How to know when to quit

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How Do You Know When to Quit Therapy?

When I imagined finishing therapy it was always with a sense of capability and optimism, but what I got instead was the overwhelming feeling that I was giving up.

Two years. That was the cut-off point I gave myself when I first started going to psychotherapy. It was an arbitrary figure, pulled out of my arse for no reason but to stop myself from viewing it as a staple of my life – like breathing or doing a Big Shop – rather than a process that would eventually come to an end. Nobody can be in therapy forever. Two years felt like a good amount of time to unpack all the baggage I’d accrued thus far, without adding much new material into the mix in the process. I still backed this plan when I approached the two-year mark in January. I told my therapist I was ready for a break, outlined the reasons why, and we began a six week phase-out process.

Weeks one to four, I was feeling very pleased with myself. I did it: I completed therapy. I marvelled at my newfound boundary-setting abilities like prize-winning dogs at Crufts, and began to fantasise about all the stuff I could do with the money I’d no longer have to spend talking about teenage angst more than I did when I was an actual teenager. Then week five came around. In no particular mood, I followed my therapist into that small blank room, as I had almost every Tuesday for the last 24 months. Then I sat down, burst out crying, and didn’t stop for 50 minutes. Any questions only made matters worse by giving me more things I couldn’t respond to. Any sentence I tried to formulate fractured into hundreds of trains of thought before I could finish it, which fractured into their own trains of thought, on and on like branches growing at rapid speed off some demented tree. Any word that rose to the back of my throat simply lodged itself there.

I have a tendency to cinematise, to re-organise things into meaningful narratives, and what I had decided was: I had come to the end of a road. I was ready to see how well I would manage without having a regular period of reflection imposed on me: whether I would do it voluntarily, or revert back to pushing everything down until I have a panic attack on the bus and run directly into traffic. I always pictured finishing therapy as a walking off into the sunset moment – not a storybook ending with all my problems solved and neatly ribboned, but the closing of a chapter with a feeling of capability and optimism. What I got instead was the overwhelming feeling that I was giving up.

So, I’m still in therapy.

There were 1.4 million referrals for talking therapies through the NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme in 2020/2020. At the same time, there was a 65 percent increase in demand for private counselling services between 2020 and 2020, with mental health trusts receiving less funding in 2020 than they did in 2020. As the UK becomes increasingly inhospitable, with austerity and the political climate at large taking a toll on people’s psychological well-being, the demand for therapy has shot up while funding for services has gone down. Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year, with generalised depression and anxiety being the most common. But if you’re receiving therapy in 2020, through the NHS or privately, you’re one of the lucky ones.

People attend talking therapies for lots of different reasons. Sometimes they’re clearly defined: grief, work stress, an eating disorder, sexual issues or a specific trauma. Sometimes people go because they generally struggle with life and reach a point where they need support beyond their friends and family. People heal and change at different paces: one person might notice improvements after two months, another may feel worse after several years. A clearly defined reason for going means more clearly defined goals – which doesn’t make them any easier to achieve, but when your reason for going is simply “make me feel less terrible, please”, how do you know when or if you’ve achieved anything at all?

I fall into the latter category. I don’t have a diagnosis (the only time I reached out for a medical assessment through the NHS I was told my symptoms of depression, mania, suicidal ideation and history of self-harm, among other things, didn’t sound worrying enough to look into), and antidepressants aren’t a good fit for me. Like many others in my position, I’ve spent my young adult life in a revolving door of coping methods: cutting, anorexia, substance abuse, sex with everyone, etc. When one stopped serving me, I’d move on to the next. I started going to therapy when I ran out of outlets.

The process of therapy itself is incredibly strange. You go into a room custom-designed to be as unremarkable as possible: a side-table with a box of tissues and a clock you’ll only ever see the back of, a quietly rattling air conditioner, possibly some sort of still life painting. You put yourself face-to-face with a total stranger and ask them questions so intimate you wouldn’t even put them on your finsta: why do I think everyone is lying to me constantly? Is it “normal” to project sadness onto clothes you’ve thrown out in case they feel rejected, but consider your own feelings about anything too silly to vocalise? Does everyone bang their head against their bedroom wall from time to time, hoping to knock themselves out as a brief respite from feeling bad, or no?

Over time, your therapist becomes one of the people you speak to the most. They probably know more about you than your partners, your best friends – certainly your parents. You will try to deduce the fullness of their personal lives from scraps of information: the kind of shoes they wear, what cultural references they throw out. You will try to make them laugh and they will point this out in an effort to get you to stop editing your life to make it more amusing, and you will take it as a great personal achievement when you finally get one in.

Done right, therapy breaks you down and rebuilds you from the bottom up. You might go in expecting a saint-like stranger to listen, comfort, sort your life out. But the first thing you learn is that’s absolutely not what’s going to happen. Therapy is very much driven by the person receiving it: what you’re willing to bring to it, and what you’re willing to take on board. A therapist can listen and leave notes, but they can’t dictate. This is useful long-term, but it can also be confusing. If your therapist isn’t a good match or the treatment itself is ineffective, lack of progress can feel like your fault. Relapses can feel like even greater failures. Leaving, too, is very much on you.

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If you’re prone to extreme mood swings, which I am, it can be difficult to know what’s really going on with you. You might take a period of positivity as a sign of progression rather than part of a natural ebb and flow. You might get carried away with the idea that everything is better now! only for a bad day at work to knock you back six months. Highs and lows are always going to happen regardless of how much professional help you’re getting. How do you know if you still need therapy, or if you’re just too scared to leave?

I’m not a good judge of this, obviously. I recently quit quitting therapy. In basic terms, therapy is just venting to someone who knows you really well. If the act of slopping out your head on a weekly basis makes you feel better and you have access to it, keep going. If you lapse into a catatonic state whenever your therapist goes on holiday, you’ve probably gone too far. If you’re getting nothing out of it, consider taking a break to reassess. That’s easy to suggest as a broad framework, but of course it never feels that simple when it’s happening to you.

