The Big Idea
Quitting is not an end. It’s actually the first step to redefining your goals and refocusing your life.
Questions I Answer
- How can I say no without feeling guilty?
- What steps do I need to take to set strong boundaries?
- What’s the best way to say no while being kind?
- Is it okay to quit?
Actions to Take
- Create a set pre-written response to say “no” to people or things.
Key Topics in the Show
Why quitting was an important part of starting inkWELL Press.
How quitting is no longer applicable for the modern world.
The difference in the right and the wrong ways to quit something.
Solutions to things you want to quit, but still need to be done.
Resources and Links
- Download the Evaluating Your Time Worksheet!
- Tips for Saying No without the Guilt:
- For things that still have to get done (like taking out the trash or driving kids to activities): outsource, delegate, share, carpool, etc.
- For times when you need to say no: Create pre-written responses and save them in your email to have on hand. Modify and personalize them a bit for the situation and hit send.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton and this is episode 17. Today we are going to be talking about the lost art of quitting. Now, we’ve all heard the saying quitters never win and winners never quit. How many of you think that’s true? I’m willing to bet there’s a large percentage of
people right now nodding their heads, agreeing with that saying.
I want to really change the way that we look at quitting and not looking at as something that’s a negative or something that is bad because quitting is not an end. It’s actually the first step to redefining your goals and refocusing your life. I’m here to say I am a proud quitter. I have quit some pretty big things in my time. There is none bigger than the story that I’m getting ready to tell you about how I quit my first business.
If you’ve listened to episode zero you’ve heard my backstory of how I started my first business with $50 and I was a stay-at-home mom and through my job or through my business that I started I was able to allow my husband John to quit working in corporate America and come and work with me. That’s actually my husband John’s voice in the voiceover that you hear at the very beginning of this podcast, which makes me happy because everything we do we do together.
We were very happy working for our first business together. We loved that we made decisions together, we loved that we worked together. It worked out really well. I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that business did not fulfill me. It did not feed my passion. It did not feel like it filled my purpose in life. The thing about that business was it was great in that it paid our bills. We could pay our mortgage. I could feed my kids. They do require to be fed three times a day, so it was really, really good to feel that I had created something that allowed some security for my family so that my husband and I could work together.
I wasn’t happy at all. Around the fall of 2013 I reached a breaking point with feeling really just unhappy overall. It took some courage, but I went to talk to my husband John and I said to him that I was not happy with what we were doing. I was happy working with him and I was happy in our marriage and in our life together, but I just wasn’t happy about our business that we did together. He confided in me that he was feeling exactly the same way.
I didn’t know what we were going to do because as I said, this is the business that paid our bills. This is what allowed me to live, right? For my children to live and to eat, so it was a really tough decision. John and I sat together and we decided that it was really important to be happy and to feel like you are following your mission in life and to find that passion and the purpose inside of you.
He and I decided that we were going to sit down and work together to create a business that really fulfilled us. We took some time and we made a decision. I’m not going to go through all that we went through because it’s kind of a longer story and I’ll maybe share parts of it later on in this podcast, but to me it was really the idea of
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jumping in with both feet. Could we really quit our business and go without any sort of income for six to eight months while we had to work to open up Inkwell Press?
It was scary. I had poured a lot of time, a lot of energy and if any of you have owned a business you know that business is kind of like another child to you, right? It takes up so much of your time and your energy and you pour so much love into your business that it can become really, really difficult to think about abandoning that and walking away. He and I did it. We made that decision together that we were going to close our business and we were going to redirect our life to focus on something that we were passionate about. We did it.
We saved up. We planned to quit and we did it. We quit our business and then we reshifted our gears and we refocused into what was important for us. What was important to me was creating Inkwell Press. Now I have a business that I am so passionate about, I’m so fulfilled by and it makes me happy on a daily basis. It allows me to do things like this podcast here. If I had stuck with that old business that I had that I didn’t love, I would probably still be okay in that I’d be paying my bills and able to contribute to society, but I wouldn’t feel happy the way I do now, the way that I wake up excited to go to work and the way that my kids can see that I have followed my dreams.
