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  • Writer's pictureSam

The Power of Quitting

Updated: Sep 8, 2019

Today I thought I’d write about something that took me a while to accept, but I now very much embrace, and that is the power of quitting!

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Most people see it as a negative term “you’re not a quitter, are you?” and yes there are times when quitting is bad, of course, if you’re just quitting because things have gotten a little tough then that’s not a good thing, however sometimes quitting is the healthiest option for everyone, and I don’t just mean cigarettes.  Sometimes quitting on your dream in a necessary and oh so liberating piece of growth…

I’ve quit two big dreams in my life for two very different reasons.  The first was my childhood dream; ever since I first watched the film Free Willy, I desperately wanted to be a killer whale trainer.

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Image by Aktim from Pixabay

I watched Free Willy on repeat as well as its sequels over and over, I had a folder of EVERYTHING killer whale and dolphin related that I could find, newspaper articles, things I found online, SeaWorld at the time had a website that had the profiles of every killer whale trainer on it, I printed every one of these out, put them in my folder and read over them probably at least once a week.  My family went to Orlando when I was 11 and the second I was through the gates of SeaWorld I grabbed a map and flat out ran to the killer whale stadium, I cannot describe how enamoured of the place I was, when we left I think I cried every night for a month because I was so desperate to be there.  I hope I have painted the picture of how driven and passionate about this dream I truly was.  

Image by xanio from Pixabay

As the years went by I carried on my amateur research on killer whales and marine biology, it was all I wanted to do, however as I may have mentioned many times, I was raised by a great mum who had taught and encouraged me not to be biased toward what I want to believe, so I couldn’t deny that I was starting to see evidence that captivity of killer whales and dolphins was cruel, but I still wanted to work with them, so first of all I went down the path of “OK, SeaWorld is cruel, yes, but there are places that have them in captivity for research purposes, that’s OK, I’ll work on working there!” What I eventually began to realise was that the reason why I wanted to be a killer whale trainer, was simply because I wanted a killer whale best friend, like in Free Willy, and the most effective way that I could ensure that was by having it locked in a tank so that it had no escape and no choice but to interact and build a bond with me…

Let me tell you, this was not an easy thing to realise at the humble age of about 16/17, but once I did realise this, there’s no way I could deny it to myself, this dream was done I couldn’t face it any more, I quit the dream.  

Image by Aktim from Pixabay

That was the first dream I quit, I don’t think of this one as a big deal, but it does have it’s fair share of lessons that I carry to this day, mainly: be clear on WHY you want your dream.   Be honest, if you don’t want to admit the reason, or don’t like what you find, then you need to do some real digging as to why you don’t like it.  It may well be a mindset thing that you need to work though, like a parental value that’s been instilled on you that disagrees with your personal values, but it may be because, like me, you realise that the reason you want that dream is actually a really bad reason, and definitely not conducive to a happy life.  Only you can decide which it is.

Now for the second dream I’ve quit: My dream of becoming a marine biologist.

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

This was possibly an easy an obvious step going from being a killer whale trainer, now I wanted to research them in the wild, so off I went to get a zoology degree!  (I chose zoology over marine biology because I still liked other animals too).  The degree was great and I spent a lot of my “downtime” learning about exactly how I was going to break into the industry, I did lots of extra curricular activities, got on well with my lecturers, I knew what I had to do when I got out of university, and that was go out, make contacts, seek out some volunteering roles around the world, I knew that most of it would be working for free to get my foot in the door, and while I was at uni, that seemed fine to me… until I finished uni that is.

I am the right most person in this picture, a good example of expectation (the above diving picture) and the reality here

I heard a phrase a while back, it went something like “in order to find your dream job, you gotta find your favourite flavour of shit sandwich!” and the meaning behind that is that every single career has crap bits, and in order to find what you really want to do, you need to find out what are the crap bits that you’re really ok with doing.  The crap bits of a marine biology or general conservation job is that you’ve got be prepared to work for no money, sometimes pay for opportunities yourself until you get your foot in the door, and even then it’s hard going, when you are working you have to work in all weathers, often in the middle of nowhere and the working hours are very unsociable, you might spend all day just looking for an animals poop, never actually seeing the animal, and even then you really need to think about going and getting your PhD, which is hard if you have no financial support network already under you; honestly, all those shit bits really didn’t appeal to me, I didn’t want to work THAT hard for it, and it was starting to dawn on me that if I didn’t want to do those hard bits, then maybe this wasn’t the career for me…  But then what?  I had defined myself over the years by this goal, there was nothing more that I could fashion this goal into, not like I did from killer whale training to marine biologist, I was at the end.  I didn’t like this one bit, and really it was because I have a real thing for being taken seriously, and I worried that if I just “abandoned” this dream I was going to be thought of as just another stupid kid who doesn’t know where they’re going and hasn’t grown up yet.  But you know what, I did what I now know to be the best thing that I could have done, despite my fears, I gave it up.  It was hard to do, I loved it very much, but as they say, love must never hold tight but let go, so I did.

And it was one of the BEST decision I ever made!

We get so hung up on the idea that achieving our dreams takes work, that many of us have now become unable to distinguish between when something is just a bit hard to accomplish and when actually this isn’t serving us any more and we need to throw in the towel, and there’s nothing wrong with throwing in the towel if indeed it is the latter!  If I hadn’t quit those two dreams of mine then I wouldn’t have given myself time and energy to finding anything else, giving up when I knew it was right enabled me to find what I love doing right now, which is running my business, being my best self and encouraging others to do the same.

So, how do you know when it’s time to quit or if something is just tough?  I ask myself this: Is the process filling me with happy excitement?  Or am I thinking: “but when I achieve XYZ I’ll be happy!”

Things can be hard and still be enjoyable, it’s been hard to figure out how exactly to word this blog post, but I’ve enjoyed finding out, it’s been hard figuring out my personal branding, but I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it.  This is how I know that this is right for me at this moment in time.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Toward the end of my marine biologist dream I was thinking “well I suppose I should go and do a masters” and looking through university sites feeling distinctly ‘meh’ about it all, I just figured that that was the route I needed to be taking thinking “well when I’m there and studying it I’ll be happy I’m sure…”, but no, it wasn’t right.

So if you really actually want to quit something, not that you’re just a bit scared of your next step, that you actually feel that this is no longer serving you, don’t think that you’re lazy or that you’re just a quitter and you can’t commit to anything, because in actual fact it may just be your intuition telling you that this may have been the right path once, but maybe not any more.  One day I may quit what I’m doing right now, and you know what, if that’s the case I look forward to that day, because it’ll leave me open to find a new path that fills my life with excitement!

Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

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