“Never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill
In November 2012, I left my corporate gig and took a huge leap into the life I had always been wanting to live…a life that’s fluid, flexible, and not constricted by fear. In reflecting on how I got to this soul-edifying place, I realized that I Am A Quitter.
We live in a culture in which quitting is not looked upon kindly. We must finish what we start no matter the cost or unless quitting is morally or socially justified. Divorce is common, but the stench of failure can cling. ‘Take this job and shove it’ is a dream for many, but actually doing it is usually viewed as wrong unless you have a ‘better’ job. There are times when suffering, even martyrdom is required. Where would we be without great parents, teachers, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., but, to badly paraphrase Shakespeare: I come not so much to praise quitting, but to bury some of the stigma attached to it. Sometimes suffering serves no greater purpose, it just wears us (and those around us)the hell out and contributes to illness, even death.
I dropped out of college, divorced after twenty-one years of marriage, and left my GOOD job. Each time I quit something, I was terrified of the potential ramifications. Some of that fear was realized, (receiving ‘are you krazy’ feedback from family and/or friends), but most was not. Nobody died and I have thrived to tell the tale and the lessons learned along the way.
What I Learned To Quit…
- Believing That Every Decision is Unalterable…for years, I felt shame for not having completed college in four years. I was supposed to be the ‘smart’ one in the family, the first university graduate. When I was a child, my dad told me that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Somehow, I absorbed that tidbit as a life lesson and for a long time, I thought it meant the straight line was best. Sometimes it is, but there’s also a lot of value in the twisty path. By getting my degree eleven years late, I worked jobs and connected to people on a level that increased my knowledge and appreciation of the different paths we find ourselves on in life. Yes, every decision has a consequence, but those consequences provide information to keep moving or course correct, not reasons to beat ourselves up.
- Not Trusting My ‘First Right Mind’… that inner knowing that I would ignore because it didn’t make sense or didn’t seem right. The decision to end my marriage was a long and painful one. “The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying: the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door…”. (Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love) One day, I decided that I would stay. The next day, I had a mini-stroke with no precipitating health issues. Even though I took that as huge sign to leave, almost another year passed before I did. Now, I cave much more quickly to what I know is the right path for me. I’m (surprisingly!) remarried and experiencing the ‘depth and breadth’ of love (E. Barret Browning, Sonnet 43) in ways I never thought possible.
- Living Under Other People’s Constrictions…I had a fantastic corporate run but eventually the company changed and more importantly, so did I. After one too many miserable Sundays dreading Mondays, a realization came to me: my company had changed the retirement criteria three times during my tenure. I was allowing an external agenda to determine my happiness. I chose my own ‘retirement’ date and left two years earlier than I would have officially retired. I’ve never regretted it.
- Waiting until things are perfect…False Evidence Appearing Real can be a killer! I convinced myself that I couldn’t run a business, then convinced myself that I couldn’t charge my value. I convinced myself that I couldn’t create a blog, then convinced myself that I couldn’t publish it until it’s perfect. ALL FALSE. I work with fabulous women and coach them through wonderful, life-altering change. This blog isn’t perfect(pretty’s coming!), but as my blogging coach says, “Start now, improve later.”(Rosetta Thurman, happyblackwoman.com)
I’m not saying we should always quit what we find tough. Never quit on getting it right for yourself! I’m not saying we should be reckless in our quitting. I have strong faith in God’s leading and direction. I Pray and Step and I also seek coaching and counsel. Sometimes we do suffer through a rough patch for a bigger goal but if fear or other people’s priorities, shoulds and oughts, are keeping you on a path that every fiber of your being is telling you is wrong for you:
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou
When has quitting worked for you? Please share in the comments with the hashtag #whatiquittothrive.