I know, the prevailing wisdom is that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, as long as you don't quit. But, come on. Does that really qualify as wisdom? Think that through. I'm 45 years old, 5 foot 7 inches and 170lbs. Could I be an NFL defensive lineman if I put my mind to it and don't quit? Of course not. And please don't let your mind default to, "Well, that's different. That's too extreme of an example." It's not different. It's exactly the same as any other goal. It's either in the cards or it's not. Granted, you may need to spend some time exploring whether or not you've got what it takes, but as you explore, you must be honest with yourself.
Here are four reasons you may need to consider quitting:
- You're terrible at it. Remember American Idol tryouts? They were filled with people who were terrible singers, yet their family and friends tell them they are good and they just need to follow their dream and never quit. You and I both know that's ridiculous. For these guys, there is no amount of stick-to-it-ness that will bring them singing stardom. Why is your situation any different?
- It's sucking the life out of you (even though you may be good at it). So many of us make this mistake. Maybe you're not terrible at it. Maybe you're actually good at it. That does not mean you ought to be doing it. You have to spend some time considering it and get honest about how it makes you feel. Does that thing you're striving to master feed your soul or suck the life out of you? A couple years ago I was offered a speaking engagement at a church to talk about time management with the opportunity to sign people up for personal coaching afterward. Seems like a good opportunity, right? I'm a decent public speaker and have been an effective personal coach. But, as I considered it, I had to face the facts. Preparing for isolated speaking events sucks the life out of me and at the time, so did personal coaching with strangers. Why would I say yes to that? Why are you saying yes to something that makes you feel the same way?
- Your family hates you doing it (even though you may love it). Even if you're good at it and you love it, it still may not be a good fit for your family or the season your family is in. Do yourself and them a favor. Put your family first. Achieving your goals and losing your family is a net loss. No question about it.
- You're missing the boat. This is probably the biggest reason why this is important. With all the time and effort you're putting into whatever goal it is you're never going to accomplish, you're ignoring something that you could be truly great at and deeply fulfilled by. Why not take the courageous step of strategic quitting to clear the way to find what you truly should be doing?
Please understand this important concept. There is a huge difference between giving up and strategic quitting. But most of us group them together like they are the same thing. That could be a serious mistake that could be debilitating to you for many years to come. I hope you'll consider this topic very seriously.
If you find this to be an interesting topic you want to explore further, I would recommend a great little book by Seth Godin entitled "The Dip". You can read it in an hour (if you're fast) or three (if you read slow, like me). Either way, it's a short and powerful read. Another great resource, if you're looking to change your work to something that will feed your soul, is Dan Miller's "48 Days to the Work You Love".
Finally, a short disclaimer. If this resonates with you and you have a job you're terrible at or sucks the life out of you or falls into one of the other categories above, please do not quit that job until you have something else lined up. That's just irresponsible.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.