About | Blog | Forums | People | Free Newsletter
Trailspace is a product review site for outdoor enthusiasts. Use it to find and share great gear.

Go Ahead, Be a Quitter

Winners never quit, and quitters never win, right?

That's something I've believed much of my life. Stick-to-itiveness can push you up mountains and down trails, drive you out of a warm sleeping bag and into the snow at dawn, help you run your own company day in and out.

After all, if quitting is equated with failure, perseverance means success, right?

Well, not always.

I've long regarded the term "quitter" as an insult. But a dogged, never-give-up attitude can carry you directly into trouble on the trail, on the mountain, and in life. Sometimes it's OK to quit what you're doing. It even can be necessary, strategic, and beneficial.

Storm clouds on the peak? Forgot the map in the car? Rapids look like more than you're prepared to handle? Time to reevaluate, perhaps time to QUIT.

Quitting isn't just about avoiding danger and saving your bacon though. Quitting has a positive side. It frees you up to seize new, better opportunities. If you tenaciously, but blindly, stick with what you've been doing just because you don't want to give up, then it's likely time to stop, take a look around, and ask yourself "how's this working out?" I did.

This fall I took a two-month sabbatical from Trailspace. While I understood the personal and professional value of stepping back and refocusing, I worried about abandoning our community, not getting things done daily, being seen as a...gasp...quitter.

Coincidentally, the Freakonomics podcast “The Upside of Quitting” came out the day I announced my sabbatical. Sunk and opportunity costs don't just apply to businesses. They apply to the personal choices we make daily. If you hike every Saturday just because your friends do, you're not learning to whitewater kayak. If you're training for an event that no longer inspires you, you're not planning that backcountry ski trip.

I also happened upon "For Great Leadership, Clear Your Head" in the Harvard Business Review blogs. It advocated for reflection and time for ideas to percolate for better vision and leadership. I get that. My best and most passionate writing and site ideas come during long runs and hikes, which I had more time for during a sabbatical. The universe seemed to be supporting my move.

The sabbatical—my temporary quit—is now over. But the downtime allowed me to return to Trailspace with a clearer head and vision, for myself and for the community.

I have no intention of becoming a serial quitter. I still believe that perseverance is an essential ingredient of success. But sometimes you just need to quit already, so you can move forward.


Filed under: People & Organizations

Comments

giftogab
486 reviewer rep
1,356 forum posts
December 14, 2011 at 11:39 a.m. (EST)

It might be a matter of symantix, but to me QUIT is terminating and giving up whereas stopping, curtailing, turning around based on logical reason regarding safty or health or something identifiably important to that decision, is not quitting. I ahve tunred around, for instance, because my progress was slower than I thought and if I didn't I would be in the dark.  To me, that was not quitting...it was curtailing the hile until a day I could go earlier. It provided me feedback and data to invest in the next attempt. Illness has turned me around. Again, data to that point of the trail is still invaluable.

But I have been bothered by the demon of Quitting a time or two. Where I invest in negative self talk and fight myself to continue when there truly is no external reason to stop. I especially like prevailing over that situation and feel it, too, has shaprpened my mental toughness.

GaryPalmer
200 reviewer rep
3,917 forum posts
December 14, 2011 at 1:34 p.m. (EST)

 

When I bicycled down here from Flagstaff this past october I decided that this was going to be my last bike tour. But after being here just a few weeks I had changed my mind and decided that I would be riding back to southern Utah in April. When things are going rough I sometimes give up and think I will quit, but then after I have time to reflect on what I was doing, maybe not doing whatever it was in the correct manner I sometimes think I want to quit.

As my mother used to always remind me "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

Life is a series of ups and downs, somethings happen that enrich our lives and somethings go wrong. We have to decide what we want to make better and change and what things we don't want to do anymore.

