The Truth About Your Guts

Guess what? I’m a quitter.

Yep, Deirdre’s a quitter. A QUITTTT…TER!

Why the proud proclamation?

Because I am proud. And because lots of people wouldn’t be. Or think I shouldn’t be.

Because lots of people believe that quitting says something terrible about us.  It means we can’t hack it. It means we’re weak.

You’ve heard that message at some point in your life, right?

Like…maybe…a message like this:

I’ll say it. Vince may have done some great things, but this quote has got to go.

Why? A little background on my quitting incident.

A few weeks ago I heard from a conference over on the east coast. I’ve worked with them every year since I began my speaking career.

Those first few years it was all good. But over time…not so much. The disorganization of the event began to get on my nerves. The cynicism of a crowd that was burnt out on the conference began to seep into my sessions.

Doing the event had always been an automatic “yes”, until I stepped back and realized that, somewhere along the way, I had passed right through not loving it anymore…to not liking it anymore. And that it wasn’t going to change.

So this year I said “no”. I quit the event.

To say it was an easy decision (and an easy thing to tell them) would be a big lie. After all, I like speaking, I like feeling relevant, and I like getting paid. I also like it when people like me.

But I stuck to the guns I preach to everyone else when they tell me they’re unhappy with something and I (gracefully) quit. And I DID win. Because I got to focus on other things I liked better.

Which brings us back to the lesson at hand.

Traditional speeches often tell us that it is our job to stick with something until we make it work for us.

We’re told we must see it through, that this is a sign of strength. A sign that we have guts. An indication of our perseverance as we boldly force our way through the eye of the storm until we reach the shore of success and prove blah blah blah.

The truth? There are plenty of times that quitting something is the gutsiest thing we can do.

Why? Because we are giving up a thing we know well, a think that’s certain…for a thing that’s not quite so certain. All in the name of finding something that works better for us.

Most of us love our certainty. We take comfort in our known entities, even when we don’t like them anymore.

A known entity that makes us unhappy NEVER beats an unknown future filled with all kinds of happier possibilities.

I stop here because I can hear the arguments. That there are obligations out there, things we don’t like but that we MUST do. That we don’t always get to quit the things we don’t like. Sure.

But I promise this…there are fewer obligations than we often allow ourselves to believe. In fact, we often refuse to even give ourselves the option of quitting.

Why? Because of that certainty/uncertainty factor. Because uncertainty freaks us out.  Because we know that quitting might upset people.

And that’s when we conveniently resort to those silly lessons we learned about being gutsy …that we must persevere even when something no longer serves us.

And that’s no good. Because life is too short to be unhappy for too long. And even though, yes, some people might get mad at you for quitting, it’s simply not their job to make sure you’re happy.

It’s yours. Period.

A few examples of things that are quit-able…

  • Jobs
  • Projects
  • Relationships
  • Friendships
  • Hobbies
  • Clubs/groups/meet-ups
  • That book we started that we can’t get into
  • That movie we started that we can’t get into
  • A way of eating
  • A way of dressing
  • A way of being

So am I saying that quitting things that make us unhappy is the way to go, especially when it’s clear that they won’t get better?

You betcha!

To be clear, I’m not saying to quit something that you do like because it’s hard or because it scares you. I’m saying that quitting something that no longer works for you is a brave, important, and honoring thing to do for yourself.

Am I saying it’s easy?

Heck no!

That’s why this blog is about your guts. Because it’s hard and it takes courage.

But you’ve totally, completely got it in you. Of that I am certain.

So stop telling yourself you’re weak if you quit something that no longer serves you. Stop using it as an excuse to stay stuck in your unhappy certainty.

Consider the truly gutsy thing. Letting it go with grace. Exploring the happier possibilities of what lies ahead.

Oh, and find a new message.


18 thoughts on “The Truth About Your Guts

  1. Michele says:

    Always on point and relevant… every time; this is the encouragement (or validation) that it is ok to let go of what no longer serves me. Thank you!

    1. My pleasure – Thank YOU for taking the time to read it, and having the guts to hear the message. 🙂

  2. Melissa says:

    This came at the perfect time to convince me to “quit” a Board that I have been on for ten years….have thought about it many times and there are many reasons why I have stayed…..but your words were just what I needed! Thanks.

    1. Woo HOOOO! So impressed with your decision, Melissa…best of luck as you pursue the things that you’ll like better!

  3. Samantha Goldstein says:

    When I first met you, you talked me through a big thing that I needed to quit. And I’ve never regretted it. I try to live by these ideas now, even though it’s hard in the moment. Because it’s so much better in the long run! Thank you once again for these words.

    1. Thanks Sam! You know, I was actually thinking of that conversation – and how brave you were about it – as I wrote this. Really appreciate the comment!!

  4. Holly says:

    This is GREAT! Thank you for this reminder.

    1. Thank YOU for giving this a read, Holly…appreciate it!!

  5. Dave says:

    I just went through a major quit. It has taken an entire re-evaluation and re-prioritising but the result is less burden and more contentedness.

    1. Good for you Dave! It isn’t easy but, as you’ve shown us, it definitely has it’s rewards…

  6. Dr. Patty Swiney says:

    This applies to medicine as well. As we all (mom and siblings) discussed the spread of cancer in my mom, the next chemo’s side effects with only a 20% chance of response rate which is survival for 11 months on average, the fact that my dad just died 6 weeks ago, and that she feels great now and won’t feel great with the chemo- She’s quitting!! And living even if it is only for 3-6 months. Who knows- quitting might be the best medicine after all. Family trip here we come, quitting some extra things for us to spend time with mom, quitting grieving now and living with her.

    1. Thank you for such a powerful example. What an amazing choice…all my best to you and your family as you enjoy some special time wit your mom. Thanks for sharing…

  7. Erika says:

    So timely to be reading this message about quitting. I’ve been terribly unhappy in my job and just the other day someone approached me with a short term assignment to be her back up while she’s out on a medical leave. There’s no guarantee I’ll be able to keep the job or another one will open up for me, but if this opportunity is offered to me I’ve already decided to do it. It’ll be a great challenge to stretch my skills and gain new ones, and network with important leaders in our company. I’ve always taken the safe route and it’s gotten me nowhere but miserable in my work, so it’s time to quit. I hope it does come through now that I’m ready to take the plunge.

    1. That’s terrific! Fingers crossed that it’s offered to you (maybe you can even let them know you’re interested ahead of time?). All the best!!


    Thanks for this post-Deirdre—as usual it’s perfect timing and on point and a confirmation that I did the right thing to quit my full-time job and believe in myself by doing my consulting work again. The best decision ever! I quickly was able to get a full docket of clients again and very happy I’m doing what I love to do. Energized to be the best grant writer and to keep learning about new things, spend time painting and doing fun things for me. It’s all about a quality of life. I know I am blessed to be able to do this work on my terms.

    1. Bravo to you!! I’m so excited that you decided to move forward with your consulting work, and I’m certain you are wonderful at it! All the best to you as you enjoy the results of your meaningful decision…

  9. David Oates says:

    LOVE.THIS!!! Terrific!

    1. Thanks David…means a lot! 🙂

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