Ever Been Called a “Quitter”?

If you’re going to be following the things that bring you joy, then you’ve got to know when “enough is enough.” Just because you start something, doesn’t mean that you need to finish.

All of my growing up, I learned about “discipline.” My dad was a bodybuilder who stuck to a strict regimen and routine, which earned him a room full of trophies and a state full of admirers. He was certainly following his joy! Similarly, in school I learned that “winners never quit” and you’ve got to stick with a task until it’s done.

I’ve come to understand that some rules, however, are meant to be broken.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to learn how to salsa dance. And through the years I’ve paged through Community Education catalogs looking for just the right class to attend with Bill. And then it finally happened earlier this year: All the stars aligned, and Bill quietly surrendered and agreed to attend the “Hot Hot Hot!” salsa class with me. I was elated!

Part of me was excited to finally have some hot dance moves under my belt, and the other part was just as excited to finally cross this giant “to do” item off my list!

We enrolled in the class, which was scheduled for eight sessions at the local community center. During the first few classes, we stepped on each other’s feet (Bill even garnered a nasty bruise on his shin—oops), shared some good laughs, and learned a round of slick dance moves.

And then we quit.

It had nothing to do with the class or the instructor; all was great. But after a few classes, I realized that I didn’t enjoy the structure to the dancing, and the sessions started to feel like a chore. What I thought would be following my joy, turned out to be something different. In the end, it was a huge relief to get outta there and have our Thursday nights freed up once again.

Scary looking clouds

A few months later, Bill and I signed up to be trained weather spotters! We love weather, storms, and scary looking clouds (they actually use an acronym for this in class: “SLC”!). This, again, is something that had been on my “list” forever, and I was very excited to finally be an official weather student.

But half-way through the four hour-long seminar, we took a break outside the classroom at the drinking fountain, looked both ways, and gave each other a “Let’s go!” look. It was a thrill to be captivated by videos of damaging tornadoes and learn the science of how they form, but when the instructor began to go into detail about how to use a ham radio to submit an official weather report, he lost us both.

So we bolted.

Out of respect to both instructors from whom we fled, we sent follow-up notes of thanks with great feedback, explaining our need to bow out.

Irregardless, we were drop-outs.

Breaking the rules

I’ve been a “rule-follower” much of my life. And that’s a good thing and has served me well. But in the last decade, I’ve seen that it can also trip me up and get in the way of where I really want to be in life. Last week at a Steely Dan concert, my voice was hoarse as I shouted out my favorite line to the song, “Josie,” with all my soul: “LAY DOWN THE LAW AND BREAK IT!…” And I meant it.

So I’d like to challenge the idea that I learned when I was a kid and say that “Winners do quit.” Because in order to succeed in life, it’s essential to know when you’ve gotten what you need, and move on. This is precisely why I left my great corporate job. And why I stop watching a movie in the middle if I’m not into it. And why I forego reading a book on my shelf that doesn’t grab me (and pass it along instead)…even when everyone says it’s a “must-read.”

Sure, I could stick it out to the end, but at what cost? Following the things that bring me joy is simply too important. My time (and your time) is valuable, and I’m just not willing to sit through a bad movie, or finish a class, or read the final chapters of a book, or stay with a job…just because I “should.”


Subscribe to Updates via RSS If you enjoyed this post, you'll love being a subscriber!

You might also like:

23 Responses to “Ever Been Called a “Quitter”?”

  • Bill says:

    Fantastic post!! It's so important to be willing to let something go and feel good about it rather than feeling like a "quitter".

    And as a bonus I now have the song "Josie" playing in my head for the rest of the day – woohoo!

  • Marilyn says:

    From one rule-follower to another – you perfectly captured my feelings about not doing things just because one is supposed to. In following my joy I have to work to convince well-meaning friends that I don't want to spend my time networking or growing my business or exploring the next new way to make money. Enough is enough. Good job, Michelle!

