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5 Ways to Know When to Quit (Without Giving Up Early)

by Ali

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There is no shame in quitting. There’s a difference between quitting something because the going got tricky and quitting because it was right. Recognizing when it’s time to quit takes self-awareness and courage. All too often, we drag things on passed their sell-by date. 

You have likely stayed in a relationship or job longer than is healthy. Maybe you persevered with a struggling side hustle, convinced that success was just around the corner. It takes guts to quit and walk away; many people wait to be pushed instead of jumping on their own accord. 

This article will outline what it means to quit and the benefits of this. It will also suggest 5 ways to help you know when to quit.

What does it really mean to quit?

There are a lot of negative connotations associated with quitting, but the reality is it’s a hugely positive thing. 

When we quit something, we stop doing it, or we leave. We can quit many things; here are some examples: 

  • Jobs. 
  • Alcohol, smoking, drugs. 
  • Relationships.
  • Friendships. 
  • Places.  
  • Hobbies and interests. 

An interesting article on quitting smoking by the American Lung Association outlines quitting as a three-step process. 

  • Physical.
  • Mental.
  • Social.

While this is in the context of smoking, we can apply it to all situations of quitting. 

The physical element of smokers is the impact of hormones and chemicals in the body. 

The mental aspect is concerned with habits such as daily routines. For instance, lighting up a cigarette at a particular time of day or when you feel particularly stressed or tired. 

The social part can be negative and positive. For instance, there is a social aspect to congregating in a smoking area. But a positive aspect of the social part of quitting can also be through social support. 

You can see how we can use these physical, mental, and social aspects in all areas of quitting. 

The benefits of quitting 

The 21st century began with “yes” energy. Say yes to everything, and seize every opportunity. A do-it-all sort of attitude. But I think this has exhausted us. 

Maybe it’s an age thing, but I no longer suffer from a fear of missing out (FOMO). Instead, I revel in the joy of missing out (JOMO). 

And that’s just it. Why are we still doing something that isn’t adding to us and bringing us joy? 

I have recently quit a 17-year career, so I have good authority on knowing when to quit. My enthusiasm and passion for this job had diminished. Once I found the courage to quit, I felt relieved and free. 

When we quit something that doesn’t serve us, we make space for something that brings joy and happiness. 

Think about it. We can’t enjoy the job of our dreams if we are stuck in a dead-end job. We can’t meet a partner who brings us immense happiness if we are still in a relationship with someone who drags us down. We can’t reach our health potential if we still drink and smoke excessively. 

Quitting means getting rid of something old and making space for something new.

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5 ways to know when to quit

Let’s be honest; we all know people who should have quit their jobs long ago. They are miserable and negative people, often dragging others down with their unhappiness. 

The same goes for romantic relationships. I should have quit a previous relationship a few years before I did. If only I had seen these 5 tips on how to know when to quit. 

1. Listen to your energy and the energy around you

Just days before Liz Truss stood down as the shortest-serving British Prime Minister, she said, “I’m a fighter; I’m not a quitter.” I can’t tell you what her energy was telling her, but the energy all around her compelled her to quit and move on. 

If you listen to your instincts and your energy, your gut will tell you when it’s time to move on. Many of us know it’s time to quit something a long time before we take any action. We go into denial and avoid our feelings and sensations. 

Think of a relationship that has soured; our energy dips around this person. Consider the job you have outgrown; you likely dread going to work and feel relieved at the end of each day. 

Listen to your energy. It will tell you when it’s time to quit. 

2. Consider the consequences of not quitting

If you are in turmoil at the moment and unsure if you should quit something, take the time to imagine your life if you don’t quit. If you persevere on the same path you are on, will you be happy? 

Many of us kid ourselves that happiness is just around the corner. Those in a struggling relationship sometimes tell themselves that a baby or marriage is the answer! Isn’t that terrifying? 

Consider what your life will look like if you don’t quit. 

For an alcoholic, not quitting alcohol builds a vision of a messy and chaotic future. People undervalued at work can’t imagine a brighter future without quitting.  

If you have done all you can to improve your situation, such as through relationship counseling or speaking to a boss, and things haven’t improved, It’s time to face reality. Things will likely not improve! 

Quit or endue. 

3. Analyze the metrics

If you have metrics available for the thing you are trying to quit, it is helpful to use these to help confirm your decision. Your side hustle may take significantly longer than you can justify when assessing the financial gain. 

Perhaps the deteriorating stats of a blogging hobby, alongside your dip in enthusiasm, are enough to confirm that the time is right to quit. 

The numbers don’t lie. If numbers are available, they are an excellent source for reassurance and to confirm that your decision to quit is emotionally and technically sound. 

If you want to use stats for an area without numbers, you could create a scale of happiness from 1 – 100 to assess your relationship, friendships, and career for now and previous years to get a feel for your true feelings. 

4. Review your health

It took panic attacks and hair loss for my friend to be jolted out of the sleepwalking trance of her unhealthy relationship. 

When we endure hostile situations, our body stores the effect of these. Dr. Gabor Mate draws anecdotal links between mental health and physical ailments in his book When The Body Says No.

Our physical health benefits from our ability to look after our mental health. And this includes recognizing what causes us stress and what brings us joy and learning to honor ourselves. 

If your health is suffering, it’s worth considering if there are aspects of your life you need to quit. 

5. Know anxiety and relief are normal

Sometimes just deciding to quit something can bring us an enormous sense of relief. That is a clear sign that the time is right and we are on the correct path. 

When I decided to close my small business after 5 years, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. While I had not taken steps yet to act on this closure, the sense of relief confirmed that this was the right time to quit. 

It is normal to feel anxious about quitting something, but imagine the relief that will come. 

Similarly, when I finally decided to end an unhappy romantic relationship, I felt relieved. Once we have made the difficult decision, we replace our anxiety with relief, and we can initiate the closure process.

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Wrapping up 

Knowing when to quit is a skill. For most of us, this conundrum is riddled with anxiety and fear. If we follow the 5 tips to know when to quit, we can maximize our happiness and minimize our exposure to negativity. 

Have you recently quit anything? How did you know the time was right? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Ali Hall AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Kindness is my superpower. Dogs and nature are my oxygen. Psychology with Sports science graduate. Scottish born and bred. I’ve worked and traveled all over the world. Find me running long distances on the hills and trails.

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