To me life is a series of adventures which make me who and what I am today and tomorrow.

whomeworry
87 reviewer rep
2,221 forum posts
December 14, 2011 at 2:57 p.m. (EST)

Karen:

As you couched your perspective, it comes across as semantics – quitting versus giving up – but you do allude to the different motives that drive us to terminate an activity.  There is quitting for intellectualized reasons.  We call them logical reasons, albeit frequently they are contrived.  Then there are motives to quit that spring from a visceral, emotional, irrational basis.  Type “A” people tend to view quitting under these pretenses as a sign of weakness.  But is it?  It is contradictory that motivational coaches inspire us to push beyond our self imposed limitations; meanwhile they suggest we should attend to our intuitions and gut instincts.  Thus why we feel conflicted when abandoning relationships, jobs, or long term life objective for nebulous reasons.  When you really think about it, who says logic is the only valid criterion when you are confronted by a cross road?  I guess it is a matter of balance, of being honest with yourself.  Obviously pushing on, using true grit, achieves objective not normally within one’s capacity.  The path to excellence is the higher road.  But as long as quitting isn’t a bad trait, we should learn to be comfortable with some mediocrity; it is just too much to expect overachievement in every activity we take on.

Ed

FromSagetoSnow
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,679 reviewer rep
1,137 forum posts
December 15, 2011 at 9:19 a.m. (EST)

Quitting, taking a break, whatever you call it and however you feel about it--

 

WELCOME BACK!

 

 

 

Jeff

Erich
REVIEW CORPS
405 reviewer rep
813 forum posts
December 15, 2011 at 3:17 p.m. (EST)

Welcome back, Alicia. Whether it is quitting or just taking a break, it is helpful to gain perspective. Often, our focus on accomplishing a goal, causes us to lose sight of the other and perhaps more important goal, the journey itself. There is  a voice within us all, a sixth sense perhaps, that we often forget to listen to. Glad you were able to take time to listen to your voice.

giftogab
486 reviewer rep
1,356 forum posts
December 15, 2011 at 4:08 p.m. (EST)

Ed,
I see your point. And perhaps we, as individuals, also form the lexicon of quitting surroundig our own motivations or lack there of. I fight myself....a lot.....to persevere. Not when I am hurt, or it is dark...but when I just don't want to do it...or it is too hard....(but within my capabilities). So perhaps I have to distiguish the two in order not to allow myself an easy out. MYSELF...not a comment on others. I tend not to view other's decisions in the same light as my own. I don't expect them to view their choices through my eyes. IF we are both involved in a crossfit workout or a hike and they decide to end early, I never question them unless they ahve asked me to be in that position ahead of time....cannot think of a time that actually happened.

Callahan
245 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
December 18, 2011 at 12:23 p.m. (EST)

The last line says it all.

BigRed
REVIEW CORPS
316 reviewer rep
655 forum posts
December 18, 2011 at 2:55 p.m. (EST)

"Det er ngen skam å snu"

(There's no shame in turning back)

--One of the nine "mountain sense rules" in Norway.

giftogab
486 reviewer rep
1,356 forum posts
December 18, 2011 at 9:14 p.m. (EST)

Perhaps it does, Callahan. We do all have to be able to assess ourselves, after all.

Hafford
20 reviewer rep
63 forum posts
December 18, 2011 at 10:30 p.m. (EST)

As I get older I find that sometimes my mind makes a promise that my body can't keep. I prefer to call it being flexible.

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
471 reviewer rep
2,910 forum posts
December 19, 2011 at 7:04 a.m. (EST)

All great points above! It's good to be flexible, something I continue to work on.

I admit that I'm one of those Type A's Ed refers to above, and I agree that a lot comes down to semantics and any stigmas we may (or may not) associate with a concept like quitting or changing courses or goals.

It's often all in how you view it.

f_klock
100 reviewer rep
762 forum posts
December 19, 2011 at 9:31 a.m. (EST)

BigRed said:

"Det er ngen skam å snu"

(There's no shame in turning back)

--One of the nine "mountain sense rules" in Norway.

 Wish there was a 'Like' button.