Ultimately, the thing that prompted me to stop therapy was a weird fixation on the “two year” mark (Psychology For Dummies take: two years is also the point at which all my romantic relationships have failed). In retrospect, I was also on a bit of an upswing and convinced myself that, because I’d done a few bits of work that I was proud of, and fallen in love, this was as good as it would get for me. If I couldn’t be happy in those conditions, I was doomed. I then promptly had my mind blown by the suggestion that a living wage and a healthy relationship were not unreasonable expectations from life, and that perhaps my bar for self-worth is set a little low.

My decision to quit quitting had to be unpacked, of course. Everything has to be unpacked. When asked how I felt about my own change of heart, I said “disappointed”. As usual, a dictatorial goal that I’d set for myself, tethered to absolutely nothing of value, had caused some distress. As usual, I flattened that distress down like a pie crust out of fear of reprimand. The idealised version of myself wanted to leave, but my actual self did not. Having to reconcile the two in front of another person made me want to be sick, but – as usual – what feels earth shattering to you is completely unremarkable to everyone else.

I think the most valuable thing I get out of therapy is the casualness with which distress is met. I can b2b DJ the worst things that have ever happened to me in my entire life and they will be acknowledged with a calm the nature of personal relationships doesn’t allow for. I spent six weeks exhausting myself over a decision I’d actually already made, and my therapist simply said, “See you next week.”

How do you know when to quit freelancing?

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I am going to quit freelancing.

I have received a great offer which I am accepting today.

When I started freelancing three years back, I knew in the city where I am, I will not be paid good and freelancing was a great option.

I have really enjoyed my last three years. They were challenging, tough, but beautiful. I loved what I did. Most importantly, they fit very well in my long term goals.

And now my decision to quit also fits well in my long term goals. Of course, one of the biggest reason to quit is delayed payments. Nevertheless, I carried on for three years. I earn around INR 9 lac per yea.

How to know when it’s time to quit.

I remember when I was growing up, the other kids would tell me that they hated going to basketball or lacrosse practice, but their parents had taught them not to be quitters so they just toughed it out. I was always totally mystified by this. I had tried and quit just about every sport available and I had no problem with it. (The only thing I stuck with was tennis because I liked the skirts.)

What was the point in grinning and bearing it through hours of practicing something you had no intention of doing past graduation? What was the point of wasting hours of our precious childhood just so as not to be seen as a “quitter.”

I just didn’t get it. It turns out, this same philosophy applies to my adult life (and perhaps to yours.)

I’m a quitter and proud of it.

It means I’m in hot pursuit of my passion and purpose. It means I know what feels good and what doesn’t. It means I value my time, my energy, and myself.

When I left on The Freedom Tour and told people I was going on an “indefinite road trip around North America” the most common question I got was, “For how long?” to which I would reply, “Until I’m done.”

In early September my man Mike and I decided not to go to Asia in Spring 2020 because it just didn’t feel right to either of us. So we decided to stay put somewhere for six months or so. We were already in Scottsdale, AZ and since I have family there and the weather is awesome in the winter, we decided that was our spot. We found a gorgeous apartment. We scouted yoga classes and rock gyms and juice bars.

Two weeks ago I was in NYC for Marie Forleo‘s spectacular event Rich, Happy, and Hot Live. I told my friends who I ran into on Friday night that I was moving to Scottsdale, AZ. Every time I said it, the response was, “Why?” And inside me every time I said I was moving there, I asked myself, “Why?”

Do you ever make a plan just so you can have something to tell people?

I called Mike that night and he told me my aunt and uncle were leaving Scottsdale and given that they were basically my only community there, it suddenly dawned on me that there was no good reason to move there. Moreover, it didn’t feel good, and quite frankly that’s all that matters.

Based pretty much all on instinct and what feels good, Mike and I have decided to move to Sag Harbor, NY. We’re actually going to sign a lease and stay put. I’m going to teach yoga. We’re going to eat vegetables, build solid businesses, and work out with consistency. (All of these things, and more, have been challenging on the road.) I’m going to write a book and hibernate.

Yes, it appears that that moment of “Until I’m done” has arrived. The Freedom Tour is winding down in absolute perfect timing.

Have I done everything I planned on The Freedom Tour? No. Absolutely not. In fact, the last nine months turned out nothing like I had imagined. They were better.

Those parents of my childhood friends might look at me and call me a quitter.

This year I ended a business partnership that I’d invested three and a half years in. I ended another business partnership that I’d invested several thousand miles, several thousand brain cells, and several months in.

I bowed out on an investment where I had a large chunk of change coming my way. I said no to a sponsorship deal with several zeros even though the paperwork had already been signed. None of these things felt right anymore so I quit.

Call me a quitter. I welcome it.

Just like it makes no sense to spend an entire winter of beautiful afternoon hours in a stinky gym if you don’t even like basketball just so you won’t be a quitter, it makes no sense to keep doing anything that no longer feels right or feels good.

Even if you’ve invested thousands of hours or thousands of dollars. Even if it will disappoint someone. Even if it used to feel like a good idea and suddenly it doesn’t anymore.

It doesn’t matter.

I give you permission to quit.

That’s the only information you need. Let it go. Expand your expense allowance for “projects that I decided not to pursue further because they didn’t feel good” and simply write it off at the end of the year.

Let it go. Move on. Quit.

There will never be a payoff after spending time, resources, and precious energy doing something that no longer feels good that will make it worth it. I promise. It just won’t happen.

So, I’m quitting The Freedom Tour as it currently exists. I don’t quite know what it will morph into, but I’m certainly not quitting on freedom.

Next up: an exploration of freedom within the structure of living in one place and having regular routines. Stay tuned.

What are you doing that doesn’t feel good anymore?

What are you doing that doesn’t feel right anymore?

What do you continue to do just so you won’t be a quitter?

Have you ever been called a quitter? Why?

What are you ready to quit?

What are you ready to let go of? Leave a declaration here!

Leave a comment. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say on this!

My teenage son and I were having this exact conversation this morning so I’m going to send your post to him!

