When Quitting is the Exact Right Thing to Do

April 29, 2014

2:00 pm

Most of us are raised under the belief that life is about never giving up, especially in the pursuit of a long-term goal. However, there is value in knowing when to consider if this pursuit is worthy of your continued time and effort based upon the progress made and effort put in. It is a fact that our greatest leaders always knew when it was time to step down.

5 tell-tale signs it is time to step away:

1. Misleading Reinforcers:  The one thing that keeps us directed toward our goals is when we receive some occasional positive feedback, even when the overall trend is clearly negative. These occasional positive rewards can be misleading in that they keep us hanging on, stuck in a pattern which never progresses past the reality of what we are losing.

2. Emotional Investment:  When we continue behaviors directed at our goal with the mindset that we cannot give up because of all we have already put in, we are not evaluating the opportunity cost ratio logically. If there is no opportunity, we are giving up our lives at a cost to pursue an opportunity that is not manifesting.

3. Financial/Emotional Loss: When the financial/emotional investment we are putting in shows little benefit, fear and anxiety dominate our thoughts because we want to stay in control of our losses. Our rational thinking shuts down not allowing us to let go. All we see is loss and this doesn’t fit the image of the dream we had.

4. No Gain:  No matter how hard we try, no matter how much effort, blood, sweat and tears we put in, we cannot effect any change in our circumstances we must look to terminating our attachment to this particular goal. It doesn’t mean there is a failure it just means this is not the success we are meant to have.

5. Lack of Joy:  When what we have been passionately loving and putting ourselves into no longer brings us joy, this kills motivation. Life becomes Ground Hog Day each day. The purpose-driven emotion experienced in the beginning has worn away to mechanical, every day, uninspired behaviors.

In reality, surrendering a desired goal requires a huge leap of faith. Anticipating an unknown future, being willing to take a “failure,” and bearing the emotional devastation which accompanies our decision, requires courage. Since persistence and staying-the-course are default settings for us, knowing when to step down takes a tremendous amount of emotional and mental gymnastics to make that final decision.

Little life message:  Sometimes it is only through quitting something, especially if we’ve long been unhappy, that our lives can be opened up to fresh, positive opportunities we were blocking by staying committed to what was not working.

Guest author Sherrie Campbell, PhD is a veteran, licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea, California. In her private practice, she currently specializes in psychotherapy with adults and teenagers, including marriage and family therapy, grief counselling, childhood trauma, sexual issues, personality disorders, illness and more. She has helped individuals manage their highest high and survive their lowest low—from winning the lottery to the death of a child.  Her interactive sessions are as unique and impactful as her new book, “Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.” She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2003 and has regularly contributes to numerous publications, including,, and  She is also an inspirational speaker, avid writer and proud mother.  She can be reached at

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