The Fine (and Underappreciated) Art of Quitting

in psychology •  2 months ago

When I was growing up, I was always taught that seeing things through and "stick-to-it-iveness" were high virtues to strive for. We were determined people in my family; this was no place for quitters.

As I made my way through college and onto the working life of a young adult, I came to see the wisdom of those lessons... seemed like everywhere around me, people would start into things and then almost immediately give up again, almost as soon as they discovered it was hard work, what they had undertaken.

I would get pretty judgmental, too... thinking of these people who quit easily as "losers."

Misplaced Loyalty?

In retrospect, perhaps I could have learned a thing or two from the quitters in my life.

Post
This is a really promising post...

I might have learned not to keep plugging away at things there were bound to fail, just because I was too proud and stubborn to bail out before incurring a major financial loss, or psychological damage.

Like that one time when I stayed for another 12 years in a marriage that had effectively ended after two years.

Like that one time I kept working at a business that never seemed to progress beyond breaking even (at best)... choosing to be part of something that was "going sideways" for ten years.

Like that one time I had invested in a high tech stock of a company that seemed eternally promising, but kept making the wrong choice every time opportunities came along. Sure, I eventually sold the stock for about what I paid for it... eight years later. I could pretty much have thrown a dart at the NASDAQ stock listings and tripled my money with any other stock.

"Don't let anyone ever be able to call you a quitter!"

Lessons Learned...

Leaves
Fall leaves

Of course, "quitting" isn't the same as simply knowing when "enough is enough." Giving something "a fair chance" and then moving onto something else with a better chance of succeeding also isn't "quitting."

Maybe this is elementary to a lot of people, but for those of us who were taught to never quit, there is an "art" to learning what it means to give something a reasonable chance to live up to expectations and then moving along to something else.

My worries were always "too soon, too soon, too soon!" anytime I had thoughts of quitting. Married to those words were the idea that "things would change and get better.

In time, I have come to recognize that a thing I share in common with many of my non-quitting peers is a possibly excessive sense of idealism and optimism. We sincerely do believe something bad — a situation, a job, a person's behavior — is going to change for the better

Creekside
By the water's edge

Most betting people — sensibly — wouldn't put money on those bets.

Optimism tends to believe in change; realism concerns itself more with what has shown itself to actually BE.

It's like people who come into our little art gallery here in town and say "Oh look, art pottery! I took a pottery class once, I should learn to make those!"

In the mind of the optimist, the picture is "oh yes, that's marvelous!" while in the mind of the realist rests the question "Yeah, but WILL you?"

Timeframes Vary, of Course...

There are many things to consider, with the Fine Art of Quitting.

Timeframes and context matter. 

Sunset
One of our fiery sunsets

For example, I have "quit" the idea that Steemit is magically going to develop into the "quality content based" social blogging venue I thought it was going to become, 18 months ago.

But I have NOT quit the idea that Steem and Bitcoin are worth investing in, as they may be part of what holds the key to the future.

Relationships have their own parameters. 

And sometimes you have to apply a sort of "cost benefit analysis." Sure, your lover has anger management issues, and sure they may eventually decide that it's a problem they need to address... and they will "magically snap to," and become better human beings. But how many years of your life — where you could be somewhere else, being happy — are you willing to give up, while waiting for that particular lightning to strike?

And does it make you a "quitter" to not keep waiting... beyond a certain point.

Probably not.

Thanks for reading!

How about YOU? Do you consider yourself a good "quitter" or do you tend to "hang on too long" to things, ideas and people? Or, conversely, do you tend to quit too soon. Have you ever been accused of being a "quitter?" How did that feel to you? Leave a comment-- share your experiences-- be part of the conversation!


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Of course, "quitting" isn't the same as simply knowing when "enough is enough." Giving something "a fair chance" and then moving onto something else with a better chance of succeeding also isn't "quitting."

Cause I am moving circles, falling back.

