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5 Valid Reasons to Be a Quitter

Man Walking Away

“You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.” ~Nina Simone

In my short life, I have left many jobs or situations. Some might call this “quitting.” Why has quitting gotten a bad rap?

Spiritual teachers and wise people often advise letting go of situations that are no longer right for you. It doesn't seem like we've gotten this message. I don't think quitting is such a bad word.

I quit my job just recently. And I feel great. Other things that I have chosen to leave: multiple jobs, a few relationships, and one PhD program (more on that later).

Most people equate quitting to giving up. They think, “Oh, you just don't feel like working anymore. Oh, you didn't try hard enough.” This sort of thinking is what convinces people to stay in situations that are not serving them, not allowing them to be their best, or worse, hurting them (physically, emotionally, or spiritually).

The job that I recently decided to leave was having a damaging effect on my life. Even people who love me (bless their hearts) have told me to stay in my job.

It's easy to let outside sources sway your decisions. Friends and family mean well, but they are not the ones living your life. You need to do what's right for you. As I see it, it’s a strong decision to take a step that supports your health and well-being.

That's not to say there won't be consequences. I still need to pay my rent, buy food, and provide for my companion animals. It's all possible with a bit of planning.

I accepted that my current situation was hurting my health. And so I quit. These are the reasons I am proud to be a “quitter”:

1. I quit because I wanted to.

Yes, this is a legitimate reason. You are allowed to enjoy your life! Actually, I would encourage it.

If you're not enjoying your life (the everyday, mundane parts), then something needs to change. You don't always need an explanation. Following your heart is totally okay—you deserve it.

2. I am learning to be the best version of myself.

Life is constant change, and we are always growing (whether we admit it or not). I try to be intentional about this. Am I growing in the direction I want to?

This was a big reason I left a PhD program that I was enrolled in. The academic, competitive environment wasn't teaching me how to be a version of myself that I wanted to be. I left so that I could continue growing on my path to being a kind, generous person who lives according to my values.

3. Perseverance isn't everything.

I think perseverance is a trait that we tend to over-value. Sticking it out is great—if you still believe in the goal and enjoy the work.

It's expected that you won't enjoy every minute; it's called hard work for a reason. But sticking it out just for the sake of it? Not something I believe in.

If you're no longer engaged in your work, it's time for a change. You are not a failure. Plans change and that's okay.

4. It builds confidence.

When you stand up for what you believe in and make bold life choices, it increases your self-confidence. You learn to trust your own judgment and your ability to deal with difficult situations.

You don't always need to follow the crowd. As you learn to make decisions for yourself, you will become more and more confident in yourself. And after all, your life is for you.

5. Quitting creates space for something better.

Ah, the possibilities. I have been dreaming of starting my own businesses, working for myself, and living a more creative lifestyle for years. What was I waiting for?

It's easy to make excuses when you have a day job. I told myself that I didn’t have time to work on my “passion projects.” I decided to make my whole life a passion project and in order to do that, I needed to create space by clearing out what's not working. Goodbye, cubicle!

When you say “no” to something that’s not right for you, you are allowing yourself to say “yes” to the things that are.

I am proud of the times in my life that I have showed perseverance and gotten through something tough. But I think I am more proud of the times I have taken a leap.

I quit because I wanted better for myself, because I know I deserve it, and because I wanted to. I'm not advocating that everyone go out and quit their jobs today. But it's important to keep assessing your life and see if you want to continue choosing what you chose in the past.

It's okay to quit some things, or a lot of things, if you're like me. You deserve your dream life. Now go get it.

Man walking away image via Shutterstock

About Joanne Clark

Joanne Clark is a queer woman and small business owner. After years of following a ‘traditional’ career path, she decided to follow her heart and create Halfmoon Research Co. You can also find her writing on her blog and her photography on Instagram. She lives on the west coast of Canada with one cat, two dogs and one human.

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  • Robert

    What a coincidence! A week ago I decided to let go of a unhealthy relationship, which was really hurting me. Since I did this I started wondering whether I made the right choice or not, but when each day pass by, I feel more assured that I made the right choice. Beautiful article, thanks!

  • Ker Cleary

    Great article, thank you. I decided to close my counseling practice that I spent three years in grad school training for and 13 years building after that, to follow my true calling (channeling and psychic work) that has been on the back burner for 25 years. Scary, financially challenging, and absolutely the best thing I ever did.

