Quitting is considered a dirty word. I’ve always had the view you should never give up if you want to achieve your goals. Even if you break both legs, you better drag yourself through the mud and rain to reach glory on the other side!
However, as I grow older, I’m slowly coming to accept the wisdom of quitting. Or at least quitting while you are ahead. Let me share a story from one friend who temporarily did just that.
Taking Things Easier On The Field
One of the activities I’ve enjoyed most during the pandemic is playing Meetup Softball on Saturdays. It’s a good group of guys mostly in their 20s and 30s without children. As a result, most players aggressively run the bases, slide, dive for balls, and so forth. We even keep stats!
As for me, I’m someone in his mid-40s with two young children who tries hard to have fun and not get injured. If I was to get injured, it would make it more difficult to hold my kids and chase them around at the playground. Obviously, spending time with my children is better than dislocating a shoulder, even if I did make a spectacular diving catch.
Overall, I exert about 75% effort on average during the softball games. This 75% effort is good enough to put me in the top 50% of players. I’ll turn on the hustle if I need to. But mostly I don’t because this is just a casual Saturday activity.
Yet, invariably, someone will yell at me for being lazy and not trying hard enough. It’s kind of weird since the people criticizing are all younger than me. What happened to respect ones elders?! Ah, the younger generation these days.
No matter how many times I explain that I’m here to have fun and not get injured, I still get barked at as if we’re in training camp. But I just give it right back since everybody gets an out or makes an error at some point.
Players Who Trash Talk The Most
I’m OK with the trash-talking because that’s just the way it is, especially with guys and sports.
Of the regulars who give me grief, one guy is 26. He enjoys drinking heavily at every game. We’re like oil and water. The other guy is 37 and lives with three roommates. He’s nice one minute and prickly the next.
To them, Saturday softball is serious stuff. And the more serious you are about something, the more another person’s lack of effort will piss you off. I understand.
Then there’s another 38-year-old guy who used to give me a lot of grief as well. But we became friends over the years, so he mostly stopped. In fact, he actually started saying positive things about me, such as how “underrated” a player I am during drafting.
My friend got married several years ago. I told him that he’d empathize more with my lack of effort once he had children. He disagreed and said that he would always give it everything he had out of respect for the game and his teammates. Uh huh.
Then during a game, he slid to second base and tore up his knee. When he got up after sliding, he said he felt some pain. And for the next four weekends, his knee bothered him to the point where he could no longer run at 100%.
During a squeeze play the following week, he got chased down by a pretty large and slow player. That’s when I knew that something must be wrong. I wanted to make fun of him for getting out, but I felt bad so I kept quiet.
Then, a month later, my friend announced on Facebook he had a baby. Guess what happened after? He hasn’t played a game since.
Quitting As A Way To Avoid Ridicule
I was thrilled about my friend’s baby announcement. At the same time, I was also looking forward to seeing if he would still go all out after having a baby. However, if he hadn’t come out while his wife is pregnant, he most certainly wouldn’t be coming after after his baby was born!
My friend is wise to quit and avoid the egging I get when I play. The amount of ribbing he would get from all of us would have been merciless! He’s one of the top criticizers of us all. But he mostly means well.
Only until you step in someone’s shoes or experience a situation firsthand can you truly understand what someone is going through. This is why older people are generally wiser and more chill than younger folks.
My friend’s quitting got me thinking about other examples where quitting might be for the best. Here they are.
Quitting As A Way To Respect Your Co-workers
By 2012, my heart was no longer in my finance job. As a result, I negotiated a severance so the junior I hired could take my place. He was very hungry to get ahead given he had worked as an assistant with no upside at his previous job.
Quitting was the right thing to do because it gave other people a chance. Further, as I was making a decent salary, it felt wrong to keep going through the motions just to get paid. The industry was simply too cutthroat to just cruise.
One reader asked whether I would have stayed on longer if I could have worked just 75% for 75% pay. I probably would have worked for five more years. However, if I worked 25% less, I probably would have made 70% less. So maybe not.
If you want to respect your company, your clients, and your co-workers, you may want to negotiate a severance as well and quit. It’ll do everybody a lot of good.
Quitting As A Way To Respect Yourself
If you used to be good at something but are no longer due to old age, injury, or whatever, you may want to quit out of self-respect. Seeing a once-great champion continue to labor on is difficult to watch.
