When to quit and be proud of it

You know that saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going?” It leads me to think that most people deal with obstacles with perseverance. But are there just times when it’s better to call it quits and cut your losses?


Am taking inspiration from a book I had read recently, The Dip by Seth Godin. One comforting thing he notes in this book is that winners do quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time. Especially with high-achieving, goal-orientated people who want to be the “best” in the world. It’s having the guts to quit early, and refocus efforts on something new. To do whatever it takes because the main goal is about coming out on the other side (the better side).  Of course having said this, being the “best” is subjective. Often it is the other people who decide, not you. But I truly believe the most important critic should be you, it is about the standard you set and uphold for yourself. For good enough is not the best in the world.

It is easy to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit. Most people are afraid to quit, hence you may know people around you (hopefully acquaintances, because if you’re reading my blog we’re more likely to be like-minded) who end up being contented with their dead-end jobs, clocking their 9 to 5s without making any much of a difference.

Think differently. 


To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Superstars get what they want because they have unique skills. They have such tenacity, self-assurance and self-confidence to keep pushing ahead even if it means sometimes failing, strategically.

I guess many of us grew up believing that quitting is a moral failing – a low moment, where you need to feel somewhat embarrassed and ashamed. What’s worse, is thinking that by quitting will derail your path and you will never achieve where you want to go.

But if we start to think of quitting as an improvement opportunity, how would it sit with you? Let’s see …                         The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realise this: You can quit and be exceptional, or stay average and be a loser.  Don’t believe me? Let’s think about this for a second – is your time, your effort, your career (ambitions), your reputation too valuable to squander on just being average? I know mine is, each and every bit of them. I know I deserve better than just, average.

Let’s  take a real life example – the next time you find yourself in a queue at a store, note how you react.

Reaction #1 

You pick a line and get stuck in it.  No switching. You cross your fingers (and toes) that you have an efficient cashier ahead of you, and you don’t find any idiots in front of you fumbling with their change or even worse, clueless shoppers who keep asking about products at the till.   

I hate to tell you this, but you are average. Average is safe…average is not putting yourself first (or your needs) to give yourself enough credit, by giving permission to people and situations to waste your life away. What’s more telling: Don’t you have better things to do? Better places to get to?

Reaction #2

You pick the shortest line but keep scanning the other lines. You don’t seem to be content with the choice you have made. Every time you switch lines, something happens and you need to start over. When you look back where you were in first positioned, you suddenly realise you could have achieved your goal much sooner.

What can I say…in your search for a quick fix you jump so often that you waste time and energy without really getting anywhere. Realistic or achievable one has to wonder, you’re in search for something that you may or may not know the answer to. Good luck!

Reaction #3

You pick a line but you switch as soon as something (often someone) holds up the line. But just one switch.  Why did you do it? Because you had noticed early enough the imminent inconvenience you would be facing, to make an informed choice. On one hand you could have stayed and endured the wait, while on the other hand by scanning other lines you are able to see which line was moving faster and get you out of the store quicker.

Now this is what I’m talking about. You had quit (waiting in line) because you came across a situation which saw no reward in the end. By not giving up and abandoning your long-term vision (paying and getting out of the store as quickly as you can so you can move on to doing the things you want to do), you were smart.  You made the most out of the situation by seizing an opportunity to get closer to your goal. Many would say that the move was calculated, somewhat strategic and I do think there is a part of that. But more importantly, it’s that thing called intuition that often gets overlooked. We all have instincts. We all have the natural ability to feel and know when something is, just right and even more apparent when it’s wrong. It’s the matter of being brave enough to make these choices in life that lead to it being right. And sometimes this involves, quitting.

How I see it: If you are not afraid to quit, you will be able to let go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you, so you can do more things that will bring you joy, strength and most of all – purpose.

After all, there is no such thing in over-investing in yourself. That is if, you truly believe you are worth much, much more. And I do.


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