  • Hey Joanne,

    I never thought about quitting to be a good thing but now that you put it in this perspective then it’s not so shabby after all. It definitely makes room for new things to come into your life and why would you want to feel stuck at doing something you don’t want to keep doing anyways. It makes life more uptight than anything.

    Thanks for sharing Joanne and have a great day !

  • yearoftheboar

    This article was perfectly timed. After registering for my classes next semester I realized that I can’t sustain my part time job. And that may sound silly but I really don’t feel suited for my job and I’m simply not happy with it. I have social anxiety and when you put me in a brightly lit store where I’m forced to interact with strangers, I am simply not comfortable. I am planning on cutting my hours and quitting so that I can find a job where I am more solitary, and therefore much happier.

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  • HI Joanne, I really enjoyed your article. I agree with your take on quitting something to make space for proactive things in your life. I spent over 20 years in a career that I just feel into at a young age. I have since left that career to begin a business helping others to find their passions and uncover their true self. Finding out what your best self looks like and staying true to that vision will keep you on your right path. It is not easy, and people around you may not agree, but not conforming to the status quo can be difficult. As individuals the right time to make a change is unique to you. You can seek out advice but in the end you have to go by feeling. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Joanne

    Thank you for your comment, Ker! I’m glad to hear my experience has resonated with you. And it’s encouraging to hear you say it was the best thing you ever did. That’s a very inspiring story, so thank you.

  • Joanne

    Sounds like you made a healthy choice for you. Wishing you the best, Robert, and thank you for the comment!

  • Joanne

    Cosimo, I’m glad you enjoyed my article. And thank you for your insightful comments! I agree that each individual person will know when it’s time for them to move on.
    Your business sounds very interesting. All the best to you!

  • Joanne

    Thanks for your comment, Sherman. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 Take care!

  • Joanne

    That doesn’t sound silly at all! Sounds like a positive decision for you. I wish you the best in finding a job that is more suited to your personality! I’m very glad that my article found you at the right time:)

  • Marie

    Hi Joanne,
    Thank you so much for this post, this is so helpful. I’m 28 and until recently I had been working in a job that many would see as glamorous and enviable, but the truth is it was making me miserable. The environment I worked in was competitive, individualistic, and I was working long hours, on top of having long commutes. I felt constantly stressed and had little work-life balance. The worst of me came out: I went from being a jolly soul, to a snappy, tired, drawn person and I stopped doing all the things I enjoyed doing. My heart was not in any of it, but I carried on doing what I was doing instead of pulling out, because I was so afraid of being a “quitter” or a “failure” (I still feel like this).
    My family kept on saying to me that I needed to stick it out, that all people who succeed have to work really hard. But should I really carry on doing something that is taking away all of my zest for life? Now that I have left, I feel so confused and lost. People keep on asking me questions and making me doubt the choice I made. It’s a horrible thing to have to admit to yourself that you aren’t tough enough and don’t have what it takes to do a particular job well. Suddenly I feel incompetent, stupid, lazy and above all inadequate. I’m hoping that all these bad feelings are going to go away…

  • I’ve recently quit my job for pretty much the same reasons. In fact this post resonates 100% with me and my recent experiences. I think this was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Thank you so much for sharing. Love and gratitude.

  • Jane Pressgrove-Donald

    Thank you for this article. No one should have to feel like they are wrong for quitting things that are detrimental to their lives.

  • Francesca

    Hi Joanne; well for the first time in my very long professional life of taking on the “impossible” which came at great expense to me in terms of health and peace–because perseverance was better than “quitting” I made the adverse–but life affirming decision to leave a job after six weeks. My health was suffering mightily and I have been through unimaginable trauma through by life–so much so that my combat vet friends said “wow.” All that said, you are correct in that leaving anything or anyone has its own challenges, but perhaps those challenges that we have brought as a result of an affirmative decision feel and are experienced differently, though nonetheless scary. So, this article from you came at the very time that I needed it to. I had already made the decision. And somehow, faith in a higher power, faith in myself will have to carry the day. I am heartened by your experience–though I am much, much older. Also, single and animals for whom I am responsible–but no kids–so it was easier for me than many others with kids. Anyway, thank you for your re-affirming words.

  • LaTrice Dowe

    I HATE being a quitter. Unfortunately, some circumstances will force me to throw in the towel. Although it sucks to quit, I know I will survive.

