Quitting

• 2 min read

We’re simple creatures, and at our core, we only need the basics to survive. We’re simple, but we load our lives with a lot of complexity.

Some of the complexity brings meaning, and some of it is necessary. But many times, it’s too much. We do more because we feel that we should, because society tells us we should. Because we accumulated it all over time, or because we’re simply not good at saying no.

Having too much on your plate is seldom a good thing, though. Spreading yourself thin means less time and energy to focus on the things that really matter, so you’re doing several things poorly instead of a few things well.

Anything you do, anything you think about, and anything you occupy yourself with consumes your time. There is an opportunity cost to everything you do. Being able to define what is important and what is not important, and focus your attention accordingly, is a fundamental skill everyone needs. It creates space for the important things to thrive and for you to feel happy with the things you keep in your life. It affords you the ability to be present in the moments that count.

Quitting usually has a negative connotation. It’s seen as a weakness, taking the easy way out. If you quit, then you’re a quitter.

We need to fix this, though, because quitting things is not only a good thing, it’s important and critical to success.

As Ira Glass so eloquently put it, it’s time to kill. And it’s time to enjoy the killing. Because by killing, you will make something else even better live.

Quitting things is one of the most important skills you'll master.

So, what should we quit?

Just like any big question, it depends. It depends on you. What’s important? What’s not? What will make a difference? What is hurting you?

Let’s take a look at all the things that we place in our life. Everything we place in our life will somehow take a piece of us away, too. Whether it’s our time, our health, or our attention. That’s okay, but just as we do with our other finite resources like money, we need to make a conscious choice about where our time is spent.

Everything takes something away, but not everything gives something back. Things like exercise and healthy food take away time and money, but they give back health, longevity, and energy.

Your job may be a great source of education and networking for you in the beginning, but as your learning plateaus, it should be reconsidered. You're giving your employer eight or more hours of your life each day; are you getting back the equivalent value? You may find that no pay rise is sufficient.

An exercise of deciding what stays and what needs to go is highly subjective. So, I won’t try to tell you what should stay and what should go, but I will say that you need to look critically at what everything takes and what it gives, and try to find the right balance.

Quitting the right things in your life may be one of the most important exercises that you do. Don't feel bad. It's a wonderful thing, and by quitting, you're creating space for something even greater to grow and thrive.

← Why senior engineers need soft skills
How to be successful →

Subscribe to Shane Neubauer

Subscribe to the newsletter and unlock access to member-only content.

You've successfully subscribed to Shane Neubauer
Welcome! You are now a Shane Neubauer subscriber.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! You are now a paying member and have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.