When It’s Time to Quit

As a kid, I read Men’s Health religiously. I had every edition and read them over and over to learn how to eat healthy, be the best man I could be, and get super muscular.

Each article pretty much said (and still says) the same thing: lift a lot of stuff up, put it back down and push yourself….it’s mind over body. Now I don’t read that magazine except when I’m in line at the grocery store.

For the most part, yeah…it’s totally mind over body. The other day when I hung from an overhang as I climbed up the rock wall, I froze up with fear. Then I told my mind to shut up and told the fear to take a hike. A few minutes later, I reached the top and belayed back down.

Just look at a Nike commercial. “Just Do It!”  In other words, shut your mind up and just do it. Or listen to Hamlet, “Conscience makes cowards of us all.”

Yes, mind over body. Except, it’s not so easy.

(Yep, I just quoted Hamlet)

Sometimes it’s just better to quit. Seth Godin writes about it in The Dip and David Kelley writes about it in Creative Confidence. Godin and Kelley argue that it’s better to fail as quick as possible so that you can quit and move on from a failed attempt. 

When I use to race triathlon, I made the grave error of pushing through. I had trained my mind so well to push through the pain and compete in another half-Ironman or to run another marathon.

I remember finishing the Philadelphia Marathon and then running up the steps where Rocky would train. With every step of that race I felt a pain in my ankles. And with every step I told myself, it’s mind over body. Pain is only temporary, right?

It took me two more years after that marathon to finally realize the damage I was doing to my ankles.

I finally quit triathlon to take care of my body.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I seriously thought about quitting The Traveling Cup. I felt exhausted with balancing my full-time teaching job, being a good husband to my wife who is struggling with Lyme Disease, taking care of my mother who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and also continuing to grow The Traveling Cup.

And then, as if some sort of miracle, the listenership for the show nearly doubled and a listener reached out to me to thank me for my writing and running the podcast.

It was just the affirmation that I needed to know that what I’m creating matters.

I’m a Capricorn: a silly mountain goat that bounces up the mountain side and charges forward. In Ayurveda, I’m a Pita, which means I have tremendous yang energy or fire inside (in the West we’d call that drive).

I’ve always been good at following through and committing till the end and have been a terrible quitter my whole life. But now I see more value in quitting than ever before. Quitting can open doors and bring in fresh air. Quitting can be the next page in living your story.

What about you? When have you quit in life and what good has it served?

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