    My relationship with my current boyfriend isn’t healthy. There’s no such thing as equality, according to his so-called standards. He feels BOTH people shouldn’t be working outside of the household, and wanted me to be a “stay-at-home” mom. That’s NOT the type of lifestyle I want for myself. Worse of all, he isn’t supportive of my dreams. I’m determined to finish my Bachelor’s in Sociology, and would like to pursue a career in Social Work. He tries so hard to include himself in my plans. I don’t think he understands what I enjoy doing outside of the relationship.

    I deserve to be happy, and to be with someone who treats me as an equal. His controlling ways are going to get worse. I have to get out before it’s too late.

    Thank you, Joanne, for sharing your story.

  • Thank you for this enlightening article

  • Joanne

    Thank you for reading Monika. Take care!

  • Joanne

    Hi LaTrice,
    You do deserve to be happy and you deserve to pursue your dreams. Sometimes it’s very complicated to remove ourselves from toxic situations. It sounds like you’ve made your decision – that can be one of the most difficult parts.
    Send you lots of love and courage at this difficult time. You deserve everything you dream of! xo

  • Joanne

    Thank you for reading, Jane!

  • Joanne

    You are so right, Francesca! It feels easier to endure challenges when we feel that we have ‘chosen’ them in a way. That makes it empowering to make even difficult decisions.
    I’m glad my writing found you at a helpful time. Take care!

  • Joanne

    So happy for you, Aura! It feels so good, doesn’t it?
    Thanks for your comment and also for your comments over on my blog 🙂 xo

  • Joanne

    Hi Marie,
    I have struggled with these feelings at times too.
    I think you made an excellent choice based on your situation! But, you don’t need my approval 🙂 Or anyone else’s (it’s so hard not to want our family’s approval). Try not to feel bad for wanting others to understand. It’s okay to want support!
    I relate so much to your first paragraph, and I made the same choice to leave. It does not mean you aren’t tough enough. It’s a brave choice to leave. I would almost take it as a good thing that you “don’t have what it takes” to succeed in an environment that is competitive, individualist, and miserable. Maybe it means that you aren’t those things 🙂
    The hard times do end eventually. This won’t last forever. You may want to reach out for some support. I am doing counseling to help me through this time of change.
    Sending you lots of love and encouragement! xo

  • KrisMarie

    I’m in the same place. Thanks for this inspiring article that provides the support I need to make the changes in my life. I’m leaving my job of 11 years working psych in a hospital ER in a month. It’s very scary but I feel so trapped that I need to get out. I work a shift that is no longer healthy for me and the system is horrible and soul sucking. I’m ready for a change and am trying to be mindful about it. I also closed my part time therapy practice and that feels really good!

  • Judy

    Thank you for this. In today’s society, we are always told not to give up and I’ve been holding onto my first career for a really long time thinking I would be a failure if I quit. But I haven’t enjoyed it, feeling dread and depressed by holding onto it and not giving up. I just decided to give it up this week and I feel so relieved. A little sad and also trying to figure things out but a definite freedom!!! It was toxic and not doing me any good for a long time and I’ve been in denial about it because I didn’t want to be a failure. I’m a different person today then when I started 15 + years ago and my needs are very different now so what makes people think that moving on and changing paths is giving up?

  • Lauren Marie

    Thank you for this article Joanne! I am working through the process of leaving my exchange because (in easy terms) it’s not for me. I know myself well enough to know that and feeling the need to justify why I’m “quitting” to people (such as my parents) is part of what was holding me back until now. Thank you for this!

  • Matilda

    I feel so relieved, that was just what i needed to hear! I felt so stuck and afraid of being a failure and tired of expectations. I totally agree with your philosophy. You said; “It’s expected that you won’t enjoy every minute; it’s called hard work for a reason. But sticking it out just for the sake of it? Not something I believe in.” It’s not something I believe in either. Im so glad someone said it because I was starting to feel depressed. Thank you! 🙂

  • Chris Dugan

    Don’t I know these, yet, here I am still reading this article for reassurance as I move towards switching from a PhD to a MS program to at least finish with a degree. There’s a part of me that just wants to quit cold turkey on it instead of dragging myself through another year or so in the program. However, I think it’s best to work through that last year considering some of my circumstances that will put me in a better place than just quitting the program all together. The process of accepting this change has been difficult. Being in a chemistry program, I feel like a lot of people see me as a failure because I decided not to drag myself through misery to get a PhD. Really, I might get a more fulfilling job for myself as an MS without being a failure at all and that’s why I made the decision. I didn’t feel like it was necessary for me to get a PhD so why get one? Thankfully, I have a great adviser who is working with me for change in program and is already working with me so that I can get the most out of the MS program that I possibly can.