Knowing When It's the Right Time to Quit

Our society looks down on quitters, because we've been raised to never quit. I challenge this notion and suggest that there's a time and a place to quit.

Knowing When It's the Right Time to Quit

Happy Sunday!

Do you know when to quit?

That's likely to be a question you've never really given much thought to before. And if your answer is "no", you're not alone. Most people don't know when the right thing to do is to quit.

Knowing when it's the right time to quit is challenging – almost impossible some might argue. We live in a society where not quitting is prized. From a young age, we're told that quitting is for failures and that if we want any level of success, we must never quit. We're reminded to maintain consistency, build cadence and under no circumstances must we quit.

I'd like to challenge this notion this week as I think the idea that you must never quit at all costs is generally harmful. We should challenge this "conventional wisdom" and take a common-sense approach to quitting – sometimes, the best thing to do is to quit. Knowing when to quit should be a prized skill. If quitting is the best thing to do based on all information made available to you at a particular point in time, you should quit.

Two simple examples to bring this point to life:

  • A business owner who's been operating an unprofitable business for several years. After trying everything possible to turn the business around, it transpires that there isn't enough demand to make the business profitable or sustainable.
  • A student studying the entirely wrong degree who realises this early as they fall behind the class.

We should also remember that there's an opportunity cost to not quitting. Failing to quit when it's the right thing to do wastes valuable resources; time, energy, money, etc, which can all be channelled into a new project with a greater chance of success.

The business owner who has tried everything to turn their business around without much luck should quit. Likewise, the student who realises early that they're in the completely wrong field should also quit. If they didn't fail fast and quit early, they would have spent years studying the wrong subject, not doing too well and continue to fail.

Quitting allows the business owner to start a new business and use the learnings from their failed business to begin a successful enterprise.

"It’s okay to quit, sometimes. In fact, it’s okay to quit often. You should quit if you’re on a dead-end path. You should quit if you’re facing a Cliff. You should quit if the project you’re working on has a Dip that isn’t worth the reward at the end. Quitting the projects that don’t go anywhere is essential if you want to stick out the right ones."

– Seth Godin

Not many people remember Steve Jobs' plastic whistling company or Bill Gates' traffic light software company. But Apple and Microsoft are both household names – 2 of the most successful companies of all time. Apple and Microsoft have both had a tremendous impact on your life, irrespective of whether or not you own an apple or Microsoft product.

Once we decide that quitting is the best thing to do, given all the information we have at that particular point in time, we should quit – there's always a right time and place to quit. But we need to make sure we have something else lined up. We should replace the current project with something else – an opportunity to start on a new problem, giving us a new chance to succeed.

Quitting doesn't need to be seen as terminal. It's an opportunity to start something else. And who knows, by quitting, you may well become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

Have an awesome week ahead,

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This Week's Wisdom

"Waking up at the same time of day, every day, no matter if it is the week or weekend is a good recommendation for maintaining a stable sleep schedule if you are having difficulty with sleep. Indeed, it is one of the most consistent and effective ways of helping people with insomnia get better sleep."

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