When Should You Quit Something?

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

There will come a time in your life when you need to make a difficult decision. It might be about your job, a relationship, a personal pursuit or something else entirely. You will have invested a lot of your time and energy and yet despite this, things aren’t going the way you anticipated. Continuously asking yourself “Should I quit?”. You tell yourself to just “keep powering through” and things will get better, but you don’t know that for sure. In this post, we’re going to be exploring some ideas about when it is the right time to move on from something, or whether you should stick it out.

Quit #1 – You Are Consistently Betraying Yourself

If you find yourself consistently acting in a way that does not reflect your own morals and values, that is the biggest sign you need to make changes. This is so important that it’s worth repeating:

If you are consistently acting in a way that does not reflect your own morals and values, that is the biggest sign you need to make a change.

A lot of us can fall into the trap of not even realising what our values are because we haven’t taken the time to explore that part of ourselves, and because of that, we don’t notice when our own limits are being crossed. This can go for relationships, jobs, friendships and so on. If you wouldn’t tolerate this thing happening to someone you care about, yet you tolerate it yourself, then it’s time to stop and move on.

Quit #2 – Loved ones are concerned for you

Most (hopefully all) of your loved ones have your best interests at heart. They may not be personally invested in the problem you are experiencing, but they are invested in you and your well-being. People can see you and how you are coping from the outside in, and if they see you struggling they are likely to speak out about it.

They may not understand the nuances and full context of your given scenario, but that’s irrelevant – they can see how things are affecting you and that’s enough. Even if you think you’re doing fine, don’t ignore this sign.

Quit #3 – Fear Is Stopping You

Quitting is heavily stigmatised, especially in Western cultures. ‘You can do anything in life, as long as you want it enough’ or ‘If it’s important to you, keep going no matter how hard it gets’ is not admirable, it’s foolish. Sometimes, quitting and taking a different path when new information is available to you is objectively the smartest choice you can make. Knowing when to persevere and when to move on is a fundamental skill of successful people. Overcoming difficulty for the sake of overcoming difficulty is misguided; don’t let this stigma play a role in your decision as the choice is yours and yours alone. Suffering is a major catalyst for growth but suffering for the sake of suffering is just suffering!

The Unknown

The fear of the unknown is often greater than the pain of continuing onwards. ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’, as they say. But this again, is misguided. Our automatic assumption that the worst possible scenario will occur should you make that change is very rarely the way things actually pan out.

‘We suffer more often in imagination that in reality’


Like in a game of poker, the more we have invested, the more we want to see it through to the end. We don’t want to see all of our time and efforts have gone to waste. Regardless of whether you persevere or quit, your time invested is already gone.

You may have tried to the best of your abilities, but sometimes that’s not enough – and that’s okay. This does not mean you are a failure. It means this path is not for you. Your time would only be wasted if you continue despite knowing inside that it’s not going to work out. If the universe gives you a lesson and you fail to learn it, it will keep giving you the same lesson until it eventually sinks in.

Persevere #1 – It’s Objectively Realistic

Can you really say, objectively, that overcoming this challenge is realistic? Is it within your control or are you relying on other people too? If you’ve mapped out your goal, and how you’re going to get there, given yourself a reasonable amount of time and you know that it’s not outside the realm of possibility; keep at it!

Persevere # 2– You’d Regret Quitting in 10 Years Time

Consider this. You are ten years older and ten years wiser. Look back on where you are now. Would you regret quitting what you are doing? Would it even matter? Or not? If the path you are currently on is one of multiple you could take towards the ultimate goal you are chasing, try a different approach.

However, if what you’re doing is the only way to get to where you want, and you can’t imagine your future without overcoming this obstacle, keep going.

Persevere #3 – You’re Growing Despite the Stress

Experiencing stress is not objectively a bad thing. A mild amount of stress shows that you are pushing yourself to your cognitive limits which leads to self growth. Too much stress though will only drain you as a person, and should be avoided at all costs. Look at your history with what you are considering quitting. Are you worse off? Or are you a better person because of your experiences with it?

True success is a combination of time, persistence and grit. All good things take time to build, and there are no shortcuts to success. If there were, everyone would be successful. The discomfort of the challenge is the price you must pay for greatness.