Square Peg, Round Hole? Is There Ever a Time to Quit?

Most of you know me as a motivator. I’m the person who will tell you to keep going, keep pushing, keep fighting, and never give up. Recently however, it came to mind that I might be overlooking a very important group of people who need to hear a different message.

You will never hear me tell you to turn your back on your dream or your vision. You will never hear me tell you to turn your back on your calling or to close the door on your purpose. But, in all of my “go, go, go-ing”, I have never mentioned that sometimes it’s okay to quit.

I know you’re probably shocked to read that, but I hope you’ll hear me out. Let this post be a word to those of you who are torturing yourselves without even realizing it. Or maybe you do realize that you’re miserable, but because you’ve always heard that “quitting is for losers,” you’ve continued on, taking one miserable step after another.

I promise, I haven’t given up on motivational positivity – No, I’m not packing up my toys and going home.  But I  do want to talk about something that’s very real and may impact you at some point in your journey toward success.

Is it ever okay to quit?

Believe it or not, quitting can be an anointed process – it can actually be more positive than we’re often led to believe. For some people, it can be a life-saver.

If you want to know if it’s okay to quit, ask yourself these questions:

1) Are you trying to shove a square peg into a round hole?

Some business plans just won’t work. Some products should not be on your list. If you’ve spent the last year trying to force yourself to fit into a business model that doesn’t suit your personality or your strengths, there’s a good chance said business model is not part of your purpose. The same is true of products or services that don’t suit your niche or your areas of expertise. For example, if you have to rummage through a pile of trash and clutter just to find your laptop every time you need to send an email, it’s probably not wise to promote yourself as a professional organizer. The same is true of pretty much anything. Whether you have aspirations of being a web designer or a hairstylist, a certain amount of know-how is required in order to promote your service effectively.

Let me put it to you this way – you cannot build the business on a skill that you have not yet attained. It could still happen, yes. But if you want to build a business right now – focus on the skills you have right now. Your desire to be a successful graphic designer will not make you a successful graphic designer – you have to know what you’re doing first.

In this case, it is okay to quit. In fact, I encourage you to get off your current path and onto another — the right path for you. I call this “Survivormanning.” (Les Stroud is Survivorman. He gets dropped in the middle of nowhere, with pretty much nothing except his camera, and navigates his way back to civilization). It’s a good thing.

2) Are you hurting yourself?

Some ambitions and talents result in injury. Take running for example; if you injured her knee severely while running and your physician advised you to stop running, running a 10k the very next day would be dangerous. Yet every day, tons of people continue on in the very activity that causes them not only pain, but could result in permanent disability. They do this because they don’t want to be labeled “a quitter” or they’re afraid of who they’ll be without the dangerous activity. They may even be afraid  of trying something new. This same phenomenon can extend to work-related activities and may involve emotional or mental injuries. If you’re working in a position you enjoy, but you’re working countless hours and your family is falling apart, it’s okay to focus on the more important thing. In all actuality, most employers will not view this as “quitting.” In fact, most employers desire their staff members to lead well-balanced, happy lives. Happy employees are more productive. If your employer won’t work with you in a situation like this, it’s time to walk away. After all, when you come to the end of your life, it won’t be your coworkers by your bedside. It might not be your family — it could be any number of things. The point is, you should decide if what you’ll gain by staying is more precious to you than what you’d gain by quitting.

3) Are you being left in the dust?

Sometimes quitting isn’t quitting, it’s moving forward. If the processes you use during the course of a business day are more of a tradition than an effective system, it might be time to quit doing them. Change can be hard. Quitting on your current course of action can make you feel like a failure, especially if it means changing the way your entire company operates. But in reality, you’re becoming more efficient. If you’re doing something that feels productive, but deep down, you know it’s pseudo-work; quit. You’ll be better off in the long run.

When is it okay to quit?

It’s okay to quit if you keep trying to force yourself, your products, and your business plan into a box they’re not meant to fit inside, you’re miserable, and you’re NOT MAKING MONEY. << This will be a hard one for some people. If you’ve been in business for 6  months or more, and you don’t have any profits to show for it, what’s the point?
It’s okay to quit if you’re ultimately hurting yourself through your work ESPECIALLY if you’re not getting any support from your superiors.
It’s okay to quit if quitting will make you better at the things that really matter (if you’ve got 10 products, but only one of them sells, quit nine and focus on the one hot commodity).

This post has gotten quite long, and I promise to be back to my chipper, motivating self straightaway.  But I will say this, SOMEBODY needed that. Someone out there needs to know that some “quitters” only quit because they’re SMART.


Love in Him,


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