Holy moly. Thank YOU, Kate. Being willing to disappoint others in order to follow that “Does this feel right?” voice has been a big theme in my life recently, so your timing is perfect. Just the reminder I needed to stay on track. Taking the best and leaving the rest! ;)

P.S: Maybe now I will start thinking of you as my Quitter Queen instead of That Chic with the Hot Haircut:)

Kate, I LOVED this! I love your transperency and I love that you are following what feels right. I read a little book by Seth Godin a few months ago called “The Dip” and started embracing my own inner quitter. I would much rather start and stop than stick something out that I know I cannot sustain. I wish you ALL the best on your journey!

I love it! Sag Harbor will be a beautiful place to hibernate. I hope you have a fireplace to write by.

I too wasn’t a fan of those forced sports as a kid. Though when I found the sport that I loved, I stuck with it for 8 years and became a black belt in Taekwondo. So it’s really about what feels right and being okay with saying no, so that you can make space for the yes. :)

Love this post Kate!

P.S. It was great meeting you at RHH Live!

I was just going through my google docs looking at all the ideas and partly written posts I have. Some good ideas, but when it doesn’t feel right, I let it go. Maybe I come back to it, maybe I don’t.

I am big believer in following the needs of my inner life. Of moving for my spirit. Of opening space wide enough in our life so that we can hear the calling for what is next.

Happy hibernating lovely Kate.

Kate! Beautifully and powerfully put!! You my dear are paving the way for people to question the motivation behind their actions and truly live in freedom (which to me means exactly that: following your passion and your heart)! Bravo. Excited to see what your future holds for you. Well the next chapter anyway!! Haha. Love you! Natalie

Thank you for your honesty and it was just what I needed to hear/read.

I am quitter too and what a baggage it carries just saying it. Being honest and trusting my intuition.

At the end of the day, when I look back at the things that I quit, I stopped doing because they didn’t feel right (as opposed to fear) those were the biggest lessons and gifts I received from the universe. I made room for new experiences growth.

Thank you, Kate! Your truth sparkles and shimmers. And inspires : ) Sag Harbor = a serene oasis.

I am proud of you Kate for following your dreams!! You are very brave and I admire you greatly.

I’m clear what I need to let go of and have been waiting for the right time. I knew this release was coming but I also I knew I had to wait for the right moment where I felt totally in alignment. Once again the universe was speaking to me in little whispers and here it is. I don’t want a brick up side my head.

I love you Kate!! This is so perfect and I totally agree! Proud of you for listening to your inner guidance

you are an inspiration! Much love & gratitude xo Sarah

I definitely teared up when I read this. The Mayor who gave me my third college internship and my first “grown up” job was just re-elected yesterday evening(to his SEVENTH term). However, I am still “quitting” the career that I might have had during his 25th to 28th years in office.

As you articulated above, that job “no longer feels good” and it’s time for me to take charge and create a supportive work environment rather than one that feels like a battleground each and every day.

By the way, I am so glad that you are spending the winter living near the ocean and writing! I am committed to staying in Indiana for now, but if I wasn’t, that lifestyle would make my “top ten list.”

@Allison Ouellet, Oh Allison I’m so excited for your very bright future free from bureaucracy. I know the transition is hard and there’s some grieving to do, but your future looks so bright I have to wear sunglasses!

Quitters of the World Unite! This was your best post yet! Thank you for giving me permission to quit. I know I will refer to, quote, and send others to this brilliant post many times in the future. Can’t wait to read the book…

@Charlene, Thank you so much Charlene!

All I have to say about this post is … AMEN.

Thank you for your honesty, authenticity and inspiration…

I anxiously await your book release.

@ginny, Thanks so much Ginny!

Congratulations. well done!

You have such a powerful voice, and a way of connecting your personal ah-ha moments with what so many are going through! Two days ago I made the decision to quit being too hard on myself. I was hired to do a photo shoot in which 25% of the over 200 photos I shot were really good, in fact surpassing my expectations for myself. Until I realized that I had not captured one subject perfectly. For the first time I was totally conscious of how my body reacted to that realization. I broke into a sweat, felt an immediate constriction in my neck and head, and felt my eyes well up with tears. As I silently berated myself for only taking a mediocre picture of that item, and how could I not have been aware that I didn’t get the perfect lighting and the perfect angle, I felt my chest tighten and my head split like someone hit me over the head with an ax. The ah-ha moment came when I realized…I… was the one doing this to myself. No one else had such high expectations of me than I did. I walked out of my office and announced to my husband that I hearby quit being so hard on myself, because in that moment I realized I could really physically hurt myself. Here’s to quitting what no longer serves your health and happiness.

@Elizabeth Montana Kizaki, So awesome Elizabeth! What a powerful story. And yes to quitting being so hard on yourself. And yes to Yasu supporting you in that because I know he’s sees you as fabulous and divine every day!

I was one of those kids that was never allowed to quit anything. That has impacted my ENTIRE life and I’m now starting to quit that mentality!

After studying FOUR times, over a course of 2 years, for the NY Bar exam (which would allow me to be an attorney)- I am quitting! I am getting mixed reviews from people, but in the end just like you said, no matter how many resources and how much time I spend doing it- it isn’t going to feel good. I’ve felt like I’ve been tortured for 2 years trying to pass the damn exam and I’m not going to do it to myself any longer.

Thanks, Kate for writing this and validating my decision!

@Jeannie, Huge congratulations Jeannie! This is such an awesome choice. It takes a lot of courage to do what you’re doing and I applaud you!

Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. As other readers have mentioned, the universe is aligning and this is a message I and others needed to hear. I literally was just speaking with my cousin yesterday about two “projects” I have invested a lot in and have since found a third path away from. The old Lisa would have told myself I was a quitter. The Lisa full of self-love knows that she is doing what is healthy for her at this point on her journey!
Our lives/paths change and to be in the flow of things we must “be like water” (Thank you Bruce!)
We are not quitters. We are people who are not afraid to live!
May you enjoy your new journey…

You’re awesome babe. I love your freedom to be you that is what makes you such a special soul. And thanks for giving everyone else permission to quit and being a role model for listening to your heart and following it. The planet would be a much happier place if everyone listened and took action on the desires of their heart.

Have fun settling in….

@Kate Muker, Thank you beautiful Kate! I know you and Suki definitely live according to your hearts. May we all follow your example :)

Thank you! I have done this before (well, more than once). It’s easy to internalize other people’s judgements or evaluations of you and your quitting instead of focusing your energy on the NEXT and the people who are doing it with you. I needed this today. Blessings on your new venture that you do until your done.