  • Stacy says:

    I really enjoyed this post, as it truly hit home. A few months back I started painting. I have found it not only to be a way of relaxing but also a great way of creative expression. I signed up for a painting class that met up every Friday nights for 5 weeks. I made it to two classes. The instructor was an extremely talented artist but I felt that I couldn't be creative in a classroom setting.

    Painting at home all alone proved to be my favorite thing to do. I would find myself in an almost trance-like maniacal state while painting…a really great place to be. And the final outcome is a gift of emotional expression that I never knew existed. What I have discovered, however, is that I have put pressure on myself to become a great painter. (Which is totally ridiculous as it takes years & years to become a great painter) Instead of going with the flow and using art as a creative outlet, I have hindered my abilities by making it out to be something more than just a hobby. I have now found myself painting less & less…which is really a shame as I truly love to paint.

    So my lesson learned is that it is OK to quit some things but if it is something that we truly love to do we must break through the barriers that we put upon ourselves and just go with the flow. We never know what we might create.

    Thank you again for posting this. It really helped.

  • Beth says:

    Perhaps you are just smart enough to go in another direction…

  • Dawn says:

    I think this is more like evolving, growing, or ebbing-and-flowing … instead of quitting?!?

  • Marc says:

    Amen to that, Michelle. Kind of like a revelation when a friend long ago suggested I quit reading a book that was not 'doing it' for me. He said there are plenty of books, no need to finish one you don't like. It happened to be Moby Dick, which I picked up more than a decade later and fully enjoyed!

  • Michele says:

    Wow, Michelle. Reading your blog post really resonated with me! I loved reading your line, "Winners do quit." It's amazing how those rules we learn as kids stick with us, and this is a nice twist on one of those that I learned as a kid.

    I could totally see myself ditching a class like you did, but feeling guilty about it later. I love that you and Bill followed up with the instructors afterwards. What a great way to respect your time and your instructors'. Thanks for sharing your experiences so honestly and beautifully on your blog!

  • Anonymous says:

    Reading your blog is like therapy for me. Keep up the great work!

  • I am so on-board with this idea, but was raised not to quit, too. Plus, I have this perfectionist side to me that likes to see things through and then some!
    However, like you I realized that my time is valuable, and that if something isn't adding to my joy, I don't have to keep doing it. If I believed in anything else (not quitting, mainly) I'd still be stuck in some of the worst jobs and relationships imaginable.
    So yes, I believe quitting is okay, but rather than calling it that, I'll call mine, "Choosing a happier route."

    Great post!

  • Hi Michelle,
    This is a really, really great article and so important that we all have this understanding as we craft the life we want for ourselves. I love what you wrote here: "it’s essential to know when you’ve gotten what you need, and move on." I have applied this to my own life with your examples of reading books to a mid-point and moving on or not reading one at all that I bought based on a friend's recommendation. That in itself was a big shift for me! Just recently (like this morning!!) I was thinking about a big project/goal of mine that lately has gone to the back burner–and in putting it there, my life has become much more peaceful and I'm feeling more "in flow". And literally this morning I was thinking about this goal and if I'm backing off for a while, or forever. And then my next thought was–am I going to pursue this thing just so I don't "quit it?" I decided in the moment that I don't have to make any decisions, I can just keep going along and see what comes of it all as part of a natural progression. But in the meantime, reading your article is so helpful. Sometimes the only thing holding us back is the permission we aren't giving ourselves to move on. Good for you and Bill for exploring all these fun new things and then bolting when you've had enough! That sounds like fun–and so very playful! :)

  • Hey everyone,

    How cool to know that this idea resonated! Way back I used to worry about what others might think if I "quit." But being true to myself is about the most important thing I can do…so I don't even give it a second thought these days. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories and for showing the rest of us that we are not alone!


  • Anonymous says:

    Very well put, I agree completely. I wish I had ended some things in my life instead of finishing what I started. There are times it is just not satisfying, and wonder why I spent that time when there is so much more I would have enjoyed doing.

