This holiday season, in addition to the fruitcakes and mistletoe, plaid-clad family photos and requisite piles of gifts near the menorah or Christmas tree — or whatever you observe, there’s one other gift I urge you to consider gifting yourself: quitting. That’s right, friend. Stop thinking of your end-of-year to-dos and notions of New Year’s Resolutions, and instead, make a list of all the people and things no longer serving you. Really! Give yourself the gift of a good quit — or two or three.
Quit?! What?! Huh?! But you’re a supermom, I-can-handle-it-all kind of girl, right? Wrong. While difficult and stigmatized, quitting is sometimes (I’ll argue, often) the kindest and most compassionate gift that you can give yourself and your family. Let me explain and attempt to convince.
Two years ago, around just this time of year, I had a deeply traumatic experience with several big “quits.” I quit what I thought was my dream job. I convinced my husband to quit remodeling what we thought was our dream house, and put it up for sale five months after moving into it. I quit time-consuming volunteer roles. I quit trying to hide my anxiety and depression. I quit denying that I needed help managing my mental health, and got treatment, started medication (which is one of many tools that’s helped me to heal, but also not a tool that works for everyone). I quit.
At the time, I thought I was having a breakdown. Now I realize and recognize that I had a breakthrough.
My breakthrough was brought on by the usual suspects, of which I’m sure you can check a few off your mom-life-list too: a combination of extreme stress, toxicity in some areas of my life, overwhelm, and burnout. I now see that all of the physical and mental signs pushing me to quit, something my overachieving self had never done before, were red flags from my deep in my gut telling me to stop. To rest.
Quitting is scary, and it’s typically very shame-inducing. Often, we let our guilt, fear, and shame keep us from quitting past our aforementioned red-flag tipping points. I’m not advocating quitting anything before you’re absolutely sure it’s the right thing and right time to leave. Only YOU can know if and when a good quit is warranted. But, if you are experiencing any physical or mental signs that you need to knock a few things or people off your time-investment list, then take this next part to heart.
In the spirit of holiday list-making, here’s a list of things to consider giving yourself the gift of a quit in:
- Relationships: The state of American friendships and relationships have changed a lot in the last few years. I’m guessing you agree that Covid impacted the peeps we’re close to and/or rely on in some way. I know it sounds harsh, but really think about the circle of people you surround yourself with, and think about the people who truly bring you joy, who enrich your life or help you to be your best self. If there are relationships— romantic or platonic— which bring toxicity or struggle, constantly drain you or leave you feeling worse after an encounter, then maybe consider calling it quits and Marie Kondo-ing out some of those peeps.
- Jobs: Did the pandemic affect your professional life? Girl, you are so not alone. Americans, and women in particular, left their jobs during the last two years either out of desire, or necessity, or both. Maybe it’s a good time to reassess your current professional roles too (if you have that freedom and privilege) and decide if they’re working for you (pardon the pun!), or not working for you. Quitting my job in particular was by far the hardest quit and thing I’ve ever done. But, in hindsight, I learned that leaving was not weak, but brave. Quitting wasn’t a failure, but instead the right, and ultimately best, decision for me and for my family.
- Diets. Diets. Diets. Yeah, yeah. You already know the whopping statistics about how many Americans will attempt a diet, especially after the holidays. But, what about quitting the fad diets and exercise crazes and tapping into whatever your body actually wants to eat and how it wants to move? It’s a radical and scary thing for some, myself included, but if you want a good place to start, how about quitting stepping on the scale, and adopting a more body-positive, intuitive mindset.
- Using unhelpful words: Quit comparisons, What ifs, and Should. 1) Comparison is the thief of all joy, right? So enough said there. 2) Next, quit wondering “what if” and anticipating the worst before it happens. If you do ask a what if, flip it. So, instead of, “What if if Grandma Betty hates my gift?” ask, “What if she loves it?” 3) Finally, quit “should-ing” all over yourself. In fact, my campaign against using the word “should” deserves a whole separate post, but think about it: When you tell yourself you “should” do something, like “I should send out boatloads of holiday cards,” or “I should get so-and-so a gift,” or “I really should go on that post Turkey-day diet,” it’s usually because of external pressure or worry– not your internal desire.
- Quit at the end of the day. This one is a total steal from Glennon Doyle, writer, speaker and international activist. Glennon wrote: “A journalist once asked me, ‘With the onslaught of bad news and endless needs- how do you not quit?’ I said: ‘Oh, I do quit! Quitting is my favorite. Every day I quit. Every single day.’ I wake up and I care the most amount. And then – at some point – I put it all away and melt into my people and my couch and food and nothingness. And I care not at all. I forget it all. Then I go to sleep and wake up and begin again. Begin and quit every day! Only way to survive. Embrace quitting as a spiritual practice, loves.
I quit a lot two years ago, and I still practice quitting when I need to— both the big and the small things. I quit book clubs, and reading books I don’t want to read. I quit going on social media (which I HIGHLY recommend you consider if social media makes you feel anything less than the amazing person you are!). After about 8pm, I quit doing anything other than watching TV.
Quitting is not failing— it’s a firm letting go of what’s not working for you. It’s a release of what is not right for YOU.
Are there any big and/or small things you could quit? As always, you do you, but when you’re holiday shopping— and holiday stressing— maybe just consider sprinkling in a little quit too. You might find that quitting is exactly what you wanted.