Why Stopping Just Might Be Your Ticket to Moving Forward

I Want to Quit!Never say never. 

Nothing is impossible. 

These are wonderful messages that encourage people to persevere, have courage, and take bold actions in pursuit of their dreams. It’s the kind of thinking that can lead to great achievements and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

But there are also times when it may be best to quit and move on.

I know this might sound negative or discouraging, but quitting isn’t a dirty word, especially when it frees you to move on.

It might be time to stop if:

  • Your pursuit of this one goal is preventing you from enjoying everything else.
  • You aren’t having any fun.
  • You’ve lost your passion for both the work and the goal.
  • You’re interested in the goal but hate doing the work.
  • You’ve given it all that you’ve got and now you’re burned out.
  • You realize that you’ve never really given it your all and you never will.
  • There’s clear and significant evidence that you will fail.
  • Thinking about quitting inspires you instead of depressing you.
  • You want to quit but worry about what others would think.

Answering yes to too many of these questions and weighing the severity and duration of these feelings can help clarify the difference between feelings you need to overcome and evidence that’s telling you it’s time to move on.

Making a Conscious Choice

The important thing is to be aware of what we’re choosing for our lives, and why.

It’s easy to live life unconsciously—following the road map that our parents followed, sticking with the life plan that we came up with in college, too afraid to switch directions. Are we getting married and having kids because that’s what we grew up believing we’re supposed to do? Are we going to law school because that’s what our parents did?

Priorities change as we age. Clinging to one course of action can block a person from growing and evolving into someone they couldn’t imagine becoming when they were 18. Moving on could be the start of going after what is really important to you.

The Difference Between Wanting and Pursuing

It’s also important to be conscious of the difference between wanting and pursuing. People confuse pining over a goal with actually doing the work to achieve the goal.

If you’re sporadically making half-hearted attempts at your goal while telling yourself that you’re giving it your all, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Lack of action can be a clue that you’re pursuing the wrong goal.

Fear of the Unknown

Even if you know that you want to quit, you may be afraid to because you don’t know what you’ll do next. Fear can be a trap. Making the decision to quit doesn’t mean you have to quit that day, but it can free your mind to begin planning your next move.

Not Ready to Stop?

If you’re not ready to move on, think about ways you can improve the areas that are causing you problems, like finding ways to enjoy the work, balancing the time to do other things that are important to you, or setting a time limit on the pursuit of that one goal.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Ultimately, we’re all engaged in the pursuit of happiness. And for the seven billion-plus people on this planet, there are countless ways to get there. If you’re not happy, be creative. Find another path. Happiness is the one goal where you should never say never.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Rena Pollak, LMFT, CGP, therapist in Encino, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Aline

    Aline

    July 1st, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    You are right,a happiness is the key to well, happiness. But there are multiple paths to getting there, and when one door closes you just have to look for another one that you can open.

  • Ron E.

    Ron E.

    July 2nd, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    We always hear that it can be for the best to leave the past behind us and while that is all well and good you still have to deal with the past before you can move forward and past all of it.

    That can be the difficult part, learning to not only leave it behind, but also dealing with those past hurts and discovering new ways to move on and forward.

  • Jennifer

    Jennifer

    July 3rd, 2015 at 7:03 AM

    It is that fear of the unknown that traps you. You might not like where you are right now, but at least you know it and in some ways you find comfort in that. But think about how much happier you actually could be if you stopped going down that path and actually choosing something instead that can make you genuinely and truly happy.

  • Ker

    Ker

    July 3rd, 2015 at 11:22 PM

    It took a while to recognize that I needed to quit being a therapist. Even though I was good at it. Even though I trained for it for years. Even though I thought it was the ultimate life path and meaningful work for me. When it became clear I could no longer sustain the attention and compassion my clients deserved, I decided I needed to stop. It is a big deal in the world of therapists. If there is one thing we are not supposed to do, it is to stop being therapists. It is compassion fatigue, it is burnout, it is needing more self-care and more support and more inspiration. We are supposed to fix it. We aren’t supposed to stop. But quitting this is the best thing I ever did for myself. No regrets. Only referrals. ;-) Happier now, much happier.

  • susan

    susan

    July 6th, 2015 at 6:50 AM

    Burnout can be a very real thing but most of us are just scared to admit it. I was that way with teaching_ I always thought that this was what I wanted to do, but then once I realized that maybe I wasn’t cut out for it, I was still afraid to try something different because what would other people say about me knowing that I had made the wrong decision in life? I have to say that I probably stayed in the career for much longer than I should have just because of that fear of what else could I do and what would others think about me if I left. That is no reason to stay

  • Rhea

    Rhea

    July 7th, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    There are times when you have to step back and step away to have a better perspective on the things that are happening in your life.
    That is going to include taking a break from it and stopping to give yourself time to process both your actions as well as your emotions.
    We are usually on such a fast track that we don’t see just how detrimental that this fast track can be to living life to our fullest potential.

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