Why It’s Okay to Quit—Just Never Give Up

This article is an installment of The Everyday Warrior series, featuring advice, key interviews, and tips to live a life of impact, growth, and continual learning.

It’s okay to quit. We know you’re probably reading this with a fair amount of resistance, and that’s understandable.

Quitting is often highly stigmatized. Motivational slogans like “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” or “Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit” explicitly announce that “winning” can never coexist with “quitting.” But that’s too binary. To quit literally means to leave, vacate, cease, or stop wherever you’re, whatever you’re doing. There’s an immediacy and acuteness to the act. It’s often contained to a singular moment, rather than a thing or activity: You quit your job, quit your workout, or quit a project.

One of the problems is that quitting is often used interchangeably with giving up. But giving up is different. It’s resigning oneself to failure. To give up is to stop making an effort, and the implications are broader. Quitting your job is one thing, but giving up on working is something else. And quitting today’s workout isn’t the same as giving up on trying to be healthy. So, yes it’s more than okay to quit.

Does quitting equate to failing?

During the Olympic games last summer, gymnast Simone Biles abruptly withdrew from four Olympic events she was favored to win. She was, quite predictably, met with jeering from the peanut gallery. People who couldn’t do a cartwheel said she was weak. They called her a quitter, and they said it like a slur. The fact is, quitting is sometimes perfectly okay. In some cases, it’s necessary, because to not quit could be downright dangerous. “I don’t think you realize,” Biles said in response to the criticism to withdraw, “how dangerous this is on hard/competition surfaces.” She’s capable of extraordinary physical feats that also require intense mental focus. If her mind and body aren’t working together, mistakes can happen, and one of those mistakes could easily end her career.

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