At 40 years of age with two recent knee surgeries, Roger Federer should probably retire. He has won 20 grand slam tennis tournaments. If he tries to come back, the tennis world will root for him. But the results may be difficult to watch as he will likely never again make a grand slam final.
At 44 years old, Tom Brady made the right move by retiring from football. After 22 years and seven Super Bowl rings, Tom’s record will unlikely be broken. If Tom continued on and got injured again, he probably would have regretted not quitting sooner.
By quitting before your skills atrophy too much, you can better preserve your legacy.
Quitting After Winning An Award To Get All The Benefits
Imagine winning an award for your good work. You will feel validated and proud of your accomplishments. However, there is a dark side to winning an award. Higher expectations.
Suddenly, everybody will be looking to you to as an example of excellence. The pressure can be immense. And if you can’t deliver, you may start feeling like you’re a fraud.
This is exactly what happened to one blogger in 2019. Within three months after winning an award, she stopped writing regularly. The expectations became too much.
By quitting, she was able to let herself off the hook while still being able to call herself an award-winning blogger. She gets the best of both worlds: status and no longer having to do the work.
Selling Your Company As A Form Of Quitting
At some point in every entrepreneur’s journey, they will have enough of the grind. As a result, they may want to quit their business by selling to someone who is more motivated. Everybody wins, including the customers.
I’ve considered selling Financial Samurai multiple times due to time constraints after becoming a father in 2017. Instead of letting the site languish with infrequent posts that weren’t well-written, I’d just sell it to a larger media company with a team of freelancers. But I made a promise in 2009 to publish 3X a week for 10 years. So I forged on.
After my daughter was born in 2019, I became more motivated to hold onto Financial Samurai. I thought it would be fun to record their lives and teach them a thing or two about online media when they grew older.
If you are focused on making money, then you may be more inclined to sell your business for a profit. Ironically, if you are focused on the joy of creating, the more money you might actually make.
If a number of peers just held onto their sites over the years, they would have made a lot more money because valuations, traffic, brand strength, subscribers, will all have grown. Just look at how far the stock market and real estate market have come since 2009. Nuts!
Getting A Divorce To Protect Your Physical And Mental Health
After trying your best to make your relationship work, divorce is a logical next step. Sticking around in a loveless marriage is a terrible choice. We all deserve to find someone who respects us and makes us happy.
Over time, plenty of us tend to take our relationships for granted. It’s good to renew our vows and remind ourselves why we fell in love in the first place. But is it realistic to always give 100% to another person? I don’t think so since we all have our own issues we have to deal with.
But at the very least, there are certain things in a relationship that are 100% non-negotiable, such as physical and mental abuse. If you can’t make your partner feel good, at least don’t hurt them!
Money, sadly, can sometimes be a factor in divorce. I know of a couple guys who shot to fame and fortune, only to divorce their wives who had been with them before they had all this money.
In the end, divorce is usually a good thing that enables both parties to move on. Fighting in front the kids all the time is probably not good either.
Quitting The Money For More Happiness
I’ve written about overcoming the downer of no longer making maximum money before. It is initially jolting because you know you can make more money if you want to. However, you consciously choose not to for your happiness.
When I torpedoed my income in 2012 by leaving my finance job, the first two months were mentally difficult. I was used to getting a healthy paycheck every two weeks since 1999. But by the third month, I got used to living on less. The freedom to do what I wanted to made up for my lower income. As a result, my overall happiness ticked up.
One of my 2022 goals is to lower my online income and traffic expectations by 25%. My two-year commitment for working hard during the pandemic is almost here. This year is about having more fun and preserving the lucky capital built during the pandemic.
By quitting the money again, or at least part of it, I feel more at ease because the pressure to write, respond, and negotiate is off. I just feel so appreciative we didn’t fall into the abyss.
Not Trying At All Is Worse Than Quitting
Although quitting may be the best decision if you can’t give it your 100% best, be careful not to try at all. Even if you aren’t at 100%, if you don’t even try, you may end up regretting your decision.
You might find that partial effort is actually the perfect balance. For example, at 75%, I’m having a lot of fun playing softball with friends and feeling the adrenaline of performing under pressure.
As we can see from the various examples above, quitting is not always a bad thing. In fact, quitting is sometimes the honorable thing to do! Further, so long as we first try to make things work before quitting, I think this would be the best solution.
Readers, what other circumstances do you feel that it’s best to quit if you can’t give it your 100% best? Do we really always have to give our best effort in everything we do? Wouldn’t that be incredibly exhausting? What are some things where we don’t have to give our best effort?
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