No one likes the thought of quitting. Furthermore, no one wants to be chastised and labeled a “quitter.” While this fear can have a positive influence in our society by motivating people to work harder, it can also have a negative impact on the way we live and interact as a community.
We are obsessed with measuring each other’s value. It’s our favorite pastime. Respectively, people take great measures to show everyone around them that they are not quitters. As a result, people spend way too much of their time doing things they detest or things which they know they are not good at.
I made this mistake in high school. I committed myself to so many responsibilities that it became difficult for me to actually enjoy them. After joining JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) as a sophomore and realizing it was not for me, I continued the program, feeling obligated to stay. I struggled to complete the minimum requirements to earn credits that I did not need. One dreaded day every week, I had to dress in uniform. Reluctantly, I would put on my dress pants that were too short and my shoes that were too tight and totter to class. Because of my lack of time and interest, I was never fully involved in the program. As a result, every one of my commitments suffered. Despite all of these things, I mindlessly continued the program for two years, wasting irreplaceable hours and weekends. This is no way to live.
In his book “StrenghthsFinder 2.0,” based on the research of a 40-year study by Gallup, Tom Rath argues that people should spend less time correcting their weaknesses and more of their time on their passions. He writes that “when we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists.” The path to success, as Roth suggests, starts with prioritizing our lives. This often means quitting activities which we do not enjoy.
Unfortunately, society frowns on quitting, making the generalization that quitting is always a sign of character deficiency. This narrow method of appraisal discourages people from trying new things. It also neglects the importance of employing people’s natural talents and ability to do quality work. If people are not satisfied with their work, they should do themselves a favor by quitting the things they dislike to make room for the things they are good at doing. For example, by quitting JROTC (along with some other commitments), I was able to fully involve myself in what I loved, musical theater. That spring, I was cast as the lead in our school musical “Grease” as Danny Zuko.
While it should go without saying, people should not quit an activity halfway through. When leaving a JROTC, for example, I made sure to complete the class within the semester I had signed up for. When the commitment has been fulfilled, one should have the right and fortitude to move on and pursue his interests without feeling shame or an erroneous obligation to stay.
Too many people let themselves become entangled in commitments, without re-evaluating why they began the commitment in the first place. If you feel this way, maybe it’s time to reconsider your priorities, and see if your schedule properly feeds your passions and gives you the time you need to pursue them. Do not let the social barrier of quitting hinder you. Life is too short for us to exhaust our time trying to avoid the social pains of quitting. After all, it is better to do a few things well than to do multiple things poorly. By simplifying our lives, we can escape the fate of mediocre busy-ness.