As we grow up, we're sent the message time and again that quitting is the ultimate sign of weakness. The mentally strong among us are those who are persistent, as the narrative goes, and who continue to forge ahead — no matter the cost to our physical, psychological or emotional well-being.
Not only can this kind of mentality objectively cause us harm, it's also tied to an incredibly limited view of what it means to move through the world in a complete, fulfilled way. This isn't to advocate for throwing in the towel the moment a challenge arises — far from it. Plenty of struggles are deeply worthwhile ones. But at the end of the day, we should be asking ourselves: what defines the struggle at hand as worthwhile? If the only value we can find in trudging ahead is to be able to say we "didn't quit," that's worth re-examining.
Entrepreneur and author Damon Brown made a similar argument in support of quitting for a recent column in Inc. He pointed to something called "The Seinfeld Rule" in explanation. Over a decade ago, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David decided to pull the plug on their show "Seinfeld," despite having been offered $110 million to do the show for one more season. In an interview with Oprah, Seinfeld explained that they knew it was "time to go" — plain and simple. Brown referenced a related episode in his own life:
My co-founders and I had one of the most popular apps of the year — Cuddlr. It had around a quarter million users. We were also three bootstrapping, novice entrepreneurs, with no outside help. We were tired. We also saw that the culture was shifting or, more to the point, we already made our cultural impact. There wasn't much more to do. So we looked at each other one day and decided to wrap it up... Our act of winding down, though, opened up the door to a potential acquirer. And then another one. And yet another one. The fact that we wanted to move on actually allowed us to keep the app going and find a different kind of success: A healthy exit.
Approached the right way, quitting doesn't mean giving up. It means giving ourselves permission to move on from one fixed plan or idea of ourselves and into new opportunities. And if you've reached a point where you can feel a certain chapter for yourself closing — don't force an extension to that chapter simply for the sake of not having "quit." Turn the page instead.
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