When It Is OK to Quit
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Last Saturday I spent most of the day in front of TV watching Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. I watched this event over the last five years and I always feel inspired by the amazing athletes. It’s also my dream to complete 12 Ironman races and be selected through the Ironman Legacy Program to compete in Ironman World Championship.
What surprised me in this year race was the drop out of two-time defending champion Patrick Lange. Last year Lange became the first person to break the 8-hour record in Kona. This year he finished the 2.4-mile swim and then suddenly called it quits at 30 miles into the bike course.
As a big advocate of setting and achieving goals and not easily giving up on my dreams, I could not help but question when one should give up versus when one should push on.
At what point can we give ourselves permission to quit?
There could be different reasons for wanting to quit our goals (jobs, relationships, dreams). One of the most common reasons for giving up is unexpected obstacles. We feel motivated and excited when we just start with our goals. Then we encounter unforeseen setbacks and self-doubt sets in, which makes us question everything.
You definitely need persistence to overcome obstacles. There will be days when you do not feel like doing what you need to do. The only way to achieve the desired results is by staying consistent and doing the work even when you do not feel motivated to do so.
If you are about to give up on your dream that you love, ask yourself why you feel that you need to give up? Can you live without this accomplishment? Why did you have that dream in the first place? What are other possible ways to fulfill your dream?
You need to recognize that if you are doing what you think you should be doing rather than what you really want to do, you are not persisting, you are just resisting your life.
Not all aspects of you goal are going to be fun. But you should want it and feel excited about it. Even when you do something you do not particularly enjoy, it should be getting you closer to something that you do want.
I do believe it’s better to quit your goal if you do not want it any longer. If you’re doing it because you feel you owe it to someone or that you should do it, it’s better to give up and move on to something else.
You need to be honest with yourself how badly you want something. Sometimes people say and think they want things, but they do not put any effort into achieving what they want. If somebody says that they want to run a marathon, but they do not spend any time on running, it just shows that they do not truly want it.
Sometimes people persist because they have invested a lot of time, energy or money into their goals, which is known as the sunk cost. The larger your investment, the harder it is to quit. Sometimes people do not quit because of fear. They are afraid that there is nothing on the other side. People also are afraid of failure and embarrassment associated with quitting.
As long as you hold onto something that is not providing you satisfaction and not fulfilling your dream, you are passing up all of the opportunities that can be open to you when you do let go of whatever you are holding onto.
If a goal consumes your life and takes away from all other aspects of your life, you need to reevaluate whether it is worth the sacrifice. There are times when you need to focus on your family, friends and your own health. You may need to give up some of our goals to get the energy and the resources you need to deal with personal issues.
The power of persistence will enable you to overcome obstacles as you pursue your dreams. Don’t give up on your goals just because you have encountered some challenges and you need to work hard. However, you need to accept that there are certain circumstances in life when quitting and focusing on personal issues and new opportunities could be the best option.