When to Quit and When Not to Give Up

Is quitting different from giving up?

Both represent two types of letting go.

Quitting is a decision to let go or pull the plug on something that is not serving its intended purpose.

Giving up gives power to an external force, which leads us to believe we can’t continue. Despite the fact we still value and desire the thing we’re letting go.

Sunk Costs

The sunk cost fallacy is the tendency we have to continue doing something once we’ve invested money, effort, or time in it. Even though it costs us even more money, effort, or time, to keep it up.

It is hard to grasp the alternative options when we become immersed in sunk cost attachment.

When you’ve spent years in a relationship, it feels wasteful to abandon it now. Even though it’s making you miserable and even causing you harm.

I can’t get rid of my car, I’ve invested so much money in repairing it recently.

When to Quit, and When Not to Give Up

We quit when we become aware that the thing we need to let go has given up on us. Quitting is a rational and affirmative decision to relinquish the thing in question. Despite the sunk costs that are buried within.

It helps you understand and accept the sunk costs. All that money, effort, and time that you’ve put into it. And to let go within the knowledge that persisting would be the irrational and wasteful option. The sunk cost fallacy turns us into the gambler who believes that they can claw back the lost resource by using more of the problem to solve the problem.

“The big win is coming”, we tell ourselves, while sinking further into debt.

When we are caught in this mindset we see the moment we quit as the moment we lose. Rather than the moment we lost as the moment to quit. And if we don’t quit, we’ll be forced to give up when we’ve lost everything.

The Quitting Muscle

It’s hard to pull the plug on something it feels has taken from us unjustly or without adequate reward. But it’s a wonderful muscle to build. We can become OK with walking away from those things that no longer make sense or serve their purpose in the bigger picture.

This requires us to know what truly matters to us. And to weigh those things against the value from those things in which we’ve invested. Knowing this stuff helps us to ‘cut our losses’. Where we are free to relinquish the attachment we have to the money, energy, care, time, attention, that we’ve spend over the years. And then we can let go.

When we know what truly matters we build another muscle. A deep sense of awareness of where we must persist, even when there are voices tempting us to give up. These influences might be internal, showing up as fear, uncertainty, or pain.

They might be external, such as another person’s decision to leave you out of something. A piece of criticism. Or injury and illness. These influences might leave us feeling like we’ve got no choice but to quit. But it’s not the case that we should definitely let go in the face of a set back. It’s a chance to listen and observe.

What Is The Message Telling us?

Our fear might be communicating how much this really means. It might be showing us something that we hadn’t previously considered. An injury or illness might be a chance to stop and finally listen to what our body has been trying to warn us about. Maybe we’ve been running ourselves into the ground. And this is a good opportunity to consider what truly matters, now that we are face to face with the truth that we are not indestructible.

We give up when we simply give control to those voices, without truly listening to them.

If the thing really matters, but we pull out because we feel afraid. Then we’ve given up.

If we throw away our materials and turn our back on the dream, because of a stinging judgement, criticism, or bad review. Then we’ve given up.

If we tell ourselves we’re an idiot for believing we could do this in the first place, because we’ve suffered an injury set back. Then we’ve given up.

We give up on what truly matters to us. We quit the things that no longer serve what truly matters to us.

If we want to build a life of personal meaning and deep sensory satisfaction, we need to recognise the difference between the two.

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