Knowing when to quit is perhaps one of the hardest things to figure out. Often our sense of pride, our self esteem, and our reputation are all interwoven into what could be a challenge that we’ve been struggling with for ages. In fact, sometimes, we’re so determined to succeed that we won’t let ourselves quit, no matter what.

As strange as it sounds, there is a distinct difference between quitting and failing.

Most people are so caught up in the fear of failing, that they end up spending their lives, pursuing something that wasn’t right for them, and ultimately losing so much more in the process.

Personally, I’ve long been guilty of the above. Though paradoxically, to most people looking in, I was in that enviable position, travelling the world, not tied to a job, and living a life that was fairly carefree having no real responsibilities, and choosing not to let any fiscal obligations hold me back.

I always had money when I needed it, I was always able to find funds to travel, when the wind blew me in a certain direction, and I appeared, from the outside to be leading a charmed life, being able to do pretty much anything I fancied. With that life, however, I was very deliberately staying away from working in a 9 to 5, and I was able to be fairly flexible with my calendar, and with the people I would meet.

However, after many years of living out of a suitcase, and constantly being on the road, I decided I was ready to ‘settle’ and wanted to find a nice stable income, a regular job, and quit the life of travelling and being an adventurer. One of the main reasons for making that decision, was the realisation that I could do so much more with a greater financial storehouse of wealth, and that the simplest and easiest way to build up a solid reserve of cash for me, at that point, was through working in a job consistently, and being paid for my time and commitment on a regular basis. (I’m not going to start debating the merits of working for yourself, and working for someone else, suffice it to say I’m a firm believer in choosing consciously what’s right for you at any given moment of your life, having been both an entrepreneur and an employee in life).

The decision to quit one lifestyle, and way of living, and enter another was a tough one..

Because, from the outside, looking in, I was living the ‘ideal’ life, that everyone else aspired to. Not being tied to a desk, travelling the world, meeting amazing people, and just regularly living through phenomenol experiences. But on the other hand, I wasn’t living my life, in order to be a role model to others. (At least not consciously). I was living my life in that way, because I deemed that was the smartest way to reach some of my longer term goals. As it happens, after living in the spontaneous, in the moment kind of life, I certainly had a richer experience of life for it, however, I wasn’t any closer to the goals that I had for myself. It was a tough decision, in some respects completely giving up on a particular way of life, in order to try something that according to most people is what you want to avoid, or stay away from. But in all honesty, the freedom that comes with living on a regular monthly income, and the security that you get from it, was something that I was ready to embrace, and welcome into my life.

By deciding for myself, what my priorities were, and by deliberately making the choice to stop using entpreneurship and freelancing as my primary sources of income, and moving into the traditional employee driven model of life, I deliberately quit one lifestyle for the other. It might go against convention for most people. In fact, most people probably spend most of their days, daydreaming about having the kind of adventures that I regularly took for granted. However, as crazy as it sounds, I just knew I had to get myself into a 9-5. It went against all convention and wisdom, but until I quit one lifestyle, I wasn’t able to fully embrace another, different lifestyle. The decision wasn’t hard for me, nor is it something I regret in the least. I only regret perhaps not making that choice sooner.

Often in life, we may feel like we just ‘have’ to keep going down a certain road, or a certain path in life. I’d strongly disagree with that.

The only life you should be pursuing is one in which you make conscious and deliberate decisions to live your life a certain way. Make your decisions based on the reasons and the circumstances that matter the most to you right now.

Not 3 years ago. And definitely not because other people want you to make certain decisions, or lead a certain life.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to learn from your choices, and make a new choice accordingly. Whilst from the outside it may look like you’re not sticking with any one thing, if internally you know exactly what you’re aiming for, then be sure to exercise the self discipline to review what you do, and take new decisions if your current choices aren’t working out for you. Ultimately, you’ll only wish that you’d made that decision sooner, when you’ve learnt all you can from a certain choice.

And please remember,

failure only occurs when you stop trying.

If you change tactics, quit one line of action, in favour for another, or try something completely off the wall, or different, it just means you’re both wise and smart enough to succeed eventually. It’s the one’s who don’t even realise they made a choice, and continue to live their lives, devoid of meaning, and enjoyment that are the real failures. For they failed to take action, to live consciously, and to actively quit what didn’t work for them, in order that they might find something that did.

If you’re struggling to know if you should still be pursuing your current course of action, then chances are either you need to change your approach, skill up, or you need to change goals. For me, I’ve found changing one of those three has helped both keep me sane, and also bring me closer to my desired goals.

If you really can’t figure it out for yourself, then I can only recommend you read ‘The Dip‘ by Seth Godin.

It really helped me get clear on the distinctions between quitting something that just isn’t going to work no matter how hard you keep trying, and knowing when you’re just that final mile from the end, and shouldn’t quit no matter what the circumstance. Of course, I’d advise you to listen liberally to your own gut instinct and intuition. But if they’re not sounding loud and clear enough for you, the book by Seth should do a better job of helping you decide whether it’s time to quit, or to stick.


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2 Comments to “Knowing When to Quit”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Farhan Rehman, Robert (Bob) Watson. Robert (Bob) Watson said: Great post, love your insights! RT @farhanrehman Knowing When to Quit […]

  2. Azam Rehman says:


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