Optimism tends to believe in change; realism concerns itself more with what has shown itself to actually BE.

My past has caught up to me, and I've lost track.

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It's funny how some people look back on their lives and think "I wish I'd done this, and that, and the other," but most of the time I look back and think... I wish I'd been able to slow things down, and to stop and just sit still... instead of always running.

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Ah! my dear friend @denmarkguy. I know that you are a wise zen chap very similar to me. :)

Well, in my case it has been a long time since I stopped looking backwards or forwards. Now I tend to observe things from above only. };)

Like that one time when I stayed for another 12 years in a marriage that had effectively ended after two years.

Same. But mine was 24 years.

Am I a quitter? See above :)

Re: steemit as a place for quality bloggers
I now have certain people listed on Ginabot, where I'm notified if they post (you are one of those by the way), because I quit looking at my own feed a long time ago. It needs a serious purge and I just haven't found the time to do it yet. I focus only on my "Gina list" and it is all quality quality quality! :)

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Wow Lynn, that's a long time. Sounds almost like my friend Barbara who was "getting divorced" from her ex for 19 years before the papers were actually signed.

As for quality bloggers... I've been exploring SteemPeak,com lately, and it has a lot of nifty features, some of which seem to make content discovery a little easier. I'm still hoping they will develop a "groups" feature where you can create your own groups of people you follow, like Facebook and twitter allows for. I've played around with Ginabot a bit, but I haven't managed to develop parameters that really work for me... too much "bloat."

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Yep, a long time for sure! But when I feel like I wasted so much time, I realize that I wouldn't be where I am at this very moment if I hadn't.

As far as ginabot, you can type in ..set and it'll take you to your settings. It's there where the magic happens; you can type a list of those you wish to follow and continually add to them too.

I was brought up with the same values - hard work and seeing things through. I agree with you that a lot of valuable time is sometimes wasted, but seeing things through is also a more valuable lesson. You know for sure that a thing don't work when you have seen it through to the end.

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It can be a delicate line, between taking what we feel is "right action" (even if it doesn't really support what we currently believe in) and walking away. And yes, there is a lesson there... as my father was fond of saying "YOU made your bed, now you have to SLEEP in it."

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I say: Life is about getting into as much trouble as possible and get out of it again before you die. Most of it is lessons, and then a few blissful moments when your beautiful, but temperamental, children sleeps, your wife is sentimental, or you just are too tired to get out of the hammock and incidentally watches the sun set.

Do you consider yourself a good "quitter" or do you tend to "hang on too long" to things, ideas and people?

i don't think I tend to hang on to ideas and I definitely do not hang onto people @denmarkguy.

But I have been know to hang onto businesses thinking I'm going to find some motivation and do what needs to be done better. I never do! 😂

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Well done for that, Gillian! I've gotten better, over the years. I was definitely "loyal to a fault," with a heavy emphasis on "FAULT."

I think I "hang on too long" to things, ideas and people...There are things that I would like to change or change my way of life, but I do not have the courage to do it.

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Well, "courage" is yet another factor to consider, here. Sometimes change is uncomfortable... and even if we know we're hanging onto something that doesn't feel good, the uncertainty of change seems scarier.

I thought this was going to be about the fine art of quilting, but I still finished reading your post.

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Interesting "symmetry" in that! Thanks for sticking around... even if it were not about quiLting. We can add a layer... many years ago, I was really into Amish style quilts!

Very valid points and sound ones @denmarkguy. Sometimes 'smart quitting' is the best route. That's when you cut your losses when you figure out there is NO hope !

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As the years have rolled on by, I have definitely gotten better at the "smart quitting" thing... in my earlier life, I never quite seemed able to convince myself that there truly was "no hope," so I would keep toiling away at things... "loyal to a fault," as they say.

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Yep I was raised on that. Wow I have an entire post worth to say lol.... Well it's an art I never learned. Great post!