Quit. I dare you.


“She’s a real quitter.”

How many of us would consider that to be a compliment? Not many, I’m guessing, because the concept of quitting typically carries a tremendous amount of negative baggage. And that’s a curious thing.

The dictionary definitions of “quit” include the following: “to stop, cease, or discontinue; to give up or resign; let go; relinquish.” All of these denotations are emotionally neutral. But the connotations of quitting are laden with negativity. It’s too easy to equate quitting with lack of confidence, wishy-washyness, even fear or cowardice.

And that’s just too darn bad, because quitting can be a powerful success tool when used properly. How? Using the following steps will enable you to proudly – and profitably — proclaim, “I’m a real quitter!”

Step One: Re-frame “quitting” so it no longer carries negative connotations.

This is NOT just a matter of splitting semantic hairs! The language you use and the attitudes with which you approach your activities have an enormous impact on the quality of your results – and the quality of your life.

So if “quitting” currently has negative baggage for you, stop talking about quitting and start re-framing that choice as something that’s emotionally neutral, perhaps even positive.

Think how much more powerful and positive you’ll feel if, instead of “quitting” some activity, you choose to simply:

For example, a couple of years ago I chose to get involved with a national organization that wanted to develop a presence in Iowa. After speaking with the national leaders, I agreed to build this group’s presence locally, using high-value monthly meetings to grow membership.

Winners quit often – they just do it strategically.

There was only one problem: I passionately dislike and am incredibly bad at setting up monthly meetings. I managed to convince myself (since I’m extremely creative) that I could afford to ignore my misgivings about my interest and abilities and make this work anyway.

Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.

It was challenging for me to admit that, because in doing so I felt I had to acknowledge I’d made a stupid decision, acted like a dumbo, yadda yadda yadda. Fortunately, one of my MasterMind buddies was kind enough to whap me upside the head and point out that the really stupid thing would be to continue huffing and puffing and depleting my energy by trying to work outside my core skill set.

Once I got that help in re-framing, I found it easy to relinquish that position after appropriately and professionally explaining to the organization’s leaders that I had made a decision that was not in anyone’s long-term best interests. Was that comfortable? No way. Was it an enormous relief? Absolutely. Did it decrease my stress and boost my productivity? Big time.

Lesson learned: Relinquishing something after due consideration is a whole lot more powerful than telling yourself you’re a wimpy quitter.

Step Two: Develop clear criteria for appropriate and inappropriate letting go.

How many times have you felt your To Do list is smothering you – that it is, in fact, a perpetual Too Much To Do list, the end of which you will never see? If you’re like most modern professionals, the answer is “many, many times”.

One likely reason for this To Do List From Hell is that you’re “should”ing on yourself: telling yourself you should do every task that presents itself.

It’s depressingly easy to see everything as being of equal importance if you lack clear criteria for identifying activities that truly are essential to your long-term business success and satisfaction. These no-kidding-really-gotta-get-‘em-done activities are the ones that you can’t afford to let go of; you get to tough them out, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, because you know your business needs them. If you step away from them, you step away from success.

So think about it: How can you create the kind of revenues that will enable you to fund the lifestyle you want? While the exact answer will be unique to you, chances are that one or more of the following general strategies will come into play:

Once you’ve identified the strategies most applicable to your business, you’re ready to translate those into criteria that will determine what deserves a spot on your To Do list and what doesn’t.

Step Three: Use your clear criteria to let go of the energy suckers that do nothing to contribute to your desired outcomes.

There are any number of activities that you can choose to let go of. The trick is to let go of the counterproductive ones and hold onto the productive ones.

For example, you may be fond of “getting to know people” over coffee, but brutal honesty forces you to admit that you close only about 5% of these coffee dates.

Let it go…let it go…

On the other hand, you may find yourself deciding you “can’t afford” to take time for daily meditation or daily yoga, even though you know from past experience that this type of self-care makes you more efficient, energetic, calm and productive during your work day. Such activities are keepers because, even though they don’t directly bring in business revenues, they make you – the engine behind your business – run more smoothly and effectively.


Is this resonating with you? Do you suspect that there are some counterproductive activities you’re trying to hang onto so you don’t have to deal with the stigma of quitting?

Or are you so wild-eyed with busyness that you can’t imagine having the time and space to identify and apply clear criteria to figuring out what gets done and what get jettisoned?

If so, I have tools and tactics that can help.  But is that a good idea? Maybe. Maybe not.

You and I might suit each other beautifully – or we might not. And the last thing either one of us wants to add to our To Do list is “work with someone who’s not a great fit for me.”

That’s why, if you have a niggling suspicion you’d really benefit from getting someone to show you how to toss out the energy suckers and focus on the mission-critical activities, it would make a lot of sense for you and me to get acquainted by phone.

If both of us have the opportunity to ask and answer some questions, each of us will have a very clear idea of whether we’d make a great team or not. And it’s easy to set up that no-charge, no-risk, get-acquainted call. Just grab a spot in my calendar, and we’ll see what’s what.

(And, by the way, don’t “should” on yourself about setting up that call. Just take Yoda’s advice: “Do or do not. There is no try.”)

(Also by the way, thanks to Jeff Djevdet for posting the “quit” image in the creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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