When Quitting Rocks

Posted October 8, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

We are bombarded throughout our lives with messages that tell us quitting is bad. Think about it:

  • Winners never quit. Quitters never win.
  • Never give up.
  • Make it work.
  • Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.

These are just a few of the messages we’re given regularly about how terrible it is to quit…anything. In our society, we equate quitting with failure, with weakly giving up. But is it so? Absolutely not. Sometimes quitting is just that. Quitting. If you look it up in the dictionary, its definition doesn’t have any judgment. It means “to cease, stop, or discontinue.” It doesn’t mean “to give up on your dreams and become a miserable person.”

Yesterday, I came face to face with something I quit. It was the day of the Chicago Marathon, and it runs directly next to my house. My husband and I sat eating our bagel at the bakery on our corner, watching the runners go by, and I turned to him and said, “I’ve never been so happy I quit something in my life.” I feared, in August when I decided the marathon wasn’t going to work for me, that I would be angry with myself, upset and forlorn when marathon day finally came. I worried I would regret my decision to quit. But I didn’t. I was perfectly content. I had no desire to be out there with these (phenomenal incredible awesome inspiring) runners. And I wondered – is this what quitting should feel like?

When is quitting the right thing to do?

  • Are you doing it for the right reasons? If you’re accomplishing anything because someone else wants you to and not because you want to, it’s probably OK to quit.
  • Are you having fun? Or growing? I put these two things together for a reason. You can be growing incredibly even if you’re not having fun, and you can certainly be having fun but not growing. On their own, they’re not reasons to quit something. But together, they might be. When I was training for my half marathon, I was having fun and I was growing. But after running two halves, my training became boring, annoying, and I was getting worse at running, not better. No growth? No fun? Quit.
  • Will you ever say “What if?” I think part of the reason we demonize quitting so much is because it feels like quitting could and often does produce regret, something we want to avoid entirely. If the thing you’re quitting is something you’re sure you’ll regret or feel bad about, you may not be ready to quit. But if you know for certain you will not regret the decision to walk away from a situation or a goal, that you will never say “what if”, you’re ready. Go ahead and quit.

Quitting isn’t bad all the time, and it isn’t good all the time. But that’s the point. Quitting can be just as much a positive thing as it is a negative thing. You are the only person who can effectively make good judgment about what to do in your own life. Don’t let societal pressures drive your decision making. Tap into your values, needs, wants, and desires, and you will find you can be successful even if you’re quitting now and then.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."



    While I respect your decision, I think it’s disheartening that you are telling people that quitting is okay if you’re “not growing” or “having fun.” Sometimes the “growth” part comes from finding that place within yourself that gives you the strength to continue even when you want to quit. Giving up because something is no longer “fun” is ridiculous. Life isn’t always fun, work isn’t always fun, marriage and family aren’t always fun. Does that mean it’s okay to throw in the towel? You quit marathon training because it got hard and you just weren’t able to find it within yourself to see it through, and hey – that’s your prerogative. But I think a post like this is detrimental to people who are looking for an easy “out,” and you just gave it to them. What a shame.


    This post is the opposite of disheartening. It’s freeing.

    We live in a society where people often seem flighty, flaky, and indecisive. In instances like these, quitting takes on a negative connotation — when we’ve taken on something before really thinking it through at the outset.

    Sometimes, though, we are allowed to change our minds. Maybe something doesn’t fulfill us as much as we had hoped. Maybe it doesn’t grow us or give us joy or stability, or maybe we decide that what we’re working for isn’t going to make us stronger, even though we’ve poured everything into it. Maybe by quitting one thing, we can make room for something else that DOES fulfill us.

    There’s a fine line here, but quitting is not an “easy out.” Just like every decision, it has consequences. But sticking with something just to prove a point, make someone else happy, or distract ourselves from making other choices? That’s the real shame.


    Both of your perspectives are so awesome! I agree with you Amarie, that everything isn’t always fun and easy. But I think sometimes we stay in things too long because we feel like we’re “supposed to.” I’m definitely not advocating quitting all the time, I just think evaluating what you might need to leave behind could be so valuable to creating things that ARE awesome in your life.

    This is why I love CGN! Differing opinions and incredibly smart women like you two add so much to the conversation. Thank you so much for your perspectives!

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