How Quitting Can Sometimes Be the Best Thing

There are many people in this world who dislike their job. Who every day have to make an effort to drag their feet to work. Who count the hours until they can go back home.

Some of them are the unsung heroes of our times, those who do the things that need to be done — the cleaning woman, the garbage man, the street sweeper, the food store cashier, the seller of bus tickets, the construction worker.

But then there are also those who work jobs they don’t like because they think they have no other choice. Or because they are the victims of their own particular ideas about happiness.

They think that they have to do it for the money. Sometimes they really need the money to pay for college or to put it aside to make their dream come true.

But work takes up too much of our life for us to squander it only for money. Sometimes, to lead a better life, one that is aligned to your passions, you don’t have to work harder, but to work less.

Slowing down and holding tight to the things you want to hold tight to can make all the difference. That may mean giving up on things and comforts. Living on less. Becoming frugal even.

I have no degree, no CV, no credentials, but I do what I enjoy. I write every day and I get paid for it. I write in a language that is not even my native language.  I am not uncommonly intelligent or particularly lucky. But when you do something that is a natural extension of who you are, the world works for you.

Passion is the world’s way of letting you know what you have to do. Every passion is an aspect of the world that the world needs to manifest. It is not wishful thinking, but the way the world works. A flower will not deny its leaf the nourishment it needs to grow, for the leaf is a part of the flower, and the flower needs the leaf to absorb the sunlight. Our passions are but the leaves of the tree of life.

When you put your heart into something, you either accomplish it, or realize that you don’t want to accomplish it, and quit. Either way, you are better off than doing something you don’t enjoy for money or for comfort.

Working for comfort is a dangerous thing. However hard you work, you will not have enough money. Or you will have money, but not time. When work is only work, dissatisfaction is always at your side, like a goblin.

That doesn’t mean you should quit your job or your studies. Having a job is usually good and healthy. Studying for a degree can be wonderful. Many people’s path to self-fulfillment passes through a college or university, and possibly through a few odd jobs, too.

But it does mean that you have to build your life around what you enjoy doing. The world is eager to help you because it needs to manifest your passion. Getting out of bed and crawling through work becomes so much easier when that odd job is only a step toward doing what you feel you have to do.

However, when your job takes you in a different direction from what you know and feel you should do, then quitting that road is sometimes the best thing you can do, not only for yourself but also for those around you.

Some of the world’s greatest men and women have been not only great doers, but also great quitters. Often, you can’t do something great before you first quit doing something meager. That’s something we should remind ourselves every day.

10 thoughts on “How Quitting Can Sometimes Be the Best Thing

  1. Hello Vincent

    I have read your blog for 2+ years and always leave it with a sense of richness. You have caused me to pause and give thought to topics I would have otherwise not noticed or given short-shrift. Thank you. Your efforts and time are not wasted; rather, they are much appreciated.

  2. I have questions for the boy with a hat.
    How do you find the conviction, nay, the sheer courage, to decide that it is time to quit. Time to live for the sake of living, to work through the “natural extensions of yourself”?
    How do you extract yourself from routine without upending everything you’ve known about life?

    1. I all comes naturally, you know. You don’t find it, it finds you. As to avoiding routine, you can’t. Routine isn’t bad. But it should be enjoyable. We just need the right routine in our life. In a life without routine, the lack of routine would become a routine itself.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more and love so much of what you say here. “…[W]hen you do something that is a natural extension of who you are, the world works for you…” And I love your concluding paragraph about quitting something so you can do something better. Very true! That’s part of why I left a stable job so that I could go to graduate school to do something that truly moves me. I can’t spend the rest of my life in a cubicle, even if it *is* a “good job.”

    All of that said, something that comes to mind is the people out there who are not on their own like you and I. Mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who are responsible for the lives of others. You and I are lucky that we only have to worry about ourselves right now. When you are in the position of taking care of someone else, though, your priorities can (and should) shift. Sometimes people do jobs they don’t love because it’s what they have to do to survive. It’s certainly far from ideal but is a reality of the world we live in.

  4. There are many components to assemble in the building of a life. My work has helped others to success, yet I would not consider myself ‘happy’; I am a part, I am a component. My presence and my task as a link in the machine is to make others happy; meanwhile, my own condition of sadness or concern is the fuel that makes me write. Just my view.

  5. I enjoyed this very much. It is rather sad when one does not have the energy to do what they love to do, because it is being drained by a demanding job. I am not very pleased with the modern world, because I feel that it is not set up quite right. It is my belief that everyone is slightly different, and so they are each good at slightly different things. So many people feel overworked or that they lack time. In my experience, it is difficult to stop doing the thing that is not letting me feel properly inspired, because it is a tiring effort when I am all ready drained of energy. I know that writing is what I ought to do, because it does not drain my energy: It makes me feel inspired, motivated, spirited, and very much alive.

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