Wednesday, May 9, 2018

"The Year I Learned to Quit"

I found a great article from the "Well" section of the New York Times on a subject that's near & dear to my heart:  the "Q word;"  i.e., learning how to quit.  The author trained diligently to run a marathon at Big Sur this spring, only to have to pull out because of injury and pain. [Boldfaced emphasis in the following sample passages is mine.]
Part of me knew it was time to quit, but the rest of me didn’t want to believe it. All of the articles I found on running websites talked about how to come back from injury and cross that finish line, not how to stay away. 
But I finally gave myself permission to give up — and realize it’s very much in keeping with the rest of my life right now, as I am learning the lost art of quitting. 
I’m not talking about the spectacular #epicfail stories that are so in vogue, with successful entrepreneurs sharing their crash-and-burn experiences as a rite of passage at FailCons around the world. 
I’m talking about quitting before the going gets tough. Leaning out. Not pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do. 
So un-American, right?
She also quit her dream job last year, after giving birth to twins (!):
...when I paused to really pay attention — and stopped busily managing logistics and proverbially running through the pain — I knew it wasn’t right. 
So I quit. 
It pained me to walk away from the team I had built and what we might have achieved together, but the quality and quantity of time I’ve had with my family and for myself since then has far outweighed my regrets.
She goes on to talk about an author who has written about the importance of stillness and rejuvenation throughout history -- cycles of activity followed by rest... "the importance of getting enough sleep and unplugging from our devices." Taking a pause to create space, to think and to listen, instead of rushing through your to-do list, crossing off items along the way.

Infertility treatment -- and when to stop -- is not discussed, but the article resonated with me and very much reminded me of that phase of my life, when I knew I was coming to the end of my quest for motherhood.

Read the whole thing here.

Previous relevant blog posts (now all tagged with the new label "the Q word"...!):


  1. “Quitting” is one of those words with so many negative associations. Yet there are many healthy reasons to quit on a road or goal. Sadly, this still isn’t talked about and it should be. Because sometimes the different between living in misery and finding happiness involves quitting.

  2. Ooooh, I love this. It reminds me of an article I found through listening to NPR on my way to work, which I wrote about:

    I really wish there was a better word than "quit," or "give up," because like Cristy said, they are perceived SO NEGATIVELY. But really, sometimes "quitting" is the best possible thing and opens you up to all these other possibilities, and frees you from a prison of persistence. You CAN'T always work towards a goal and have it be achieved, not without a terrible cost. This is a message that needs to be so widely accepted, and spread about. It is okay to move away from something that is not working out so that you can live your life. Thank you for these posts!

  3. Yes, it's very un-American, and very un-Protestant Work Ethic which is (or has been) so prevalent here. Wisdom is knowing when to stop flogging a dead horse (as my father used to say). So this wisdom has been around for a long time, but it seems to have been squashed by the "you can achieve anything as long as you work hard enough" in the last few decades. It's time we remembered about it.

    And as to Jess's point about a better word - I'd simply say "stop."