@Jen Goodson, I’m so glad that this came right at the perfect time for you!

Hi Kate!
I’m the flamenco-dancing medical doctor/coach/author/speaker, we shared the stage at Sexy Healthy Wealthy Women (so you can imagine I smiled when I saw that you were also at “Rich, Happy and Hot” the other day). This post is AWESOME. No one talks about this! Even in the usually forward-thinking field of self-development, the underlying message is still the Protestant-work-ethic-driven (I’m guessing that’s where it’s from) “don’t be a quitter”. I was speaking to my sister the other night saying that I feel like a huge flake because I so often change my mind about things. I even cancelled a huge trip to Italy for my birthday recently because it started to feel really wrong. But oh the relief when one acts on these feelings! Thank you SO much for giving us permission. And Sag H. sounds DIVINE. xo Susan

@Dr. Susan Biali, Of course I remember you beautiful! I love that you even cancelled a trip to Italy for your birthday because it didn’t feel right. Even when things look really good on paper (hello European vacation!) that doesn’t mean they’re good for us. Brava!

I love the power of the Universe any my ability to manifest! Yesterday while deeply pondering something I want to quit I journaled, ‘I just need permission’. And, voila! While I know I don’t really need someone else’s permission to do what is right in my world, the synchronicity of your post and my written desire is clear as a bell for me. So, even though I’ve been deciding for weeks to quit, I really mean it now!

@Catherine, I love it! We all need permission from someone else from time to time to be reminded that we have the power to give ourselves permission :)

Great post! and i feel like you look in that picture – exhausted! Working so hard to start my business and be productive especially post RHHLive! But I am exhausted and working so hard that I find myself forgetting why I just did something and how it connects with something else I need to do. In addition to quitting when it’s not right, I also think it’s important to take breaks when you are doing something that you know is right – but you have to step back frequently to see how things are going and make sure that you are still on track with your goals and dreams. So thank you for this – just what I needed today!!

@jill rowe, So true Jill. Taking a break is one of the most nourishing AND productive things you can do, even if you know you’re on the right track with what you’re creating. There’s great genius that comes from lying fallow.

This is the best article I’ve read in a long time. How profound!
I completely agree, that we do way too many things just because we want to please others and fulfill their expectations – family, friends, “society”….
It’s so important to be true to yourself.
Just tuning into what FEELS RIGHT is probably the best compass you can have in life.
Great reminder!

@Luzia, Thank you Luzia. I’m so glad you found it helpful!

Thanks so much for your insight. Really useful!!

I think I’m going to quit believing that I’m not worthy of success, and that I don’t deserve it. For the naysayers, I will quit caring what you say. For the non-supporters, I’ll quit my frustration with your lack of cheering in my corner. I will quit thinking that it’s ok to be like everyone else. I will quit thinking that I need other people to believe in me to achieve my successes in my life. I’ll quit being motivated by what others think or don’t think of me.

Here I go!! Thanks for the push!

@Lisa, Excellent Lisa. It takes a lot of courage to quit caring what others say. Congratulations!

Thank you for posting, this was so poignant! I really needed to hear this Kate.

I think of how many times I have continued whenever it just isn’t feeling right because of being taught not to be the quitter. And the time wasted of not even being in joy or the thing that does feel right or good. WOW. This will definitely be one to print and keep as a reminder!

@Tracey, So glad it was helpful Tracey!

How timely! I just last night quit volunteer work that was causing me a lot of angst, guilt and mental clutter. I am a full believer in following instinct and doing what feels like the right thing to do. What feels right and what feels good are not synonymous though. Sometimes we can get into a lot of trouble doing what feels good.

I don’t believe in making kids tough it out in certain circumstances, however I’m not willing to let my kids quit just because they don’t feel like it and would rather sit home and watch tv. I have a son that has needed to be prodded to try lots of things, as well as prodded to continue things that I know can be positive for him. This years soccer season was a perfect example, he ended up having a blast but didn’t plan to join the team again because he was frankly feeling a bit lazy about it. But if he doesn’t want to join the Jr high team next year, that’s fine. I think the key is to really know your child.

If I hadn’t make him stick things out he would have quit several things that he now enjoys and gets much pleasure at. Too often kids quit based on weak reasoning when a solution to their reason might easily be worked out.

I guess I’m a bit of a fence sitter on this issue.

@Becky, Thanks Becky. I agree, there’s no black or white on this one. I think if you’re quitting because you “just don’t feel like it” is not really a good reason. What I’m talking about here is intuition. And yes, you’ve got to know yourself (and your kid.) I’m not a parent so I can only share my own experience. Thanks for chiming in and adding another perspective to the conversation!

SUCH a great post. Inspiring and echoes with so much truth. I’m a quitter too! I haven’t found it so easy, in the past, to walk away…move on…let it go. There’s a piece of me that is terrified of what that means or doesn’t mean.
This really made me look at it differently and I’m inspired to continue this path of quitting in my life so that I can make space and room for the goodness that is to come.
Thanks Kate! And FYI…didn’t get to meet you but shared the room with you at RHH Live – such a powerful experience, I’m glad you were there!

@Stephanie Watanabe, Thanks for your comment. Sorry we didn’t get to meet at RHH Live but wasn’t it amazing? Glad you got to soak in all the goodness too :)

Thanks for this blog post. Entering into this new paradigm certainly feels like we are being asked to shed anything that doesn’t serve our highest good and to do it quickly! With that comes quitting. Thanks for being a true warrior woman, sharing your journey with us so that we can all benefit from your strength. Gathering from the comments and my own experience, this post couldn’t have been more timely.

Keep shining,

@Annette Varoli, I’m so glad that this was timely for you. Thanks for chiming in!

I’m so very much done with worrying. Used to be so addictive. Unless I had an old bone to knaw on I wasn’t being productive or important unless I had something going on. Don’t care about being productive and important. Am proud to be a stay at home mum even if on benefits and choose to change that energy into positive communication with my children

@louise scargill, Yay for quitting worrying. Brilliant!

