It is always easy to stop when you have reached the finish line but often the journey to the end is not so short. Sometimes it takes days and even years to see your efforts culminating into the desired composition. Meanwhile, we all have our trials and tribulations of the journey, it is rarely a straight road. So along the way, it is natural for our mental state to fluctuate too.
We all can remember that day when we felt truly invincible and did cross out all the tasks on our lists while on some other day it was an accomplishment to even get out of the bed. It is this latter day, which poses the greatest threat to our long term commitments.
When going get tough, it indeed gets tough and this is this exact moment where we see a way to end it all. People have assigned numerous colloquial notations to it like Hanging their boots or Calling it a day but it’s essence reeks of this dreadful 4 letter word - QUIT
We often visualize quitting as cowardice but to be honest it is rather a neutral action. The real hue depends on the circumstance during which we resolve to this strategy. Let’s understand this better with the cases of Don and Jon. (😛)
Tales of Don and Jon
Let’s look at Don who has a keen interest in mathematics right from his early school days. This is why he was able to crack interviews to a reputed IT company for which he works now. But after working in the corporate sector for a while, he discovered that the job was not stimulating enough to provide him with substantial novel challenges. The kind of rush and struggle involved in solving complex mathematical problems was clearly missing from his life. Day after day, he was being constantly consumed by this idea of doing something which actually aligned with his interest area rather than waking up each day with the same disinterested spirit. He reluctantly discussed this idea of quitting his job and pursuing a research degree from a renowned university with his friends. They admonished him by saying how difficult it was to get a handsome job similar to one he had and how he should give it more time before calling it a quit. They further asserted that each job has its bad days and he couldn’t just quit if he was not in the mood on a particular day.
Don is really confused now. Even though he is certain about the future opportunities that his present job will offer and how dull they will eventually look, he is not able to decide whether his decision to quit is really due to his inclination towards his long lost love for mathematics or is he just overwhelmed with the new setting. Being an A student throughout his life, deep down he is more concerned about yielding to the stigma of saying I quit!
Here comes Jon, he is an aspiring swimmer. In fact he has been swimming since he was 8 years old. So water, pretty much has been his forte. But after taking admission into the National Sports Academy, things had been very different for him. He was put on a very strict cycle to train and eat like a national level athlete. And at the academy he was no longer the shark of the ocean, there were several like him, maybe some better than him. Sometimes, things used to get too much, when he looked at his friends from home having fun and going to exotic places all the time. He realized how bland his life had become. Everyday post dinner and before passing out to sleep he used to think about all the things he was missing out then for just a far fetched, difficult dream to become a world class athlete. During the intense practice sessions, thoughts of quitting and doing something much more certain crossed his mind several times. He indeed loved his game but it was constantly getting difficult for him, to chase something that only few could acquire. Should he just give up because he got one life and misery shouldn’t be its highlight?
To quit or to persist?
Both Don and John are facing some turbulence in their lives and are faced with a gross dilemma - To quit or to persist. It is a million dollar question and interestingly, nobody can answer it for you expect yourself.
If we consider the case of Don, it is a very classic situation in which the person is well aware of his inclination but is not able to make a move due to mental inertia and inability to accept the need of searching for green pastures elsewhere. Jon truly believes that he is meant for so much more than doing a routine desk job. He knows that, his drive for engagement with far more sophisticated problems will never let him be at peace with his current job. At this stage, there should be no reason for not quitting and staying at the same place, hoping for things to get better (Or to feel distracted for a while) knowing fully well that it won’t happen. It is easier to blame Don for his lack of initiative but we do this all the time. Think about a person trying to drag a dead relationship and you will see your Don in them.
The hack here is to quit smartly. If you had already analysed your options and you have your reasons as to why you want to abandon the current thing, quitting can be done much more easily and promptly. If done properly, it can be liberating too(In case of Don). But the important part is to be aware of what you are leaving behind and for what.
Looking at our second protagonist Jon, the guy is clearly in pieces. The pain to train is just too much. It is so severe that he sometimes lose sight of his revered dream of making it big in the swimming leagues. But do you really think that he would be better off quitting in this case? Surely his life would be much more simpler and fun. But maybe during one of his trips he would zone out while looking out of the window and remember all those days he spent chasing his dream. Even though it was difficult, he would realize that it was not that bad after all and being on the other side of the field he could see that grass here is not actually much greener. Don’t you think he would be tortured by regret if he ever came across the news of his then team mate winning the swimming leagues? I think, that day would be much more painful for him than the pain he endured while training. And why did this happen? Simply because he didn’t analyse his options properly. He left something that formed the basis of his internal desires and aspirations for something as transitory as pain. He left the game without filling the void with something that was able to fascinate him equally well.
This type of decision will often lead to disappointments simply because you are deciding upon your permanent plans based on your temporary conditions which is not a good idea.
Quitting means more room
Just a few months back, I tried to develop a concrete reading habit. Now, you know that reading a book is a commitment and if would require a lot of perseverance if you want to continue it for a long time. So I used Goodreads to spice things up and opted for a reading challenge. It was quite fun and I was able to finish it successfully. But gradually I realized this nagging habit of finishing every book that I started. It was particularly difficult for me to quit a book just because it got boring. I was convinced that maybe it was a temporary feeling and it would recede with time and progress into the book. But honestly, there is a lot of average content out there and the decision to finish reading an average book just because I started it, was a waste of time. Luckily one day, I was talking to my friend and we bumped into this issue.
I am the confused green guy.
And as a result, I quickly identified books that I was just trying to complete because I started them and shifted them under this new shelf of stopped-reading on Goodreads.
Yes, I quit reading them and it feels liberating 😁. (Thanks GV!)
My current Goodreads shelves
I think that by now it is clear as why you are the only one who can determine what is the right time for you to call it a day. My guess, If you have tried your best and are pretty clear with what you are leaving and why, you will do fairly well.
So next time, don’t just quit but maybe give yourself something new to start with.
Don’t forget, it is the detour that leads to exciting destinations.