It’s a whole different feeling in my opinion. It wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t quit. So I am a quitter. I want to encourage you to figure out what are the things that you need to quit? Let’s talk about why we have a hard time quitting. I think a lot of it is the guilt that we feel. We talked in our last episode, episode 16, about cost bias and how that feeds into our decision making and that we need to get rid of that. A lot of that guilt comes from that. If you’re feeling guilty I would encourage you to listen to episode 16. Think about what are the messages that we hear all the time? Always clean your plate. Always finish what you start. That’s all not necessarily true.
The first one is a recipe for gaining weight if you have to clear your plate very time. The second is a formula for not getting much done. It’s just so hardwired in our brains not to quit. There’s a phenomenon called the near win. We can thank our primitive selves for not wanting to quit because this actually is hardwired into our systems. When our protohuman ancestors almost but didn’t quite catch their dinner, the physical actions that made up for their near win taught them that with persistence that animal would eventually get caught.
Our brains are not good at figuring out when the near win is applicable and when it isn’t. Really for the most part that’s no longer applicable in the modern world. Choosing to quit is not instinctive, but it’s imperative in today’s world. There are actually a lot of positives to quitting. I just touched on them in my own story in how quitting what I was doing allowed me to really focus in and find the things that I was passionate about. It can permit you to grow and learn and it can help you frame new goals.
Without the choice of giving up most people will end up in a discouraging loop of just doing the same thing because that’s what they’ve always done. Is that really the way you want to live? Or is it okay to go outside of that loop and find something different? Quitting might actually be a healthy, adaptive response when an important
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goal can’t be reached. You have to assess is that goal really important to you? It’s hard to feel good about quitting because it’s wired into us that we don’t want to quit.
Let me start by giving you permission. You don’t need to finish every book that you start. You don’t have to complete every project you begin and you don’t have to continue habits that no longer serve you. Try using some mental contrasting. Use positive thinking or visualization to envision the future you want while really acknowledging those barriers that are keeping you from your goal. Those barriers are the things that maybe you need to consider quitting.
When you decide to quit, you’re not going to find support from everyone. My parents had a really hard time understanding why we would close the business that really was not fulfilling to us. They knew it paid the bills and my parents are very, very supportive. They love me unconditionally, but they didn’t understand why I would choose to do something so reckless in their minds when really it was all about finding the things that were important to me.
You have to feel confident that when you make a decision to quit something it is your decision and not anyone else’s. Other people might not understand, and that’s okay. Just remember, you’re not defined by this thing, this job or project or this person or the venture. Whatever it is, there are many aspects to you and your life and this one thing is just one part. It does not define you. By quitting this thing you’re not cutting off an essential part of yourself, okay? I want you to really internalize that and think about that, that it is actually okay to quit.
How do you quit? How do you get to that decision of quitting? I’ll tell you the wrong way. The wrong way to quit is the I’m out of here moment where you just knee jerk because something didn’t quite go your way or you’re unhappy so immediately you’re going to do it. That just basically trades off one kind of stuck for another. You’ll end up with tons of baggage, disappointments, thoughts, feelings and some anxiety. You really have to plan it out.
I love Parks and Rec so I felt like this was a good place to give and example with Parks and Recs involved. You don’t necessarily want to be Ron Swanson who says, “It’s my belief that you never start something you don’t intend to finish.” You don’t want to be Tom Haverford who says, “I love quitting. When I was a kid, things
didn’t go my way I’d take the ball and go home. That’s better than winning because then your friends can’t play anymore.” There’s no need to be dramatic or to quit just because.
