Thursday, August 21, 2014
"Mastering the Art of Quitting" by Peg Streep & Alan Bernstein
Why quibble over "quit"? It's not hard to understand why: in our achievement & success-oriented culture, quitting has a negative connotation. Nobody wants to be thought of as a quitter -- and certainly not in the infertility & loss community, where people don't seem to want to hear any story except one with a conventionally happy ending (i.e., a living, healthy baby, no matter what the costs or what you had to do to get him/her).
Well, fellow travellers on this less-travelled road, it's time to embrace "the Q word" ;) (as my sister calls it -- only in her case, she's talking -- or rather, avoiding talking -- about quitting smoking, lol)(as the book says, "the only kind of giving up we collectively accept and support"). And there's a new book to help us do that.
"Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why it Matters in Life, Love and Work" doesn't mention infertility at all -- but I saw myself and other infertile women I know throughout its pages. I believe its message totally applies to those of us who are at a crossroads in our journey and trying to decide if we should continue treatment or follow another path (and if so, which one).
The book is slightly academic in tone with lots of psychological terminology and studies quoted (I'll admit this did bog me down a bit in spots). And yet there was something on just about every page that I could relate to or that gave me food for thought. My copy is full of dog-eared pages.
"Quitting not only frees us from the hopeless pursuit of the unattainable but permits us to commit to new and more satisfying goals." This, in a nutshell, is the message of this book. (You can probably understand why I found it so appealing...!)
So why does quitting have such a bad rap? "We've all been taught that quitting is a sign of weakness and that quitting is for losers," the authors bluntly note. (p. 3) Persistence and positive thinking, we are told from the time we are children, are the keys to success. Moreover, the authors demonstrate that human beings are hard wired to persist in pursuit of a goal -- even when the goal is unreachable or no longer satisfying.
The book not only promotes quitting as a valid option, it discusses why and how we should quit when something is not working for us. (The trick is to disengage from old goals while setting new ones.) It includes helpful quizzes and tips to help us make better decisions and to set and pursue new goals in a more realistic way.
If you are struggling with decisions about whether to stay on your current path or take a completely different direction in your life, this book would be an excellent resource.
This was book #11 that I've read so far this year.