The Joy of Quitting
When is it time to just give up? If you're on the wrong path, the sooner the better, says writer Cash Peters.
It’s my favorite four-letter word: quit.
I quit law school because I didn’t want to commit my precious life to fighting other people’s wars in musty courtrooms. I quit a relationship after my partner disrespected my boundaries and cheated on me. And I quit living in England because I didn’t care for what then seemed to be a national attitude of cynicism and small-time thinking.
I had a 20-year career on radio and TV, working for the BBC, CNN, and NPR. At one point, I had my own show on the Travel Channel. But it was the wrong path for me. Appearing on camera made me anxious. Traveling for weeks at a time without adequate sleep or nutrition stressed me out. Constantly, my inner guide told me this wasn’t for me, yet I ignored it. For two decades, I was one of those people who pursued, as Carolyn Myss puts it, “a dream that does not belong to them.” Eventually, it put me in the hospital.
That’s when I knew: I needed an urgent course correction before it was too late. So I quit.
Oddly, in our society we look on quitting as a bad thing—a sign of laziness or a weak nature. But to me, quitting is an act of integrity and self-respect. Quitting sets boundaries. It says, “Enough is enough. This isn’t working. I’m done.”
Your calling is the voice of divine intelligence. It’s grace calling you to service, and it works like an inner GPS, giving you whispered but firm instructions: go this way, stop, go back. This guidance will never lead you astray. Each time you give in to fear or do something to serve your ego—when you stick at a boring job just because it pays the bills, or stay in a relationship that you know is not working out—you veer off the right path. Your inner GPS will guide you back.
Divine intelligence is constantly inviting you to let go and trust, to be bold enough to jettison what isn’t working and clear away the deadwood that no longer serves you. Always, you’re invited to be spiritually defiant, to lower your umbrella of resistance and excuses, and do what’s right according to the dictates of your soul. I repeat: your soul. Not what your parents want, or your spouse, your kids, your preachers, teachers, friends, society, or the media, but you. This is your life, your journey. Consider others’ feelings, by all means; honor their path, too; but don’t let it dictate your own.
So here in a nutshell are my rules for living a life inspired by grace rather than ego.
Quit persisting when all the signs are telling you to give up. If you’re stuck or frustrated, or if what you’re doing makes you miserable, you’re not listening to the voice of your soul.
Of course, we admire people who persevere. Who doesn’t love the story of Thomas Edison and how he ran hundreds of experiments in his quest to perfect the lightbulb filament? The guy simply wouldn’t quit. Why? Because he knew that inventing was part of his soul’s journey. His passion, his commitment, his calling. If it hadn’t been, things would not have worked out for him.
It’s the same with you. You can struggle, you can fight, you can persist all you want, but if you’re pursuing the wrong dream, a destiny that does not belong to you, you’ll only ever be second or third rate. The brakes will go on, and they will stay on until you come to your senses and quit.
Quit resisting your greater good. Why suffer more than you have to? Where’s the nobility in struggling for a cause that’s not worth fighting for? Dare to trust the bigger plan. Open your heart wider. Allow grace to flow through you and out into service. You were not put here to be cowed by circumstance. Choose the path of harmony and integrity and walk forward with your head held high.
The author Alan Cohen said, “Integrity is the condition in which the life you are living in the outer world matches who you are in the inner world.”
Only you know what that is. Only you have access to your inner GPS. You were gifted with your own mandate when you came here, a singular mission to fulfill in this lifetime. You don’t do that by tuning out the voice of intuitive guidance.
And last of all: Quit insisting that your way is best. Breakthroughs can happen only through radical honesty, so don’t be too proud to admit you took a wrong turn. We all do.
Quit any situation where you’re not valued or respected. Quit fighting. Quit struggling. Quit doing things simply to please others. Quit hoarding belongings that no longer serve you. Quit habits that poison your body. Quit anything you do to please others but that drains the very core of your being.
If it’s not practical to quit right away for whatever reason, make a plan to quit. Set a date. Take steps. Prepare the way, making eventual freedom your aim.
Above all, let quitting be your passport to personal freedom and to living with integrity. In every aspect of your life, the signal from your inner GPS is always there, always beaming out, always trying to lift you up toward your higher path. Your soul’s path.
How much longer will you ignore it?
Try these books to inspire you toward your true calling.
The Happiness Project: Writer Gretchen Rubin dedicates a year to the pursuit of happiness.
How Will You Measure Your Life?: Clayton Christensen explores how to avoid the unhappiness that often traps high-achievers.
Mastery: Robert Greene draws on the lives of Martha Graham, Charles Darwin, and others to show how pursuing mastery of the thing we love to do can lead to great things.
Flourish: A leader in the Positive Psychology movement, Dr. Martin Seligman goes beyond happiness to examine what makes a fulfilling life.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work: Thinker Alain de Botton looks at a spectrum of occupations to determine what makes some jobs meaningful and others drudgery.