Make sure that when you’re making a decision to quit it’s mindful. I love that Bob Goff has a standing practice that he calls quitting Thursdays. He quits something every Thursday. I do think that’s a little bit extreme. I think if you’re involved in a ton of things maybe you could half quit Thursdays, but he likes to look at it is everything we quit helps us reclaim time for the things that matter most. You’ve heard me say before every time we say yes, we’re saying no to something else, right?
Let’s start now by figuring out what are some things that you could maybe quit today? I’ve created a download to make it even easier for you. You’ll be able to get the download if you go to InkwellPress.com/podcast. It will be in the show notes
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of episode 17. Down at the bottom I’ll have a resources and link section. You’ll be able to find it there.
When you look at the download you’ll find that it’s divided into three columns. Each one of the columns is labeled, one is activity, one is time spent and the third one is rating. In the activities column I want you to list out the things you do every week. Write them out in a list format, not a paragraph, but write them out as a list. Then in the second column I want you to write down the time spent. How much time do you on average spend doing that task? Write that out and be realistic with your time estimates.
Then under rating I want you to give it a rating on a one to 10 scale of each activity. Ten is something you absolutely love and one is the most irritating or wasteful activities you can think of. When you’re giving yourself ratings, think about these questions: is it fun? Am I energized or am I depleted when I’m doing this? Does it align with your goals? What will people think? Am I doing this for myself? You might need to add more detail or break your tasks down even further to find your worst offenders.
I can promise you they’re there, okay? After you’ve done the activities and the time spent and you’ve given the ratings, I want you to circle the tasks that you rated four and below. Okay? When you’ve done that you’re going to see these are the activities you need to try and quit. Add up the amount of time you’re using on these circled tasks. For each one of those circled tasks you had an amount of time you said you spent. Add that up because that number, that is how much time you spend each week doing activities you don’t really enjoy.
That is time you can spend in other ways. What can you be doing with that time that you just found? You just found pockets of time in your day, right? Would it be starting a more fulfilling project? Spending time with people on your priority list? Refining a hobby? Working towards a goal? Whatever it is, that’s your underlying yes. I want you to write down those tasks or activities in the bottom section. I want you not just to write them out, but write down too how you’ll feel when you do those activities.
When you’re writing that down you’re going to feel excited about these things. That strong emotional energy you just attached to this needs to be strong enough to help you quit those wasteful tasks. Now it’s time to quit. There may be some resistance, especially if you’re quitting something that feels really big, but count your cost against your yes and keep moving forward. Whenever you feel like oh, I don’t know. I feel some resistance. I don’t really want to quit. Maybe it’s scary, think about that item or those tasks or activities you put in that bottom section and how you’ll be spending your time on them.
I know there’s going to be some arguments in your head about why you can’t quit, so let me address a few of those for you now, okay? The first thing you’re going to say is, “What about the thing? I can’t just drop this. I can’t just do that altogether.”
Maybe it’s taking out the trash or those kinds of things. Those things still have to happen, right?
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Can you delegate it or could you outsource it? Could you possibly share them with someone else so you don’t have to do it every week? Let’s say it is taking out the trash and that’s one of your activities that you absolutely hate. Could you alternate that with your roommate or your spouse or have your kids start doing it? Not every delegation or outsource has to involved money. There can be a trade-off, right?
Think of it that way. Could you share that with somebody else so you don’t have to do it every week? If these activities include things like driving your kids to 15,000 different after school activities, I’m going to remind you of this. Your goals and your dreams are no less significant than anyone else’s and that includes your kids. Here I am, I’m going to get on my soapbox for a second. I’m going to tell you it’s healthy for your kids to be told no and to understand that you have things that you want to do.
You might even try opening up the conversation to see if the activities you’re taxiing them to every week even really align with what they want to do. You might be surprised to find that they don’t want all those activities on their agenda and they would be just as happy to be at home. I’m going to hop off my soapbox now, but I do want to encourage you that if you’re spending a lot of your time driving other people to their goals, think about your own. It’s not selfish at all. It is actually good modeling for others to see that you are chasing down your own dreams. Okay?
