Quitting or letting go?
I am not a quitter. And I am sure you are not either. No- one likes to think of themselves as a quitter do they? It’s the ultimate loser-ish label to apply to yourself. I think the belief that “quitting is bad” is a great foundation for pushing us onward, faster, higher, harder. Not quitting means we get extra creative when we are looking to overcome obstacles, we use our initiative to come up with ingenious solutions under pressure. Not quitting, tenacity, determination can be overwhelming forces for good.
Until they aren’t. You know, sometimes quitting is exactly the thing we need to do. Sometimes the thing we absolutely need to do is quit. Walk away with our head held high. Move on. Let go. Sometimes the cost of not quitting is just too high a price.
There is a fabulous Zen proverb that I like. Short and sweet: “Let go or be dragged”— Zen proverb. Letting go is much more empowered than quitting. It’s consciously releasing our grip on something that, on reflection, no longer serves us. It’s realising that holding on so tight is actually dragging us somewhere we don’t want to be. It’s letting go of the university course we hate that’s driving us to depression, it’s letting go of the increasingly needy relationship that’s sucking us dry, it’s walking away from the job that sounds shiny and great on the outside but is a living nightmare on the inside.
How do we know when to let go? How do we know it’s not quitting in disguise?
Letting go: walking away from something that no longer serves our true self or that has too high a cost — physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.
Quitting: walking away from something that does serve our highest self but that seems too hard or too much effort. Something that does serve us physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually but that we are lacking a little motivation to get through a tricky patch.
How do we decide? It’s about using the skill of discernment. Discerning the difference between managing a crisis of motivation to get past an obstacle on a project that is fundamentally serving us, versus pouring good effort after bad into something that is actually no longer the right path for us and is dragging us somewhere we don’t want to be.
When you stop and reflect you will know which it is. Allowing yourself to pause and be discerning rather than pushing on regardless because you don’t want to be a quitter is all-important. Know that letting go is not quitting. It’s a conscious choice to let go of something that is no longer the right option, in order for you to pour your energy, attention and time into something that is.
Action step: Is there something you actually really, deep down, want to quit? Reflect and use your discernment. Do you just need to boost your motivation and push through, or is it that you actually need to let go? Use your discernment and make a wise choice.
Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit louisethompson.com for more.