How do you know when it’s time to quit?

Is it really possible to quit something valiantly?

The idea of quitting usually gets a bad rap. Quitting is associated with giving up. Failure. Not being good enough.

Of course it is considered a triumph to quit something unhealthy, like smoking or other addictions that don’t contribute to our life, but can we really quit something valiantly that we have succeeded with or simply outgrown?

I think so.

I recently heard Jonas Peterson speak at the Beloved Photography Festival in California.

Of all the fascinating things that I could have drawn from his talk, the most poignant for me was hearing his life story of all the things he quit.

  • He became the best sniper (yes!) in his country of Sweden, and once reaching that status, gave up the army.
  • He became a ski instructor in Austria (speaking no German and never having skied before!) and became the best ski instructor there. After proving he could do it, he moved on.
  • He became a copy writer and achieved accolades that crowned him as the best copy writer in advertising, working for the biggest names in the business. Then he moved on.
  • He now is a world renowned wedding photographer–and dare I say–one of the best in the business. I have a feeling that he’s very likely to have several other fascinating careers still in his future.

Jonas quit after he proved to himself he could do something. Then he moved on. He had outgrown his passion.

So how might we know when it’s time to quit?

Unlike Jonas, we don’t always have to be “the best” at something in order to pursue a new path!  There are many reasons to choose to let go.  Here’s just a few:

1. We don’t find the same joy and satisfaction as we did in the past.

2. Our season of life has changed and our current pursuits no longer fit. Perhaps this means we change the order of priority or we change scale.

3. We’ve outgrown our pursuits. We’ve evolved.

4. We’re being prepared for something different. Quitting does not negate our past accomplishments. Often it is because of our past accomplishments that we have been specially prepared to go a new direction with those acquired skills that make us a unique fit for a new adventure.

5. We find ourselves drawn to other things.

Perhaps we should drop the word quit from this discussion, and insert evolve.

Evolving is a beautiful thing.

All of our experiences prepare us for the next step. We were created to evolve. To become. To change and develop into greater and greater versions of ourselves. And most importantly, we were created to experience joy. If the joy is lacking in our pursuits, perhaps it is time to assess how we have evolved and what we are evolving to become.

You’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is

“…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” –Albert Einstein.

We were meant to grow and change. Sometimes we resist it. Doing so never brings us the joy that could be ours.

So how have you evolved? Is it time to shut some doors on small things or big things?

Sometimes simply quitting a small business practice that is no longer serving you because you have evolved or the market has evolved, can be the very thing to bring joy and growth.

Maybe it’s quitting accepting any type of work and defining more of a niche focus that singles out the type of work you enjoy the most.

Maybe it’s a group that you have been a part of that used to serve you, but you have outgrown it’s benefits.

Maybe our season of life has changed and it’s simply time to put something on the shelf until a better time allows us to gain the most from those experiences.

Maybe it involves quitting a big thing.

I’ve felt all these quitting signs for quite some time now in regards to having a portrait photography business. It’s been a wonderful peaceful feeling to recently make the choice to close that door in my life. That’s a big thing to quit, but I’ve evolved into a person with different needs and wants, and have new ideas of where I want to go with those acquired skills and experience.

Whether it’s big or small, I can promise you that as you cut away the parts of your life that no longer bring joy and growth, you provide a space for more good things to come. Sometimes that feels a bit risky.

A sense of routine, security, and comfort are often traded for feelings of freedom, joy, and new adventure. You get to choose.

I prefer the happiness route myself.

How are you evolving? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She lives in a hundred year old house with her two favorite boys on a quiet small town street.  She loves to read self-help books and makes dozens of resolutions that she forgets about, but loves at least the intention of “doing better” in all things.

Brooke teaches inspiring online photography classes that bring you confidence in your skills and creativity.

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14 Responses

  1. Great post, Brooke! I’m thinking of quitting some things that no longer bring me as much joy as they once did. 🙂 I don’t know why quitting is usually so frowned upon.

  2. Brooke- Thank you. So much. I stopped accepting photography clients almost a year ago- just as I was building up speed and really getting going. But as things really got going I realized how much it was not working for my family. My children where getting more and more frustrated every time I would go near the computer. And spending my weekends at photo sessions- agh! I loved it when I was there, but the four of us were not spending time together anymore, just trading the boys back and forth. I know this career is great for some moms, but not for me. But I don’t for one minute regret the time I spent learning about photography. First of all, I now have great photos of my family. And second, it made me realize really how good my first career really is: teaching elementary school. Teaching jobs are unfortunately hard to come by in my small northern california town, but I’m taking this time to work on getting my art credential. And I am so blessed to have had the chance to meet you. Thank you.

    1. Samantha! Beautiful story 🙂 I love that you found the path that worked best for you and your family! And indeed, you now have fabulous pictures of your family and can apply that amazing skill everyday in your own home life. I feel the same 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Evolving is a wonderful word. It can be applied to friendship, as well, as I’m undergoing such a thing with a woman I’ve known for 15 years. The path I’ve chosen to follow is different than the one she’s used to me being on, but you know what? I’m having a grand old time pursuing the things I love doing. I’m not sure where this friendship is going, hopefully it won’t end, but I think it’s definitely evolving into a new stage. We’ll have to wait and see. Great post!

    1. Oh Katie! That is a great example! Some people are meant to play a role in our lives for only a small time, and others for longer. Regardless, I think it’s awesome that you are pursuing the path that brings you the most joy! Best wishes!

  4. Yes, yes indeed. Evolving, redefining, becoming what we are called to be. Thank you Brooke, for another timely and grace-filled message. Kerri

  5. Just last night, my husband asked me – have you lost the interest in photography? I replied – I don’t know. TODAY I GoT YOUR MESSAGE!!! YES a BIG FAT YES!!! I am EVOLVING into bigger and better things? I love that you were totally intuned to my very own feelings. You said it better than anyone else. Thanks for sharing who you really are. We are learning to see ourselves so much better.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! Good luck to you and your evolution and good luck to everyone else choosing a new path. It takes a lot of courage I think to do something different and I applaud you all.

  7. Brooke, it has been such a gift to have you as a friend. I love seeing your evolution. It’s been so inspiring to me. You are such a powerful, interesting, and gracious person. Thank you for your goodness.

  8. Evolve. What a nice word. I rarely quit anything and become overwhelmed and overburdened. Hmmm…here’s a new perspective. Thanks!

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