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Are You a “Quitter?” OR Did You Change Your Mind? Ep. 19

There’s a difference between changing your mind, giving up, and quitting. However, because quitting is often misattributed to both “giving up” and “changing your mind,” anytime you stop or quit doing something, you assign negative attributes to yourself, and others, and create cycles of shame, embarrassment, and fear.

Understanding the difference between these 3 words is paramount.

What IS Quitting?

There’s big feelings of shame and embarrassment if you quit something. And how anytime you say you’re going to do something or you set out to do something, but then stop doing it, for whatever reason it’s viewed as if you’re a huge let down, you can’t keep promises, etc. It says something about you as a person in only negative connotations.

One definition of “quitting” in a verb tense, according is simply: to cease, stop, or discontinue from doing something.

It’s clear cut with no emotion. You just stop doing something. That’s all.

Another definition of “quit” in adjective form that I really like in the scenario I’m talking in this episode is: being released from obligation, penalty; free, clear, or rid of.

In this definition it means more of a freeing sense of obligation. You’re no longer held to what you said you were going to do or wanted to do. You free yourself of the weight. It’s a positive thing. There’s no shame or embarrassment. It’s a lightening.

So Why Do We Feel Shame If We Quit Something?

It really depends on what the action is that you quit but in most cases, at least for me, I feel shame if I quit something that I told others (or myself) what I was going to do. I’m embarrassed and feel like a failure. Except it’s worse because it’s in public. It’s a public failure. Public shame.

A lot of articles and goal setting tactics encourage you to share your goals with others for this exact purpose—keep you accountable using peer pressure and the fear of social failure.

Or you feel like you failed yourself. You said you would do something, then you didn’t. We stop trusting ourselves because we lie to ourselves and others about what we’re going to do. We don’t keep our word.

There are of course positives to sharing your goals publicly. You often receive encouragement, nudges when you feel unmotivated, solidarity and accountability if others share similar goals, etc. But if you “quit” something publicly you said you were or were not going after then there are consequences. However this is an issue when we’re confusing definitions and placing meaning in different words—assigning ourselves inaccurate attributes because we’re mixing definitions of words.

Quitting vs. Giving Up

Quitting, in a lot of cases, is the term used in association with stopping something because it’s too hard, took too much work or time, or you lost motivation. However, this is more accurately the definition of “giving up.”

The definition of “giving up,” according to Google Dictionary is: to cease making an effort; resign oneself to failure; part with something that one would prefer to keep.

When you set a goal and fail to achieve it because you no longer want to exert the effort BUT you still want the reward, that’s not quitting—that’s giving up. See the difference?

There’s no release in giving up. There’s no lightening with giving up. The very definition of “giving up” says that you “resign yourself to failure.” You’re resigned to accepting the unpleasantness of failing. You stop trying. BUT you don’t stop wanting.

Sure, you quit in the sense that you stopped a certain action, so yes you “quit,” BUT you don’t feel good about quitting. You feel worse because you you still want that thing you originally quit. And THAT’S where the shame and embarrassment comes in. You know you’re giving up and resigning to defeat. You failed where you could have succeeded.

Why do I want to quit what I said I would do?” Take the time to evaluate why you’re quitting.

The key differentiator is that if you still WANT the thing you “quit,” then you gave up. And giving up is where the negative connotations and being a “quitter” comes into play.

This is NOT changing your mind and realizing you didn’t want that thing after all. This is failing and accepting that failure, always slightly bitter because you know you could’ve succeeded had you not given up.

Giving Up vs. Changing Your Mind

Giving Up

If you wanted to become a physically more healthy version of yourself so you made a goal to go to the gym 3x a week but then stopped going because you quickly realized it took more dedication, time, and changes to your lifestyle than you thought it would— you gave up.

You didn’t suddenly stop wanting to become healthier. You didn’t stop wanting to feel stronger and more confident. You didn’t find new science that lying around on the couch was healthier than making time to move your body every day, no.

You stopped wanting to try. You stopped because it was harder than the effort you were willing to put in. But you never stopped wanting the end result.

That’s giving up.

Changing Your Mind

I go on vacation in the Alps and watch the skiers with awe, and think to myself “wow, that looks awesome. I want to glide down mountaintops too!” So, I schedule months of skiing lessons, buy all the equipment, and practice for hours every day. However, I start to accept the realization that: 1) I hate being in snow suits; 2) I hate the scary ski lifts; and 3) I hate the googles tight on my face…

Would I be a “quitter” if I stopped skiing? Am I supposed to keep going knowing I don’t like it? Would that even make sense?

