I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but it’s okay to quit. Just let go of that thing—that obligation, that activity, that job, that relationship, that creative endeavor—that is no longer adding value to your life. Or worse, is taking away value. Just walk away.
You don’t even owe anyone an elaborate explanation for why you’re walking away. You can try to explain, of course, but sometimes that proves so difficult that you’re even forced to walk away from that.
I can think of many examples of things I’ve quit for one reason or another over the years.
- I stopped writing a series of books because that particular series hadn’t taken off like others had. Writing another book in the series didn’t make sense when I had other books to write that readers wanted more. By saying no to one book, I said yes to another. Win for readers, win for me!
- I quit one of my favorite jobs of all time because I was being mistreated by the wife of my boss. She had a habit of running people off, and I decided life was too short to be bullied. And I like myself too much to allow someone to treat me badly. By quitting that job, I found happiness and fulfillment elsewhere.
- I left another job after only a month because my boss thought it appropriate to touch me a little too often and in inappropriate ways. By leaving this job, I put a spotlight on someone’s bad actions, and hopefully stopped him from hurting others. Closing this door led me to a much better job opportunity, and one I’m much happier in.
- I walked away from cohosting Kentucky Fried Homicide, a true crime podcast, that was meaningful and successful in some ways, but it was taking away from my life in other ways. By letting go of a time-consuming creative endeavor, I was able to concentrate my time on other, more meaningful areas of my life. (Below, I expand on why I quit Kentucky Fried Homicide, if you’re interested in the complete thought process.)
I could go on and on. I’m sure you could fill a page, as well, whether you’ve quit jobs, let go of a hobby that was taking up too much time, walked away from some sort of side hustle, or maybe you’ve even let go of relationships that were no longer good for your life. Been there, done that.
But… are you currently holding onto something that you need to let go of? Do you feel obligated to finish something you started, but are no longer passionate about doing so? Have you committed to a creative endeavor that’s simply not reaching the goals you initially set for it? Are you unhappy in your job and know that you could make the same amount of money elsewhere, or maybe even take a pay cut but be happier?
What is holding you back? Are you putting more value on what someone might think if you let go of that thing?
Marcus Aurelius, one of the most respected emperors in Roman history who was well-known for his ability to step back from emotional and physical chaos to reach a level of calm, once said:
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
Is a monetary need or goal stopping you from quitting? Maybe you’re putting more value in money over your well-being or your time?
I’m not saying everyone can quit their job that they hate. I know that there are circumstances that keep us in some commitments, like jobs that enable us to pay for groceries, medical bills, and other necessities.
But what about the jobs that aren’t paying for necessities? Maybe it’s a commitment to volunteer at your child’s school, and every time you show up, it’s chaos and you become anxious. It’s okay to walk away from that. You’re probably not doing yourself or the people you’re trying to help any favors by sticking with it. You’d be better off taking care of yourself for those few hours and showing up fully for your child later.
I’ve talked to so many people over the years who stay at jobs that cause them anxiety, volunteer for things they no longer have time for, or keep pursuing a dream that now causes them anxiety, simply because they didn’t want to feel like a quitter. They didn’t want to be seen as someone who gave up. Or they didn’t want to let someone down.
But… are you letting yourself down?
If this is you. If you’ve been sticking with something that you know deep down is causing you more harm than good, walk away.
In the past, when I got to the point that I knew an activity or job was no longer good for me (and sometimes this took 6 months or more – hey! I’m clearly a work in process), I typically became so anxious about it that I made myself ill, often mentally and sometimes even physically. At that point, it was difficult to even see the forest from the trees.
Deep down, though, I knew I had to walk away.
“If you seek tranquility, do less.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
Do less. I think many of us need this on a post-it at the top of our computers, on the front of our coffee makers, and on the mirror in our bathroom, so that we’re reminded of it throughout the day.
The best recent example I have in my own life of a time when I quit—just walked away—is when I decided to stop co-hosting the true crime podcast Kentucky Fried Homicide that was growing in popularity. This was about a year ago, and it took me months (and I suffered much anxiety) before I finally found the courage to step away.
But, and I’m sure anyone who is struggling to walk away from something right now knows, there can be a lot of factors to consider. Which can be just excuses or reasons to keep at it, but that won’t work long-term.
I learned this for myself when I finally faced walking away from the podcast I had worked extremely hard to co-create.
Part II of this post—is only for paid subscribers, a thank you to those of you who are supporting this newsletter monetarily. If you’d like to read a deeper account of why I left Kentucky Fried Homicide CLICK HERE and Subscribe. And thank you!