“Quit to commit”!
Wow- the universe is stepping up in the last day and a half with mutiple messages to help me see what’s right for me!
In the face of overwhelm (which I’m changing to ‘whelm’=the capacity to do what I choose) I’ve been asking myself – What do I REALLY want to do? What will I really commit to that feels RIGHT? Which of course leads to the much scarier – What do I need to let go of / QUIT! And how do I trust that support is there for me.
I strive to be a full-hearted quitter – no strings or regrets attached!
Thanks for being a shining example of valuing our own time, energy and self! Yahoo!

@Jennifer Stock, I love that you’re asking what you can quit when you feel overwhelmed. Awesome tool!

I envy you Kate and Mike. I was forced to buy a home I really didn’t want in order to keep my job after Katrina. I had a great apartment before that with a pet friendly landlord who was great. I loved the feeling of knowing I could just pick up and GO! If I had to do all over again I would have bought an acre of land and and an RV.

@Rebecca, There’s always a way to be more free right now. What’s one way you could feel more free immediately without having to pick up and go?

Just want to say how refreshing your words are. I just love how you write with such honesty. We are so similar in a lot of ways, except I was forced to be one of those kids who stuck something out just bc “I shouldn’t be a quitter.” Well, I’ve turned into a quitter and now I’m proud of it :) Thanks for being on the same page as me and sharing that.

Also, I am interested in learning more about USANA and how it works…

@Erinn, Thanks Erinn – I’m so glad to say that you’ve become a quitter and that you’re proud of it. I’m emailing you now…

Your honesty is so darn refreshing. Honey you look tired, so I would say your work on the freedom tour is done. Go enjoy life with you guy, and maybe even adopt a pet to love.

@Cheryl, Thanks Cheryl. Perhaps a puppy is in my future :)

Thanks for validating my approach to life. I’ve been the kind of person that would jump right into a class, a project, a relationship, and then recognize that I was done and quit. I used to beat myself up for being a person that wouldn’t follow through, until I read Barbara Sher’s book called “Refuse to Choose”. We are called Scanners…Check out the book, when you have a chance.
Thank you, for your fabulous insight and courage to be who you are.
Best wishes!

@Dorothy Davis, I’ll check out that book – thanks Dorothy!

Scanners, huh? I must get that book. Is there a kindle edition? I have never been a quitter with typical activities but I sure have a hard time keeping interest in any project for very long. I am a jump in with both feet person and then I sruggle to dig my way out. I end up feeling horrible about it the entire time. Thanks for the book suggestion!

Love this Kate, and you know I’ve been all about stayin’ put, so totally support you in this fabulous decision. Get nesting girl! xoxo

@Lora Sasiela, I’ll get some nesting tips from you later Lora :)

What a great post and such a wonderful reminder to us all. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

I am totally with you on this! Life is too precious to be trudging through doing things because you think you need to stick with it, ought to, should, etc. I feel the same way about my many different choice in life.

@Jody, Thanks so much Jody!

This post has provoked a sharp reaction in me. I think because your viewpoint is pretty much the polar opposite to how I was raised, and yet it resonates so strongly with me, it kinda feels like it MUST be what I feel deep inside.

Or to put it another way, I think reading this made it clear to me that the barrage of automatic negativity it provoked is NOT my true feelings, but rather the imposed beliefs of my parents stepping up to bat.

As I think back, it feels like “quitting” was always something to be highly ashamed of doing. As a result, I’ve unfortunately learned to put up with all sorts of s**t from people (bosses, family, friends, relationships) that I shouldn’t have done, because I doubt my own thoughts/feelings/intuitions so much.

This feels quite enlightening, but also quite depressing. Oh well. So anyway, the specific area of my life that came to mind here was music — which is actually quite a surprise, music being one of the few things in life I feel truly passionate about.

The backstory is I’ve been writing songs with a friend for several years now, but it’s been very slow progress for various reasons. This whole realization is also tied up with other realizations I’ve had over the past year regarding childhood emotional abuse and various current results of that (that I’d previously been blaming myself for). An unfortunate side-effect of this was realizing that the relationship (songwriting friend) was significantly less healthy than I’d thought (or hoped).

I realized several months ago that this friend wasn’t there for me as much as I’d tried to be there for them — in fact, they haven’t been there for me at all over the past several months. Also realized I’d been putting in the vast bulk of the effort re making things happen (I was almost always the one to initiate catch-ups, drive to their place, finance the recordings we started etc).

I guess I kinda gave up on anything happening here back the few months ago. But reading this article made me think that I could CHOOSE to quit, rather than just be depressed and wait for something to happen that I don’t have to initiate. I actually feel quite calm and peaceful at this second, which is strange, because intellectually it feels like this should be super painful. We’ve written some amazing songs together (please excuse the lack of modesty!) and it represents the main hope I’ve been holding on to for several years (as well as a ton of time, effort, money etc – well, mainly the first two, but still…)

Probably need to sleep on it and see how I feel tomorrow. Could just be numbing it out right now. Thanks again for the article and all the best for the new stage of your journey!

PS – Hope you don’t mind long posts! :)

@J, I love that you had such a strong reaction to this post. That means there’s some truth in it :)

I came across this post from a fb friend who had linked it to her feed. As a Christian I see God calling our family to do “different”… Making choices and decisions that make no sense to anyone but Him and us. I loved this post! Although doing what is right to us may not be approved by those around us, we should never stop short of going to the place where we are called. I too am a quitter as are our children. If they don’t like something and it isn’t fruitful in their lives than we cease doing it. Homeschooling brings much freedom in this for us! We have one opportunity at life and we aren’t going to waste it! Thanks for your inspiring words! :)

@Mendi, Awesome Mendi – love that you’re homeschooling your kids and the freedom that comes from that!

Damn, That is one HOT guy in this pic!!

@Mike Watts, He’s just some guy I picked up on my trip :)

Okay, this confirms what was in my unconscious somewhere and that is to not go back to my ebay business. I’ve been on hiatus to get some personal things settled and it just hasn’t ever felt like the right time to go back.

When I got to the questions at the end of your post, this ebay business was the first thing that popped into my mind. So what if I lose my investment, the products I was selling. It’s not right and not an honor to who I am.