Did I give up on skiing? Or, did I realize I just didn’t like it as much as I thought I would…? Would it make more sense to put that energy into something else I might like more?

That’s changing your mind.

How Do I Know The Difference?

If you quit doing something you set out to do and feel any pangs of regret, bitterness, or jealously towards others succeeding where you failed, or longing to try again—that’s giving up.

If you feel empowered and lightened by quitting— that’s changing your mind.

Changing your mind and moving forward on a different path than the one you worked so hard on can have real consequences, don’t get me wrong. Once the dust settles though, the end result is a weight you might not have even known you were carrying, is lifted. A new energy pushes you forward. You’re inspired by all the opportunities now available to you because you’ve unburdened yourself from whatever it is you said you would do.

If you feel empowered and lightened by quitting— that’s changing your mind.

You’re no longer beholden to something that no longer serves you. You can let it go. AND you can let it go quickly because you know that there is no regret or bitterness attached. This is what’s now right for you.

Being Labeled a “Quitter”

Now, others might see you changing your mind and not understand what is truly happening. They might label you a “quitter.” That’s on them.

You don’t owe anyone any form of explanation, in most cases, of why you’re quitting whatever it is you want to quit. It’s your life not theirs.

For example, if you said you’re going to law school because you thought it would be cool to be like Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde,” and within the first year at Harvard Law you realize the life of a lawyer is not at all what you thought it was and you clearly do not want that life for yourself—you can drop out.

Yes, you quit law school, and there are real consequences of repaying loans, figuring out where to live now, redetermining who you want to be, etc. BUT you feel free now. You’re free to open that coffee shop you secretly always wanted but were too scared to act on because you told people for half your life you were going to be a “lawyer.”

You wanted to be taken seriously, whatever that means, and being a lawyer was a way to do that. What if people don’t take coffee shop owners “seriously?” What if they call you a lazy “quitter?” WHO CARES?

But, I Don’t Want to Be a Quitter

People can call you a quitter, let them.

Being a “quitter” technically just means you stopped doing something. If you stopped punching a wall, would people call you a quitter? No, because you probably shouldn’t be punching walls in the first place.

There are NO negative associations to stopping or quitting something unless you assign meaning to it.

There is only negative meaning if you assign a negative meaning. You're allowed to change your mind and quit what no longer serves you.

You can’t control others and the meanings they assign to how you live your life. You can only control you. Even then you can only control so much of yourself. So take control of the parts you are able to control. And take control of them as quickly and as confidently as possible before you’re living a life you don’t want because you’re afraid of looking like a “quitter.”

Changing Your Mind Is a Superpower

If you go after a goal and realize, actually….I don’t want this anymore, for whatever reason, and truly mean it and pivot to something that serves you better—that’s changing your mind.

That’s NOT quitting. That’s NOT giving up. It’s realizing, quite simply, that you no longer wanted that end result.

Taking that knowledge and pivoting to what better serves you is where the gold is.

I’m allowed to change my mind. I’m allowed to take feedback I’m given, how I’m feeling in my body, and look at my goals and thoughts in the cold light of day and say, “Actually….jk on this. I no longer want this. I want something else...I’m going to go do that now.”

Then, you go do THAT “something else” with all you can because that’s what you really want. That’s amazing.

Acting on pivoting quickly IS the superpower. You’re not wasting time, energy, money, effort, etc. on something that’s not right for you anymore.

Challenge for You! 🥳

If you’re thinking of stopping something you told others, or yourself, that you would do, ask yourself “why?”

Why do I want to quit what I said I would do?” Take the time to evaluate why you’re quitting.

Are you giving up? OR, are you just changing your mind? Only you can truly know which one it is.

Cliff Notes 🧗🏻‍♂️

We’re getting the definitions of “quitting,” “giving up,” and “changing your mind” all wrong. You’re making yourself feel guilty when you should instead feel energized and relieved when you “quit” something that wasn’t right for you anymore…

In this episode we discuss:

  • the differences between changing your mind, giving up, and quitting

  • how to figure out if quitting is the right decision for you

  • how changing your mind and quitting quickly is a superpower

  • how to get rid of embarrassment, shame, and guilt when you quit something you said you would do

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