The late American minister Norman Vincent Peale summed it up best in his book You Can If You Think You Can, writing a chapter titled: It’s Always Too Early To Quit. He was making the case for persisting instead of quitting ahead of time. Although the advice is relevant, it depends on the circumstances we face. For example, if you are in a business losing money, it might be wise to quit and channel your energy into another venture. There are other options which may require pivoting the business in a different direction but with the same principles. Think about this in your own life. Are there areas where you want to give up? It might be related to a relationship, career, family situation, education or something else.
Consider what you aim to achieve by quitting. Do you relieve yourself of the stress and burden associated with it? A business mentor I worked with some time ago used the following metaphor to explain our relationship to goals. He would say goals are like swimming in the open water from one land area to another. During the swim we will find ourselves at the midway point and far from the finish line. We cannot see our destination but know it is there. He said there are two options available to us: continue to swim toward our destination knowing we will eventually arrive or give up and swim back to our starting point. It is what many of us experience regularly with our goals. Even if we have not achieved success, it does not mean we are not making progress.
I’ve had a personal ambition to be an internationally acclaimed author and one day write a bestselling book. While I have yet to achieve it, I have accomplished other successes that represent milestones towards my goals. I wrote three books which were published independently, each of them with forewords written by internationally acclaimed authors. The point I wish to make is that progress is progress, no matter how slow we are working towards our goals. Success and achievement can sometimes fall into our lap when we least expect it. However, we must be in the arena working consistently and not rest on our laurels. We cannot approach our ambitions half-heartedly, because the universe will deliver less than desirable outcomes. Consider this in your own life. Are their goals or projects you’ve been working on without signs of success? How does this affect your enthusiasm? Are you still passionate and committed to them?
I don’t intend to explain why quitting is the easy way out, because sometimes quitting is the only way out. It will depend on the circumstances and what we set out to achieve. Personally, I have a burning desire to promote self-empowerment and help others awaken their highest potential through writing and speaking. I am committed to my dream, irrespective of the obstacles and challenges I face. And yes, there have been many setbacks over the years. I’ve come close to quitting and the only thing that stopped me was a good night’s sleep. I’ve read countless books on those who endured similar challenges and succeeded. I’ve also read biographies of those who persisted and failed. The one true constant I can draw from my experience is that if you have an itch, you must scratch it until you are satisfied you have done your best. Until then, keep pursuing your goals until you realize them or can no longer take the pain.
How are you feeling about this? Are you getting a sense that your dreams and goals are not something to be taken lightly but pursued with passion and persistence? I don’t know the answer to whether or not you should quit. In fact, in my coaching sessions, I often tell clients I can help them push the needle as close to success as possible, but I cannot guarantee it, since there are many factors outside of our control. Besides, I wouldn’t want to make that promise and I would caution you to beware of those that do. For example, we cannot control the economy or life’s forces acting upon us. We cannot control whether we succumb to illness or other circumstances that derail our progress. What we can do, is to light the fire of passion and enthusiasm and make sure we show up to the task at hand. We can honour our best intentions, irrespective of the outcome. We show up diligently, knowing what we put our mind and heart to will transpire in the best way, or at the very least teach us valuable insights.
Quitting early relieves us of the ability to give ourselves wholeheartedly to our goals and dreams. It robs us of our fighting spirit because we learn to take the path of least resistance instead of the one lined with courage, hope and persistence. Life is replete with setbacks, challenges, and sometimes suffering and denials. But this mustn’t stop us from pursuing what we are passionate about. Because if you truly want something, as the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, the entire universe will conspire in helping you to achieve it. With that in mind, I invite you to consider areas of your life where you want to quit. How could you reframe your relationship with quitting? How can you develop greater resiliency and grit? It was Winston Churchill who once said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Therefore, how can you stay inspired and intentional about your goals and ambitions? The key to your success lies in your intrinsic motivation and it is only when you answer that question, will you discover whether or not it is too early to quit.