but I will also lose some of the possible long-term bonuses in the process. As an entrepreneur, if I step away from my business, I might find freedom from some of my stress – but I also lose all of the opportunities I have to create something worthwhile. Gain isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

It’s easy to give up long-term results for a short-term release of the pressure. We often think the grass is greener on the other side. This kind of thinking is dangerous. When we’re considering quitting anything, we have to constantly measure what we might gain against what we’re giving up if we do quit. This leads us to question three…

3. If I quit (or I don’t), what might I regret?

This is the most important question of all to answer. So often in life, we quit too early. We quit quickly when things get tough, when they’re painful, or simply to get out from under the weight of our challenges. In the short term, this can feel good and seem like the best option. But, unfortunately, deciding to quit without considering the regrets that might come with quitting is a huge miss. 

When you ask yourself if quitting is opening the door to future regrets, you may find that your answer is a firm, “No.” That’s a good sign. Many times, though, you may realize that quitting is only a quick fix that won’t last and will leave you asking, “What if I had just kept going?” Taking the time to understand the difference is essential.

The Takeaway

To be clear, quitting something can be the right answer. Or, depending on the circumstances, it can be the easy way out. My point today is this… Don’t rush quitting. Take the time to ask yourself WHY you’re quitting using these three questions. Then, you can make the best decision possible based on what you’ll be free of, what you stand to gain, and whether quitting may come with any future regrets. 

I hope this blog and some of my personal experiences equip you with some helpful tools. Follow me here for weekly growth-focused insights.

You can also listen in on the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. It’s available here or on your favorite podcast platforms.

Make it a great day! – John