Maybe this means that the time and energy I was spending doing that will allow me to do some other project (that will hopefully provide some income).

You are right: our highest priority is self. When we honor ourselves and provide for ourselves first, all that we need to provide our exterior will fall into place.

@Sheryl, All right Sheryl – congratulations on getting clear!

Thanks for doing all this quitting Kate and sharing it with us. The past two years have been full of quitting for me and it has been SCARY and more freeing than I could have possibly imagined. What’s surprising to me is how many of the things I quit ended up coming back into my life in a new, more satisfying form. THAT was a big lesson.

I’ve made this my year of diving in to the things that scare me the most and the biggest thing I quit was my focus on making money. Oddly, it’s now coming easier than ever before. I’m beginning to sense a pattern here, quit and what’s meant to be comes back better and the rest, gone for good and good riddance.

Sending you love for the next big adventure.

@Alexis, I love this idea that if we quit something and it comes back then we know that it’s really the right thing! A new twist on the saying, “If you love something let it go…” Thanks for stopping by!

I hear ya chica! I quit softball, basketball, gymnastics…and most recently my job. Did it make sense? No! But am I now living passionately and embracing the freedom to choose? YES!

Thank you for this post, it gives us permission to call ourselves quitters and be proud of it!

@Erin, Thanks so much Erin!

This is brilliant. Thank you for living your truth and following your “feel-goodness” and redefining something that generally gets frowns. Quitting when its no longer right and no longer feels good is genius and I just know that it’s something Im gonna live by and even teach my children… one day when i have children. you rock. xoxooxxo

I am ready to quit a course that I am already behind in because of lack energy. I’m feeling the need to pull back, reassess my situation and then move forward with renewed energy…feels good to be quitter!! woo hoo

I LOVE THIS. And it only makes me love you even more. You are so on the spot with this post, I know “quitting” in our culture has so much charge especially for us overachievers..Thank you for putting into words so beautifully another way to unpack living in our own integrity and authenticity. Makes me want to come to Sag Harbor and take your yoga class :) you go girl!

@Liz Donaghy, Please do come practice in Sag Harbor with me!

Kate – I must say – I LOVE YOU! Your transparency and authenticity are a shining example to the rest of us of what it’s like to speak our deep-down truths, and give us permission to do so! Thank you for being such a bright light on this planet!

@sara, Thank you so much Sara!

Hi Kate,
Love this post, turning something that we see as a negative into a positive is always fun, isn’t it? It’s timely for me too. I’ve been thinking about a new part-time business possibility for the last couple of weeks and really struggling with whether it’s right for me or not. I love how you seem able to so easily listen for what feels right for you intuitively. I know I’m very intuitive, but it only seems to work in certain areas of my life, in others I have trouble distinguishing what is coming from fear and what is coming from intuition. I have made decisions like what you talk about in my life, some big ones too, like temporarily relocating my life to St. John in the USVI for 8 months last year. I’d like to learn how to have that same instinctual sense guide me in other areas as well. I love what another reader said about quitting caring about what other people think, I would like to quit that one too!

@Julie Stiles, Hi Julie – there’s a great video from my friend Marie Forleo on how to distinguish fear from intuition – its such a great question and one that I had too. Here it is: Congratulations for deciding to live on St. John for 8 months – yeah baby!

I was reading this…

“I’m a quitter and proud of it. It means I’m in hot pursuit of my passion and purpose. It means I know what feels good and what doesn’t. It meant I value my time, my energy, and myself.”

…when my eye was caught by the sudden eruption of flame in my fireplace. There was nothing, and then suddenly, there was light. A symbolic blaze of possibility. And it hit me… how quickly a mere spark can be fanned into flame. Much like our passions.

All it takes is a willingness… to let go of what doesn’t work. And the desire and commitment to continue searching for what does.

Thank you for the synchronistic moment of bliss…

[…] One of my main problems with leaving #1 school is that I feel it will make me a failure. Which is a wrong way to think, on so many levels. First, I am not a failure if the school was unable to provide me with all that they promised. Second, I am not a failure for wanting to be happy. I will only be twenty-something once in my life, why should I spend it feeling like I’d rather become a hobo than deal with all of the drama that has come packaged with school #1. Living and dealing with school #1 has brought me nothing but misanthropic thoughts, roommate drama, school friend drama, and curriculum drama. […]

[…] I was burned out. I was having a major hankering for a home. I was ready to nest. […]

By some fluke of my email folders, I am just reading this post. I love it SO much!! I played softball for four years of my life in high school. I sucked at it! I hated it! It completely wore down my self-image, body concept, and bright spirit. When you said that about spending precious winter afternoons in a stinky gym, I was flooded with love for my winter days as an adult now – drinking hot tea, snuggling under blankets, imagining vast landscapes of snow as I hunker down and write and dream. (I did love playing basketball, which was a winter sport in my high school, and am still rather fond of those stinky gyms however…)

In any case, this is such a beautiful post, and I wish I had had the courage to quit back then – to explain my reasons to my dad, or just to say: Hey, I’m not doing this any more. End of story.

This wound has made me grateful for how I make choices as an adult, and compassionate for all of us trying to find the balance of self-love. That said, I would trade it all in a heart beat to have spent those hours whacking a tennis ball with the joyful girls on the tennis team, or reading and dreaming and writing lavishly, soft and comfy at home with my sweet mom before life snapped into seriousness and dinner had to be made.

Thank you for your beautiful words and hearty quitting spirit!
All the best,
Kara N.

Thank you for this beautiful response Kara! Yes, it’s so important to be true to ourselves and what really makes us happy…especially if its snuggling up under a blanket and reading. Love it!

