How to Know When It's Time to Just Quit



 Author:  John D. Thomas 7 August 2017 Copyright 2017

Quitting is not always a bad thing.  Sometimes, quitting makes good sense.  You can never accomplish everything you'd like to do. Life is short and your time is limited… you can only do just so much.  If you are not careful, you can end up wasting your life on unrealistic goals, unnecessary projects, bad jobs, and dysfunctional people.  


Should you find yourself trapped in a counterproductive situation that is draining your life, it may be time to just quit. Quitting a counterproductive situation brings you freedom. It frees you to more wisely invest your time, resources, and abilities.

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How to Know When It's Time to Quit: 

  • The time and effort you are putting into a goal, a project, a job, or a relationship far outweigh the benefits you are getting in return.  If for a long time you have been feeling negative about the amount of time and effort you are investing in a project or a relationship, this is a major warning sign. Does the thought of quitting make you smile and feel a sense of relief?  If this describes you, it is time to make some important changes.   
    • You feel sad or depressed at the thought of continuing on with no relief in sight.  Have you been promised things that are not forthcoming?  Are there important rewards that are not being delivered?  Are there significant anticipated changes that have not materialized (and probably won't)?  If so, it may be time to quit. 
    • Your current situation is taking a heavy toll on your physical health or emotional well-being.  If you are in a bad relationship that is not improving despite your best efforts, it is time to get out.  Likewise, if you have been diligently working on a personal goal or a project that is not delivering the results you anticipated, it's time to rethink your situation. It's time to make some important changes.  You need to set aside what's not working out and adopt goals and projects that are more realistic and doable.  Persistence is a praiseworthy mindset.  However, persistence only makes sense when you are making progress.  Otherwise, you are just wasting your time, abilities, and resources with nothing to show for it.   
    • Continuing to invest your time, abilities, and resources into a bad situation is preventing you from pursuing more rewarding (and realistic) situations.  This is where you need to do a "Cost - Benefit Analysis."  To do this, you simply list all the resources you are investing.  Then identify all the benefits you are receiving (or are likely to receive) in return.  If your benefits do not outweigh the resources you are investing, then why are you continuing?  Quitting will allow you to redirect your time, money, and efforts toward something that will yield better results.    
    • You are afraid to quit but know you need to do it.  Perhaps you are afraid that quitting might hurt someone's feelings.  Maybe you don't want to be labeled as a quitter or a failure.  Or perhaps you feel a sense of responsibility to press on despite the toll this situation is taking on your life.  Your fears are probably overplayed and exaggerated.  Any temporary feelings of failure you incur can be offset by future accomplishments and success that come from pursuing more realistic and achievable goals, jobs, and relationships. Having the courage to quit something that is not working out is smart.  It is not something to be afraid of doing.  

    A final word of caution is in order.  People often hesitate to quit even when it makes good sense due to their fear of forfeiting all the time, money, emotions, effort they’ve already invested into a failing situation. The time, money, emotions, and effort you’ve already invested are called, “sunk costs” or "retrospective costs." The more you’ve invested in a goal, project, job, or relationship, the more difficult it is to walk away from it. However, these retrospective costs should not prevent you from making a rational decision. It may be time to cut your losses and move on. 

    Realize that the time and resources you've already invested are spent.  However, quitting enables you to avoid sacrificing additional time, effort, and future resources on a failing situation.  When it's time to quit, do it and move forward.    


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