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Why Quitters Can Become Winners Too

Why Quitters Can Become Winners Too

At the age of 25, my career accelerated when I was promoted from an engineer to a manager within a growing I.T. company. At the time, I was the youngest manager in the firm steering a diverse team of engineers. It was my dream job to lead a team of professionals using my passion and knowledge for coding in order to add value and achieve big things. It took four years of hard work to end up getting promoted to the top where I continued to produce bigger and better projects in new and exciting directions. I was living my dream.

Yet two years later I quit my job.

Everyone around me couldn’t understand why after all my hard work and dedication. I was going places on a fast track to bigger and bigger success. But I decided to quit despite all this and a while later, I found Lifehack.

The True Courage Behind Quitting

Quitting isn’t all about giving up when it feels like you’re failing. Quitting in the face of potential success is one of the most courageous things you can do.

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We grow up being taught that what isn’t broken needn’t be fixed. This shapes our belief that you should never quit while you’re ahead and it comes out of fear of the unknown. Quitting your job, for example, could negatively impact your career and spill into your personal life and finances. And because of this, we choose to stay safe, living in our comfort zones despite it not making us truly happy or fulfilled.

    However, while the idea of staying in our comfort zones feels generally warm and safe, we’re really just staying for the sake of not changing. While we do this, we’re not fully considering opportunities to grow and improve ourselves which is a big factor in creating our personal happiness.

    Leonard Schlesinger, president of Babson College and coauthor of the book Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future sums this up by saying,

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    I find a lot of people paralysed by their unhappiness with their current reality.

    It’s this paralysis that stops us from taking that leap of faith into the unknown and keeps us stuck in the same job despite it feeling mundane or easy. Daniel Gulati, tech entrepreneur and coauthor of Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leader, believes

    most people stay too long in bad jobs because the corporate world is geared towards keeping us in roles, not matching individuals up with their ideal roles.

    In other words, we’re simply not growing and not creating situations where we will thrive and move forward.

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    The Real Reason You Feel Stuck

    If you feel like you’re stuck in life, the chances are it’s because you’re choosing to resist quitting what isn’t working for you and ultimately not preparing for the change quitting would bring.

    You may believe your main reason for not leaving a job or any unhappy life situation is because you haven’t figured out what it is you really want. However, this kind of thinking is flawed. You won’t learn or discover your ideal career, for example, by sitting around thinking about it. If your current situation is making you unhappy, it’s important to find that inner courage to look for something else.

      It’s only in this kind of action and headspace that the true breakthroughs will happen. People who do the same job day in, day out but not ever finding real meaning in what they do, will never be the people who flourish and succeed no matter how hard and persistent they work.

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      The Magic of Quitting and the Growth it Brings

      The idea of quitting is instilled in our minds as a negative thing. Quitting is negative when used as a way to flee away from challenges and responsibilities. But in some cases quitting is a necessary path to success. It’s all down to embracement rather than fear. Successful people quit to win and embrace new challenges – not because they fear change.

        Sometimes, quitting is exactly what you need to do in order to find what’s best for you – something you may never find doing the same things every day: “If you don’t know what to be gritty at yet, you need to try lots of things – knowing you’ll quit most of them – to find the answer” (Barking up the Wrong Tree by Erick Barker). In other words, don’t fear quitting as a failure, just see it as another step closer to finding your purpose.

        And the true magic of quitting without fully seeing the next step is urgency. We all know that feeling of urgency that brings about uncomfortable fear but it’s this sense of urgency that creates the space to find the next thing that really matters to you. That path that’s really worth your investment, passion and time. That path that you’d never find staying in your comfort zone.

        Change Your Mindset on Quitting

        The main idea to take away here is quitting for growth not quitting to flee from challenges. Make quitting meaningful by asking yourself these questions in order to fully know your reasons for quitting:

        • What makes you happy?
        • What can’t you stop talking about?
        • What makes you think that it’s worth suffering for?
        • What are you really good at doing?
        • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
        • What would you do for free because you love it so much?
        • If you had 12 months to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now?

        We all know deep down, what makes us happy and what doesn’t. We don’t always have the courage to change because fear and worry takes over. But to truly live a happy life, quitting something that’s no longer serving you or allowing you to grow should be viewed as a necessity rather than choice. Don’t view quitting as a negative, see it as a chance to win at life and boost your value to the world.

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on July 10, 2020

        How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

        How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

        As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

        We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

        We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

        But what does it really mean to live your best life?

        You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

        What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

        While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

        Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

        For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

        These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

        Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

        We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

        Start the Journey

        What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

        1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

        To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

        Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

        Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

        For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

        So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

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        2. Observe Yourself

        To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

        Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

        Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

        3. Identify Your Bad Habits

        As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

        Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

        That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

        That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

        Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

        At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

        Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

        4. Set Intentions

        After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

        One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

        Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

        A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

        The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

        For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

        Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

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        If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

        Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

        For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

        Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

        5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

        Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

        It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

        To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

        For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

        • What will you wear?
        • How do you get there?
        • What time of day do you go?
        • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
        • How do you feel afterward?

        Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

        10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

        Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

        1. Focus

        Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

        Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

        “Winners focus, losers spray.”

        2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

        Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

        However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

        3. Live in the Present

        Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

        We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

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        How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

        We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

        Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

        Action will.

        4. Declutter

        This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

        If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

        This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

        Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

        5. Relish the Simple Things

        When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

        In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

        6. Journaling

        Journaling

        is simply writing your thoughts down.

        According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

        In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

        Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

        What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

        According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

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        Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

        7. Make Someone’s Day

        Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

        You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

        All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

        8. Look After Your Body

        Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

        Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

        Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

        Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

        Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

        If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

        More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

        9. Manage Your Inner Critic

        Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

        This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

        The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

        10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

        You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

        The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

        Conclusion

        Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

        More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

        Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
        [2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
        [3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
        [4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
        [5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

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