Kate! I absolutely love this article. It is very inspiring and offers a lot of insight to my current situation.
I have been an athlete and dancer my entire life. When I was younger I played tennis, basketball, softball, and track and ended up leaving all of them as soon as I no longer wanted to play. It was never an issue. The only thing that I have stuck with since age 3 is dancing.
Since freshman year in high school, I have been a Field Hoceky player. I originally tried out the sport because my cousin played and I looked up to her. I ended up falling in love with the sport. I loved every practice, every game, every experience. I was a starter by sophomore year and was always told I was a great athlete. Junior and senior year I was the best on the team. I couldn’t leave the sport so I decided to play in college.
Freshman year of Fall 2008 was brutal. I thought I was in shape and I was in for a rude awakening. I hated it but stuck it out because I signed up for it. My coach always told me I had speed, but didn’t know how to use it. I have never gotten a compliment like that before. It always made me tear up because I guess she saw something in me that I didn’t. I thought I was trying my best even though it was agony. I was never in so much physical pain in my life as I was during training for that season.
In Fall 2009 I was a sophomore and due to a surgery that I had on both of my feet, I was unable to play, but was able to get that season back. I ended up just working everyday and getting another semester of school under my belt. It took me a full year to be able to run again and I couldn’t wait to get back on the field.
Fall 2020 came around. Junior year I was actually a sophomore on the field, but was in shape and ready for season. I had a new coach who was much easier than the last coach. I enjoyed playing again. I was a starter on a college team for the first time, but it was awesome. I finally was where I thought I belonged. During the first tournamnet of the season, I ended up breaking my nose, and although I finished the season, the mask I had to wear really hindered it. Thoughts of quitting hadn’t surfaced at this point, but I was not happy with my performance and did not want to leave hockey on that note.
The following season was my best season. Fall 2020 I was a senior in the classroom, but a junior on the field. I still held my starting spot. I finally got the hang of my new position, I was in shape free of injury, and I killed it. I continuously got compliments from my coach, players, parents, other athletes, etc. and it felt amazing. Whenever I was on the field I was always looking to see who was watching. I am not a show off, but I love getting a reaction out of people. I think I got that from dancing. I like to entertain. I always love making my family proud too. No one else in my family was a college athlete so it is nice to have the under my belt. I loved the season, loved the games, loved playing; however, I hated practice, all the girls I started with were graduating since I lost a year on the field, and towards the end just wanted season to end. Season ended, and I was completely satisfied. Quitting had been up in the air for quite some time after season ended. I remember Senior night came and I kept saying “I wish it was my senior year I should be with you guys”.
Being that Spring 2020 came around. This was my final Spring Hockey season. We do off-season training every year as college athletes. The girls I played with for four years were done playing and I felt no strong connection with the other players anymore. I always kept to myself and did my own thing. I have a lot going for me at this point so it really didn’t matter that I didn’t hang out with them but as a senior and a starter on the team I should feel more involved and enthusiastic. I was counting down how many practices left there were at every practice. The Spring tournament came in April 2020 and we played three games in the pouring rain. I didn’t mind the rain but my playing was very off. I was not in sync with the team and just not playing like I should. I hadn’t played really since November and was out of shape. Although it seemed like nothing to me I should have wanted to play more before the tournament. I should have wanted to stay in great shape and I should have wanted to better my play.
College atheletes have crazy heart for the game and it usually consumes them for their four year duration. Obviously not me. I kind of realized it was more something that I wanted to to for the hell of it, because I am a physically active person. I also realized I didn’t want to let my family, teammates, or coach down. It is hard when your coach begs you to play because she thinks you are a huge asset to the team and when your family loves to watch you play. I am a people pleaser and it breaks my heart. I didn’t want to quit and have regret after leaving.
I have been debating what I should do since then. I now have a boyfriend, am almost done with Grad School, and am trying to pursue a career as well as become a professional dancer. I never had plans really to do anything with hockey. I could be a great coach, but I feel like I would need more enthusiasm and passion for winning and playing. I don’t want to play just because I should get my four years in. Next season is approaching on August 17 and I have only ran a few times last week. I don’t push myself and am not motivated. I know I always love preseason though. I don’t know if I should just play because I may love it or just leave. I still need advice. I love playing, but I think my heart is elsewhere. I think I am afraid to say goodbye to an eight year relationship with Field Hockey.

Wow, I found this article the day after I decided to quit working on a bachelor’s degree that I don’t need. Timely, serendipitous, wooo-wooo loveliness. Life is TOO short to spend on pursuits that don’t give me immense reward.

I know that this post is about a year and a half old, but just like you mentioned in another post, sometimes things just come to you at the right time. Thank you for your thought provoking words. This is a battle that has been building for a while, and I am looking for the courage to say, “It’s okay. It will all be okay” to myself. Great job, great pay, but no passion for it. I feel wasted, and the time is ticking. Yet, the money and the respect keep me here. How to break the cycle, and give myself permission to freedom?

Brandon – thanks for your comment. I would recommend getting clear on how you want to feel in your career and decide if prestige and pay will get you there or if loving your job will. Danielle LaPorte’s program The Desire Map could help!

[…] how to know when to quit (the job, the relationship, the project) […]

About a month ago, I quit dance which was a huge part of my life for 12 years. But it started to become more of a chore for me then a hobby. I didn’t love it anymore but quitting was so hard. I didn’t want to be a “quitter”. I knew my entire family would ask me “How’s dance?” And I’d have to explain to them that I don’t do it anymore, and I’d have to see the disappointment in their eyes. I did end up quitting and wow, I struggled. It’s been a month and I have still cried about it over and over. Sounds ridiculous but it was a big choice for me. But this article really helped me so much. I’m 16 years old and I’m so thankful that I came across this article. From the bottom of my heart, thank you! I think I’ve come to my senses. I’m a quitter and I’m proud.

Well done Olivia! I’m so glad that you’ve trusted your gut to quit and that this article helped. An you know, you can always dance in your living room :)

I just stumbled across this article today and it’s moved me a little bit.

At my current job, the work conditions are emotionally brutal, degrading, extremely stressful, and physically depanding. Yet, this is the career that I moved two states away for, went 20K in debt in loans, and spent nearly two years of my live for. Without warning, my only other two coworkers put in their two weeks notice within one day of each other. I’ve scoped out what getting a promotion does to a person in my chosen work place and career, and I can’t help but think…

…this isn’t what I wanted to do with my life. There’s no sense of common respect as a civil human being between all of my bosses (I’m constantly getting belittled by their jokes and mock shows of power, even from my own personal supervisor) and the rest of us at work. (I get it double because I have not only my own boss making fun of me, but bosses from other parts of the place ALSO make cracks at me instead of at least giving the smallest bit of respect as a fellow human being). Working harder does not equal more pay or even respect from the bosses.