For the things you can’t quit altogether, think about delegating, outsourcing, sharing, carpooling. So many things that you can do. What about the other thing that’s going to come up, but I made commitments to these people. They’re going to feel let down. Maybe these people are your customers or your colleagues or your friends or your family. You assume that what you’re doing is making a big difference to them, but they may in fact actually barely notice if you scale back or if you stop doing something altogether.
There is that possibility that you have given it more importance than they really feel. Here’s what you could do. Try quietly eliminating or scaling back on an activity for a few days or a few weeks and then assess whether it really seems to make a difference to these people that you’ve made these commitments to or if no one even notices. You might be surprised some of the things that you’re doing on a regular basis that other people don’t care as much about as you do and you’re giving them a lot more importance than they really deserve.
That’s what my encouragement for you is to really think about what are the things that you want to quit and then make a plan to quit. Make a plan to get rid of some of these things that aren’t as important to you. Make it easier for yourself in the future. People are always going to be trying to rope you into their priorities. It’s okay to quit before you’ve even started. We’ve talked about the power of saying no before and finding your yes, but let me give you a quick and easy trick to make it even easier for you.
Try having some pre-written responses to say no if you get a lot of requests for your time. If you get requests for your time over and over again, think about some pre-written responses that you can write back to tell people no. Find those emails you’re most often having to say no to. Maybe it’s emails for volunteer positions or
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emails for projects, pro bono work or whatever it is and figure out a thoughtful and gracious but general response.
You don’t want them to feel bad for asking, but you can say definitively no to their request. Then I want you to save that email. Save that response in some way. Gmail has canned responses you can use, or if you don’t have those canned responses here is one of my favorite tricks, use your email signature. Almost every email program has some sort of email signature and you can choose different ones. They’re not just for email signatures.
You could write out that response and save it as an email signature. Give it a name like response to someone asking for money or whatever it is. Then you can find it easily. Then when you get one of these requests, all you have to do is find the right response, modify the language a little bit to personalize it and hit send. Done. You’ve said no without really feeling icky about it. Because that’s really what it boils down to. We don’t like that feeling when we tell people no.
If you have an assistant you could even have them have the responses and save them for them to use. Then you don’t have to worry about the time it’s taking. I really want to encourage you to find the things that you need to quit in order to live the fulfilling life that you want to have. Instead of winners never quit and quitters never win, consider this. Winners quit all the time. They just know when to quit the right stuff at the right time. You can do this. You can totally do this.
You can find the things that you don’t want to do and you can start saying, “No,” or “I quit,” and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I want to really encourage you to get that download so you can walk through that exercise we talked about during this episode. You can find that at InkwellPress.com/podcast and it will be under episode 17 in the links and resources section. I’ll have a little link there for you to download that so you can find what it is that you want to really focus in your time doing.
Okay, I’m really excited about this because I feel like quitting is one of those things that has had a bad rap for far too long and I want to encourage you to find the things that you really want to spend your time doing. I’m really excited to see how this goes. I’d love for you to fill out the worksheet and feel free to tag me on social media. You can find me with the user name Inkwell Press on Facebook and Instagram.
You can use #productivityparadox when you’re posting or feel free to head to my Facebook page and post there or send me an email at email@example.com. I love to hear how you’re doing. It really excites me when I see so many emails from you guys telling me about how you’re implementing a lot of this streamlining. I just think it’s fabulous, so I’m really excited to see how you’re going to find the things that you want to quit. All right, until next time, happy planning.
**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.
Tanya Dalton is a top rated female productivity keynote speaker. She offers keynotes are inspiring with actionable content and a motivating message.
Resources & Links
Resources & Links:
Get the Evaluating Your Time Worksheet
Listen to Episode 016: How to Make Better Decisions: Sunk Cost Bias