  • Liz says:

    As always, great insight and advise. And how lucky you are to have such a great guy to "quit" with!!

  • Christy says:

    "Because in order to succeed in life, it’s essential to know when you’ve gotten what you need, and move on"

    I think that is the key piece of this. It is one thing to quit because it is too hard or because you just don't want to do something anymore. It is entirely another to be totally present and have the ability to recognize that you can quit because you've gotten what you've need there. You've learned your lesson, found the wisdom you were looking for, made the connection you needed to make, etc. and it isn't necessary to complete the task, class, session, or whatever in order to feel like you did "complete" what you set out to do. In that case, I wouldn't consider it quitting at all either. Life is too short, and there are way too many experiences to be had!

    Thanks for the post Michelle!

  • McKaela says:

    Thank you Michelle, this really touched me. I can totally relate with being a rule follower, and know that it has paid off in many ways. However, I feel I'm at the very beginning stages of realizing, if I'm bored, not challenged, or not getting satisfaction/joy out of something, I need to move on. This article solidified some of the thoughts I've been having about that. Secondly, I can look back on my life and realize that I missed out on some joys because I was so bent on following the rules and not being a quitter; I can't go back and change the past but I can certainly make sure that doesn't happen again! Thanks again.

  • Kris says:

    What a great post, Michelle! We all need to remember that sometimes letting go is MORE important than sticking with something that doesn't work for us.

    Thank you so much. You rock!

  • Anonymous says:

    I loved this post, in fact this is one of the life lessons I am learning as we homeschool.

    We actually do what is called 'unschooling' which is learning through life, learning by following your joy and the boys are teaching me so beautifully how to honor their joy and work through all of my 'shoulds' from my own childhood.

    I love all that you are doing!

  • Maria says:

    Thanks for your honesty and simplicity! I too was raised to always complete what you start and believe in doing anything I put my mind to. While, I still hold that belief, it does come down to knowing exactly what to pursue with that level of commitment and energy and what NOT to. Life is too short!

  • Kathleen says:

    Thank you for sharing the ability to give ourselves "permission" to quit. Eloquently stated!

  • Thanks, everyone! So glad to know that this was so helpful! I would have never known that so many of you would "get" what I was talkin' about. It's important for us each to give ourselves that permission to do what's right for us. Here's to breakin' more of those rules!

  • Michele says:

    I absolutely agree with you even though this is a tough one for me still. Years ago when I was studying Rhonda Britten, she talked about being able to break a promise to another to honor ourselves. At that time, I just couldn’t comprehend this idea. After all, it’s wrong to break a promise and what would people think of me if I started doing that?? Now, I understand. We aren’t really being of service, following our joy, helping others if we are doing something we don’t really have our hearts in. Now, it’s easier. I do my best to be careful about the commitments I make in the first place but sometimes all the care in the world can’t prepare us for what comes down the road. I’m ok being a quitter too!

  • @ Michele: Yes, we are certainly ‘taught’ not to break our promises; of course we want to honor our words to others! And you’re right–it’s important to do our best, up front, when committing to something…but we must take care of ourselves and honor our spirits in service of being true to our hearts. Thanks for the insightful comment!

  • Phil Bolsta says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Michelle. What you wrote is in perfect sync with what I told my friends Diane and Sharon in this post:

    Bottom line: If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, then stop doing it and spend that time doing what you love to do!

Leave a Comment (I´d love to hear from you!)

Want your mug shot with your next comment? Get a Gravatar!
You’ll Love Being a Subscriber!
Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

The Parent Company

Lacking clarity or direction? Disconnected from your passion?
Ready for something new or different?


Like What You See Here?
Facebook Like Button
Watch for this "Like" button at the end of each post and if you like what you see, please give it a big fat "thumbs-up!" Thank you!
“Like” Us On Facebook!

Where else you can find Michelle:

Project Light Year 2015

Our Funny Nude Beach Story!

Joyful Partnerships

Need help finding something?