Lately, I get up and go to work wishing I could turn around and go back home so I don’t have to face that spiritually brutal place that does nothing but destroy me both inside and out. I have no time or energy to make friends (as I moved away from everything I’ve ever known to go to school and work in my current career field), and I’m barely getting paid enough to keep my bills paid on time (so I have no other funds to afford anything else besides transportation and food – no extra for savings or better clothes or even to keep my car in working order).

I know that I need to find another job before I leave, and I was starting to get down on myself about being a quitter and feeling like I would be wasting all the time and money I spent on the schooling I had gone through to get that job. Then, I found this article and it gave me the feeling that it’s okay to quit. I once loved my current job, but now it no longer is a source of joy for me.

So, I chose to quit. And I’m okay with that!

Thanks for encouraging women to follow what their instincts are telling them. We’ve been brainwashed to only follow the logic of our minds, and that (half of the time) destroys us.

Wow, what a fabulous and timely article for me!
I just left paid employment to stay home full-time with my daughter and run my own business, a writing school for busy mummas. I was feeling a little bit of residual guilt that I was a “quitter”, but after reading this I just feel proud!

It took me months to get the courage to ask my husband if he thought we could manage on just his income; and more months to be strong enough to tell my boss, “I quit.” After I finished work it was like this huge weight had lifted from me. I am so happy now!

It’s 2020 and this was written in 2020, almost THREE years ago and I find it today! I decided to take a leave from my current ‘job’ recently even though I don’t quite know what it will morph into creatively. It was time to let go and it feels great! I continue to work through Money: A Love Story (that I got from your event with Danielle in Vancouver)… and the love keeps on growing :) (You should see my love notes!)

It’s 2020 and this was written in 2020, almost THREE years ago and I find it today! I decided to take a leave from my current ‘job’ recently even though I don’t quite know what it will morph into creatively. It was time to let go and it feels great! I continue to work through Money: A Love Story (that I got from your event with Danielle in Vancouver)… and the love keeps on growing :) (You should see my love notes!)

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I really needed to read this right now! Thanks for your wise words :)

Hi Kate,
Your email couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been struggling with a decision to quit a long term gig doing something I just can’t stand anymore just because I felt some weird sense of obligation to these people that didn’t even pay me what I asked for yet I continued to do their work because I was afraid there would be no other choice for me.

I am now going to embrace my life on another level doing only what I enjoy, creating from my beautiful “home studio” living moment to moment generating the kind of money that I want to make at a pace that works for me. No more strings no more obligations…..just joy just peace time is precious…..if it feels good do it…if it feels bad don’t

Dear Kate, I QUIT! I quit hoping my (soon to be former) husband comes back and wants to be married again. I quit sitting in desperate hopelessness and helplessness, unsure of what to do next. I quit listening to my therapist who believes (as did I) that I am unable to work because of my depression… I think I START here… finding work because it will HELP ME out of my depression… believing in myself because someone has to… showing up for a healthier life in ways both physical and emotional. I quit my fear that is binding me in chains– that fear that says I will be a single mom now who will be utterly broke and unable to give my children what they deserve, my fear that says I failed my former husband and I can never love again, my fear that keeps me from doing what I love and taking each day as a lesson of beauty, hard or joyful. You are as wise and amazing as your mother (whose book helped me through two pregnancies and all the female changes I’ve experienced…). I QUIT LIVING LIKE THIS! Whew– thank you for listening!!

All I’ve ever done is “quit” and yet now I feel extremely trapped. I got what I thought was my “dream job” four months ago, and now it’s a nightmare. I don’t sleep well and am stressed all the time, and even though I know it’s like being in a bad relationship, I can see SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Sigh. I am with you on this so much, and yet, next month, we start paying a mortgage and my credit card just got declined. I can’t quit yet, but if I “quit” in my mind and heart, then I really will be miserable.

Rock and hard place, and yet, maybe I can “quit” the structure I’m in right now and re-invent. Thank you.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to jump into your time machine. This post is perfectly timed for me as I am feeling deeply like I am done with something big and have been inching towards beginning something new. It is not easy to let go of something big…to step away from the security and comfort it brought you even though it didn’t feel right. However if I continue to do it I know I will grow more and more unhappy. Therefore I need to quit. Quitting something most definitely doesn’t mean that we are giving up, it just means that we are brave enough to step away from what we know isn’t for us. Thank you for your words!

Kate – I’m reading this in 2020 on your Honeymoon tour….. OMG the timing. I have a job that I hate but it’s 1/3 my monthly income w possible commissions and I see it as a chance for financial freedom. AND I HATE IT. I thought I should just tough it out.

I am now committed to taking this job on with integrity AND creating a plan to leave the job by replacing that income with other freelance. I’m seeing that if I am not free then my finances don’t even matter.

THANK YOU and welcome home.

boy. I thought it was me. I quit clarinet and my mom was furious. “You never finish anything!” Sonja “quit it” was a nickname my family called me. I was like you – why torture yourself if you didn’t want to do it. I never understood why you HAD to finsh what you started. It caused me a lot of tears, anger, and depression as a kid. Now my mom says she understands and agrees with me. It was just the way she was raised and it stuck with her. It never stuck with me and to this day I still have feelings of guilt that hover in the background.

This post came via my email in your honeymoon time machine. I logged into my email with the intention “there is something here that will help me find clarity.” My confusion? Whether I should recommit to an industry I’m no longer in love with by accepting a promotion, or say no.

Thank you for your timeliness!

So basically, no one can depend on you and you do whatever feels right? Wow that sounds like a selfish way to live.

I’m 13 and I am forced to play basketball. I’ve been playing since I was 9 years old. I really loved it for a long time. Now I feel like I’ve lost my passion for it. And my parents are basketball crazy. They have both played basketball for a long time. I can’t quit because they will get super mad. I’ve quit before and they started treating me different. I started playing again to make them happy. I just told them I want to stop playing. Now there not answering me. I don’t know what to do. I want to make them happy but to do that I’m sacrificing my happiness.

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