What Should You Quit?

Q. It would be good to hear from 40-somethings about things they quit and wished they hadn’t, things they didn’t quit and wished they had…and their thoughts on how to discern between the two options. – 20-something

A. Quit when there are more negatives than positives — when it’s harming your well-being, self esteem and self confidence.

Good question. Yesterday we talked about when to quit a job. But what about other things you should (or shouldn’t) quit?This 20-something felt that with the “pressure to be perfect” that some young women feel (a la Black Swan), comes a reluctance to quit, even when things are not good.

Of course it’s harder  to make some decisions than others. Quitting a job is one thing. Quitting your book club because you never have time to read the book and feel guilty about it… a bit easier. The later is simply a matter of priorities. What would you rather be doing than that activity? What else it is taking time away from you doing vs. how much you enjoy it?  Guilt is never a good reason not to quit. It may be old advice but a pros and con list can help sometimes when it comes to making decisions. Here are a few other 40-something perspectives on what to quit.

Dear 20 something…

Flip the question and instead ask…”Will it matter in 20 years?”  Does what your doing bring you joy?  Comfort? Personal satisfaction? Then yes, I would say don’t quit!! However, if what your contemplating brings anxiety or any negative emotions, then stop the madness!!

As an example, I played volleyball since I was 8 years of age.  I grew to love the sport to the point I wanted to play college volleyball.  But reality set in.  I realized I would never be taller than 5’4 and the schools I wanted to apply to were not even looking at women that did not reach at least 5’10.  So sadly, I would have to compromise the schools I wanted to go in order to play volleyball.  This was not option because the one school that wanted me to play  was located in the middle of nowhere.  So I quit.  Do I have regrets…no.  To quote from one of my favorite movies, Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”  In other words, when contemplating big decisions, there is no right or wrong answer because you don’t know what the outcome maybe.  Unless of course you’re in a harmful situation — then please quit. — 40-something, Larchmont, NY


Dear 20-something…in regards to things I quit in my 20s:

1) I quit my job in my 20’s and travelled for five months around australia, nz, south sea islands. I wish I had quit work for longer and taken a full year to travel. You don’t fall behind in your career for that long by taking time off….and you gain so much more. I wish I had kept traveling for another 7 months – heading to asia and whatever path life would take me.

2) I wish I had quit Chicago sooner. I lived in the city for over 10 years. and whilst it is a fantastic city, I wish I had lived in a few other cites (LA, SF, Seatlle…) in my twenties. When you are in this age group, it is easier to meet people, find a job….you don’t have as many belongings/baggage plus you don’t mind having roommates. The older you become, it is harder to move and start afresh. — 40-something, NYC by way of Chicago and London.


Dear 20-something…on things I wish I hadn’t quit in my 20s:

I wish I hadn’t quit playing the piano, speaking French, playing tennis. All things that are a little harder to schedule in when you are having fun, working hard and living in an apartment. But all things I look back and wish I could do. They are things you need to practice to keep up. I went from fairly fluent French to an embarrassing memory of a few key phrases.” — 40-something, Columbus, OH


Dear 20-something,

I wish I had quit smoking! — 40-something, NYC

I would love to hear from more 40-somethings on what they wish they had or hadn’t quit. Bring it on!

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