Learning when to quit is a meta-skill


I thought about quitting my new business this week.

In fact, I think about quitting this business every week.

Procrastinating and a lack of progress make me doubt whether I've made the right decision to start the business in the first place.

As entrepreneurs, we're full of ideas.

When we act on a new idea, it's fun, interesting, and exciting.

Lots of progress is made in the early stages of executing the idea. The enthusiasm for executing the idea provides momentum that keeps you going.

You're motivated, engaged, and on task.

Once this wears off, you reach a period between starting and mastering your new idea.

This stage is a really long slog.

The Dip

Seth Godin calls this stage 'The Dip'.

When you enter The Dip, you have two options:

  1. Realize things aren't working, quit and focus your energy elsewhere; or
  2. Deal with the tough times, and push through to the other side increasing your chances of success.

Strategic Quitting

I've quit 3 different projects in the last 18 months. On reflection, I quit all of them when I was in The Dip.

Quitting these projects allowed me to start my new business.

Quitting can be strategic.

As Godin explains, quitting doesn't mean you're quitting your long-term strategy. You're just giving up on one particular tactic that isn't working out.

People are scared of quitting. It's acknowledging something doesn't work and needs to change.

It's easier to accept mediocrity than to quit.

I can't remember the last time I was scared of quitting.

I quit my legal career to start a cleaning business.

I quit my cleaning business to grow a property management company.

I quit being a personal trainer to become a business coach.

Quitting hasn't been a problem for me. It's the period after quitting that I've struggled with recently.

That feeling of not knowing what to do next. The lack of confidence to commit to the next idea because you feel like you failed with the last one.

Are you a failure?

Quitting and failure are not the same.

Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you reach after assessing the situation and your available options.

Failure means giving up. All of your resources have been exhausted and there are no other options available.

”Failing...means that your dream is over.”
- Seth Godin

Quitting the projects that don't go anywhere is important if you want to make progress with the right ones.

Knowing when to quit is a major life skill. A meta-skill.