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When a Strong Woman Is Quitting, But Not Failing


You’re reading this because there is something in your life that you have an inkling you need to let go. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, a dream, or a life path, you know you really shouldn’t be involved in it anymore. It just doesn’t feel right, but you aren’t sure what to do about it.

I don’t know about you, but I have a million don’t quit mantras in my head that make quitting feel the same as failing. They all say that if I choose to end something in my life, I am a failure. When you think of yourself as a strong woman, quitter doesn’t play into that description.

Having perseverance is a wonderful, necessary quality for success, but it only works efficiently if you also possess the ability to know when it’s time to give it up.

I know you’re probably waiting for a crystal clear answer and it would be so much easier if life could yell at you, “Okay, it’s time to quit now!” But it doesn’t. Only you can answer that question for yourself.

But, here are some sure signs that it’s time for you to let go and stop this thing.

1. When you are continuing just because you put so much into it.

It’s okay to acknowledge that you put a lot into it. Even if you were all-in and your blood, sweat, and tears are involved, you are hurting yourself if this is the main reason why you won’t give it up now. You’re hanging on to the past as if it will somehow affect your present or your future. It won’t. If you are living in the past, it’s difficult to ever get ahead. The truth is that all is not lost because you have gained some life lessons from the experience.

2. When your priorities change.

Life doesn’t stay the same, and the dreams and plans that go along with it can change over time. Sometimes our priorities change, yet we keep following the same behavior, not realizing that it isn’t really a priority in our life anymore.

You matter, read why!

Have you ever been listening to annoying children’s music in the car, only to realize you dropped them off an hour ago? You could have been listening to your own music the whole time. That sometimes happens with our entire life if we don’t pay attention. If you are acting on autopilot, it’s time to sit down and take a long look at what things in your life are still serving the original purpose and which ones are just flying under the no-longer-needed radar.

3. When your why is wrong.

Ask yourself: if no one had any say or opinion in your choice to quit or keep going, what would I do? Honey, there’s your answer! If you aren’t letting this go because you don’t want to disappoint someone else or you’re afraid of what someone else will think, it’s time to quit—both whatever you are doing and your need to please at your own expense.

4. When you realize that it’s never going to get better (nothing is going to change).

You’ve tried, and you’ve tried, and you’ve tried again. Every angle; every option you have pursued to try to make this work has yielded the same result. You know the definition of insanity. Stop trying to convince yourself that it will work on the next try. Either invest in someone who can help you view and attack this from a different angle or let it go.

5. When it’s sucking the life out of you.

Hard work is so rewarding when it yields good fruit. The ability to persevere through tough times is a necessary quality for success in all areas of your life. So is the ability to discern when you are on a treadmill for no good reason. You know when something energizes you, or it drains you. Energy producing activities or people stimulate creativity and enjoyment. When you are dreading, dragging, and procrastinating every time you think of tackling this issue, you have to realize that it is emotionally draining you. And the question is: is it worth your emotional health?

6. When more work won’t bring more success.

My sister and I once owned a business that was just not working. The plan was flawed, and we figured out (finally admitted) later than we should have, that no matter how hard we worked on this business, it was not going to be a success. We made the difficult decision to quit, despite all that had been invested. It was the best decision because it made room in our lives for better opportunities. And the bonus is that we were able to tackle these opportunities with some extra wisdom under our belt. Just like continuing to try the same thing over and over is an exercise in futility, so is throwing harder work into something that can’t yield anything more.

Quitting isn’t an end. It’s an opportunity to open a new door if you can bring yourself to close this one that isn’t working for you anymore.

Are you loving Dr. Zoe? Be sure to check out the Ask Dr. Zoe column and listen to these This Grit and Grace Life podcast episodes featuring Dr. Zoe:

Conquering Struggles Women Will Face in Every Stage of Life (with Dr. Zoe Shaw) – 009
When to Leave an Unhealthy Relationship with Your Man – with Dr. Zoe Shaw – 024 
A Therapist’s Practical Advice for Blended Families with Dr. Zoe Shaw – 050 
How to Feel Your Emotions in a Healthy Way With Dr. Zoe Shaw – 075 

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Dr. Zoe is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert who recently jumped out of a perfectly good plane just for the experience.

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