I also like "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day."

Wolfman (Wolfgang Greystoke)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts
December 19, 2011 at 9:48 a.m. (EST)

I am not sure who said it so I cant quote it, but something I have heard and try to remember when things don't work out the way you originally wanted them to.

 You can learn from your successes, but you can learn more from your failures. 

I am far from the type A personality, probably somewhere around a C or D personality. :)  But I do try to learn from life's experience's and become a better person, be it work, hiking, or other parts of ones life.  I don't think Quitting or "Failure" in of its self is a bad thing, I think it is all about what you learn from the experience and what you take with you next time. 

Wolfman

whomeworry
87 reviewer rep
2,221 forum posts
December 19, 2011 at 1:56 p.m. (EST)

Wolfman said:

..I am far from the type A personality, probably somewhere around a C or D personality...

HA!

The Caribbean cultures tend to be relatively lax, compared to America.  They relish down time, sitting on the porch, passing time.  One of these societies (BahamasI think) uses "lime" to describe these interludes, such as "the lime was sweet," or "that lime had no juice."  Definitely not a type A society.

Ed

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
471 reviewer rep
2,910 forum posts
December 20, 2011 at 7:27 a.m. (EST)

Wolfman said:

I am not sure who said it so I cant quote it, but something I have heard and try to remember when things don't work out the way you originally wanted them to.

 You can learn from your successes, but you can learn more from your failures. 

I am far from the type A personality, probably somewhere around a C or D personality. :)  But I do try to learn from life's experience's and become a better person, be it work, hiking, or other parts of ones life.  I don't think Quitting or "Failure" in of its self is a bad thing, I think it is all about what you learn from the experience and what you take with you next time. 

Wolfman

 I like that!

I also think that we tend to put too much value on being Type A versus B, or C, or D... Whatever you are, it's about how you live your own life and what you put in and get out of it.

skibum12
9 reviewer rep
119 forum posts
December 20, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. (EST)

That was a great writeup.  I'd like to quit eating all the holiday candy that my wife is leaving around the house right now....

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
471 reviewer rep
2,910 forum posts
December 21, 2011 at 8:39 a.m. (EST)

skibum12 said:

That was a great writeup.  I'd like to quit eating all the holiday candy that my wife is leaving around the house right now....

Thanks!

Tell your wife she can leave some candy around my house instead.

ZEPHANIAH
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
December 26, 2011 at 8:29 a.m. (EST)

 

 

Hello Friends;

 

firstly let me thank you for joining this wonderful group. i hope my comments are edifying and help to build people up and encourage you.....

 

i really can see what the idea is in this article about quitting something ...to allow you to re-org your body mind and spirit to fight on at another time...

 

atleast thats what i think the author is saying....

 

 

but 'quit' means quit......

 

its not taking a break....having a rest......getting some headspace....having a brew whilst figuring it out.....

 

quitting is putting it down and walking away...never coming back.....

 

and thats ok too......we should definetly quit things at the right time and place if they are not serving us...raising us up and restoring us......

 

quitting takes wisdom.......

 

so i read the author as saying that......we should consider wisely the things we do and how they work for us and our loved ones.....and if they dont......

 

quit them...walk away and never pick them up again...

 

life....wisdom...growth......

 

great writing....

 

thanks.

 

zephanaiah./australia. 

Wheels Magooligan
12 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
December 29, 2011 at 2:35 p.m. (EST)

When I was quitting smoking a "friend" would tell me "nobody likes a quitter" Funny, ha ha.

jcb
12 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
December 30, 2011 at 10:36 p.m. (EST)

Big Red is right on it.  You have to know when to bail. Pick a reason, weather ,injury(real or imagined), bad karma, car trouble, pick a reason. Come back next week, next month, it's OK. Hot weather, cold weather, tired; these can all be very unforgiving. Luck is a friend of the well prepared, being OCD about the journey can get people killed. Climbing is supposed to be fun.

This post has been locked and is not accepting new comments